Special Inspection for Callaway Nuke Plant

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 @ 05:03 PM gHale

Ameren’s Callaway nuclear plant will undergo a special inspection from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Inspectors arrived this week to determine whether an auxiliary feedwater pump getting proper lubrication. The pump helps supply water to the plant’s steam generators, which cool the reactors during accidents.

The on-site inspection could take from two days to the entire week, NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said.

An oil sample taken Feb. 8 indicated the pump might have not have received proper lubrication. The oil sample showed discoloration and contained particulate indicating the oil level may have been too low to properly lubricate the pump bearing, NRC officials said. The pump may not have been able to run for a sufficient length of time to meet its safety function during an accident, according to the NRC.

NRC staff said they decided a special inspection was appropriate due to a previous event in 2009 involving inadequate lubrication in the same system.

Dricks said the incident did not endanger public health or safety, and described incident as one with “low safety significance.”

“We want to look at the ability of Ameren to perform appropriate problem identification and resolution,” he said.

“Callaway Plant personnel identified the issue during routine maintenance and reported it to the NRC,” the company said. “They replaced the oil and the bearings, and an engineering evaluation showed the pump would have performed its intended function if needed. A special inspection is the lowest of three NRC inspection levels that go beyond the normal, ongoing inspections conducted by the resident NRC inspectors based at the plant.”

The NRC inspectors will write an inspection report on their findings within 45 days of the end of the inspection.

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