5 violations found in quarterly review of Pilgrim nuclear plant
All the infractions were considered of low safety impact, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
By Christine Legere
Posted Nov. 14, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Updated Nov 14, 2015 at 7:01 AM
PLYMOUTH — During April’s refueling at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, 10 contracted workers entered the main condenser of the reactor to deal with a faulty gasket without wearing the proper protective gear.
The plant’s radiation technician said he believed the workers were simply measuring the gasket. But after measuring it, they proceeded to cut it out in order to replace it.
As they left the condenser area, their personal contamination monitors sounded the alert.
All 10 were decontaminated, and after full body measurement of radiation levels, five were found to have low levels of radioactive contamination. Although those levels were far lower than what is allowable in the course of a year, the workers were monitored for the next several days.
A later check of contamination levels in the area of the joint gasket showed workers, who had worn a single set of protective clothing, should also have been equipped with respirators. Lack of discussion of the full scope of work between the plant’s radiation protection technician and the work crew was blamed for the unintended exposure.
That was one of five violations picked up in an analysis of Pilgrim’s performance during the third quarter of this year. All infractions were considered of low safety significance.
Also on the list were control room alarm panel failures on three occasions in February and May. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors determined the plant personnel failed to monitor the alarm system adequately enough to ensure it would perform its intended function.
Federal inspectors determined plant personnel failed to perform required testing on a second emergency diesel generator within 24 hours of the time the first emergency generator was found to be inoperable.
According to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan, another infraction involved the failure of plant personnel to adequately assess the operability of the plant’s shutdown transformer. “The transformer was incorrectly identified as operable even though that was not the case because of changes to an off-site power line that feeds the transformer,” Sheehan wrote in an email.
A final infraction was related to the alteration of an off-site power line without first securing the required NRC approval.
The commission released the report Friday. Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner and operator, has 30 days to contest the findings.
Entergy spokesman Patrick O’Brien did not return calls seeking comment.
Follow Christine Legere on Twitter: @ChrisLegereCCT.