ATHENS, Alabama — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will host a meeting at 7 p.m. today in Athens to update the public on how well TVA is doing in trying to improve the safety culture and work performance at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant.
The meeting will be in the second floor conference room of the Clinton Street Courthouse Annex, 100 S. Clinton St., in Athens. NRC officials will discuss the results of recent inspections and the current NRC assessment of the plant’s safety performance. NRC officials will also take questions from the public.
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry plant near Athens is America’s largest nuclear plant. Browns Ferry has three operating reactors and it has been under strict scrutiny from the NRC since regulators issued a “red finding” in 2011 after the fall 2010 discovery of a 600-pound valve blocking the primary emergency cooling line at Unit 1 at the plant. TVA cited poor manufacturing, but the NRC found it was TVA’s own inadequate testing, that let the blocked line sit undiscovered for years.
The NRC determined that the broken valve would have prevented TVA from successfully implementing its shutdown procedure at the plant in the event of a fire.
The red finding signals a problem of high safety significance, according to the NRC, and TVA has embarked on a major effort to improve operations at the plant.
The NRC sent a 23-member team of inspectors to Browns Ferry in May. TVA had spent the previous two years working to improve the plant’s safety culture, Browns Ferry’s corrective action program, safety system reliability planning and how officials managed work at the plant.
During an August briefing NRC regulators reported they had found progress at Browns Ferry but TVA needed to continue to improve and sustain a high performance level.
TVA had budgeted $140 million through 2015 for plant improvements but the NRC team reported in August the red finding would remain in place until more progress was made.