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Vermont Yankee

Only ‘baseline’ checks planned at Vt. nuke

BRATTLEBORO — Federal inspections have turned up only minor problems in the past year at Vermont Yankee, so the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said this week it plans only “baseline” inspections at the Vernon reactor until it shuts down in December.

The NRC issued its annual assessment letter for Vermont Yankee and said all inspection findings for 2013 had been of very low safety significance, or “green.”

“All performance indicators demonstrated that your performance was within the nominal, expected range,” Raymond McKinley, NRC chief of reactor projects, wrote in a letter to Chris Wamser, Vermont Yankee site vice president for Entergy.

“The NRC determined that overall, Vermont Yankee nuclear power station operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety,” McKinley wrote.

At the same time, the NRC released a list of inspections planned until June 2015 at the reactor, including a monthlong design bases inspection starting later this month.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the design bases inspection is conducted every couple of years at nuclear reactors. According to the NRC list, seven NRC staff members will conduct the inspection at the Vernon site.

Most other inspections are listed as needing one or two NRC staff members, in addition to the two NRC resident inspectors.

“Vermont Yankee remains under the normal level of oversight by the NRC, owing to no inspection findings that are other than ‘green’ and no performance indicators that are ‘greater than green,’” Sheehan said Thursday.

He said that the NRC had been conducting the component design bases inspections “for many years.”

“These are team inspections done every several years at each nuclear power plant,” Sheehan said. “It’s standard for this type of inspection to span several weeks. The objective of these reviews is to check whether plant systems are being operated and maintained consistent with their design.”

Other inspections include a radiological hazard assessment and exposure controls, licensed operator requalification program, emergency preparedness organization staffing and alert and notification system testing, and operator licensing exams.

Entergy Nuclear spokesman Robert Williams said in a statement that the NRC assessment “is a testament to the safety focus of the people who maintain and run Vermont Yankee.”

“We are committed to safety as the number one priority through to the end of the operating cycle and in the shutdown period as well,” he said.

Entergy Nuclear announced in August 2013 it would shut down Yankee by the end of 2014.

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