US NRC proposes fine for NPP fire watch violations

6 December 2016

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has proposed a $140,000 civil penalty against the Tennessee Valley Authority for violations related to fire watches at the Browns Ferry NPP in Alabama. An NRC investigation found that on numerous occasions in May 2015, five of TVA’s contract fire watch workers deliberately failed to conduct roving fire watch patrols as required by NRC regulations. Fire watch patrols were required to compensate for fire protection equipment that was out of service at the time, NRC said. The actions did not have any safety consequences because no fires occurred in the areas designated for patrols. “Missed fire watches greatly concern us,” said NRC Region II administrator Cathy Haney. “Even though plants have other fire protection features, fire watches are an integral part of the plant’s overall fire protection strategy, especially when other equipment is temporarily unavailable.” During a pre-decisional enforcement conference in September, TVA outlined a number of corrective actions that have been taken, including the dismissal of the offenders, upgraded training of personnel, improved procedures and enhanced fire watch record keeping. The NRC said TVA has 30 days to pay the civil penalty or appeal against it. Browns Ferry has three commercially operational boiling water reactors which entered service between 1974 and 1977. They are licensed to operate until the mid-2030s.

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