PLYMOUTH – A team of 20 experts with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are launching a comprehensive, three-week, on-site inspection of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, as part of heightened scrutiny by the NRC that was initiated in September, 2015.
The inspection is the last of three since the plant was placed under increased oversight by the NRC.
Inspectors are reviewing many areas of the plant under NRC Inspection Procedure 95003, which lists seven inspection objectives including: Providing the NRC additional information to be used in deciding whether the continued operation of the facility is acceptable; The state of equipment reliability; Human performance; Review of the plant’s corrective action program; And assessing the overall culture of safety within the Plymouth plant.
“Safety culture encompasses the willingness of plant employees to raise safety concerns without having to worry about reprisals,” said Ray Lorson, team manager for the inspection.
As a result of the increased scrutiny, Pilgrim is now one of just three plants, Arkansas number one and two are the others, in the United States listed in Column 4 of the agency’s five-column action matrix, which is designated as Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone.
“If you’re in column five, you’re in danger of being shutdown,” said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan. “If you’re in Column 4, which is where Pilgrim, Arkansas 1 and 2 currently find themselves, you’re certainly going to be subjected to the highest levels of NRC scrutiny.”
Pilgrim is slated to be decommissioned in 2019, and while there are many who are calling for the plant’s immediate shutdown, NRC officials declared that despite the heightened scrutiny, Pilgrim currently has “no immediate safety concerns” and is operating safely.
The inspectors will be on-site for the next two weeks, and return in early January for a final week of inspection.
The NRC will publish its findings 45 days following the conclusion of the inspection, and a public forum with NRC and Entergy officials is anticipated to take place in the late winter or early spring.
By MIKE DEFINA, CapeCod.com NewsCenter