Regulatory verdict on US plant performance

07 March 2016

All but three of the USA's 99 operating nuclear power reactors were placed in the top two of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) categories for performance in 2015, the regulator has announced.

The NRC continuously assesses nuclear power plant performance, and Bill Dean, operator of the Office of Nuclear Regulation, said that letters issued by the NRC to all of the country's operating commercial nuclear power plants are the result of "a holistic review of operating performance" at each facility. "The purpose of these assessment letters is to ensure that all stakeholders clearly understand the basis for our assessments of plant performance and the actions we are taking to address any identified performance deficiencies," he said.

The NRC assesses a licensee's safety performance based on information collected from inspections and performance indicators. From this, it determines the appropriate level of agency response, placing reactors into one of five performance categories.

NRC said that of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 85 fully met all safety and security performance objectives and were inspected under the commission's normal or "baseline" inspection program. Eleven reactors needed to resolve "one or two" items of "low safety significance" and received extra regulatory inspections and the follow-up of their corrective actions. Three of those 11 plants - Duane Arnold, Millstone unit 3 and Susquehanna units 1 and 2 - have now resolved their issues and been moved into the highest performance category, the NRC noted.

There were no units in the NRC's third category of "degraded" performance, but three units - Arkansas Nuclear One units 1 and 2 and the single-unit Pilgrim plant - appear in the fourth performance category of "multiple/repetitive degraded" performance requiring increased regulatory oversight. These units receive additional inspections and NRC attention to confirm that performance issues are being addressed.

No units appeared in the NRC's fifth category of "unacceptable" performance.

The NRC issues assessment letters and inspection plans to individual plants every six months.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News