NRC failed to properly inspect equipment at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant before leak, report says | Local News

the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to properly inspect equipment at Diablo Canyon, just months before a leak in its once-through cooling system shut down the nuclear power plant, according to a new report.

Monday, the U.S. Office of Inspector General released an investigation report into the event detailing the findings of NRC monitoring of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County. The OIG regularly conducts audits and investigations of NRC programs and operations.

According to a press release on the report, the OIG has received several allegations of improper oversight at Diablo Canyon in recent years, including issues with NRC oversight of security-related structures, systems and components.

One of these is the station’s auxiliary feedwater (AFW) system, which acts as an emergency water supply to cool the reactor if the normal feedwater is out of service.

In July 2020, a leak in the AFW system shut down the plant for eight days, prompting allegations that the NRC had failed to properly inspect the system prior to the event.

In the report released Monday, the OIG said its investigation into the incident revealed that the NRC “did not identify the AFW system piping insulation which had long been in degraded condition, and which led to a leak”.

According to the report, the NRC had not inspected the area where the leak had occurred, although its inspection report stated that inspectors had carried out a full physical inspection of the system in April of the same year, i.e. three months. only before the discovery of the leak. The investigation also revealed that NRC staff spent fewer hours inspecting the plant’s AFW systems than recommended.

The OIG says P&E, which operates the plant, has since remedied the failing AFW system and made improvements. Diablo Canyon continues to operate safely, according to the report.

PG&E spokeswoman Suzanne Hosn said, “Safety is and always will be our most important responsibility at PG&E and Diablo Canyon, and the plant has an excellent record of operating safely.

“We identified this issue when Unit 2 was shut down for maintenance in 2020, completed the repairs and performed thorough inspections before the unit was returned to service,” she wrote in a statement. at The Tribune on Monday. “Additionally, we have performed similar inspections on Unit 1 and have not identified any other conditions requiring repair. We take safety issues very seriously and are taking immediate action to ensure we are always prepared to fulfill our mission of protecting public health and safety.

Congressman responds to Diablo Canyon report

Congressman Salud Carbajalwhose district includes Diablo Canyon, called the findings “disturbing and unacceptable.”

“The safety and well-being of the entire San Luis Obispo community depends on federal inspectors adhering to these safety protocols, and the negligence detailed in this report will erode public trust in those charged with protecting us” , he said in a statement. “It is extremely important that the NRC clearly and convincingly explain to the Central Coast how it will hold its inspectors accountable for breaching protocol and how it intends to restore confidence in their operations at (Diablo Canyon).

Carbajal said that in the next few days he planned to formally ask the NRC leadership for specific details on why the required inspections were not carried out, the corrective actions to be taken and how the regulatory commission will apply its procedures in the future.

When reached for comment on Monday evening, Victor Dicks, NRC’s senior public affairs officer, said “the NRC continues to have complete confidence in its people and in their commitment to our important mission of nuclear safety. “.

“We are reviewing the Inspector General’s report and will take appropriate action if necessary,” Dricks said. “At no time was public safety endangered because of this incident.”

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Leon E. Hill