Duke Energy may face penalties for not installing a protected service water system at its Oconee nuclear plant.

Oconee nuclear plant. Source: NRCOn Monday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced a pre-decisional enforcement conference will take place March 5 after the utility missed a Dec. 31 deadline to install the system. Duke will have the chance to provide further information relevant to the case before the agency makes a decision on penalties.

The three reactors at South Carolina's Oconee plant were among the first in the country to adopt the National Fire Protection Association’s performance-based standard for fire protection at nuclear plants, known as NFPA 805. The NRC approved Oconee's adoption of the new fire standard in 2011, and the plant made modifications that included additional fire detection systems and barriers. The violation alleged by regulators involves one of the plant's last steps toward transitioning to NFPA 805, according to an NRC release. It stated that, "Failure to install the protected service water system is a significant regulatory concern to the NRC because proper installation would improve safety and reduce risk at the plant. Duke requested an additional two-year extension for installation, but the NRC rejected that request on Jan. 15."