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NRC Finds Several Reactors with “Degraded Level of Performance”

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission just published its annual assessment of the nation’s nuclear power fleet, grading power plants on their performance and safety record. Of the 100 nuclear power plants in operation around the country, 89 of them fell in the two highest performance categories. That left several plants that were graded with a “degraded level of performance” designation or worse.

The NRC conducts inspections and measures performance indicators to arrive at its conclusion for how to assess a given power plant. A total of 80 nuclear power plants met all safety and security performance objectives.  Nine more only needed to resolve one or two items of “low safety significance.” After the plant’s operator fixes these minor items, the NRC may conduct a follow up inspection to make sure everything checks out alright. The nine plants in this category include: Browns Ferry 3 (Ala.); Clinton (Ill.); Fitzpatrick (N.Y.); Grand Gulf 1 (Miss.); LaSalle 2 (Ill.); Point Beach 2 (Wisc.); Prairie Island 2 (Minn.); Robinson (S.C.); and Turkey Point 3 (Fla.). The NRC, in a press release, noted that the Robinson plant has since addressed its issues and has been placed in the highest performance category.

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However, there were an additional nine plants that were deemed to have “degraded level of performance”: Browns Ferry 2 (Ala.); Duane Arnold (Iowa); Monticello (Minn.); Pilgrim (Mass.); Point Beach 1 (Wisc.); Sequoyah 1 and 2 (Tenn.); Susquehanna 2 (Pa.); and Watts Bar 1 (Tenn.). The Sequoyah and Watts Bar plants resolved their problems since the end of the reporting period and have moved to the highest category. But the remaining seven must undergo greater NRC scrutiny until it addresses its safety mishaps.

There were two standout problems. The Browns Ferry 1 in Alabama will require increased NRC oversight as it fell in the fourth category. The NRC concluded it had a “safety finding of high significance.” Finally, the Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska was already under the fourth designation because it only recently restarted in December 2013. It had been shut down for two years after having suffered flood damage.

By Joao Peixe of OIlprice.com



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