NRC Begins Significant Activity under Heightened Oversight at Pilgrim Nuclear Plant

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer
Region I

A significant activity at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant gets underway today when a team of inspectors arrives at the Plymouth, Mass., facility to examine a variety of aspects of its operation.

Included on the 20-member team will be inspectors tasked with evaluating the state of equipment reliability, human performance, plant procedures and the plant’s corrective action program.

What’s more, the team will look carefully at the plant’s safety culture. Among other things, safety culture encompasses the willingness of plant employees to raise safety concerns without fear of reprisal.

This inspection is being performed as part of NRC increased oversight of Pilgrim, which was initiated in September 2015. That occurred after performance issues triggered a change in where the plant falls on the agency’s Action Matrix. The matrix uses inspection findings and performance indicators to guide the level of scrutiny at each plant.

The “95003” inspection process spells out the steps to be taken by the NRC staff to ensure a plant’s owner has taken the appropriate actions to remedy deficiencies. Two earlier team inspections, carried out in January and April, were also part of this oversight regimen.

The inspection beginning today will involve three weeks of on-site reviews. Any findings coming out of the evaluation will be made available in a report due out within 45 days of the inspection’s conclusion.

More information on the NRC review activities regarding Pilgrim can be found on a webpage devoted to that subject.

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.