NRC To Send Inspection Team To Arkansas Nuclear One

[UPDATED]The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday it would deploy a team of 25 inspectors to conduct a Comprehensive Inspection at Arkansas Nuclear One, the Entergy Operations plant in Russellville, Ark., which is one of two nuclear power plants in the country in the regulator's Column 4 status in their operations rating matrix.

Arkansas Nuclear OneColumn 4 is one level away from a mandatory shut-down, which occurs at Column 5.

The inspection team will devote about 3,600 hours of effort to independently assess and document the adequacy of Entergy programs and processes used to identify, evaluate and correct performance issues at the plant, which operates two pressurized water reactors. Unit 1 has a generating capacity of 840 MW, while Unit 2 has a generating capacity of 930 MW. The units came on on line in May 1974 and September 1978, respectively.

The inspection was scheduled last summer as a response to various incidents at the plant which began with the March 2013 accident in which a crane carrying a 1 million-pound generator stator collapsed. The Unit 1 stator was 30 feet off the ground at the time. The fall resulted in injuries to eight workers and the fatality of one worker, 24-year-old Wade Walters. It also ruptured a water pipe, which resulted in four-month shut down of both reactors.

Unit 1 was shut down for refueling at the time of the accident, which occurred in a non-radiation risk area.

The units were returned to service on Aug. 7, 2013 with the cost of repairs from the accident estimated at $120 million.

Inspections since then found that seals meant to protect safety equipment in the emergency diesel fuel storage building were not designed correctly, which pushed the plant from Column 3 to Column 4.

The NRC said that it issued issued yellow findings to Arkansas Nuclear One in June 2014 in connection with a 2013 heavy equipment handling incident at the plant. In January 2015, the NRC issued yellow findings associated with flood protection at the plant. The cumulative effect of these violations moved the plant into Column 4.

The NRC charges the plant operator $225 per hour for its inspections. It has been estimated that inspections at Arkansas Nuclear One for the year will cost $2.3 million.

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