TN Nuke Security Incident Brings Oversight

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 11:06 AM gHale

Because of a security violation last fall, additional oversight of the TVA-operated Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant will continue for at least the next six months.

The Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant did meet all federal safety standards last year, but the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will continue the additional oversight.

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In its annual assessment of the twin-reactor nuclear plant in Soddy-Daisy, TN, the commission gave Sequoyah top “green” ratings in 17 major safety categories. But the plant got a “white” rating for security after an undisclosed violation last year. As a result, the plant overall is still in a category 2 rating by the commission.

Regulators don’t discuss security problems at nuclear power plants to help protect against terrorism or other attacks, said NRC spokesman Joey Ledford.

But after discovering deficiencies, regulators monitor plant performance for the next 12 months after corrective actions are taken.

“As a result of one security-related finding in the third quarter of 2017, both units (at Sequoyah) are being subjected to additional oversight in addition to NRC’s normal levels, which entail thousands of hours of inspections each year,” Ledford said.

Although a majority of the nation’s 99 nuclear reactors are in the top Category 1 rating for safety by the NRC, the two Tennessee nuclear power plants at Sequoyah and Watts Bar are in the category 2 rating.

The NRC has placed some nuclear plants in its lowest safety rating, category 5, which requires the plant operator to make major improvements before the plant may resume operations. Fort Calhoun in Nebraska was the most recent reactor given a category 5 grade. Fort Calhoun remained shut down from April 2011 to December 2013 until the NRC was convinced sufficient safety repairs had been completed to allow the reactor to resume operating.

The NRC identified no such major faults at Sequoyah. In a letter to TVA, the NRC’s director of reactor projects, Joel Munday, said the NRC “concluded that overall performance at your facility preserved public health and safety.”

TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said the utility is continuing to work to ensure the safety of its nuclear power program under NRC regulation.



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