Latest Pilgrim Inspection Report Finds New Violations


PLYMOUTH – After back-to-back quarterly inspections without any findings, a number of low safety significance violations were found during the second quarter inspection of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s inspection report found two “green” findings, a severity level 4 violation and other findings in the areas of work-hour controls, the control of secondary containment doors, a degraded time delay relay in the emergency electrical system, standby gas treatment system procedures and reporting requirements to regulators.

NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan says the violations never presented any immediate danger.

“These were qualified as very low safety significance issues, but nevertheless issues that warrant follow up by our inspectors who are based at the plant and some specialist inspectors,” Sheehan said.

The NRC says the documented findings and violations in the report, as compared to the two previous inspections with no issues, does not indicate degrading performance at the facility.

“Pilgrim’s Second Quarter ’18 NRC Inspection report that was released includes three findings of very low safety significance and two non-cited violations, which all are also in the lowest safety significance category,” said Entergy Spokesman Patrick O’Brien.

“Pilgrim self-identified two of the five items, demonstrating our low threshold for identifying issues before they become problems. And, while one of the items dated back to 2015-2017, all five findings have been resolved and entered into our corrective action program.”

It is important to note that the NRC wrote in its report that procedure use and adherence protocol ‘has shown some improvement.’ The Pilgrim team continues its efforts to bring our work performance to the highest quality level and remains vigilant in maintaining site safety and security.” 

Five of the six documented findings resulted from events that occurred between 2015 and 2017.

“A number of these are backwards looking,” Sheehan said.

“These were issues that dated back to the period between 2015 and 2017 that we were following up on to make sure that the company had properly addressed them.”

Only the work-hour controls violation involved Pilgrim’s performance in 2018.

The NRC instituted a fatigue rule several years ago to make sure that workers are getting the proper rest to help reduce the likelihood of personnel errors.

“In this case we found that there was not full adherence to the requirements there,” Sheehan said.

The requirements specify the amount of hours employees can work during any 72-hour period, during any week or any month.

“We take that very seriously and in this case we saw some failures on the part of Pilgrim,” Sheehan said.

In 2015, the station was placed in Column 4 of the NRC’s action matrix, one step away from a federally mandated shutdown, in the wake of a series of safety violations and unplanned shutdowns of the reactor. The federal agency has been conducting additional inspections at the station ever since.

The next quarterly inspection will be conducted in September.

By the end of the year inspectors will have completed five quarterly inspections.

“Then we will step back and see whether or not the company has made sufficient progress to be placed in a different category but we are not there at this point,” Sheehan said.

The plant’s owner Entergy plans to shut down the facility next spring.

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