NRC Oversight at Pilgrim Plant Entering a New Phase

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer
Region I

One phase down but more to go. We’re referring here to the multiple steps involved in the NRC’s heightened oversight of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant.

pilgIn January, an NRC team completed Phase “A” of the multi-step inspection process required for plants that end up in Column 4 of the agency’s Action Matrix. Pilgrim received that designation last September based on earlier performance issues.

This first inspection examined various aspects of the Plymouth, Mass., plant’s corrective action program, which is in place to ensure that problems, once identified, are fixed on a timely basis according to their safety importance.

Our report on that review noted the identification on one inspection finding of very low safety significance involving a failure to adequately correct water leakage from the core spray system. Otherwise, the inspectors determined that there were no longstanding risk-significant issues in the program that were not addressed or assigned appropriate corrective actions and due dates.

Beginning today, the Phase “B” review will get under way at the facility. This inspection will focus additional attention on the corrective action program but with emphasis on its effectiveness more recently, specifically since the plant began undergoing increased scrutiny last summer.

As was the case with the first phase, the results will be documented in a report due out within 45 days after the assessment has been formally concluded, or exited.

The most comprehensive phase of this process (known in NRC terms as a 95003 inspection) will take place later this year or in early 2017. It will zero in on areas that will include human performance, equipment reliability and the quality of plant procedures, as well as the site’s safety culture, or the willingness of employees to freely and openly raise safety concerns. The corrective action program will also receive another look.

In the meantime, the NRC will be updating the public on Pilgrim’s performance during 2015 at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 13, in Plymouth. We’ll also be taking questions, including those pertaining to our additional oversight of the plant. Further details will be available soon in a meeting notice to be posted on the agency’s website.

More information on NRC oversight activities at Pilgrim can be found on our webpage devoted to the subject.