Grand Gulf station safe in 2004, inspectors say|[5/13/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2005

PORT GIBSON – Grand Gulf Nuclear Station operated safely during 2004, its on-site inspectors said here in their annual public meeting with Entergy Nuclear officials Thursday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission rates performance and inspection findings by color. No finding at Grand Gulf was above the “green,” or lowest level, said senior resident inspector Geoff Miller.

The level of NRC inspections is also keyed to plant performance. Because, GGNS’ results for 2004 were good, federal regulators will conduct only baseline inspections through at least Sept. 30, 2006.

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The country has 103 nuclear plants and 78 of them will also receive only baseline inspections based on their assessments, Miller said.

The NRC issued 2,612 performance indicators or inspection findings at nuclear plants nationwide in 2004, with all but 17 of those at the lowest, “green,” level, and the remainder at the next-higher level, “white,” Miller said. Progressively more serious findings are categorized as “yellow” or “red,” but no finding was issued at either of those levels, Miller added.

Miller and resident inspector Andy Barrett delivered the NRC’s report to Entergy Nuclear’s top on-site executive at GGNS, George Williams, and its director of nuclear safety, Mike Krupa.

Williams said he was pleased with the report and that the top priority of all employees of GGNS is to operate the plant safely.

Williams noted that although GGNS receives only baseline inspections it does receive suggestions from NRC officials, including its resident inspectors.

“That’s not something we take lightly,” Williams said. “We take their feedback seriously.”

Miller was promoted from resident inspector to senior resident inspector and Barrett was assigned from the NRC’s Arlington, Texas, regional office to GGNS in February. Miller replaced Tim Hoeg, who was transferred to the Saint Lucie Nuclear plant in Florida.

“Each of the country’s commercial nuclear plants has resident inspectors who serve as the agency’s eyes and ears at the facility, conducting regular inspections, monitoring significant work projects and interacting with plant workers and the public,” an NRC press release announcing the moves says. “The resident inspectors at Grand Gulf can be reached at 601-437-4620.”

A nuclear reactor has operated at Grand Gulf since 1985.

Entergy Nuclear’s parent company has applied for the first of two major permits required to build a second reactor at the site. Port Gibson public meetings in that process began in January 2004 and are to continue with a June 28 meeting at City Hall, 1005 College St.

The purpose of the June meeting will be for the public to comment on a draft environmental-impact statement issued by NRC staff. The statement is available for viewing at the Harriette Person Memorial Library, 606 Main St., and on the NRC’s Web site, www.nrc.gov, a press release announcing the meeting said.

“For planning purposes, anyone interested in attending or presenting oral comments at the June 28 meeting is encouraged to preregister no later than June 21 by contacting Cristina Guerrero of the NRC by telephone at 800-368-5642, extension 3835, or by e-mail at GrandGulfEIS@nrc.gov,” the release said. “Interested persons may also register to speak within 15 minutes of the start of the meeting. Time for individual comments at the meetings may be limited to accommodate all speakers. People requesting special accommodations to attend or present information at the meeting should contact the NRC by June 21 so the requests can be properly reviewed.”

Written comments on the draft statement will also be considered by NRC staff, the release continues. Comments should be submitted either by mail, postmarked by July 14, to the Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mailstop T-6D59, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or by e-mail, sent by July 14, to GrandGulfEIS@nrc.gov.

The NRC also issued a draft safety-evaluation report on the site on April 7.

“Before the commission can reach a final decision on issuing the permit, the NRC staff must still complete the EIS and SER, the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards must issue a report on the ESP application and the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel must conduct its mandatory hearing on the matter,” the release says. “The NRC expects to finish this process late in 2006.”