Entergy agrees to address problem issues at Arkansas Nuclear One

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a Confirmatory Action Letter documenting actions that Entergy (NYSE:ETR) officials have agreed to take to address performance issues at Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville, Arkansas.

“The NRC has determined that when effectively implemented and independently validated by the NRC through inspection follow-up activities, the actions in the Confirmatory Action Letter are adequate to correct the significant performance deficiencies at Arkansas Nuclear One,” NRC Region IV Administrator Marc Dapas said in a June 20 news release.

On March 4, 2015, the NRC moved ANO into Column 4 of the agency’s Action Matrix (where operating plants with significant performance issues receive the second highest level of NRC oversight) following inspection findings of substantial safety significance stemming from a fatal heavy equipment incident as well as degraded flood protection at the site.

Some of the Entergy commitments outlined in The Confirmatory Action Letter include:

  • Actions to address the root and contributing causes for the findings involving the heavy equipment incident and degraded flood protection, including plant deficiencies, vendor oversight, change management, conservative decision making, and risk management.
  • Identification, assessment, and correction of performance deficiencies to include improvement in the implementation and oversight of the corrective action program, self-assessment and performance monitoring, the quality of problem evaluations, and the use of operating experience.
  • Improvements in human performance to include leadership behaviors and organizational capacity, as well as procedure quality, standards, and accountability.
  • Improvements in equipment reliability and engineering programs to ensure that key plant equipment remains available, reliable, and capable of meeting the plant design and licensing bases, including resolving specific equipment conditions.
  • Actions to improve nuclear safety culture values and behaviors to include commitment by leaders and individuals to emphasize safety over competing goals.

NRC plans to do follow-up inspections quarterly to review Entergy’s progress toward completing the committed actions. Issuance of the Confirmatory Action Letter does not preclude the NRC from taking additional steps, including enforcement actions, for any violations of agency requirements that are identified in subsequent inspections.

In June 2014, the NRC issued “yellow” findings to Arkansas Nuclear One. The move followed a fatal 2013 heavy equipment handling incident at the plant.

In January 2015, the NRC issued yellow findings associated with flood protection at the plant. The cumulative effect of these violations moved the plant into Column 4. Arkansas Nuclear One is receiving the highest level of NRC oversight of operating plants.

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 wayneb@pennwell.com.