Oyster Creek
Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township, Ocean County Michael Ein

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will increase oversight of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township after one “yellow” and one “white” inspection findings were finalized.

A “yellow” classification indicates substantial safety significance. A “white” classification indicates a low to moderate safety significance.

The “yellow” finding involved “design aspects of electromatic relief valves,” the NRC said in a news release. The “white” finding pertained to maintenance of an emergency diesel generator at the facility.

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As a result, the NRC said it will carry out additional inspections of the facility “to ensure the underlying issues have been fully addressed.”

“The issues at Oyster Creek were all self-identified by Exelon, immediately addressed and brought to the NRC’s attention at that time,” said Suzanne D’Ambrosio, Oyster Creek’s communications manager, in a statement. “Exelon expeditiously and thoroughly completed a comprehensive review of each issue to identify its root cause, develop and implement corrective actions and then shared that very important information with not only the other Exelon stations, but the industry as a whole to prevent reoccurrence.”

Neil Sheehan, from NRC Public Affairs. said the NRC will conduct team inspections in response to both violations.

“The inspectors will review the company's root cause evaluations of why the problems occurred, whether the issues could have affected other areas of plant performance and any and all corrective actions,” Sheehan said in an email. “If the NRC is not satisfied with the company's actions, another team inspection may be required.”

Sheehan said since the NRC is a fee-recovery agency, the NRC will bill Exelon Generation, which owns and operates the facility, for the inspections.

Sheehan said there will also be a higher level of engagement between NRC and company management while the heightened level of oversight remains in place.

But Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said oversight is not enough.

“We need more then oversight at this aging plant. We are concerned a code yellow could one day lead to a code red,” he said in an email. “We believe the plant needs to close sooner than the planned 2019 closing. We can't afford to wait until there is a disaster.”

Even though the violation involving the EMRVs was classified as “yellow,” the NRC said it represents an old design issue. The issue stems from an inspection finding involving a past design-related problem and does not reflect a current performance deficiency associated with existing programs, policies or procedures used by the company, the NRC said.

Contact Christian Hetrick:

609-272-7215

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