NRC official says 2012 a safe year at Millstone

Waterford - The Millstone Power Station operated safely in 2012, protecting the public and the environment from possible risks associated with the two working nuclear power plants at the site, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission official said Tuesday.

Ronald Bellamy, branch chief for the Division of Reactor Projects at the NRC, said that was the conclusion the public and the Connecticut Nuclear Energy Advisory Council, the independent citizen review panel for Millstone, can reach regarding Millstone's performance in 2012. NRC inspections found no safety violations in 2012 higher than those of "very low" safety significance, the lowest level.

This year, the plant was able to move to a routine level of NRC oversight. During 2012, the plant was under increased scrutiny because of a "white" finding - the second-lowest level - in February 2011.

Bellamy told the council that NRC inspectors spent 7,307 hours examining Millstone equipment and operations during 2012. His comments came during the NRC's annual meeting with the advisory council and the public on Millstone's performance the previous year.

Bill Sheehan, chairman of the advisory council, asked about the number of allegations reported to the NRC in 2012 by Millstone workers and the public. The allegations can relate to issues ranging from technical operations at the plant to employee working conditions.

Bellamy said the number of allegations at Millstone is "marginally higher" than the national average for nuclear plants, "but not off the charts." There has not been a significant increase of allegations raised regarding Millstone, he added. Each allegation is investigated by NRC staff on site.

Paul Blanch of West Hartford, a former Millstone employee who is now an independent consultant on nuclear power issues, was the only speaker during the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment. Blanch took issue with Bellamy's characterization about the trend for allegations at Millstone. He noted that there were 19 allegations raised in 2012, compared to 11 in 2011, four in 2010 and five in 2009.

Blanch also said problems have been detected recently with some cables that supply service water pumps and other equipment at some nuclear power plants elsewhere in the country. He raised the issue, he said, so that the advisory council would be aware the problem exists in the industry and learn whether it has been addressed at Millstone.

"I'm really concerned about maintaining safety and enforcing regulations," Blanch said.


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