Waterford operation determined safe

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 14, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

KENNER – Representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held an an open house to discuss the agency’s assessment of the Waterford 3 nuclear power plant’s safety performance on Thursday evening at the Hilton New Orleans Airport.
Located in St. Charles Parish, Entergy’s Waterford 3 Steam Electric Station supplies approximately 12 percent of Louisiana’s electricity. The NRC’s annual assessment determined that Waterford 3 is operating safely overall, as all reported findings had very low safety significance. As a result, Waterford will receive the NRC’s baseline level of oversight inspections in the coming year.
The agency listed a total of 25 non-cited violations/findings, all of which were in the green. The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators to assess nuclear plant performance. The colors start with green and then increase to white, yellow or red, according to the safety significance of the issues involved. Performance indicators are statistical measurements of plant and equipment performance.
According to a mid-cycle assessment letter sent to the plant, the NRC did identify a cross-cutting theme in four of the findings in the area of problem identification and resolution. Senior Resident Inspector Marlone Davis said the term “cross-cutting” means that the agency examines the theme to see if there is a larger issue behind it.
“We look at those findings, and we assess them and kind of bend them. For example, where do we see a trend with the performance of Waterford based on the findings we identify? But after we looked at everything they still fell into the licensee response column, so that’s regular baseline inspections and nothing supplemental,” he said.
Marlone said Waterford also had three severity level IV violations associated with “impeding the regulatory process,” which would warrant another supplemental inspection. The inspector said severity level IV is equivalent to a “green” designation, with severity level I being a high safety issue.
The commission created an opportunity for potential attendees to hold one-on-one discussions with NRC staff members about the plant’s performance and the agency’s oversight of the facility. For more information on public meeting dates or the reactor oversight process, visit www.nrc.gov.