NRC finds against TVA over staffing levels at Browns Ferry

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued a white inspection finding to the Tennessee Valley Authority for violations at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant related to emergency plan staffing in the control room, the NRC said on May 1.

The NRC has also issued an order confirming actions TVA is taking to address associated violations.

TVA’s Browns Ferry plant is located near Athens, Ala., about 32 miles west of Huntsville. It has three generating units with a summer net capability of 3,300 MW.

The NRC found that TVA failed to maintain staffing levels in accordance with the plant’s radiological emergency plan and that the issue had low to moderate safety significance. TVA officials agreed with that determination. Two violations related to the staffing inspection finding involved the failure to provide complete and accurate information on the issue and the failure to request a license amendment for the staffing changes.

TVA requested the NRC’s Alternative Dispute Resolution process for those violations. The ADR process uses a neutral mediator with no decision-making authority to assist the NRC and licensees in reaching an agreement when there are differences regarding an enforcement action. An ADR session between the NRC and TVA was held on April 3 and the NRC order is the result of an agreement reached during that session.

“While no actual events occurred, it is important that appropriate staffing is maintained and the NRC approves any changes to staffing levels in a plant’s license,” said NRC Region II Administrator Victor McCree. “We believe the steps TVA has agreed to take appropriately address the issues and minimize the likelihood that similar issues will arise in the future.”

The order documents a number of corrective actions taken or planned by TVA. Those actions at the Browns Ferry site and TVA’s other two nuclear plants include new procedures for submitting license information to the NRC and for verifying changes and compliance, reviews of the processes involved and a sharing of the information with other nuclear plant operators.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.