NRC To Hold Regulatory Performance Public Meeting
Regarding Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant on March 18th
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will provide details on its annual assessment of safety performance at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant during a public meeting on March 18 in Plymouth, Mass. The NRC will also discuss the results of a team inspection conducted at the plant last fall in response to two “white” (low to moderate safety significance) performance indicators received by the plant.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson Hotel Plymouth Harbor, at 180 Water St. in Plymouth. Prior to the end of the session, NRC staff will answer questions on the plant’s performance, the agency’s oversight activities and the team inspection.
Determinations on plant performance are based on a combination of inspection findings and performance indicators utilized by the NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process. The findings and indicators are classified by color, ranging from “green,” for an issue of very low safety or security significance, to “white,” “yellow” or “red,” representing high safety or security significance.
Pilgrim, which is located in Plymouth and is owned by Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., operated safely during 2014. However, the plant was under additional NRC scrutiny because of two performance indicators transitioning to “white” in 2013. One of the indicators covers unplanned scrams, or shutdowns, per 7,000 hours of operation; the other involves unplanned scrams with complications.
Last fall, a team of NRC inspectors traveled to Pilgrim to evaluate whether the issues behind the unplanned shutdowns had been satisfactorily addressed. The eight-member team found that although the company’s problem identification, root cause evaluation and corrective action plans were generally adequate, deficiencies still existed in the implementation of corrective action plans, as well as in understanding of the issues’ causes.
As a result, per agency protocols, the NRC in January assigned two “parallel” “white” inspection findings to Pilgrim. The findings administratively replaced the two “white” performance indicators and mean that the plant will continue to receive heightened attention until the NRC can perform a follow-up team inspection and is satisfied the concerns have been resolved. The NRC will conduct that additional inspection once Entergy notifies the agency of its readiness for it. Page | 2
“Our inspectors identified several examples where corrective actions were not completed as intended or were closed prematurely,” NRC Region I Administrator Dan Dorman said. “We expect Entergy to take the steps necessary to put in place corrective actions that will have a lasting impact and reduce the likelihood of unplanned scrams, or shutdowns.”
In addition, the NRC initiated a Special Inspection to review the plant’s performance during a severe winter storm at the end of January that resulted in a reactor shutdown. The results of the inspection will be contained in a report to be issued this spring.
In 2014, the NRC performed approximately 6,500 hours of inspection at Pilgrim.
The NRC issues reports on performance at each plant twice each year: during the mid-cycle, or mid-point, of the year, and at the conclusion of the year. Inspection findings and performance indicators are also updated on a quarterly basis on the agency’s website. Following the release of the Annual Assessment letters each March, the NRC meets with the public in the vicinity of each plant to discuss the results.
More information about the Pilgrim plant’s performance can be found on the NRC’s website.