TVA fined for quality assurance lapses

20 June 2013

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been fined $70,000 by the US nuclear regulator for violations related to its quality assurance program for its Watts Bar 2 unit, which is under construction.

During an inspection of the Watts Bar 2 construction site between December 2012 and February 2013, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) discovered that TVA had committed three violations related to the commercial grade dedication program. This program is part of the company's quality assurance program for selecting and reviewing the suitability of components procured for the unit's construction.

The NRC found that TVA "was not verifying critical characteristics for an unknown number of safety-related items" and that "a still undetermined total number of these items were installed in the facility."

As a result, the NRC has proposed TVA pay a fine of $70,000, partly because it was the NRC inspectors who identified the violations and not TVA itself.

However, the NRC noted that checks subsequently carried out by TVA have "not indicated that there would have been a loss of safety function as a result of the incorrectly dedicated components."

It noted that TVA did not report the breakdown in the quality assurance program to the NRC even when it was "reasonably apparent."

NRC Region II deputy administrator for construction Fred Brown said, "While TVA has aggressively addressed these issues, the violations and proposed civil penalty emphasize the importance of an effective quality assurance program during construction as well as prompt identification and reporting of any related breakdowns."

The construction of Watts Bar 2 started in 1973, but was stopped in 1985 when it was about 55% completed. TVA decided in 2007 to resume construction. The 1777 MWe unit is slated for operation in 2015.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Filed under: Regulation, Construction, USA