NRC Sends Augmented Inspection Team To Fuel Plant In South Carolina

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday it was sending an Augmented Inspection Team (AIT) to the Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel Plant in Columbia, S.C., to look into why an air scrubber had built up an unexpected amount of uranium-bearing material.

NRCThe team was going to the plant “to assess the unexpected accumulation of an excessive amount of uranium-bearing material,” the NRC said.

An AIT is formed to review specific circumstances surrounding what the NRC calls significant events at licensed facilities. The six-member NRC inspection team in this case includes fuel facility inspectors and a manger from the agency's Region II office in Atlanta, as well as inspectors from NRC Headquarters in Rockville, Md.

The NRC said an air scrubber, which removes unwanted material from a number of processes at the plant, was undergoing an annual inspection and clean out, when it was discovered that an unexpectedly large amount of material was found inside the scrubber.

It was initially thought that the material was benign. However, upon analysis, it was found that the uranium levels in the material were higher than that area than allowed under NRC regulations.

There were no actual safety-related consequences that resulted due to the accumulation of the material or its discovery, “but the potential for such consequences may have existed,” the NRC said.

The team will review the incident and publish a report on the situation within 30 days after the inspection is completed.

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