2011 Brunswick water leak caused by workers not trained in reactor vessel disassembly

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Nuclear safety officials have concluded that a fluke mishap last year at Progress Energy‘s Brunswick nuclear plant near Wilmington was caused by the lack of worker qualification and that necessary training had lapsed for more than a decade.

In November, mildly radioactive water bubbled out of the chamber rather than boiling inside under pressure to form steam. At one point the water was flowing out at a rate of over 10 gallons a minute, about 100 times more volume than would flow out under normal circumstances.

NRC investigators concluded the lid was improperly attached after a refueling outage because the maintenance workers were not trained in reactor vessel disassembly and reassembly. Qualification for this kind of work hadn’t been provided since 2000, the NRC said in its assessment.

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