Pilgrim plant inspection report highlights violations

Written by Administrator
 | Wednesday, 29 May 2013 14:19

In a follow up to a 2011 inspection report, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a “Choice Letter” on Friday, documenting three apparent violations associated with the Pilgrim Nuclear Power System run by Entergy.

The letter from the NRC earmarked two of the three apparent violations as being considered for escalated enforcement action. The third violation was a Severity Level IV violation, which is the least severe of the four levels on the NRC’s enforcement scale, so it was not included in the letter.

“Entergy did take appropriate immediate action to address the problems identified by the NRC during the 2011 inspection, and the agency has found performance has improved since the issues were identified as a result of Entergy’s corrective actions,” said Jenny Weil, congressional affairs officer for the NRC. “NRC’s two resident inspectors at the plant site continue to closely monitor the licensee’s actions.”

During an inspection on Feb. 2, 2012, three apparent violations of NRC requirements associated with licensed reactor operator medical examinations and NRC reporting requirements were identified. These apparent violations were discussed with Pilgrim during an exit meeting on Dec. 20, 2011 and documented in the Feb. 2, 2012 report.

Another investigation was conducted on Feb. 1, 2013 to determine whether any Pilgrim employees or contractors deliberately failed to comply with NRC regulations or Entergy’s procedures. Based on the results of the investigation, the letter said, the NRC did not identify any wrongdoing.

The first violation involved multiple examples occurring at various time from March 2008 through Oct. 11, 2011 of Pilgrim licensed operators not meeting certain medical requirements for performing licensed operator activities. A specific example included an employee who, during a medical exam on Dec. 1, 2010, had a blood pressure reading that exceeded the limit required by the plant.

“The NRC inspectors determined that the Pilgrim Medical Examiner who con- ducted the exam was not knowledgeable of the standard or the minimum acceptable criteria contained therein,” the letter read.

Because the examiner was not aware of the medical requirements for employees, the letter said, the examiner approved the operator to continue working at the plant, without advising the employee to take regulating medication.

The NRC also identified examples involving five licensed operators who were not administered stamina tests as part of their required biennial exams and did not receive complete biennial exams.

“The NRC inspectors identified that the [medical examiner] did not administer the stamina tests to these licensed operators at the time of the biennial examinations because of various ailments and disabilities reported to him by the operators at the time of the exams,” the letter said. “The [medical examiner] did not document the basis for these decisions or notify the facility licensee of the operators’ conditions.”

The letter, signed by Christopher G. Miller, director of the Division of Reactor Services, said before making a final enforcement decision, the NRC will provide Entergy with an opportunity to provide its perspective. Entergy can either request a meeting with the NRC or respond to the apparent violations in writing.