The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is sending an augmented inspection team (AIT) to the Westinghouse nuclear fuel fabrication plant in South Carolina to look into an accumulation of an excessive amount of uranium-bearing material.
An air scrubber, which removes unwanted material from a number of processes at the plant, was undergoing annual inspection and cleanout when an unexpectedly large amount of material was found inside the scrubber. Further analysis showed the materials had uranium levels in that area that were higher than allowed under NRC requirements. The NRC said there were no safety-related consequences as a result of the accumulation, but the potential for such consequences may have existed.
“This incident did not involve employee contamination or a nuclear criticality, but it shows the need for Westinghouse management to review some aspects of their operation,” said NRC Region II Administrator Cathy Haney. “Our inspection will evaluate these issues thoroughly and ensure they are being properly addressed.”
The six-member AIT will review the circumstances, identify the cause or causes and ensure that Westinghouse took appropriate corrective actions. They are expected to spend several days at the facility before continuing an in-office review of the findings. An inspection report will be issued within 30 days of completion of the inspection.
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