NRC to increase oversight of Catawba nuclear power plant

The Catawba nuclear power plant faces increased oversight from the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission due to violations linked to an event in April where the plant temporarily lost offsite power.

The Catawba plant, which is operated by Duke Energy, is located near York, S.C., about 18 miles south of Charlotte, N.C.

The two violations involved an incorrect modification to a Unit 1 generator protective relay that resulted in the loss of offsite power event. After a Regulatory Conference, the NRC determined that the violation for Unit 1 was appropriately characterized as “white,” meaning it has low to moderate safety significance. The violation for Unit 2 was found to be “green,” or very low safety significance.

The NRC staff held the Regulatory Conference at Duke Energy’s request on Sept. 11 to discuss the risk significance of the inspection findings with the company. After reviewing the information from the inspection and the supplemental information provided by Duke during the conference, the staff reached its final safety significance conclusions.

The NRC evaluates regulatory performance at commercial nuclear power plants with a color-coded system which classifies findings as green, white, yellow or red in increasing order of safety significance.

The “white” finding puts Unit 1 into the Regulatory Response Column on the NRC Action Matrix, meaning the unit will be subject to additional NRC inspections beyond the baseline inspections that are conducted at all nuclear plants. Unit 2 remains in the Licensee Response Column, meaning it is subjected to normal baseline inspections.