NRC: Millstone needs additional check for Unit 2

Waterford - Unit 3 at the Millstone Power Station will receive a normal level of Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspections during 2012, while Unit 2 will have an additional inspection because of a February 2011 incident of low-to-moderate safety significance involving a faulty test of main turbine control valves.

In a letter released Wednesday, the NRC informed Millstone owner Dominion that a review of all the inspections of Unit 3 during 2011 revealed no serious findings. That meant the plant is in the "Licensee Response Column," eligible for the baseline level of inspections for 2012, said Neil Sheehan, NRC spokesman. Inspections at Unit 3 in 2011 resulted in two findings of "very low" significance.

At Unit 2, there were five findings of "very low" significance and one of "low-to-moderate" significance during 2011 that will prompt the additional inspection.

"It is a reflection of our performance," Dominion spokesman Ken Holt said. "We want to be in the Licensee Response Column at both units. By applying corrective actions, we should be back in that category at Unit 2" for 2013.

The February 2011 incident at Unit 2 was cited in a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists as one of the two "most threatening" safety lapses at U.S. nuclear plants in 2011.

The NRC will be inspecting more than 30 different areas at the two plants in 2012, ranging from radiological hazard assessment and exposure controls for workers, to the management of gas accumulation in the emergency cooling core to the requalification of operators.

Of the 104 nuclear power plants at 65 sites nationwide, the vast majority are in the category to receive the baseline level of inspections.

"These plants are meeting our expectations," Sheehan said.

Nine are in the same column as Unit 2; three are in the "degraded cornerstone" column and one is in the "Multiple/Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone" column. There are no plants in the "Unacceptable Performance" category.

The NRC will be reviewing the 2011 inspection results report and other issues related to the Millstone plants in a public meeting tentatively scheduled for April 19 at a time yet to be determined. The meeting with the Connecticut Nuclear Advisory Committee will take place at Waterford Town Hall, consisting of an open house in the afternoon and a public meeting in the evening, Sheehan said.

j.benson@theday.com

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