NRC inspecting TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant after diver detects elevated radiation

NRC inspecting TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant after diver detects elevated radiation

November 16th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

The Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama is shown in this undated file photo. (AP Photo/TVA)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a special investigation at one of TVA's nuclear power plants after a high dose of radiation was detected in a body of water at the plant site.

A diver received a dose alarm during underwater work recently at TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama, according to a NRC report of the incident. When the diver approached the equipment pit wall near the pool used to hold used nuclear fuel at the Unit 1 reactor, an electronic dose rate alarm sounded, indicating elevated levels of radiation.

"Upon receiving the alarm, the diver immediately left the pit and his unintended dose did not exceed regulatory limits," the NRC said in a report of the radiation problem.

TVA later determined that a basket of used filters had been moved from the spent fuel pool into a position near the equipment wall, and this was not communicated to the next shift. TVA spokesperson Malinda Hunter said there was no risk and or excessive radiation exposure for the diver or radiation releases that endangered the public.

"We are independently performing a detailed review and causal analysis of the issue," she said today. "All safety equipment worked as designed and there were no safety concerns for the public or plant personnel."

According to the NRC, a two-person inspection team would identify the circumstances surrounding the event and how the TVA responded to the alarm. The on site portion of the investigation was expected to take several days, and a report documenting the findings would likely be issued in about six weeks.