Feds See White, Hike Oversight of FL Nuke

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 @ 10:11 AM gHale

The St. Lucie Unit 1 nuclear facility will receive increased oversight by federal regulators because of violations linked to plant operators’ failure to ensure the reactor’s auxiliary building was watertight, said officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Juno Beach, FL-based Florida Power & Light Co. operates the plant located in Jensen Beach on Hutchinson Island east of Port St. Lucie.

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The NRC labeled the finding, originally documented in a Sept. 24 NRC inspection report, as “white,” or of low to moderate safety significance. The NRC evaluates inspection findings and performance indicators at commercial power plants with a color-coded system which classifies them as green, white, yellow or red, in increasing order of safety significance. With the white finding, St. Lucie Unit 1 will receive an increased level of inspection and oversight.

FPL did not contest the safety significance of the finding, and has agreed to corrective actions that include repair of flood seals, flood response procedure revisions, additional site visual inspections of flood protection features and program improvements to ensure external flood barrier integrity.

“It is important to understand that this issue did not present a risk to the health and safety of our workers or the public,” said FPL spokesman Greg Brostowicz. “There is no current compliance or safety issue related to water intrusion at St. Lucie.”

In addition to the white finding, NRC also assessed a Severity Level III violation against FPL for failure to provide the NRC with complete and accurate information on the condition of the flood barriers at St. Lucie. Civil penalties for that violation ended up waived because St. Lucie has not been the subject of escalated enforcement actions for the last two years and has undertaken the necessary corrective actions.

“The St. Lucie plant continues to operate in a way that protects public health and safety,” said Victor McCree, the NRC’s Region II Administrator. “However, the NRC wants to make sure that all nuclear plant operators recognize the importance of protecting safety equipment from possible flood damage.”

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