December inspection failures of standby shutdown systems leaves Oconee Nuclear under heightened NRC oversight

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s annual review states that Oconee Nuclear met all safety objectives in 2011, however the federal agency will keep the nuclear power plant under heightened NRC oversight due to a December inspection finding related to a failure to adequately maintain the plant’s standby shutdown systems, according to the NRC.

The NRC will meet with Duke Energy officials and the public to discuss the annual assessment on April 9 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the World of Energy at Oconee Nuclear Station, said Sandra Magee, a Duke spokeswoman.

The prior issue involving faulty breakers which have been replaced with fuses,  in the plant’s standby shutdown facility won’t impair the facility’s safety record, according to a second letter from the federal agency specifically related to that issue.

Recently, after reassessing the 385-foot-tall Jocassee Dam just upstream from the Oconee Nuclear Station, the NRC opted to rethink and possibly retool U.S. nuclear power plants against flooding.   A new U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission analysis of the potential for upstream dam flooding examined the history at two nuclear power plants — Oconee and the Fort Calhoun station in Nebraska.

The NRC said its analysis shows “several uncertainties exist with regard to the risk posed to Oconee Nuclear Station due to upstream dam failure. In particular, uncertainty exists about the flood levels at the site that would result from failure of Jocassee Dam.”

Sewage line failure in Turbine building discharges to the Keowee River – NRC Event Notification – March 29th, 2012

“On March 24th, 2012 at 6:10 p.m., a four inch sewage line in the turbine building failed. This allowed sanitary wastewater to spill into the turbine building basement. An estimated 100 gallon entered into trench drains and then to the station sump which discharges into the conventional wastewater system.

This conventional wastewater system is discharged to the Keowee River from NPDES [National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System] outfall 002. The discharge of outfall 002 is into the Keowee River below the Keowee River Hydro Station.

The normal discharge path for sanitary wastewater is to the City of Seneca. South Carolina DHEC [Department of Health and Environmental Control] was notified of the spill on 3/24/12 at 2259 hrs EDT.

After further review, this was determined to be reportable under 10CFR50.72(b)(2)(xi).” This event was determined to be reportable at 2150 EDT on 3/28/2012.

The event was entered into the corrective action program. There was no impact on plant operations and the cleanup has been completed. The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

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