NRC: Outdated Safety Equipment Discovered During Pilgrim Inspection

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

PLYMOUTH – Inspectors with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week found safety gear designed to activate in the event of an accident at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station had been in place over a decade longer than it should have been.

Federal inspectors discovered that the electrical relays responsible for shutting safety valves in the structure that houses the reactor had been in place for 22 years. The equipment is supposed to be replaced once every 10 years.

“The information that is available to us shows that while [the electrical relays] would have performed their function, the maintenance on these valves had not taken place at the appropriate intervals,” said NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Plant-owner Entergy will be replacing the outdated electrical relays. Crews have closed and deactivated the safety valves as a precautionary measure during the repair process. The reactor continues to operate at 100 percent power.

The discovery was made by the three full-time inspectors the NRC has stationed at Pilgrim, due to the station’s poor standing with federal regulators. The plant is under increased scrutiny as a result of multiple unplanned shutdowns and sub-standard safety reports and faces additional inspections and oversight from federal officials.

Pilgrim is currently one of the three worst performing plants when it comes to federal safety standards in the country.

“We’ve set the message very loudly and clearly that we expect the company to be vigilant as far as safe performance,” said Sheehan. “There’s no room for the company to ease up as far as safety performance.”

Pilgrim is set to close in 2019. Company officials say it is no longer financially viable.

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