published Monday, March 31st, 2014

After $70,000 fine, TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant now meets safety standards

After being fined $70,000 last year for failing to verify equipment reliability, the Tennessee Valley Authority is now meeting all regulatory standards for construction of its newest nuclear reactor, regulators said in a letter released today.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said TVA corrected the three violations identified last spring that resulted in a civil penalty against TVA for not ensuring that equipment being installed at Watts Bar Unit 2 met nuclear standards. TVA expects to complete the second reactor at Watts Bar for power generation by late 2015.

"Overall, the corrective action program implementation activities, including initiation, classification, disposition and trending were deemed satisfactory," NRC Director of Construction Projects Joel Munday said in a letter to TVA released today.

Last year, TVA had to reinspect and verify the reliability of equipment that was put in the Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar in the past without proper certification for a nuclear plant. Ultimately, the equipment was deemed adequate, although TVA was fined for not following proper NRC standards for previously verifying the plant materials met NRC standards.

The NRC has scheduled meetings at 4 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. on April 8 to discuss TVA's $4 billion construction program at the Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar near Spring City. At the meetings, NRC and TVA officials will discuss the ongoing work at TVA'S newest reactor, including major milestones and potential challenges that may impact the construction schedule in the next year and a a half before the scheduled start of power generation.

The NRC has spent more than 13,000 hours in the past year performing inspections, assessments, public meetings, allegation follow-up and inspection program support for Watts Bar Unit 2.

"Our inspectors spend many hours monitoring construction activities to ensure that the plant is built in accordance with NRC regulations and its certified design," Victor McCree, regional administrator for the NRC in Atlanta, said in a statement today. "We hold these meetings to make our staff available to people who live close to the site and answer questions about our oversight of construction."

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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