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Federal utility fined $900K for nuclear violations, coverup

Federal utility fined $900K for nuclear violations, coverup, Star Tribune, By TRAVIS LOLLER Associated Press, NOVEMBER 13, 2020
Federal regulators have fined the nation’s largest public utility more than $900,000 for violating procedures during the startup of a Tennessee nuclear reactor and subsequently misleading investigators. Two managers and a plant operator who worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Barr Nuclear Plant in Spring City were also issued violations by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Howard Hall, director of the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Nuclear Security, said the notice of violation to TVA points to “a systemic problem in management.”

“As someone who has worked in this field essentially my entire life, I would have been appalled to receive such a letter,” Hall said.

In a notice dated Nov. 6, regulators noted a “substantial safety culture issue” at Watts Bar at the time of the incident. They also found that “TVA senior management and staff failed to communicate with candor, clarity, and integrity during several interactions with the NRC during the course of the inspection and investigation.”

According to NRC documents, on Nov. 11, 2015, a shift manager at Watts Bar directed the control room to begin heating up a reactor even though the plant’s usual pressurizer system, which keeps the reactor water from turning to steam, was out of service. When trying to heat up with an alternate system, the pressurizer rapidly began to fill with water. Staff then had to “take actions outside of proper operating procedures” to bring the water level down.

The incident wasn’t recorded in the plant’s logbook and managers later misled NRC investigators about what had happened. ……… https://www.startribune.com/federal-utility-fined-900k-for-nuclear-violations-coverup/573069392/

November 16, 2020 - Posted by | incidents, Legal, USA

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