NRC Says 96 Of 99 Nuclear Plants Are In Top Safety Categories

All but three of the 99 operating U.S. nuclear power plants are in the highest two safety categories according to the country's nuclear industry regulator. Seven, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, have issues of low significance that require attention, while three have more significant concerns to resolve.

NRC logoThe Nuclear Regulatory Commission said eleven plants had issues of low significance that required attention, but four of those – Duane Arnold near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Milestone 3 in Connecticut and Susquehanna Units 1 and 2, about 70 miles northeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – had already resolved the regulator's concerns and were rejoining the nation's other 85 reactors with no current safety concerns.

The following plants were listed as having low level concerns that still require attention: Clinton and Dresden 2 in Illinois, Davis Besse in Ohio, Indian Point 3 in New York, Prairie Island 2 in Minnesota, River Bend in Louisiana and Sequoyah 1 in Tennessee.

There were no plants listed in the third category that includes plants with more significant issues to address, but three plants – Arkansas Nuclear One Units 1 and 2 and Pilgrim in Massachusetts are in category four, one category away from a mandatory shutdown.

Nuclear One Units 1 and 2 are have two concerns that are deemed “substantial significance,” the NRC said. Pilgrim, on the other hand, is in category four “because of long-standing issues of low-to-moderate safety significance,” the agency said.

Essentially, all but three of 99 operating plants in the United States are running with a clean slate or with issues of low significance that need to be addressed.

Letters to plant operators have been sent out. Every six months operators are sent letters advising them of their most recent assessment. The letters include the NRC's inspection plan for that plant.

“These assessment letters are the result of a holistic review of operating performance at each domestic power reactor facility,” said Bill Dean, director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

Each plant's assessment letter is available on the NRC Web site, as is the agency's assessment of the nuclear power construction projects in Georgia and South Carolina and the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor in Tennessee, which has yet to begin commercial operations, but was granted its first operating license in October 2015.

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