BLAIR — Community members met with SCANA and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials Wednesday night to hear an annual review of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant and to receive an annual update on Reactor 2 and Reactor 3 expansion projects.
For Reactor 1, Reactor 2 and Reactor 3, NRC inspection findings for 2012 revealed only green issues, the code for very low safety issues. Other colors on the scale include white for a low to moderate safety issue, yellow for a substantial issue and red for a high safety issue. Red issues require the most NRC oversight, while green require the least oversight.
For the remainder of 2013 the NRC will conduct baseline inspections of Unit 1 including an initial operating license examination and a plant modifications inspection. In March 2012 the NRC issued combined operating licenses for the two AP 1000 reactors being constructed at the site.
For Reactors 2 and 3, vendor inspection and inspection of both structural and mechanical module assembly are key issues right now.
Michael Ernestes, NRC Chief, Branch 4, DCP Region II, provided overview of the construction inspection processes. Right now, the primary focus is on construction reactor safety and security with operational readiness an area that will be of greater concern later in the construction process. Inspections can include security inspections, baseline inspections, quality assurance program inspections and vendor inspections.
Nuclear Regulatory Meeting in Atlanta
The annual meeting dealt with issues from 2012 but NRC officials did invite the public to an April 30 nuclear regulatory conference meeting in Atlanta that addresses a construction issue from 2013. They can join by a bridge line at 9:30 a.m. Nuclear regulatory conference in Atlanta will include region officials. The meeting is being held because the rebar on the nuclear islands was not installed in accordance with code, according to the NRC.
At the conference the NRC will present its position that the rebar/concrete base issue should result in a white safety finding, which is a low to moderate level finding, and the Shaw Group along with SCANA will make a presentation that the event should be categorized as a green or NAME safety finding.
Consensus will come from these two differing preliminary views for an event that occurred during the 2013 calendar year. Since the classification has not been determined and since the event was this calendar year, the Wednesday meeting did not go into detail about the event, though presenters touched on it.
Depending upon the findings with the rebar and the basemat pour, the NRC could require the plant to do more than the baseline testing it currently approved. Supplemental inspections might be needed as the process continues but that will be determined after the April 30 meeting.
Other concerns from audience members came out during a question and answer session.
Audience members asked about potential for added costs resulting from the rebar issues and from design add-ons to the plant. Ernestes said that the findings had been explained, the design changes and changes were made to construction schedules. The technical part has been resolved so now the NRC is reviewing the issue programmatically to determine how it happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.
Another member of the public asked about licensing amendment requests being posted to the Internet so that the public could review them. The NRC is working to revise its website to provide a running list of license agreements. The list will be searchable when it comes online as well.
Community Coalition member Randy Feaster thanked the NRC for its role in helping the plant remain accountable. A member of the SCANA Community Coalition, Feaster, said “without hesitation it is my opinion that they do operate the plant is a safe, responsible manner.”
He appreciated the speakers who meet with the six to eight member committee to keep them abreast of what the nuclear plant is doing. Feaster lives in the Dawkins community.
Coalition member Debra Pearson said she lived in the 10 mile impact zone prior to the plant’s arrival and that she felt the plant has supported the areas in every way community members requested. In recent years the addition of a traffic light at the plant entrance, the addition, signage and repairs to signage were a few examples she used.
“They look out for us and are looking out for the safety of the community,” Pearson said.
An hour prior to the Blair meeting, the NRC and V.C. Summer held an open house for community members to discuss the 2012 plant performance and answer any questions they might have about nuclear power in general.
Contact Kevin Boozer at 635-4016 ext. 14 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @kevinboozer.