San Onofre nuke plant to auction off assets

Lathes, grinders — "no items...associated with radiological plant operations."

As the years-long process of permanently shuttering the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station continues, plant operator Southern California Edison announced on Thursday, February 20, that it will hold an auction next month to dispose of surplus machinery and equipment.

"The sale of such equipment is a standard practice for decommissioning industrial sites such as San Onofre," said Edison vice president Doug Bauder via press release. "It’s an efficient way for [Edison] to reduce inventory and redirect valuable equipment to companies that need it."

Beginning March 26, items will go up for bid, including lathes, grinders, computer numerical control (CNC) milling equipment, and other metal-working tools. Edison assures potential buyers that "no items for sale were associated with radiological plant operations."

The two remaining nuclear reactors on the site (a third was retired in 1992) went into emergency shutdown in January 2012 after a minor radiation leak caused by design flaws in newly installed Mitsubishi steam generators.

After numerous failed attempts to resume operations, the plant was declared permanently closed in June 2013, layoff notices soon followed for more than a third of staff.

While the process of retiring the plant will continue for years, it's possible that highly radioactive nuclear waste may remain along San Diego's northern coast indefinitely.

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During the eventual demolition of a plant like that of SONGS, equipment will be needed. What sort of equipment? Well, not the sort of thing usually thought of as equipment used for construction, repair and maintenance. But who's to know what might be required? Could plenty of this stuff that will be auctioned off for a tiny price actually be needed during the tear-down? How about "metal working tools?" If SCE handles this as well as they did the generator replacements that failed almost as soon as they were installed, and handled the post-breakdown work, and the inept announcement of the closure of the plant permanently, this will also be a major screw-up. I predict that within a few months or couple years, they will need much of the equipment they peddled, and will have to replace it with high-cost new or newer equivalent gear.

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