One of the tensioned cables used to support a reactor containment wall at the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant unexpectedly snapped last summer, and federal regulators want TVA to explain why before resuming any construction at the idled facility.
Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Tuesday that the NRC wants the Tennessee Valley Authority to assess whether the broken vertical tendon at Bellefonte reflects any equipment or maintanance failures that could create more problems. NRC inspectors in December gave a favorable review of TVA's maintenance of the idled plant, where construction has been halted since 1988.
"If multiple containment tendons are found to be losing the capability to carry design force and this condition was left uncorrected, this could jeopardize the ability of the containment structure to perform its design function," the NRC said in its incident report last month.
TVA spokesman Terry Johnson said the agency plans to complete a review of the support cables, or tendons, by the end of March. The TVA board is scheduled to decide in April whether to resume construction of the twin-reactor plant at Bellefonte for possible completion and power generation by 2018.
Garry Morgan, a Scottsboro resident active in the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, said Tuesday the failure of the cable raises questions about the integrity of what was built at Bellefonte.
"What other problems lurk at Bellefonte as a result of the NRC and TVA failing to uphold their commitment to public safety?" he asked.