NRC seeking better ‘safety culture’ at TVA Browns Ferry plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said Aug. 23 that it is seeking various short-term and long-term changes designed to improve the “safety culture” at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Browns Ferry station in Alabama.

TVA has committed to take a list of actions, outlined in a confirmatory action letter or CAL, which NRC issued to the plant earlier in August.

After those actions are completed by TVA and inspected by the NRC, the agency will reevaluate its increased oversight stemming from a high safety significance (red) inspection finding finalized in 2011, NRC said in a statement.

“TVA has made solid progress addressing the causes that contributed to the failure of a Browns Ferry Unit 1 low pressure coolant injection valve, which resulted in a red finding by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in May 2011,” a TVA representative said in an emailed response to GenerationHub.

“Browns Ferry has been working through a comprehensive Integrated Improvement Plan (IIP) that addresses key areas for improvement, from equipment reliability to nuclear safety culture,” the TVA spokesperson went on to say. “The IIP has also been updated and improved throughout the process to assure that TVA is addressing these key areas effectively. TVA identified 31 additional items to encourage continued performance improvement while ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of that improvement.”

The TVA spokesperson concluded by saying that solid safety progress is being made at the Browns Ferry complex.

“We believe completing the short-term commitment actions will help to inform the NRC’s decision to close the red finding and transition Browns Ferry Unit 1 from increased to normal, or routine, NRC oversight,” the TVA spokesperson said. “Our ultimate goal is sustained excellence, and though we’re not there yet, we are laying a solid foundation for continuous improvement at Browns Ferry, as well as TVA’s other nuclear units, and moving us toward meeting and exceeding industry standards,” he added.

The Browns Ferry complex includes three boiling water reactors (BWRs) that each have a capacity of more than 1,100 MW. The station is located Limestone County, Ala., about 32 miles west of Huntsville.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at