Operator inattention attracts fine

10 January 2012

River Bend
The single-unit River Bend nuclear power plant (Image: Entergy)


Entergy has been fined $140,000 after control room workers at River Bend nuclear power plant were caught surfing the Internet.


With primary responsibility for monitoring the status of a nuclear power reactor and its safety systems, control room operators are required to remain focused on their work continuously. This can be difficult during long periods of continuous and stable power generation, but some River Bend workers broke basic rules by accessing the Internet without permission. They researched news, retirement plans and sports including fishing.


Of the nine operators that broke the rules, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said three did so "with such frequency and duration" that they are being issued 'severity level III enforcement violations.' The others received level IV violations, the lowest level.


Entergy notified River Bend's resident NRC inspector of the issue in July 2010 and then took part in NRC's investigation. In November last year the NRC concluded Entergy had not taken sufficient action to remedy the problem and it has now issued the utility with a level III violation for the plant as a whole and a fine of $140,000. This is double the base level fine for this category of violation.


The NRC's regional administrator, Elmo Collins, said Entergy did not "promptly address the larger safety culture issue," adding that the number of workers in violation and the wilful nature of the violation contributed to the scale of the punishment.


River Bend is a 978 MWe boiling water reactor that began operation in June 1986.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News