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North Anna nuclear plant to face more oversight from NRC

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The North Anna nuclear power plant in Louisa County faces increased oversight from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the result of a violation of low to moderate safety significance linked to the maintenance of the plant’s emergency diesel generators.

The NRC said in a statement Monday that a violation involving the failure of North Anna personnel to establish and maintain appropriate maintenance procedures for the plant’s emergency diesel generators is a “white” finding, meaning it has low to moderate safety significance.

The NRC uses a color-coded system to categorize inspection findings. They range from “green,” for an issue of very low safety significance, to “white,” “yellow” and “red,” which is assessed for the most serious safety violations.

The violation stems from the failure of one of the plant’s four emergency diesel generators following an earthquake last summer on Aug. 23.  The NRC said the failure was not caused by the earthquake, and repairs were completed a short time later. However, ensuing inspections determined that the plant’s maintenance procedures did not provide adequate guidance for installing specific gaskets on the generators. Dominion has since revised its procedures.

The Richmond-based energy company said it will not challenge the NRC white finding.

“There was never any safety threat to employees or the public because the diesel generator was unavailable for several hours. Redundant diesel generators were operating and available to provide electricity to safety equipment, if required,” said Richard Zuercher, manager of nuclear public affairs. 

After offsite power was restored following the earthquake, station personnel inspected the gaskets on the emergency diesel generators to ensure they were properly applied and functioning, Zuercher added.
“Maintenance procedures for these gaskets have been enhanced to reduce the chances that this problem will not recur,” he said.

The white finding means the plant will be subject to additional NRC inspections beyond baseline inspections conducted at all nuclear plants.

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