Generation, Nuclear

NRC cites Wolf Creek nuclear plant for false inspection record

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an order to the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Co. to improve its inspection regime as a result of an investigation determining that two employees falsified records at the Kansas power plant nearly three years ago.

The confirmatory order, much of which has already been undertaken by Wolf Creek leadership, includes a communication from the chief nuclear officer to all employees that such willful misconduct will not be tolerated. The company also undertook an internal investigation with an outside counsel.

Earlier this year, the NRC determined that a Wolf Creek maintenance worker and supervisor both falsified records about the cleaning and inspection of the reactor’s control rod drive mechanisms in October 2016.

The NRC’s year-long probe, which began in 2017, found that several control rod drive mechanism components were coated with a layer of boric acid residue as a result of a leak in a canopy seal well on the reactor vessel head. Workers were ordered to clean the boric acid off the affected components, but due to removal challenges three of the mechanisms were not removed, inspected or cleaned.

The maintenance worker at Wolf Creek, however, admitted he completed the records without observing the actual status of the mechanisms. The supervisor also he assumed the parts had been cleaned and completed his part of the order.

“Based on the evidence, it appears that the maintenance worker and the supervisor deliberately falsified information in the work order,” the NRC report reads.

The 1,200-MW, single-unit Wolf Creek Generating Station is located in Burlington, Kansas. Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. operates the 34-year-old facility for several owners, including Evergy (which includes Kansas City Power & Light and Westar Energy) and the Kansas Electric Power Cooperative.

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