Mid-cycle assessment letters went out to the nation’s 104 operating commercial nuclear power plants, and as of the end of June, 96 plants were in the two highest performance categories.
“We ensure nuclear power plants are safe, inspecting them and rating their performance regularly, as part of our mission to protect people and the environment,” said Ho Nieh, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) director of the Division of Inspection and Regional Support in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
Of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 62 fully met all safety and security performance objectives and the NRC inspected them using their normal program. The regulators saw 34 reactors needed to resolve one or two items of low safety significance. This represents an increase from the previous assessment cycle. The NRC is confident, however, the regulatory actions dictated by the Reactor Oversight Process action matrix are appropriate for these plants with one or two items of low safety significance. For this performance level, regulatory oversight includes additional inspection and attention to follow up on corrective actions.
These plants requiring additional inspection are: Braidwood 2 (IL); Browns Ferry 2 and 3 (AL); Brunswick 1 and 2 (NC); Callaway (MO); Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2 (MD); Crystal River 3 (FL); Farley 1 and 2 (AL); Fermi 2 (OH); Limerick 2 (PA); Millstone 2 (CT); North Anna 1 and 2 (VA); Palo Verde 1, 2 and 3 (AZ); Pilgrim (MA); Point Beach 1 and 2 (WS); Prairie Island 1 and 2 (MN); River Bend (LA); San Onofre 2 and 3 (CA); Seabrook (NH); Susquehanna 1 (PA); Turkey Point 3 and 4 (FL); Waterford (LA); Watts Bar (TN) and Wolf Creek (KS). (Callaway, Calvert 1 and 2, Crystal River 3, Limerick 2, Waterford, and Watts Bar have resolved their issues since the reporting period ended and have transitioned to the highest performing level.)
Six nuclear reactors were in the third performance category with a degraded level of performance. For this category, regulatory oversight includes more NRC inspections, senior management attention and oversight focused on the cause of the degraded performance. These plants were: Hope Creek (NJ); Palisades (MI); Perry 1 (OH); Saint Lucie 1 (FL) and Salem 1 and 2 (NJ).
One reactor, Browns Ferry 1 in Alabama, is in the fourth performance category and requires increased oversight due to a safety finding of high significance, which will include additional inspections to confirm the plant’s performance issues are under control.
Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska is in an extended shutdown with significant performance issues and is currently under a special NRC oversight program distinct from the normal performance levels. Therefore the plant will not receive a mid-cycle assessment letter.
In addition to regular inspections, the NRC is currently conducting extra inspections to assess all plants’ preparedness to deal with earthquakes and floods. These additional inspections are part of the NRC’s post-Fukushima actions.