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Dominion Resources : NRC reaches settlement with Dominion over apparent violations at Millstone

08/28/2015 | 09:33am US/Eastern

Aug. 27--WATERFORD -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday announced that it reached a settlement agreement with Dominion Resources over alleged violations at the Millstone Unit 2 nuclear reactor found in an inspection report issued in April.

As part of the settlement, the company is "implementing a broad range of corrective actions ... to prevent recurrences," the NRC said in a news release.

The actions will also answer questions raised by the agency about the extent of changes to reactor safety systems.

The most serious of the violations included one considered for "escalated enforcement" by the NRC.

The NRC characterized it as a "willful violation" that involved changes made without a licensing approval to the plant's Updates Final Safety Analysis Report that removed information about the use of a specific type of safety pump in response to a hypothetical accident.

The pump is part of the plant's emergency cooling system.

Another apparent violation, termed "non-willful" but also considered for escalated enforcement, was for failure to provide complete and accurate information to the NRC about the changes.

A third apparent violation pertained to Dominion's failure to obtain a license amendment before making changes to the spent fuel pool heat-load analysis.

Ken Holt, spokesman for Millstone, said Dominion did not agree with the NRC about the "willful violation."

"The NRC's characterization of 'willful' is one on which we could not find consensus, and on which we agreed to disagree," he said. "The agreement we reached should provide the necessary clarity to put the focus on avoiding the situation from happening in the future."

After the apparent violations were announced by the NRC, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee called for a "government-to-government" meeting with the agency to address serious concerns related to the public health and safety of the plant.

Their concerns were heightened, they said, because the new apparent violations followed three mid-level safety violations in 2014 and a fourth early in 2015. After the meeting on June 11, state officials said they were satisfied that the NRC had properly addressed their concerns.

The settlement announced Thursday was achieved under the NRC's Alternative Dispute Resolution process.

Scott Morris, director of the division of inspection and regional support at the NRC, said the alternative dispute process yielded "meaningful corrective actions that are designed to prevent these kinds of issues from occurring in the future, at Millstone and at other U.S. nuclear power plants."

"The lessons learned will be shared at the site, throughout the Dominion nuclear plant fleet and throughout the industry," he said.

Holt said the process enabled Dominion and the NRC to "discuss our technical differences and reach a mutual agreement."

He said Dominion will fully comply with the required corrective actions, which include the following:

-- Make changes to plant procedures regarding the operation and testing of charging pumps, and evaluate the use of the pumps.

-- Communicate throughout the company about the importance of providing complete and accurate information to the NRC.

-- Submit a license amendment request to the NRC addressing the use of charging pumps and seek approval of the spent fuel pool heat-load analysis.

-- Complete an assessment of the program that allows plant owners to make changes at their facilities without prior NRC approval provided certain criteria are met. The assessment would cover how the program has been used and any corrective actions needed.

-- Make a presentation at a nuclear industry forum to talk about the events that lead to the agreement.

In response to the announcement Thursday, Commissioner Klee said he was particularly pleased that the agreement includes evaluation by independent outside experts.

"I was briefed today by the NRC on the outcome of the alternative dispute resolution with Dominion regarding potential violations at Millstone Power Station," he said in a statement. "The order issued by the NRC as a result of this process is legally binding and contains a wide range of corrective actions -- including evaluation by independent outside experts that will ensure compliance and enhance safety at Millstone both now and in the future."

Klee said the NRC has kept DEEP informed throughout the dispute resolution process, and that Dominion has responded to the state's questions.

His agency, he said, "will continue to observe the implementation of the corrective action plan that has been put in place and work with our regulatory partners at the NRC to ensure Dominion fully implements the actions agreed to in the order."

In exchange for Dominion agreeing to the corrective actions, the NRC said it will not pursue further enforcement of the apparent violations. The NRC said it will follow up to ensure the company follows through on the corrective actions.

j.benson@theday.com

Twitter: @BensonJudy

___

(c)2015 The Day (New London, Conn.)

Visit The Day (New London, Conn.) at www.theday.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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