NRC: Entergy at Fault for ’09 Leak

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 01:08 PM gHale

Entergy’s Waterford 3 power plant allowed “highly radioactive” coolant water to leak inside the plant during a 2009 refueling shutdown, which resulted in increased radiation exposure to workers.

The plant, located in Taft, LA, on the west bank of St. Charles Parish, “failed to keep highly radioactive water from leaking onto work areas around the reactor coolant pumps, despite knowledge that this condition could occur. This failure resulted in high levels of radioactive contamination and unexpected and unintended dose to plant workers,” said the preliminary finding from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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The incident did not endanger the public or the workers, whose radiation exposure undergoes monitoring in real time, and who leave the area well before the maximum safe exposure, said Waterford spokesman Carl Rhode. The water did not escape the plant’s containment building, he said.

The finding means Entergy will meet with NRC officials to determine what they could have done better.

The finding was a “White” level infraction, the second of four levels of concern. More serious concerns are Yellow and Red, while the least serious is Green.

The problem occurred when modified pipe seals “de-staging” when being depressurized for maintenance, allowing water to leak onto the floor. The company has since mounted a trough system that routes the water into an interior drain system, according to the report.

“They thought we could have prevented more doses in one of about a thousand jobs,” during the turnaround, Rhode said of the NRC. “At no time did any of the workers go over NRC limits. But they still felt we could have done more, so we’ve used that as an opportunity for learning, and in fact, they found that our radiation protection performance in the following outage, in the spring of 2011, was excellent.”

The Waterford 3 nuclear power plant in Taft, LA.

The Waterford 3 nuclear power plant in Taft, LA.

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