Federal Regulators to Evaluate Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant’s Safety Upgrades

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

PLYMOUTH –The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will begin the process next week of determining if the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth has made significant safety improvements.

The latest evaluation will help regulators decide if the troubled plant, which has been under heightened review in recent months, can return to normal oversight.

According to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan, the Plymouth facility came under increased scrutiny in September 2015 following several reported safety issues.

In response, the agency performed a trio of team inspections at the site to assess equipment, human performance and other issues.

Those reviews led to the issuance of aConfirmatory Action Letter (CAL)last August that identifies corrective actions the plant’s owner, Entergy, must carry out in order to address areas of concern.

Starting Monday, Sheehan said the NRC will embark on evaluations of the effectiveness of those actions.

“The results of those inspections will be used to determine whether sufficient performance improvements have been made for the agency to consider closing out the CAL and returning Pilgrim to a normal level of oversight,” he said in a statement.

The NRC will perform five quarterly CAL follow-up inspections between now and the end of 2018.

Each inspection will be performed by a four- to five-person team and will entail one week of on-site inspection, as well as three weeks of in-office review and assessment.

Entergy previously announced plans to close Pilgrim in 2019 after one more refueling.

Sheehan said the primary focus of the first inspection will be procedure quality.

A report will be issued within about 45 days after each inspection and detail the NRC’s assessments and conclusions, including any issues or findings that may be identified.

Pilgrim is one of the worst-performing nuclear reactors in the country.

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