NRC to review Y2K programs at all 103 operating nuclear plants

NRC to review Y2K programs at all 103 operating nuclear plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) began reviewing Year 2000 computer program activities at all 103 operating nuclear power plants in early April. The review`s purpose is to verify power reactor licensee efforts to ensure plants will function safely on Jan. 1, 2000 and beyond. The NRC also will conduct special audits of Y2K contingency plans at six of those plants.

The reviews will allow NRC to check the progress of all licensees and determine whether any regulatory action is needed. Information from the reviews also will be used in conjunction with status reports NRC has directed its licensees to provide by July 1.

The reviews will be conducted between April 1 and July 31 by NRC inspectors. The reviews will:

– verify that all NRC licensees have implemented Y2K program activities;

– evaluate the progress they have made to assure they are on schedule to achieve Y2K readiness; and

– assess their contingency plans for addressing Y2K-related problems.

Last fall, the NRC began audits at 12 nuclear power plants to evaluate the effectiveness of measures licensees are taking to identify and correct Y2K problems. Those audits, completed in January, did not reveal any problems suggesting NRC-licensed plants will be unable to achieve Y2K readiness.

No Y2K problems have been found that directly affect the proper functioning of safety systems in nuclear power plants. Those items requiring fixes at nuclear plants have typically been found in systems that support day-to-day plant operation-such as data logs and personnel access controls-but which are not necessary for the safe operation and shutdown of the plant.

Inspectors conducting the Y2K reviews received special training. Their inspection procedures and Y2K review checklist are posted on the NRC Internet web page at: http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/NEWS/year2000.html. The NRC also plans to post results of the reviews after they are complete. This site has additional information relating to steps NRC is taking to deal with the Year 2000 problem.

The special contingency plan audits will be done at six sites: (1) Palo Verde in Arizona; (2) Oconee in South Carolina; (3) Duane Arnold in Iowa; (4) Indian Point 2 in New York; (5) Turkey Point in Florida; and (6) Diablo Canyon in California. These plants were selected on the basis of grid system, location, design and age. The plants chosen for the contingency audits are different than the 12 plants previously audited to expand the group of licensees sampled. The audits at these facilities will examine in more detail backup measures the utilities have in place to deal with possible Y2K problems, either onsite or offsite, that might affect plant operations.

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