published Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Sequoyah Nuclear Plant gets passing grade from NRC

The Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, along with Watts Bar, has been cited by the NRC for flood prevention violations.
The Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, along with Watts Bar, has been cited by the NRC for flood prevention violations.
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

Although the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant required additional federal oversight in the first three months of 2012 because of excessive unplanned shutdowns and apparent violations pertaining to possible floods, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given the plant a passing grade for safety performance.

At least for now.

NRC officials presented that information in a letter last month to TVA and in a meeting Tuesday evening to Soddy-Daisy residents.

“The NRC determined that overall, Sequoyah Units 1 and 2 operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety and met all cornerstone objectives,” states a letter NRC sent to TVA.

But the apparent violations over flooding “could affect Sequoyah’s regulatory standing,” according to spokesman Joey Ledford.

The plant faces a possible yellow safety finding over the flooding concerns. The NRC uses color-coded indicators. Yellow signifies significant concern in a range that moves from green [safe] to white, yellow, then red — the greatest concern.

Those concerns are still being evaluated, according to Ledford.

TVA’s John Carlin, Sequoyah plant site vice president, reassured the five citizens who attended the meeting that everything at the plant is safe “and we are working to improve it all the time. We would not compromise the safety of the public.”

Citizens asked about potential flooding problems, Seqouyah’s frequent shutdowns in 2011, and the amount of spent fuel stored in pools at the plant site.

Carlin and NRC’s Scott Shaffer told them it is to TVA’s advantage to move spent fuel to dry casks for storage after about five years because it is easier to manage.

Ledford said the citizen questions were well-informed.

“I would call that active participation by the public, and that’s what we want,” he said.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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