Summer’s inoperable diesel leads to NRC safety finding

January 2, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The V. C. Summer nuclear power plant. (Photo: South Carolina Electric and Gas Co.)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has finalized an inspection finding as “white” related to an inoperable emergency diesel generator at the V. C. Summer nuclear power plant in Jenkinsville, S.C. Under the NRC’s reactor oversight process, a white inspection finding reflects low-to-moderate safety significance.

“Maintaining the operational readiness of all safety-related equipment is crucial for the plant's ability to respond effectively in emergencies,” said Laura Dudes, NRC Region II administrator. “While not indicative of immediate risk, this finding underscores the need for continuous vigilance and improvement in the plant’s corrective action process.”

What happened: The finding stems from the discovery of a malfunctioning fuel oil piping for one of the emergency diesel generators during routine testing in November 2022. The NRC conducted a detailed review and found that plant operator Dominion Energy had failed to make necessary maintenance or design changes, raising concerns about the plant’s preparedness for emergencies involving the loss of off-site power. The agency detailed its findings in an October 2023 inspection report.

Meeting info: During a regulatory conference, Dominion Energy provided new information, including an analysis demonstrating the emergency diesel generator could operate for six hours in an emergency. As a result of this additional information about the generator’s capacity, the NRC concluded that the issue’s safety significance was lower than initially assessed.

Coming up: The agency will conduct a supplemental inspection at the plant to ensure that Dominion Energy has thoroughly analyzed the root cause of the issue and has implemented effective corrective action to prevent recurrence. The results of this inspection will be made available in a publicly accessible report.

About Summer: The Summer plant holds a 966-MWe three-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactor. The plant started commercial operation in October 1982.

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