Hose Causes NJ Nuke Cooling System to Fail

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 @ 06:05 PM gHale


Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station could face additional oversite based on the latest quarterly inspection of the plant in Lacey Township, NJ.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) latest inspection of the plant’s performance found a “White” violation because Exelon did not provide instructions or procedures for maintenance on the plant’s emergency diesel generator cooling water system, according to an NRC letter sent to the plant manager and the site vice president.

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The NRC’s inspection wrapped up March 31. A “White” finding is a finding of low to moderate safety significance, according to the letter.

Exelon did not appropriately prescribe instructions or procedures for maintenance on the emergency diesel generator cooling water system to ensure a three-inch cooling flexible coupling hose ended up maintained to support the EDG safety function.

“As a result, the flexible coupling hose was in service for approximately 22 years and subjected to thermal degradation and aging that eventually led to failure of EDG No. 1 during operating conditions on January 4, 2016, ” the letter states.

Oyster Creek could be facing additional NRC scrutiny after a "white" finding.

Oyster Creek could be facing additional NRC scrutiny after a “white” finding.

The system was inoperable for greater than the allowed outage time.

If it ends up finalized as “White,” the plant would move to Column 2 (the Regulatory Response Column) of the NRC’s Action Matrix and receive additional oversight from the agency.

“The emergency diesel generators serve an important safety function in that they are activated to provide power to key plant safety systems in the event that power to the plant from the grid is interrupted,” said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Exelon had 10 days from the receipt of the letter to either contest or accept the findings.

“We believe that we have sufficient information to make a final significance determination,” the NRC said.

The inspectors also found two violations of NRC requirements, both of which were of very low safety significance during the visit, and a licensee-identified violation of very low safety significance, according to the letter.

Oyster Creek went offline for a planned maintenance outage, said Exelon spokesperson Suzanne D’Ambrosio.

“During the outage, technicians repaired and tested several pumps and seals that control water flow and performed maintenance on a control rod drive mechanism,” she said. “Many of these activities could not be performed while the unit was generating electricity.”

The plant is now back online.

Oyster Creek is the oldest nuclear plant in the United States. It went online on Dec. 23, 1969.