MA Nuke Begins Refueling

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 @ 10:04 AM gHale


Operators of the troubled Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station at Plymouth, MA, started a power reduction for the station’s scheduled refueling outage.

Entergy, the plant’s owner, said Sunday it is spending $70 million and bringing in more than 1,000 skilled temporary workers to work with the plant’s 600 full-time employees on the refueling. The workers will upgrade, replace and inspect hundreds of pieces of equipment.

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Pilgrim began commercial operation in 1972 and ended up relicensed in 2012 to operate until 2023.

Spokeswoman Lauren Burm said in a statement the time that Pilgrim will return to the power grid is “sensitive information that can’t be shared.”

Back in March, Pilgrim had “more work to do,” from the perspective of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), after an assessment of the facility at its end-of-cycle performance review.

The review evaluated quarterly performance indicators (PIs) at the plant, along with inspection results and enforcement actions during all of 2014.

Determinations of plant performance end up based on a combination of inspection findings and performance indicators utilized by the NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process.

Those findings and indicators have color classifications ranging from green, for an issue of very low safety or security significance, to white, yellow then red, representing higher safety or security significance.

The plant’s PI for “Unplanned Scrams (shutdowns) with Complications” had moved from the lowest safety significance rating of green to white near the end of 2013.

Another PI for unplanned scrams, this one based on occurrences within 7,000 hours of operation, also changed to white, because of a third shutdown during that period.

Those two indicators pushed Pilgrim into what the NRC calls the Degraded Cornerstone Column of its action matrix during much of 2014, resulting in increased agency oversight of the plant.

Last fall, a team from the NRC began evaluating whether the issues at Pilgrim that triggered the increased oversight ended up satisfactorily addressed.

If the answer was yes, the NRC could remove the plant from that degraded status and the additional inspections would end, barring any new events.

The inspector’s work completed last month, and the NRC’s answer was to keep inspections ongoing.



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