NRC fines TVA for violation at Tennessee Watts Bar 2 reactor

June 19 Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:23am EDT

June 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said Wednesday it proposed a $70,000 penalty against Tennessee Valley Authority for violations related to the use of commercial grade components during the construction of the Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor.

Watts Bar is located near Spring City, Tennessee about 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The NRC said in a release it requires certain components in a nuclear plant to meet strict nuclear quality assurance standards.

Companies can use commercial grade components so long as they put those components through a so-called dedication process that the NRC said provides reasonable assurance the parts are equivalent to nuclear grade items.

This assurance is achieved through documented inspections, tests or analyses, the NRC said.

The NRC said its inspectors in late 2012 and early this year identified three violations related to the commercial grade dedication program at the 1,150-megawatt (MW) Watts Bar 2.

TVA, which is owned by the U.S. government, has operated the 1,123-MW Unit 1 at Watts Bar since the reactor entered service in 1996. TVA expects Unit 2 to enter service in late 2015.

The NRC said its inspectors found a breakdown in the program resulting in construction of unknown quality, a failure to report that breakdown and a failure to identify that issue as a significant condition affecting quality.

In May TVA outlined a number of corrective actions including a review of all commercial grade dedication documents, additional staff training and creating a new position to oversee the process.

TVA also continues to test items that have already been purchased or installed.

The NRC said TVA has 30 days to respond to the violations and either pay the civil penalty or protest its imposition.

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