The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent a special inspection team to San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a nuclear power plant near San Clemente, Calif., to investigate circumstances surrounding an electrical fire that caused Unit 3 to shut down on Saturday, February 3.
The agency routinely sends its inspectors to a nuclear plant that experiences an unusual equipment failure so it may fully understand the event. The inspection team comprises four inspectors with various fields of expertise. They will evaluate the efforts of Southern California Edison to determine the cause of the event and actions to correct the problem. The team will also examine the adequacy of the fire protection equipment associated with the affected electrical equipment, and the impact of the transient on the electrical grid. Their inspection should last several days.
Saturday's electrical fire caused power to be lost to equipment not vital to the safety of the reactor; however, the reactor could not continue to operate at power because the main turbine had tripped. The reactor shutdown was normal and all safety equipment functioned as expected.
The NRC team will issue a written report, which will be available to the public, several weeks after completion of the inspection.