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Monday, January 21, 2013

VIDEO: Millstone Nuclear power plant flagged for two more safety violations

One related to preparedness for major storm
By Will Collette

Just a few days ago, I wrote about a new report that finds that many of the nation’s nuclear power plants are not prepared to weather the serious storms that weather experts say will be increasing in severity due to climate change.

I noted problems that our local nuke, the Dominion Resources-owned Millstone generating station just 20 miles west of Charlestown just on the other side of New London, had to power down when Hurricane Sandy approached.

According to the New London Day, concerns about Millstone were warranted because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had discovered during an inspection on October 29 that Millstone lacked a gauge that would measure whether flood waters had reached a critical level. October 29 was the day Sandy made landfall in New Jersey.

As is the NRC’s common practice, it issued Millstone with a slap-on-the-wrist “green” notice of violation (the lowest level of severity) and ordered it to take corrective measures.

The NRC also found that the probe that measures the level of nuclear fission while the reactor is in operation was out of order for 31 days – the maximum time allowed for such a gauge to be out of order is seven days. That also drew an NRC tap on the wrist.

Millstone had to go through a lot of trouble to find a high-tech remedy for the flood surge measuring violation. According to Millstone’s p.r. flak Ken Holt, the company painted a “very visible” line on the seawater intake structure at the 19-foot mark above mean high tide for the Unit Two reactor and 19.7 feet for Unit 3.

If water reaches those marks, it is considered “an unusual event” and Millstone will then take emergency actions.

Holt also said that Millstone staff will be retrained in proper procedures which is what they usually do every time the NRC hits them with a violation.

I’d imagine the training program would involve watching this film (two parts):