Monticello nuclear plant will be getting increased oversight because it failed to maintain an appropriate flood protection plan.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concluded that Monticello, located in Monticello, Minnesota, along the Mississippi River, did not have appropriate flood protection procedures and would not have been able to construct a protective wall and levee system within the required time.
The agency classified the violation as yellow, meaning it has substantial safety significance.
The NRC said the plant has made corrections to address the issue. The NRC staff will conduct an additional inspection to make sure those actions are sufficient.
Plant owner Xcel Energy said they monitor river levels and snow cover, and extensively plan for potential floods. The plant now has flood berm materials on site for a worst-case scenario, Xcel said.
Back in June, the NRC flagged the plant with a yellow cautionary flag.
NRC inspectors said Xcel’s flood-fighting efforts, including dikes, could not occur within the 12 days required, and some work would take twice that time.
Xcel, which owns and operates the plant 40 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, said it addressed the problem by putting dike-building materials on site. As a result, NRC inspectors said, the issue is “not a current safety concern.”
But the finding back then, which was preliminary, is the Monticello plant’s most serious safety shortcoming since the NRC adopted a color-coded, four-step ranking system for inspection results. This problem, ranked “yellow’’ is one level short of the “red,’’ or most serious, level. (The two lowest levels are “green” and “white.”)
Xcel had 10 days to challenge it, and the plant faces enhanced inspections if the finding stands.