Covering Louisiana

Aug 31, 2013 4:12 PM by katc

NRC says all is well at River Bend plant

The River Bend nuclear power plant is now operating with a normal level of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight, based on last year's overall satisfactory safety performance.

NRC officials told The Advocate that at the end of 2012, all River Bend performance indicators and inspection findings were "green," or of very low risk.

The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators. The colors start with green and increase to white, yellow or red, depending on the safety significance.

During the second quarter of 2012, the NRC conducted additional inspections after the plant experienced what the agency calls "scrams with complications," or automatic or manual shutdowns of the reactor that result in additional problems.

The NRC says the issues were worked out by the fourth quarter.

Grant Larkins, senior NRC resident inspector at River Bend, said the complications involved fluctuations in the water level inside the reactor.

An NRC inspector from the Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska joined River Bend's resident inspectors to study the fluctuations, Larkins said.

"We had some good learning out of that," said Eric Olson, River Bend site vice president for Entergy Operations Inc.

"We put a lot of effort into equipment reliability, and we're seeing improvements," Olson said.

The NRC issued an assessment letter to plant owner Entergy in March after reviewing the year's performance. The letter also describes the type of inspections the agency planned for 2013.

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