Fort Calhoun: Progress but Scrutiny Continues

Lara Uselding
Public Affairs Officer, Region IV

Here are some of the latest statistics related to the ongoing shutdown of the Ft. Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska:

• 27 months being shutdown

• Seven separate NRC team inspections on site in 2013

• About 40 NRC inspectors on site this year

• 15 restart checklist items left to be evaluated and resolved by the plant owner before restart

fcsWhat does this add up to? A nuclear power plant still being scrutinized by the NRC since a 2011 refueling outage followed by record Missouri river floods, a breaker fire and additional restart complications.

Yesterday, the NRC issued the results of a restart readiness inspection at the plant, which is, operated by the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). The inspection report is a lengthy document detailing 36 findings by NRC inspectors.

A majority of the findings have to do with the plant operator not thoroughly or consistently evaluating and resolving problems within the Corrective Action program. Some of the other findings deal with not following procedures as outlined by plant documents known as technical specifications.

Based on the results of the inspections, the NRC has concluded that five areas on the Confirmatory Action Letter Restart Checklist were adequately addressed by the licensee and will be closed. That means that NRC believes OPPD has appropriately addressed third-party safety culture assessment, quality assurance, integrated organizational effectiveness, human performance, and their review of licensing commitments. A second report issued last week also closes out the area of emergency preparedness.

This means plant’s officials have made improvements in areas that led to their performance decline. For example, OPPD completed a third-party safety culture assessment that gave them a better understanding of human performance, problem identification and resolution, and decision-making deficiencies that led to their performance decline. They have implemented short term actions and are developing long-term action plans to address future performance improvements.

In addition, the NRC has determined that OPPD has successfully addressed the area of organizational effectiveness that translates to improvements in management oversight of facility activities.

NRC has announced the next public meeting will be held in Omaha on July 24. At this meeting, we will present a status of our inspection activities and OPPD will provide an update on their actions.

The NRC will later conduct follow-up inspections to look at the remaining open performance areas and to see if plant personnel, equipment, and processes are ready to support the safe restart.