NRC Reports Another Pilgrim Violation

COURTESY PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER STATION

PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Nuclear Power Station has once again violated federal safety procedures, according to new information made available by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Federal officials sent a letter to plant owner Entergy detailing a violation by two technicians last March that resulted in the station’s High Pressure Coolant Injection system going offline for 35 minutes. The NRC says the system was accidentally taken out of service when a jumper was installed on the wrong electrical junction box.

“We’ve issued a violation against the company citing this failure to adhere to procedures, and of course this has been a theme at Pilgrim going back for several years,” said NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Pilgrim has been plagued by safety issues recently, and is currently one step away from a federally mandated shutdown. It is one of the three worst performing plants in the country in the eyes of the NRC.

The station’s safety culture has been called into question after a letter from an NRC inspector in 2016 suggested that staff were “overwhelmed just trying to run the station.”

“Clearly [Pilgrim’s safety culture] has been one of our concerns in recent years which is why the plant has ended up in the category of oversight it currently remains in,” Sheehan said.

Entergy will now need to provide a response to the NRC describing the actions they have taken to address the incident.

“Entergy promptly reported this matter to the NRC, when it occurred in March of 2017, and took disciplinary action based on the findings of our investigation,” said Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for Pilgrim. “Integrity is a core value at Entergy, and dishonesty will not be tolerated. We will respond to the NRC with details of the corrective actions put in place to prevent recurrence.”

Just last week, the NRC reported Pilgrim had no safety violations in their final quarterly review of 2017. That was an improvement from the rest of 2017, when the station was hit with 15 safety citations in the first three quarters of the year.

The plant has experienced a series of unplanned shutdowns during winter storms in recent years, a major contributing factor to its downgraded safety rating.

Pilgrim had an unplanned shutdown during a storm in January in this year and also had to cease operations in 2013 and 2015 during storms.

The station is scheduled to permanently close down in mid-2019.

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