NRC staff to meet with Florida Power & Light to discuss inspection of St. Lucie nuke

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has scheduled a meeting with officials of Florida Power & Light for 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, to discuss a supplemental inspection of the St.Lucie nuclear power plant located in Jensen Beach, Fla.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce, 1650 South Kanner Highway, in Stuart. NRC officials will be available to answer questions from the public after the business portion of the meeting.

A supplemental inspection is one that is added to the NRC’s normal, or baseline, inspection program in response to specific events or declining regulatory performance. The inspection at St. Lucie was conducted during the second week in October and reviewed FPL’s response to two White performance indicators related to unplanned shutdowns on Unit 1. Those indicators put St. Lucie Unit 1 in the degraded cornerstone column of the NRC’s action matrix.

Earlier this year, St. Lucie Unit 1 crossed the green-to-white threshold for the NRC’s Unplanned Scrams per 7,000 Critical Hours performance indicator. That was due to a total of three trips during the second half of 2011 and early 2012. In addition, the NRC identified that the Unplanned Scrams with Complications performance indicator also crossed the green-to-white threshold after two complicated trips during the same period. A White performance indicator means a plant has fallen below the NRC’s expected range of performance in that area.

A supplemental inspection was conducted to assure that the causes of the shutdowns were understood, that the extent of condition was identified, and to ensure FPL’s corrective actions were sufficient. The purpose of the Nov. 9 meeting is to discuss FPL’s performance and corrective actions.

The NRC evaluates both inspection findings and performance indicators at commercial nuclear power plants with a color-coded system which classifies them as green, white, yellow or red, in increasing order of safety significance. As the significance increases, the NRC increases the level of oversight for that plant. If a plant takes appropriate corrective actions and improves safety performance, the agency returns to its normal, but still extensive, inspection schedule.