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Additional Scrutiny at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Set to Continue

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer
Region I

Update: As a follow-up, the NRC is launching a Special Inspection today (Monday, Feb. 2) at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in response to the shutdown that occurred at the Plymouth, Mass., facility on Jan. 27. The six-member team will review equipment issues experienced during the shutdown, including the partial loss of off-site power. The results of the NRC inspection will be made publicly available within 45 days of the inspection’s completion.

Last fall, a team of NRC inspectors was tasked with evaluating whether issues at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant that triggered increased agency oversight had been satisfactorily addressed. That team has now returned its findings in the form of a newly issued inspection report.

pilgrimAnd the answer – at least at this point in time – is that Entergy, the Plymouth, Mass., plant’s owner, still has some more work to do.

Specifically, although the eight-member team has determined that, in general, the company’s problem identification, root cause evaluation and corrective action plans were adequate, it has identified deficiencies in the implementation of corrective action plans, as well as in understanding of the issues’ causes.

In its report, the team cites several examples where fixes were not completed as intended or were closed prematurely.

As a result, per agency protocols, the NRC is assigning two “parallel” “white” (low to moderate safety significance) inspection findings to Pilgrim. The findings will administratively replace two “white” performance indicators that initially led to the plant receiving additional scrutiny.

The net effect will be the plant will continue to receive heightened attention until the NRC can perform a follow-up team inspection and is satisfied the concerns have been resolved. The NRC will conduct that additional inspection once Entergy notifies the agency of its readiness for it.

To back up for a moment, the Pilgrim plant’s performance indicator for Unplanned Scrams (shutdowns) with Complications crossed the threshold from “green” to “white” following the third quarter of 2013. Then, in the fourth quarter of last year, the performance indicator for Unplanned Scrams per 7,000 Hours of Operation also changed to “white,” something that occurs if a plant has more than three such shutdowns during the designated period.

This placed Pilgrim in the Degraded Cornerstone Column of the Action Matrix used by the NRC to assess plant performance.

Pilgrim has not had any unplanned scrams since October 2013, and the performance indicators discussed above are currently “green.” But the assignment of the white findings will keep the plant in the Degraded Cornerstone Column pending successful completion of the supplemental inspection.

The NRC intends to discuss the inspection results during the Annual Assessment meeting for the plant. That meeting will likely take place in March near the plant, but a date, time and location have not yet been firmed up.


67 responses to “Additional Scrutiny at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Set to Continue

  1. John J McClellan June 22, 2016 at 8:52 am

    With the latest Confirmatory Ltr to ANO. I’d like to know why the NRC is letting Entergy off the hook? There appears to be a whole lot of similar issues generically in ANO Ltrs that have been previously identified at other Entergy Facility. Part of the corrective actions at the other Entergy’s Facilities were to make other Entergy plants aware of those problems, so why do they keep occurring and why is the NRC allowing them to occur?

  2. Don Barton June 1, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    To: Neil Sheehan

    As you posted previously, the Pilgrim 2014 Annual Effluent And Radioactive Reports are routinely published in the May timeframe. When will they be posted to the NRC website? Thanks!

  3. Don Barton May 28, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Some Kind of Joke?

    On May 27, 2015, Lauren Burn, spokeswoman for Entergy issued a statement on the most recent Inspection Report. ” We are currently studying several options to improve the long term reliability of the Switchyard during severe weather”. Give me a break!

    In the January 26th, 2015 Pilgrim Inspection Report on the loss of power on the Feb. 8th, 2013 Scram, the report reads,” Specifically, the inspectors noted the corrective action to conduct an engineering study to determine feasible Switchyard upgrades to determine feasible Switchyard upgrades to improve the resistence to flashovers due to ice- bridging on insulators was extended ELEVEN times. At the time of the inspection( 21 months since the event) Entergy has not made a decision as to whether the modification would be funded or implemented”.

    As you will note, The Switchyard connection failed again TWO days later after the release of this report and was instrumental in the course of the JUNO Scram. A sad state of affairs.

    So Entergy is still “thinking”, “studying”, and taking it all under advisement again. That is reassuring.

    How can the NRC put up with this defiance and public refutation of their previous findings that called for action? Why all this forbearance? Is it some kind of “band of brothers” sentiment?

    • Michael Antonelli May 28, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      I’m not trying to defend Entergy, but as a power industry employee, grid changes are very challenging to perform. The stability studies can take months to years to ensure the changes don’t cause undesirable consequences. Additionally for plants in merchant markets, their companies no longer own the grid and in some cases they don’t even own their switchyard, meaning that all changes have to go through the grid’s operating company, who is often back logged with work to do.

      Again not trying to defend. Just trying to give perspective that even if entergy knew what they needed to do today, the grid operator may still need months to years to do studies, budget the equipment changes, and install them.

      If you’ve ever worked with an industrial company who needed changes to their electrical infrastructure, it’s sometimes like pulling teeth to get the grid to even agree there is a problem.

      I agree they need improvements, but sadly it’s not an overnight/turnkey thing to do.

      • Don Barton May 28, 2015 at 6:55 pm

        I agree and understand that the upgrade is a significant undertaking. I ‘m with you. But I feel Entergy has known for a decade that the Switchyard was decaying and, as the record shows, was resolutely determined to take no action, NRC be ignored. Extend and delay! Perhaps meet the quarterly EBITA budget more easily. More of the same in the Entergy’s latest declaration.

        Entergy is not cooling “Hoodsies”, but 1,200,000 lbs. of toxic nuclear waste on the shores of our honored beginnings. That is an unforgiving imperative.

      • NukePuke May 28, 2015 at 8:16 pm

        Good points. It probably does take time. Time is on our side for any other source of power on the planet. Not so with potentially devastating nuclear power. Shutdown Pilgrim and then take all the time you want to do it right!
        Take the public off the hook not Entergy and Pilgrim!

  4. Mike Mulligan May 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I get it, the NRC is hamstrung by congress and the politicians. They above all have to follow the rules.
    My advice to all, get your behind out there and vote!!!

    The Special Inspection as promised:


    May 27, 2015
    Plymouth, MA 02360-5508


    • Don Barton May 28, 2015 at 10:15 am

      Bob Meyer of the Professional Reactors Operator Society calls the Pilgrim shutdown the most significant nuclear event of 2015 which challenged operations and equipment. This is no big deal – well maybe. I fear the NRC will say that Entergy has learned its lessons -again, and ask the Plant when would be a good time to stop by when they feel they are ready. Cross your fingers!

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