Nuclear Regulatory Commission ranks Pilgrim among worst US nuclear plants
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth will continue to be classified by the federal government as one of the worst performers among nuclear power plants in the country, at least for now, based on a recent inspection.
Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Entergy Corp., the plant’s owner and operator, put together adequate action plans to address past issues there, related to a series of unplanned shutdowns, but the utility fell short on execution.
“It has to do with follow through on the corrective actions,” Sheehan said. “Some weren’t completed as intended, and others were closed before actions were completed.”
Pilgrim was downgraded to among nine of the poorest performing nuclear plants in the country in February 2014, based on unplanned shutdowns and shutdowns with complications during 2013. Federal regulators said Entergy had to determine the root causes for the shutdowns and implement corrective actions. The plant was downgraded to a category that required federal regulators watch it more closely. The recent inspection could have moved the plant back to the group requiring only regular inspections.
“They told us when they were ready for an inspection, and we sent an eight-member team who found they had deficiencies in the execution of corrective action as well as in understanding of the causes of the issues,” Sheehan said. “The net effect is we’ll have to go back for another inspection.”
Next time, inspectors expect Entergy to do a better job.
“We don’t expect them to notify us until they’re certain there won’t be a repeat of this,” Sheehan said.
For now, the plant remains in the “degraded cornerstone” category, along with five other reactors across the country, Sheehan said.
Entergy “takes NRC critiques very seriously,” company spokeswoman Lauren Burm wrote in an email.
“We are committed to continuously strengthening our ability to identify and resolve any potential issue in a timely effective manner than not only meets the NRC’s expectations but also the high standards to which we hold ourselves,” she wrote. “Safe, high quality plant performance is our top priority.”
Pilgrim performed at nearly 97 percent capacity in 2014, which is the highest in the company’s fleet, according to Burm.