NRC has increased oversight of Palisades nuclear plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff issued a white finding of low-to-moderate safety significance to the Palisades nuclear power plant for the failure to accurately calculate radiation doses to workers during an activity last year.

The finding will result in increased oversight by the NRC. The plant, operated by Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., is located in Covert, Mich., five miles south of South Haven.

The doses received by the workers were below the NRC’s annual radiation limit and are not expected to have any impact on their health.

NRC inspectors reviewed of plant’s methodology for calculating doses to workers involved in replacing control rod drive housings during the 2014 refueling outage.

They determined that the methodology did not meet NRC requirements. Specifically, the licensee failed to ensure that radiation dosimeters were placed in the highest exposed location of the body for this activity, which resulted in inaccurate dose calculations. In addition, the licensee failed to establish a procedure to ensure proper placement of dosimeters. This resulted in inaccurate calculation and assignment of dose for numerous workers.

“Even though this incident did not result in harm to workers, our action underscores the importance of adhering to NRC requirements to ensure an accurate understanding and adequate monitoring of doses to workers at nuclear plants,” said NRC Region III Administrator Cynthia D. Pederson.

The utility has taken immediate steps to resolve the problem and is developing long-term corrective actions. The NRC will conduct an inspection to independently verify these actions are sufficient to prevent recurrence.

The company has 30 days to contest the finding.