NRC Flags Power Plant With Nuke Safety Violations

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission imposed the highest level of reactor oversight on Consolidated Edison Inc. for safety problems that led to a radioactive leak at its Indian Point nuclear plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) imposed last week the highest level of reactor oversight on Consolidated Edison Inc. for the company''s violation of NRC inspection requirements at its Indian Point nuclear plant in New York.

This is the NRC''s first "red" finding, citing safety problems that led to a radioactive leak at the power plant north of New York City in February.

Under NRC''s reactor oversight process adopted in April, the agency assesses inspection findings and characterizes their risk significance by color, specifically green, white, yellow or red.

A green finding results in normal NRC oversight, while white, yellow and red assessments are considered progressively more serious and receive greater scrutiny.

The red rating goes back to Con Ed''s 1997 steam generator inspection.

In February, a steam generator tube inside the 931-megawatt Indian Point 2, cracked, leaking a small amount of radioactive water.

NRC noted that the incident had no injuries at the plant and no public health and safety consequences.

Under pressure from the public and politicians, Con Ed eventually agreed to replace its aging generators.

Con Ed said it used the best technology available, but NRC said better methods could have detected the tubes'' susceptibility to corrosion and might have prevented the leak.

No fine was imposed and no court action is planned. Con Ed expects Indian Point 2 to be running again next month.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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