MI Nuke Facing Safety Downgrade

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 @ 11:12 AM gHale

A safety violation of “low to moderate safety significance” at the Covert, MI-based Palisades nuclear power plant earlier this year could lead to increased federal scrutiny.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a report last week on its preliminary “white finding” at the plant, related to methods used to calculate exposure to radiation by workers who were replacing control rod drive housings between January and March.

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The finding is preliminary for now, giving plant owners Entergy the chance to dispute it.

But if it stands, the NRC would downgrade the safety status of the plant and boost its regulatory oversight, said NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng.

Plant spokeswoman Lindsay Rose said Tuesday the company will respond to the finding by Friday.

“We took multiple actions during the course of the work to ensure that radiation exposure would be kept as low as possible and that workers’ exposure would be accurately measured and assessed,” she said.

The violation related to methods used to track radiation exposure, with the use of dosimeters, and specifically whether they were in proper position on the workers to most accurately determine the radiation doses.

In its report, the NRC included a series of photos of the workers, purporting to show how protective wore their vests. There appeared to be gaps in the protection provided by the vests due to how they ended up worn or positioned.

The NRC concluded it appears no workers received higher-than-allowed radiation doses, but the problems had the potential to have low to moderate safety significance.

The color-coded violation system used by the NRC includes green, white, yellow and red, with green having the lowest safety significance.

The plant is in the highest of four safety status categories used by the NRC, but the white finding would bring the plant down to the second-highest category if it stands, Mitlyng said. The NRC did downgrade the plant that category a few years ago, but it was a temporary status until it returned to the top category.



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