Today the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a “Supplemental Inspection Report” for Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station related to the special inspections that were carried out in December 2016 and January 2017.
The special inspections were a result of Pilgrim’s downgrade to “Column 4” (Column 4 is one step away from mandatory shutdown, or Column 5) by the NRC in 2016 to one of the two worst performing plants in the country – mainly due to a series of unplanned shutdowns and mechanical failures over the past few years. Learn more about these special inspections HERE and HERE.
The NRC was in town on March 21, 2017 to hold a public hearing to discuss the inspection with Entergy, elected officials, and local residents.
The gist of today’s report is essentially the same as the March public hearing – Entergy showed some improvements in 2016 but not enough to move out of Column 4 (one-step away from mandatory shutdown). There were still issues with safety culture that allowed problems to persist. Despite this, NRC determined that Pilgrim operated “safely” in 2016 and will not be downgraded to Column 5. Moving to Column 5 would mean mandatory shutdown. Enhanced oversight by the NRC will continue in 2017 and another resident inspector has been added at the plant.
Since the NRC was in town in March, Pilgrim has continued to be inflicted with problems, shutdowns, and human errors. Check out some recent headlines:
March 29, 2017: More Problems and a Power Down at Pilgrim
April 6, 2017: Worker Error Causes Flood into Base of Pilgrim’s Reactor
In addition, despite all of the problems that led Pilgrim to Column 4, and the problems that have followed, the NRC has allowed Entergy exemptions from critical safety upgrades. The agency will allow Entergy to forgo seismic and flooding risk reevaluations, as well as the installation of hardened vents meant to prevent release of radioactivity in a severe accident,