NRC issues $50,000 fine for security-related violations at Oyster Creek

January 28, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
HDI was issued a confirmatory order by the NRC for regulatory violations at Oyster Creek. (Photo: Exelon)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a confirmatory order to Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) following an alternative dispute resolution mediation session regarding security-related violations at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township, N.J. A subsidiary of Holtec International, HDI is decommissioning Oyster Creek, which permanently ceased operations in 2018.

The NRC issued HDI a notice of violation, which carries a base civil penalty of $150,000, in December 2021. The NRC, however, will reduce that to $50,000 following corrective actions HDI has agreed to take. The NRC said it will confirm that those actions are carried out during upcoming inspections.

“This agreement will result in a number of significant actions that can be expected to improve the security programs not only at Oyster Creek but also at the other nuclear plants being decommissioned by HDI,” said NRC Region I deputy administrator Raymond Lorson.

The violations: According to the NRC, the corrective actions are intended to address two violations and related performance aspects found during a March 2021 investigation at Oyster Creek. During that investigation, the NRC determined that a now-former security superintendent, who was also assigned armorer duties, deliberately failed to properly perform required annual material-condition inspections of response unit rifles and falsified related records.

The mediation session was conducted on October 14, 2021. Under the NRC’s alternative dispute resolution process, mediation is facilitated by a neutral third party who has no decision-making authority but assists the agency and a licensee in reaching an agreement when differences exist regarding an enforcement action.

The corrections: Corrective actions agreed to by HDI include making the corporate security director a stand-alone position; using external experts to conduct independent assessments of security at Oyster Creek and other Holtec-owned decommissioning nuclear power plants; and implementing training and communications related to the issue.

The NRC said it will be issuing a Severity Level III notice of violation to the former HDI superintendent. NRC violations are assigned a severity level, ranging from Severity Level I for the most significant to Severity Level IV for those of more than minor concern.

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