Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant has been cleared of three minor safety violations, and a timetable for rectifying a major one has been set.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission cleared the Tennessee Valley Authority-run plant of three “white” findings at a public meeting between NRC and TVA representatives.
NRC rates findings from safety inspections on a scale with color codes of green, white, yellow and red, with green being no problem and red being the highest safety risk.
One of the white findings at Browns Ferry, which is near Athens, related to operators and staff not being adequately trained on new shutdown procedures.
Two others came from Unit 1’s high-pressure injection system being out of service more than expected and unplanned shutdowns on Unit 3.
Eugene Guthrie, of NRC, said the agency concluded that TVA understood the problems and took appropriate corrective actions.
The plant is still under a “red” finding after a stuck valve in an emergency cooling system was discovered in May 2011. Guthrie said red findings are rare.
In August, Browns Ferry site Vice President Keith Polson said the plant was about 40 percent complete with a safety improvement plan and expected to be 75 percent complete by the end of the year. On Thursday, Polson reported 72 percent completion. He said several improvements, including better recording of safety concerns by engineers.
“All of these things have to be sustainable,” he said.
Preston Swafford, TVA’s chief nuclear officer, said the improvements at Browns Ferry cover a wide spectrum. They include equipment upgrades and overhauls that improve safety and reliability; creation of a stronger safety-conscious work environment; a more robust Corrective Action Program to find, understand and fix problems; and a marked reduction in human performance errors.
“The readiness of Browns Ferry for the inspection goes far beyond improvements to the material condition of the plant,” Swafford told NRC officials. “It gets at the culture of the employees, the culture of the leadership team, the strong governance model and all of that is coming together in a powerful way.
“There’s a lot of energy at the station and it’s headed in the right direction.”
NRC won’t conduct the final inspection on the red finding until TVA formally requests it. Polson said he expects the request to be made in January. If that happens, the inspection will likely start in April.
“It will probably take a couple of months,” Guthrie said. “It’s a very thorough inspection.”