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Hearing set on nuclear plant safety

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POSTED: April 14, 2010 9:02 a.m.
 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials have scheduled a meeting on Wednesday, April 21, to provide information on the agency’s annual assessment of safety performance for the Hatch nuclear power plant during 2009.
Hatch is the closest nuclear plant to Liberty and Long counties.
The NRC will host an open house from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by a presentation and question-and-answer session in the Appling County Courthouse Annex, 69 Tippins St., Baxley. The open house and meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to learn about the plant’s performance last year as well as NRC oversight and inspection.
The Hatch plant, which has two boiling-water reactors, is near Baxley, about 20 miles south of Vidalia. It is owned and operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Co.
Overall, the NRC staff concluded the Hatch plant operated safely in 2009, but an inspection finding related to one of the plant’s emergency diesel generators led to increased oversight and a supplemental inspection in November. That inspection found no significant weaknesses, according to the NRC.
Based on the plant’s performance, the NRC staff plans to continue the detailed routine or baseline inspections all nuclear power plants receive. However, the NRC is still evaluating the significance of a finding related to preventive maintenance on some of the plant’s capacitors and that final determination could lead to additional oversight and inspection.
“Every year, the NRC evaluates the safety performance of nuclear plants in a systematic and detailed way. These reviews allow us to respond to ongoing issues, if needed, and to plan our future inspections,” NRC Region II Administrator Luis Reyes said. “This meeting gives local officials and citizens an opportunity to learn more about our oversight and is consistent with our commitment to openness and transparency.”
The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators to assess plant performance. The colors start with “green,” which has very low safety significance, to “white,” “yellow” or “red,” based on the significance of the issues.  Inspection findings and performance indicators are updated on the NRC’s web site ( www.nrc.gov ) each quarter.
The annual assessment letter for the Hatch plant is available on the NRC Web site at www.nrc.gov/NRR/OVERSIGHT/ASSESS/LETTERS/hat_2009q4.pdf.
Routine inspections are carried out by the NRC resident inspectors assigned to the plant and by inspection specialists from the Region II office in Atlanta. Among the areas at the Hatch plant to be inspected this year by NRC specialists are fire protection, modifications, groundwater protection and operator licensing exams.
Current performance information for Hatch Unit 1 is available at www.nrc.gov/NRR/OVERSIGHT/ASSESS/HAT1/hat1_chart.html.
Current performance information for Hatch Unit 2 is available at www.nrc.gov/NRR/OVERSIGHT/ASSESS/HAT2/hat2_chart.html.
 

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