NRC Dings Turkey Point, Fort Calhoun and Catawba Nuclear Plants

Tuesday brought bad news for the operators of three U.S. nuclear plants, with two facing significant regulatory violations and a third undergoing inspections following a power outage last week.

Florida Power and Light faces a $140,000 fine from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission related to an issue at the Turkey Point plant that went unreported. For seven months in 2010 and 2011, crews had disabled portions of the ventilation system in the plant’s technical support center needed to protect operators in an emergency, the NRC said in a release.  While the NRC only assigned the violation a white finding, denoting low to moderate safety significance, the agency indicated it imposed the fine because FPL failed to report the condition in a timely manner.

On the same day, the NRC announced it has confirmed the high-safety-significance red finding it issued on a preliminary basis to the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant last month. A fire in a faulty breaker at the Omaha Public Power District plant last June briefly cut power for spent fuel cooling and other critical safety systems.

Meanwhile, regulators also announced they will inspect Duke Energy’s Catawba plant near Charlotte, N.C., because of a power outage at the plant April 4. One reactor was offline and another tripped when off-site power to both was cut. Diesel generators started automatically, no damage was reported and the resulting unusual event declaration ended when external power was restored a few hours later. This week, three inspectors from the NRC’s Atlanta office will study the event’s timeline and the utility’s actions before and after the outage.

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