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Waterford officials to explain mistake to NRC

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / January 14, 1998

TAFT – Waterford 3 officials will attend a meeting Jan. 23 in Arlington,Texas, hats in hand, to explain a Nov. 9-10 violation to the NuclearRegulatory Commission.

“This is not representative of plant operations,” said Charles Dugger,vice-president of operations on Monday. “It was a minor, low-level type ofevent.”

However, Dugger continued, the questions anticipated by the NRC will be”very pointed” as to how the mishap occurred.

On Nov. 9, during a routine testing procedure on the nuclear power plant’sauxiliary cooling system, a single switch was not flipped back toautomatic from manual.

That failure, which happened at 7:21 p.m. on Nov. 9, slipped past adowntime at 3 a.m. on Nov. 10 and the shift change at 6 a.m. It was finallynoticed at 10:25 a.m. and the NRC was notified of the violation in minutes.

“We want to be 100 percent on this, all the time,” Dugger continued, “andgenerally we are.”

Failure to flip the switch did not cause any safety hazard but, as Duggerexplained, the auxiliary cooling system is the backup to the main coolantsystem and must be kept ready to step in at any time, if ever needed.

Failure to flip a single switch could cost Entergy a fine of $55,000,Dugger said. However, he added the incident should not hurt Waterford 3’sscores in the upcoming Systemetic Assessment of Licensee Performance(SALP) report card, due in late April or early May.

The operators who should have caught the error, leaving the switchmispositioned for 15 hours, will also be in attendance at the NRC meetingto explain themselves and outline corrective and preventative proceduressince implemented to insure the incident will not be repeated.

On every shift in the plant control room are a control room operator, asenior reactor operator, a shift supervisor and a control room supervisor.”It’s something I would have expected the relief shift operator to havefound,” Dugger said. Instead, a shift supervisor found the mistake, tookcorrective action and made proper notification.

First of all, the mistake shouldn’t have been made in the first place. Then,as Dugger explained, it should have been caught at every step along theway and should not have continued for 15 hours.

Dugger said the slipup is totally unacceptable and the plant operatorswill do everything humanly possible to avoid a repeat of the mistake.

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