Two Dozen NRC Inspectors At Browns Ferry

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a team of inspectors going over the overall operation of TVA’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant near Athens. Almost two dozens NRC inspectors will spend the next two weeks verifying safety procedures at the plant. This all stems from a critical safety issue discovered almost three years ago.

In the fall of 2010, a water intake valve at Browns Ferry was found to be malfunctioning. It had been out of operation for roughly 18 months, according to the NRC. What’s more, that water intake system is a crucial component should there be another fire at the plant.

“And that’s why we went and performed our phase one reviews to understand the extent of the condition and to insure that this condition didn’t exist on the other valves also,” says William Jones, the NRC’s Region II Division of Reactor Projects Deputy Director.

The NRC issued Browns Ferry a red finding over the incident. Those are rare, it was only the 5th one the NRC had ever issued. The next step would have been to close the facility down. Thursday, the NRC said they had given TVA basically all the time they wanted to make operational improvements at the facility before coming back for this intensive inspection.

“Do you run the plant even though it’s compromised? Those are the types of challenges people need to be looking at,” Jones said.

Jones says he is confident Browns Ferry is being operated safely, and says the manner in which the plant was handled following the tornado strike of April 2011 as proof. He says their summary report from this inspection will be available in late June.