Safety Violations at NJ Nuke

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 @ 12:02 PM gHale

There were five safety violations found at the Salem/Hope Creek nuclear facility along the Delaware River in New Jersey, officials said.

In a report issued for the Salem Nuclear Generating Station Units 1 and 2, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) found four violations, characterized as having “very low safety significance.”

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Violations include failure to maintain an appropriate preventive maintenance schedule for containment cooling fans; failing to properly test equipment; the removal of a barrier designed to prevent the release of radiation, and lack of preventive maintenance on the facility’s ventilation radiation monitor.

Separately, the NRC found one violation at Hope Creek section, also characterized as “very low safety significance.”

NRC investigators said workers did not follow proper procedures to document and correct an issue related to the loss of heat and air conditioning in the main control room during station blackout. An extraordinary rare event, a station blackout occurs when the plant losses onsite and offsite backup emergency power.

PSEG Power, of Newark, NJ, owns the three-reactor Salem/Hope Creek complex on Artificial Island along the Delaware River southeast of Port of Penn.

The company also identified a low safety significance to the NRC. That violation was a failure to implement a security plan for eight shipments of radioactive disposal from Salem Units 1 and 2 between 2010 and 2014. PSEG already entered corrective actions to resolve this violation.

No citations ended up issued because of the violations, according to the NRC report.

The NRC rated the violations Green, which is the lowest level on the four-color scale the NRC uses to rate safety offenses, but were all described as “more than minor.”

“Green doesn’t mean any safety significance, just low-level safety significance,” said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC.

PSEG spokesman Joe Delmar said they have begun correcting the issues identified in the reports.

“Each of the findings are for gaps previously identified,” Delmar said. “Once identified, we enter these items into our corrective action program. Upon receiving the NRC’s official finding on these gaps, we do an additional review to ensure that we have taken appropriate measures that we outlined in our corrective action program.”

Because the violations were “low-level,” the NRC will give PSEG time to address the issues without follow-up until the next inspection, Sheehan said. If a company is slow to correct the violations, the NRC would then pursue additional enforcement action. Sheehan said in some cases, companies have already begun to resolve the NRC’s concerns before to the release of the safety report.

Although, the infractions were not particularly dangerous, Sheehan said the number of violations found at the Salem portion of the plant, which houses reactor Units 1 and 2, were more than what they would typically find during an inspection.

“Four is higher than you usually see,” he said. “Usually, you only see one or two violations.”