Susquehanna Steam Update

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (Berwick)

The NRC issued a report on May 12, 2010, covering a three-month inspection ending on March 31, 2010. The NRC said no findings of significance were identified; however, a licensee-identified violation was determined to be of very low safety significance.

That violation determined that an individual had falsified entries in a weld rod oven temperature log. It was determined that the weld rod oven temperatures logs were deliberately falsified for four dates from Jan. 29, 2008 through Feb. 1, 2008.

The NRC said it considered issuing a notification of violation on this issue. However, it noted that even though the violation was willful, a non-cited violation was appropriate in this case because plant owner PPL identified the violation, the violation involved acts of a non-supervisory individual, the violation resulted from the isolated actions of a single individual without management involvement, and PPL took significant remedial action that the NRC does not detail in its report.

The report also discusses the previously discussed failure of two senior reactor operators to meet specific medical requirements for performing their duties. PPL submitted a written response on Dec. 10, 2009 describing its action to restore compliance and prevent recurrence. The NRC said it again reviewed PPL’s plan of action and determined that “PPL’s response and corrective actions were reasonable and appropriate” to address the notice of violation and it “does not require any additional information for these issues and considered these issues to be closed.” (Details of this issue are contained in prior reports from the NRC.)

On May 27, 2010, the NRC issued a letter regarding a staff review regarding allegations of discrimination made by a senior reactor operator during a refueling outage in March 2008. The allegations were made against an assistant operations manager.

In the letter, the NRC said, “After careful consideration of the available evidence in this case, and significant internal NRC deliberations, the NRC concluded that the action did not constitute discrimination.” However, the NRC added that the “circumstances in this act reflect poor performance that created negative perceptions which adversely affected the work environment at the facility.”

On Jan. 28, 2009, the NRC issued a potential chilling effect letter to PPL as a result of negative perceptions associated with this case and others.

The event occurred on March 26, 2008, during a refueling outage. Based on interviews with workers assigned to the control room and other places during the refueling outage, the NRC concluded that the assistant operations manager’s behavior that day was “not conducive to a healthy safety conscious work environment (SCWE) at Susquehanna, and could have given the perception that schedule pressure over safety was part of his motivation. The NRC considered this behavior to be an additional example of the decline in SCWE that the NRC had already been evaluating in 2008.”