NRC fines TVA for Browns Ferry violations

30 November 2016

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been given 30 days to pay a $140,000 civil penalty proposed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for fire watch violations at the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama.

Browns Ferry (TVA)_460
Browns Ferry (Image: TVA)

The violations relate to "numerous" occasions in May 2015 when five workers contracted to provide fire watch services failed to conduct roving fire watch patrols as required under NRC regulations. The patrols were required to compensate for fire protection equipment that was out of service at the time.

The NRC said the actions did not result in any actual safety consequences as no fires occurred in those areas at the times when the missed patrols were supposed to take place. Nevertheless, NRC regional administrator Cathy Haney said missed watches "greatly concerned" the regulator. "Even though plants have other fire protection features, fire watches are an integral part of the plant's overall fire protection strategy, especially when other equipment is temporarily unavailable," she said.

The NRC said the fine was warranted because of the severity of the violation and the fact that multiple contract personnel engaged in deliberate misconduct in not performing the watches.

Since the discovery of the violations TVA has taken corrective actions including upgrading personnel training, improving procedures and enhancing record keeping as well as dismissing the workers in question.

Browns Ferry's three boiling water reactor units have a combined output of over 3300 MWe and have been in operation since the mid-1970s. They are currently licensed to operate until the mid-2030s.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News