Group singles out Millstone incident as one of two 'most threatening' in nation in 2011

Waterford — In a report released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists ranked an incident at Millstone last year as one of two of the “most threatening” safety lapses at U.S. nuclear power plants in 2011.

The nonprofit safety and environmental advocacy organization examined what it termed “near misses” at nuclear plants around the country that triggered special investigations by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

It ranked an error-ridden test last year of steam control valves for one of the main turbines at the Millstone Power Station as one of the two “most threatening.”

The group concluded that the 15 incidents, including the Feb. 12, 2011, event at Millstone Unit 2, are evidence that plant owners and the NRC are not addressing known safety problems adequately. Millstone 2 is one of two operating nuclear power plants at the Waterford site.

In an e-mail message, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan took issue with the UCS’s characterization of the Millstone 2 event as a “near miss.”

“Our reactor inspection program is, by its very design, aimed at identifying low significant issues well before they would manifest themselves in ‘near misses,’” he said. He emphasized that there were “no immediate safety concerns” as a result of the incident because it did not cause power levels in the reactor to exceed license limits or damage fuel.

j.benson@theday.com

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