NRC releases mid-cycle assessments for U.S. nuclear power fleet

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued mid-cycle assessment letters to the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants regarding their performance through the first half of 2013. The mid-cycle assessment period concluded on June 30, with 92 of 102 plants in the two highest performance categories.

Of the 92 highest-performing reactors, 75 fully met all safety and security performance objectives and were inspected by the NRC using the normal inspection program. Seventeen reactors were assessed as needing to resolve one or two items of low safety significance. For this performance level, regulatory oversight includes additional inspection and attention to follow up on corrective actions.

These plants requiring additional inspection are: Beaver Valley 1 and 2 (Pa.); Browns Ferry 3 (Ala.); Davis Besse (Ohio); Dresden 2 and 3 (Ill.); Fermi 2 (Mich.); FitzPatrick (N.Y.); Grand Gulf (Miss.); LaSalle 2 (Ill.); Nine Mile Point 1 (N.Y.); Point Beach 2 (Wis.); Prairie Island 1 and 2 (Minn.); Susquehanna 2 (Pa.); Three Mile Island 1 (Pa.); and Turkey Point 3 (Fla.). Beaver Valley 1 and 2 and Fermi 2 have resolved their issues since the reporting period ended and have transitioned to the highest performing level.

Eight nuclear reactors were in the third performance category with a degraded level of performance. For this category, regulatory oversight includes more NRC inspections, senior management attention and oversight focused on the cause of the degraded performance. These plants were Browns Ferry 2 (Ala.); Monticello (Minn.); Perry 1 (Ohio); Point Beach 1 (Wis.); Sequoyah 1 and 2 (Tenn.); Watts Bar 1 (Tenn.); and Wolf Creek (Kan.). Perry 1 and Wolf Creek resolved all the outstanding issues and have since transitioned to the highest performance level.

One reactor, Browns Ferry 1 in Alabama, is in the fourth performance category and requires increased oversight because of a safety finding of high significance. Increased oversight for this category includes additional inspections to confirm the plant’s performance issues are being addressed.

Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska is in an extended shutdown with significant performance issues and is currently under a special NRC oversight program distinct from the normal performance levels. Therefore, the plant will not receive a mid-cycle assessment letter.

The Crystal River 3 and Kewaunee nuclear plants entered decommissioning during the first half of this year and are no longer considered operating reactors, so they did not receive mid-cycle assessments.

Near the end of this reporting period, Southern California Edison (SCE) announced that it would decommission the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Units 1 and 2 in California. The plant began transitioning to the decommissioning process in July, so it did receive a mid-cycle assessment for the period ending June 30.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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