There are five areas the Waterford, CT-based Millstone Power Station staff needs to examine further as a part of flood risk assessments required at all the nation’s nuclear power plants.
The flood risk assessments are a part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) movement to prevent an incident occurring like the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in 2011, when three reactor cores melted down and large amounts of radiation released after an earthquake and tsunami.
After plant staff completed inspections, NRC inspectors visited plants to verify the company did them correctly and completely, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC.
“This is part of a broader effort to ensure that plants are protected from severe flooding,” he said. The results of the inspections will determine the kinds of upgrades plants will need to do to prevent flood damage, he said.
In a report released Wednesday, the NRC directed Millstone to check for additional areas where water could penetrate. It also said metal siding and caulking on the turbine and enclosure buildings was not sufficiently assessed for effects from storm surges; that flood response procedures were only partially tested; that methods should end up developed to identify missing or degraded flood protection seals in areas of the plant that are difficult to access, and they should resolve a discrepancy in the flood heights defined for particular pieces of flood protection equipment.
Sheehan said none of the five areas identified constitute violations by Millstone, but are “observations” that will guide the operators as they complete the required flood hazard work for the NRC.
The entire nuclear industry and the NRC are learning about a variety of issues from the Fukushima accident, said Rick Zuercher, spokesman for Millstone owner Dominion.
“The NRC issued orders requiring all nuclear companies to evaluate their units against floods and other natural phenomenon that may exceed the units’ design and provide a report to the agency on their findings and actions,” he said. “We did this analysis for Millstone Power Station and the NRC sent an audit team to inspect the units based on our report. The federal auditors provided Dominion with their conclusions, and identified several issues. We will address those issues. Dominion and the NRC have a common objective of protecting the public health and safety of our employees, the communities in which we operate, and the environment.”