Special inspection at Cooper nuclear station

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has begun a special inspection at the Cooper Nuclear Station to review the circumstances surrounding a maintenance procedure that led to unplanned radiation exposures to three workers.

The incident occurred on April 3, when workers removed a long tube contaminated with highly radioactive material through the bottom of the reactor vessel, rather than through the top as is usually done, triggering radiation alarms. The workers set the tube down and immediately left the area. The licensee does not believe the workers received radiation exposures in excess of NRC limits.

The plant is operated by the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD).

Inspectors, who began their work April 11, will look at the circumstances and decision-making by NPPD officials that led to the exposures, review the licensee’s response to the event, calculate the exposures the workers received and review corrective actions taken to prevent a recurrence.

“We want to understand why normal work practices were not followed, resulting in unplanned radiation exposures to three workers,” said Region IV Administrator Elmo E. Collins.

The team consisting of two NRC inspectors will write an inspection report on their findings within 45 days of the end of the inspection.

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