All nuclear plants continue to operate safely.
“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 Troy Pruett, acting director for the division of inspection and regional support programs in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation about the mid-cycle assessment of the nation’s 104 operating commercial nuclear power plants.
In the mid-cycle assessment period ending June 30, 99 of 104 plants were in the two highest performance categories. Of those, 91 plants were performing at the highest level and undergo NRC inspections at the normal detailed level. Eight plants performed at the next highest level, needing to resolve one or two items of low safety significance, and will receive additional inspection and attention to follow-up on corrective actions. These plants are:
• Brunswick 1 and 2 (NC)
• Byron 2 (IL)
• Cooper (NB)
• Ginna (NY)
• Millstone 2 (CT)
• Prairie Island 1 (MN)
• Turkey Point 4 (FL)
Three nuclear reactors were at the third level of performance with one degraded safety cornerstone and will receive more NRC inspections, senior management attention and oversight focused on the cause of the degraded performance. These plants are:
• H.B. Robinson 2 (SC)
• Perry 1 (OH)
• Susquehanna 1 (PA)
Two plants, Browns Ferry Unit 1 (AL) and Fort Calhoun (NB), require the NRC’s highest level of attention, which will include additional inspections to confirm the plant is addressing performance issues.
In addition, mid-cycle letters also went out to Watts Bar Unit 2 site, (TN) and the Vogtle Units 3 and 4 sites (GA) reviewing activities associated with the early site permit and limited work authorized by the NRC.
Some plants’ ratings may have changed since the last day of the assessment period. Robinson 2 resolved the performance issues and transitioned from the third level to the second level of performance. Brunswick Units 1 and 2, and Turkey Point Unit 4 have resolved their issues that caused the increased regulatory oversight. All three units have since moved to the highest performing level.
Lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station disaster have prompted a comprehensive NRC review of regulations and practices. The NRC will apply the recommendations from this review for any changes deemed necessary to improve the safety of operating plants.
Every six months each plant receives either a mid-cycle review letter or an annual assessment letter, along with an NRC inspection plan. The next annual assessment letters will go out in March 2012.