Comprehensive Inspection Coming to Pilgrim Plant in November

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

PLYMOUTH – The third, and most comprehensive, inspection of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will begin later this fall.

The plant, which is ranked among the three worst performing facilities in the county by the NRC, was placed under increased oversight last year following a series of unplanned shutdowns.

A 20-person inspection team will begin inspections on November 28 and will focus on the reliability of the equipment, staff performance, quality of procedures and the plant’s safety culture.

Inspectors will also look into the plant’s corrective action program, which is the plant’s program for identifying and fixing programs quickly.

“We think [the inspection] will really go a long way toward identifying where the plant stands in terms of turning around some of its performance deficiencies and where it needs to go going into the future,” said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman.

Inspectors will have 45 days after completing the inspection to issue a report that summarizes their findings.

Sheehan said the actions taken by the NRC after the report is issued covers a wide range.

“The company is interested in seeing [if it can] at least move out of the heightened oversight category if not back into the normal oversight,” Sheehan said. “We’ve made clear that there is quite a bit of work that needs to be done before that can happen.”

A confirmatory action letter will be sent to Entergy, the plant’s owner, which details what the company needs to do to get back into a reduced level of oversight.

Sheehan said actions taken by the NRC could include more inspections.

“We are not going to prejudge at this point exactly what might come out of the remainder of this oversight process but suffice to say this team inspection is going to be the largest and most significant piece of the NRC reviews,” Sheehan said.

An order to shut down the plant is also within the range of possibilities following the inspection, according to Sheehan.

“If we saw that performance was not improving, that there continued to be deficiencies there and that they were not getting the level of attention that they warrant, there is always the possibility that we could require that the plant shut down prior to 2019,” he said.

Entergy announced that the plant will shut down by the end of May 2019.

The plant experienced another unplanned shutdown on September 5 when a regulating valve problem resulted in a high water level. The facility was reconnected to the grid on September 19 after plant officials repaired the valve. Additional maintenance on three other valves and a turning gear in the main turbine was also conducted.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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