NRC assessment finds 96 U.S. nuclear power plants meet performance standards

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued mid-cycle assessment letters to the 104 operating commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S., with 96 plants in the two highest performance categories as of June.

Of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 62 fully met all safety and security performance objectives and were inspected by NRC using the normal inspection program. Thirty-four reactors were assessed as needing to resolve one or two items of low safety significance. This represents an increase from the previous assessment cycle.

The plants requiring additional inspection are: Braidwood 2 in Illinois; Browns Ferry 2 and 3 and Farley 1 and 2 in Alabama; Brunswick 1 and 2 in North Carolina; Callaway in Missouri; Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2 in Maryland; Crystal River 3 and Turkey Point 3 and 4 in Florida; Fermi 2 in Ohio; Limerick 2 and Susquehanna 1 in Pennsylvania; Millstone 2 in Connecticut; North Anna 1 and 2 in Virginia; Palo Verde 1, 2 and 3 in Arizona; Pilgrim in Massachusetts; Point Beach 1 and 2 in Wisconsin; Prairie Island 1 and 2 in Minnesota; River Bend and Waterford in Louisiana; San Onofre 2 and 3 in California; Seabrook in New Hampshire; Watts Bar in Tennessee and Wolf Creek in Kansas. Since the reporting period ended, Callaway, Calvert 1 and 2, Crystal River 3, Limerick 2, Waterford, and Watts Bar have resolved their issues and are now at the highest performing level.

Six nuclear reactors were in the third performance category with a degraded level of performance. For these power plants, regulatory oversight includes more NRC inspections, senior management attention and oversight focused on the cause of the degraded performance. These plants were: Hope Creek and Salem 1 and 2 in New Jersey, Palisades in Michigan, Perry 1 in Ohio and St. Lucie 2 in Florida.

One reactor, Browns Ferry 1 in Alabama, is in the fourth performance category and requires increased oversight after a low-pressure coolant injection valve failed to open during refueling in 2010. That finding will include additional inspections to confirm the plant’s performance issues are being addressed.

Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska is in an extended shutdown with significant performance issues and is currently under a special NRC oversight program. Therefore the plant will not receive a mid-cycle assessment letter.

In addition to regular inspections, the NRC is currently conducting extra inspections to assess all plants’ preparedness to deal with earthquakes and floods. These additional inspections are part of the NRC’s post-Fukushima actions. Mid-cycle construction assessments for new reactors at the Vogtle and Summer sites and at Watts Bar 2 are also on the NRC website.

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