April 22, 2013 / 9:41 PM / 5 years ago

US cites new SCANA reactor in S. Carolina for possible violation

HOUSTON, April 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has cited SCANA Corp’s utility for an apparent violation related to the rebar reinforcement used in concrete at a new reactor at the V.C. Summer nuclear station, according to the agency.

South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), in partnership with state-owned utility Santee Cooper, is building two new 1,117-megawatt reactors at the Summer plant site near Jenksinville, South Carolina, scheduled to come online in 2017 and 2018. SCE&G is a unit of U.S. power company SCANA Corp.

When built, the new Summer units will be among the first new reactors in the United States in more than three decades.

SCG&E completed pouring the concrete basemat for the first Summer unit in March. The six-foot-think basemat, which required 7,000 cubic yards of concrete, will serve as a foundation for the nuclear containment building and other auxiliary structures called the nuclear island.

A few days later, Southern Co, which is building two reactors of the same design, completed the concrete pour for the nuclear island for Vogtle Unit 3 in Georgia.

In February, NRC inspectors found that spacing and anchorage of rebar in the floor and walls of SCANA’s Summer unit did not comply with code requirements.

SCE&G and Southern obtained license amendments to allow the existing rebar to be used before the concrete was poured at either site, an NRC spokesman said.

SCE&G and NRC officials will discuss the safety significance of the apparent violation at a public meeting set for April 30 in Atlanta, the agency said in a release.

A decision on the safety significance and possible enforcement action will be made sometime after the meeting by the NRC, but the final outcome will apply to SCANA and Southern Co since both new plants had the same design and rebar issue, an NRC spokesman said.

The violation has been preliminarily classified as “white” by the NRC, meaning it has low to moderate safety significance.

The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings to assess construction performance.

The apparent violation did not present an immediate safety concern because the project is under construction, the NRC said.

“This nonconformance would likely have led to a latent construction defect that could have had safety consequences after transitioning to operation of the facility,” the NRC said in its letter to SCANA.

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