NRC cites Millstone for two violations in triennial fire inspection

A three-year fire inspection at Millstone Power Station turned up two violations that owner Dominion is in the process of rectifying.

Conducted on Sept. 22 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the inspection is a major review of firefighting plans and procedures in place to protect two operating reactors, Units 2 and 3. (Unit 1 is permanently shut down.) Such inspections are conducted at all of the 104 reactors in the country.

The two violations received by Millstone are of low safety significance and in the range of what has been identified at other plants in recent years, said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Nuclear fire brigades must comprise at least five available members on each shift, according to NRC requirements. Training requirements include the ability to fight a variety of different fires, such as those involving energized electrical equipment, fires in electrical cables and cable trays; hydrogen fires; and several others, Sheehan said.

According to the report released last week, the more significant violation involved failing to update the use of a variety of manual firefighting procedures at Unit 2 by getting NRC approval for them. The fire protection requirements were change in 2006, and Dominion had three years to keep up with them, Sheehan said.

"This deals with their ability to deal with fires in a whole variety of locations in Unit 2," said Sheehan. A cited "green" violation means "they're not going to get additional NRC oversight as a result of this. Nevertheless, we found the violations warranted attention. They'll get a chance to put it in their corrective action program."

The violation is labeled "green," and of low safety significance, because the manual procedures put in place are considered "reasonable" interim backup measures, the report states. But regardless, the steps have to be approved by the NRC. In fact, Dominion has already entered this issue into its corrective action program, the report states.

Dominion spokesman Ken Holt said the company had been working on filing for approvals for the use of manual procedures in cases where fires break out in multiple locations at once, and thought, "wrongly," that that covered situations where a fire breaks out in one spot. It does not.

"We are still conducting analysis and making preparations to file for (the approvals)," said Holt. "It's a big inspection and it's the first time we did both units simultaneously. (NRC inspectors) were looking at more things, more resources are involved."

In the second finding, also green but less serious, a variety of issues at Units 2 and 3 led the NRC to require Dominion to set up strategies to cover the lapses, ranging from a water hose being too short at Unit 2 to a relocated hydrant not being properly tracked for future reference by firefighters at Unit 3, the report said.

Also at Unit 2, Dominion had not set up effective procedures to cope with the complications arising from the way a fan blowing smoke from a fire between two emergency diesel generator rooms could obscure the source of the fire.

"The combination of these issues led us to issue a violation saying, 'You need to maintain effective strategies,' " Sheehan said.

p.daddona@theday.com

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