JENKINSVILLE — Members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission met Tuesday with Jenkinsville residents to explain the Construction Reactor Oversight Process (cROP), a pilot program that ensures nuclear reactors 2 and 3 are being constructed in accordance with the NRC approved design.
The cROP program included a public information response session in its procedures before it could become a permanent NRC entity.
The cROP contains assessment, inspection, enforcement and communication programs. The system is used for the Vogtle Nuclear plant being constructed in Waynesboro, Ga., as well as V.C. Summer in Fairfield County.
The NRC has been running a pilot program for construction site inspections for about a year and as it nears the end of the pilot program is seeking community input to see if any changes potentially need to be made to cROP.
Senior Operations Engineer Tom Kozak with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the pilot went fairly well and that there were lessons learned during the program.
The NRC’s role is to verify that design commitments in the license agreement with SCE&G are being followed in accordance with the design. For construction to be considered complete, 875 criteria must be met. A five-member commission appointed by President Barack Obama votes if the plant has met all design requirements before any fuel is loaded into the new facility for it to begin power production.
“This is a process with defined boundaries,” Kozak said.
The enforcement component of cROP is color-coded, with green for issues of very low safety significance to white, yellow (such as an entire reactor system being constructed but not meeting design function) and lastly red which is used for high-risk findings. Though unlikely, Kozak said, the high risk findings typically do not occur until later in the construction process.
Level Green issues
In November, the Jenkinsville community learned of a construction issue at the site that related to rebar. On the color-based scale used by cROP, the issue was coded green, the mildest measure indicating the incident was of very low safety significance. The issue came to light during an NRC inspection conducted between July 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2012, when three violations of NRC requirements were identified:
1. “On and before May 10, 2012, the licensee failed to assure that applicable regulatory requirements and the design basis for safety-related systems, structures, and components were correctly translated into specifications, drawings, and instructions.”
2. There were issues with the testing of surface coatings on the reactor’s containment shell. “Measures shall be established to assure that applicable regulatory requirements and the design basis, as defined in 10CFR50.2 and as specified in the license application, for those structures, systems, and components to which this appendix applies are correctly translated into specifications, drawings, procedures, and instructions.”
3. “As of August 7, 2012, the licensee, through its contractor Shaw, failed to perform adequate examinations of products upon delivery to assure that purchased materials conformed to the procurement documents. This violation is associated with a Green SDP construction finding.”
SCE&G, as licensee, had to take the issue up with its vendor and then ensure a corrective action plan was put into place. That plan was then sent to the NRC per procedure.
Kozak said the rebar was not bad rebar, per se. The issue was in the way instructions were interpreted. Kozak said that kind of thing happens occasionally as ideas move from the drawing board into the real world, but that the culture of safety surrounding nuclear power helps account for those kinds of issues.
Vogtle had similar issues with their plant construction as well. Kozak noted that Westinghouse-Shaw conducts work on behalf of the licensee and not as a vendor.
The NRC stressed that at no time was there an immediate effect on public health because the plant is still under construction and has no fuel loaded into it. The predictable, objective, repeatable measures of the cROP are designed to promote the culture of safety with checks and balances that make sure all nuclear plant design is in accordance to standards.
The assessment program began Jan. 1, 2012, at V.C. Summer and so far one mid-cycle assessment report has been made available on the NRC website. Every six months the NRC will issue a public letter that reports on SCE&G’s performance. Additionally, corrective action program effectiveness reviews are done to see if any findings could indicate a trend. Trends could have implications for other nuclear plants either in operation or under construction.
As part of verifying vendors’ work, NRC’s Region 2 in Atlanta has specialists who inspect various vendor sites. The NRC noted that on site inspections are made at vendor sites, however on site inspectors are not full time at the vendor sites.
Public interaction with the nuclear plant extends beyond information sessions and presentations like the one at McCrorey-Liston. In fact, Jenkinsville resident Earnestine Raab commended SCE&G for its efforts to promote the area to a higher level despite a decreasing population.
A member of the V.C. Summer Community Coalition Board chosen by Jenkinsville native Jeff Archie, senior vice president of Nuclear Operations Jeff Archie, Raab makes it to the meetings on the final Monday of each month.
“You explained things to us and that keeps us from being in the dark. I can go back to the area and to my church and tell people they do not need to be afraid,” Raab said. She said there are members on the board from Western Fairfield County and that each region of the county has representation on the coalition.
Russell Feaster of Jenkinsville has served about two years on the coalition, an experience that leads him to believe the plant is taking all proper steps to operate in a safe, responsible manner.
“As citizens, as business leaders, as public officials, we all should ensure that the V.C. Summer plan is operating in a safe and responsible manner,” Feaster said. “I also believe that we should ensure that if the plant is not operating safely and responsibly that they should be held accountable.”
He was impressed by the contingency plan, by the efforts to keep the public informed, presentations and by the calendar and monthly newsletter.
NRC officials said another assessment meeting will be held for the public in mid March to early April.
More detailed information about cROP can be found at