Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Emergency Declared At San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

San Onofre nuclear generating station
San Onofre nuclear generating station
An emergency was declared at the San Onofre nuclear generating station on Tuesday afternoon. The threat turned out to be an ammonia leak, not a a nuclear one, and officials say it does not pose any public danger.

At 3:10pm on Tuesday, the plant issued a level 3 alert, according to CBS2. According to the International Nuclear Events scale, this means that a "serious incident" had occurred. A level 3 incident could mean anything from nuclear exposure in excess of ten times the annual limit for workers to a misdelivered, highly radioactive sealed source.

Workers discovered the ammonia leak just before 3pm, reports NBC LA. Southern California Edison spokesman Steve Conroy told NBC LA that no nuclear material was released, and there is no danger to the public.

According to the Associated Press, Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander said that today's alert was the lowest of the four possible emergency classifications used by the nuclear industry. Alexander didn't know the size of the ammonia leak, but it came from a unit in the power plant that generates electricity. It is separate from radioactive systems at the plant.

Besides the two aforementioned causes of a level 3 emergency, the International Atomic Energy Agency has more (PDF) on what the threat could mean:

    * Non-lethal deterministic health effect from radiation, like a burn.
    * A certain level of nuclear exposure in an operating area.
    * Severe nuclear contamination in an unexpected way, but with low probability of significant public exposure.
    * Near accident at a nuclear power plant with no safety provisions
    * Lost or stolen highly radioactive sealed source

News by AOL

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