Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station events 2005-2008

 

Below is a chronology of news and other security and safety events that have taken place at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Plant in York County, Pennsylvania, on the Susquehanna River, since 2005. This is not a final list and content maybe added, so check for updates. 

 

Feb. 7, 2005

Peach Bottom Unit 2 shuts down for valve replacement

 

Chicago-based energy company Exelon Corp.'s 1,110-megawatt Unit 2 reactor at the Peach Bottom nuclear station in Pennsylvania exited a work outage and ramped up to full power by early Monday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in its power reactor status report.

The company shut the unit on Feb. 2 to replace a safety relief valve.

The 2,220 MW Peach Bottom station is located in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles southwest of Philadelphia. There are two 1,110 MW units 2 and 3 at Peach Bottom.

Unit 3, meanwhile, continued to operate at full power.

One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes, according to the North American average.

Exelon Nuclear, a unit of Exelon's Exelon Generation subsidiary, operates the station for its owners: Exelon (50 percent) and New Jersey-based energy company Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PSEG) (50 percent).

In December 2004, Exelon agreed to acquire PSEG. Pending regulatory and shareholder approvals, the companies expect to complete the deal in 2006.

 -Report from Rueters

 

 

Feb. 9, 2005 

Peach Bottom Unit 2 back in production 

 

Chicago-based energy company Exelon Corp.'s  1,110-megawatt Unit 2 at the Peach Bottom nuclear station in Pennsylvania ramped up to 94 percent of capacity by early Wednesday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in its power reactor status report.

 

On Tuesday, the unit was operating at 64 percent of capacity as it increased power following a planned control rod pattern adjustment.

The company performed the rod pattern adjustment to optimize the efficiency of the fuel in the reactor after the reactor exited an outage started on Feb. 2 to replace a safety relief valve.

The 2,220 MW Peach Bottom station is located in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles southwest of Philadelphia. There are two 1,110 MW units 2 and 3 at Peach Bottom.

Unit 3, meanwhile, continued to operate at full power.One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes, according to the North American average.

-Report from Rueters

 

Feb. 11, 2005

Nuclear plant guard rule could be year away

TMI watchdog group decries 'glacier' pace 

The Harrisburg-based nuclear watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert has been waiting since Sept. 12, 2001, for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to decide whether nuclear plant owners must post armed guards at their front gates. 

TMIA will have to wait another year for its answer, according to an NRC memo released to Wednesday. The memo outlines a schedule the NRC plans to follow as it considers rule changes for security at the nation's 63 nuclear power stations. 

The memo, from Luis A. Reyes, executive director for operations, anticipates that recommendations that could mandate guards at plant entrances will be presented to the commissioners next February. 

If the NRC adheres to the schedule, the recommendation would come nearly five years after TMIA petitioned the agency for the change.

A statement issued by the watchdog group yesterday called the NRC's failure to act on its request irresponsible and unreasonable. "For nearly four and a half years the NRC has misled [TMIA] about its deliberations on the petition," the statement said. "When requesting status updates, the NRC perpetually stated that a decision on the petition would be made within three to six months." 

TMIA asked the NRC to require plant operators to keep at least one armed guard at each plant entrance. The petition, which was drafted weeks before the terror attacks of 9/11, argued that the guards would serve as a physical and visual deterrent against attacks.  

Since 9/11, the NRC has issued security requirements aimed at making the plants less vulnerable to attack. Changes include the addition of guard towers, truck barriers, deeper background checks and high-tech fencing. Most, if not all, plant owners post guards at their front gates. 

 For months after the terror attacks, Pennsylvania was among several states to assigned National Guard troops to the plants. NRC officials have denied allegations of foot dragging. Petitions such as TMIA's, which require rule changes, take a long time to complete, officials said. 

The Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents plant owners and operators, opposes the petition.  It told the NRC that guards should be posted only when the level of security threat makes it prudent. 

On July 29, 2005, the NRC a issued White Violation relating to another staffing deficiency at Three Mile Island where “approximately 50% of the emergency responders,” including “key responders”  were “overdue” for their annual training for “an approximate five month period. (Please refer to Thursday, July 14, 2005, for background material).

-Report by Garry Lenton of the Patriot-News

 

 

March 30, 2005

NRC reviews Peach Bottom, plant a leader in shutdowns

 

Attendees seemed more in the dark last night after a 90-minute session aimed at shedding light on Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station's performance last year.

Exelon and Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials didn't exactly wow the crowd of about 40 with a slide show highlighting corporate progress, touting a 25 percent reduction in radioactive exposure to employees and diagramming federal "matrixes" and "cornerstone" safety guidelines.

One attendee asked why the commission couldn't just grade performances A to F, drop bureaucraticese and spell out problems that affect the public.

The bottom line: The NRC found that Peach Bottom improved in 2004 with two shutdowns of its Unit 2 reactor compared to three in 2003.

The shut downs placed Peach Bottom in the top three nationwide for unexpected shutdowns right behind Indian Point 2 in New York and Saint Lucie Unit 2 in Florida.

Five shutdowns in Unit 2 over two years is a lot when compared to the national average of less than one shutdown annually at the country's 103 commercial plants, said Eric Epstein of Three Mile Island Alert, a Harrisburg-based nonprofit citizens' organization.

The NRC said the shutdowns, called "scrams," were low-level safety risks but noteworthy nonetheless.

Want better procedures: Federal officials also warned the plant, operated by Exelon Corp., that its procedure in finding and reporting causes for shutdowns needs improvement. "They said our focus regarding inspections was too narrow," said Robert Braun, Exelon's site vice president at Peach Bottom. "We'll apply what they told us, which was to broaden our investigation."

Braun said that the shutdowns pose no threat to the public but only affect the company's bottom line. He further touted adherence to safety guidelines saying the plant was taking a "proactive approach." That tack, he said, would help plant workers discover problems such as the cause of a Unit 2 shutdown in July 2003.

A piece of broken fan belt that had been lost "a number of years ago" entered a cooling system and caused the shutdown. The debris wasn't found when the belt broke, but "years later it came back to haunt the plant," Braun said. "We continue to improve our existing processes," he added.

Epstein questions numbers: Epstein asked corporate and federal officials how many workers were employed at Peach Bottom, whether they had decreased in the past five years and if so, would that affect plant performance and the reduction in radiation exposure. NRC Chief of Projects Branch 4 Mohamed Shanbaky said the plant was in federal compliance with the number of employees needed for high-profile jobs such as reactor operators.

Shanbaky further said the NRC doesn't focus on the overall number of employees but rather whether federal rules are obeyed and safety regulations adhered to.

"This meeting was the NRC's assessment for 2004," said April Schlipp, Exelon spokeswoman, who added that there have been no staffing changes since the 2003 assessment. "We've been able to improve for the past two years; that's really the most relevant here."

Beth Birchall, a Lancaster County resident, sat in the back of the Peach Bottom Inn banquet room shaking her head.

"They seemed prepared," she said. "But there wasn't a lot of information."

The NRC has scheduled quarterly, team and regional inspections of the plant in 2005.

-Report by Kathy Stevens of the York Dispatch

 

May 27, 2005 

Many emergency sirens would not work if power lines were down

 

In the event of a nuclear accident or an act of terrorism at a U.S. nuclear power station simultaneously occurring with an electrical grid failure, only 27 percent  of the nation’s 62 nuclear power emergency planning zones using public notification siren systems are prepared to fully operate their emergency sirens independent of the main power lines,”  emergency enforcement petition filed by Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Three Mile Island Alert and numerous citizens’ groups. 

While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed that some but not all of the sites without backup power are preparing to create battery backups, the NRC actually denied the petition, and argued that the concerned citizens should instead use a petition for rulemaking process that can take as long as two years. 

Peach Bottom is  grid-dependent for sirens. 

 

 

    

 

July  2005

Peach Bottom Investigation: NRC probes shutdown at Peach Bottom

 

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will follow up 

on the cause of a turbine trip that led to the automatic  shutdown of Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station's Unit 2 reactor on July 10, 2004.

At the time of the shutdown, the unit's reactor coolant system experienced a high pressure condition that caused both recirculation pumps to trip. As a result, three safety-relief valves lifted and reseated.

By Tuesday morning, the reactor had returned to 67 percent power.

In September 2004, the NRC staff, through an additional inspection, investigated the reasons behind Unit 2's four unplanned shutdowns per 7,000 critical hours, or roughly one year of operation. The unscheduled shutdowns occurred between the fourth quarter of 2002 and the fourth quarter of 2003.

 On December 22, 2004, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station's Unit 2 reactor had another emergency shutdown and was off-line for 48 hours.

- From reports by York Daily Record and NRC documents

 

Circuit Breaker Replacement Primary Bushings Not Tested

to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standards

 

While investigating the dedication process of a different circuit breaker

component, GE Energy-Nuclear (GE) discovered that ANSI testing had not been

accomplished for the AM breaker primary bushings used in Magne-Blast circuit

breakers. The replacement primary bushings were provided by GE Supply PSC,

Sharon Hills, Pa., and supplied to Watts Bar and Peach Bottom, units 2 and 3,

by GE as safety-related components. The NRC issued a report to inform all licensees of this issue since additional licensees may have obtained these devices through other dedicating entities.

Previously, the GE product department produced Magne-Blast circuit breakers

and switchgear, that was qualified to the appropriate ANSI C37 standards.

When the GE breaker plant operation facility was closed, GE contracted with

a vendor to manufacture primary bushings. The contractor uses a similar but

not identical insulating material, and has variations in the manufacturing

process for the bushing construction. GE dedication specifications addressed

the replacement insulation material, but not the variation in the

manufacturing process. An implicit assumption in the GE dedication

specification was that testing in compliance with the applicable ANSI

standard had been completed.

GE has determined that design tests in accordance with certain ANSI C37

Industry Standards for Switchgear were not performed prior to implementation

of bushing design changes for Parts Q0845D0123G001, and Q0845D0124G001 andG003, which have been delivered to Peach Bottom 2, 3 and Watts Bar 1 for use as replacement primary bushings in Magne-Blast circuit breakers.

 

 For primary bushings purchased under the identified purchase orders and

placed in inventory, GE recommended that the primary bushings in inventory

not be installed until after successful completion of the ANSI standards testing. 

For primary bushings purchased under the identified purchase orders and

installed in Magne-Blast circuit breakers, GE recommended that no corrective

or preventive action be taken, pending completion of the ANSI standards testing.

 

 

Sept. 13, 2005 

Peach Bottom 2 nuke exits outage

 

 Exelon Corp.'s  1,112-megawatt Unit 2 reactor at the Peach Bottom 

nuclear power station in Pennsylvania exited an outage and ramped 

up to 43 percent of capacity by early Tuesday, the U.S. Nuclear 

Regulatory Commission said in a report.

- Report by Reuters

 

 

 

Jan. 22, 2006

Fire watch technician pleads guilty to falsifying records

        A contracted employee at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station 

pleaded guilty Jan. 9 to the falsification of records used to safely 

operate the dual-reactor nuclear power plant.

Between Jan. 17, 2005, and March 20, 2005, Tracy David,

formerly of Bartlett Service Inc., failed to conduct hourly fire

watch inspections in multiple sections of the plant including

the emergency diesel generator room and the cable spreading room.

Contacted by telephone, David - a resident of Quarryville, Pa.,

according to court documents - declined to be interviewed for

this story.

Based in Plymouth, Mass., Bartlett Services is a subcontractor

for the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

On 199 occasions, David claimed that she had completed her

rounds of fire watch inspections while on duty at the plant,

said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory

Commission.

Last year, both the NRC and plant officials ran independent

investigations that uncovered evidence that showed that David

had falsified her fire watch inspections and had not completed

her rounds.

When interviewed by representatives of the NRC's Office of

Investigations, David commented that one reason for her accused

offense was that she had been disgruntled after being passed

over for a promotion, Sheehan said.

"There were a significant number of fire watches that were

missed," he said. "But (the plant) still had fire suppression

systems in place."

Regardless of the seriousness of the charges, the commission

found that the safety significance was low since no fires were

reported and each room on David's route was equipped with

automatic fire-detection systems, Sheehan said.

A fire watch technician walks a predetermined route, checking

sections of the plant for smoke or other signs of fire, said

Paul Gunter, director of the reactor watchdog project for the

Nuclear Information and Resource Service. The technician keeps=

records of hourly checks to ensure that each room has been

monitored at a particular time.

"The job is pretty monotonous," said April Schilpp, a

spokeswoman for the plant.

Gunter said his organization has tracked fire protection

violations at nuclear power plants since the early 1990s.

For many years, Gunter's group has argued for improved fire

barriers and other systems rather than rely on fire watches.

"(Plants) should put in adequate fire protection features," he

said. "You put humans into the picture, there will be an error.

Especially with roving fire watches."

The manual fire watch checks serve as a compensatory measure

as ordered by the NRC. The commission requires that fire watches

be conducted for any room inside a plant that has its fire

detectors on automatic but its fire suppression system on manual.

At times, a plant may switch its fire suppression equipment to

manual if the system proves too sensitive, Sheehan said.

Should a fire watch patrol worker spot signs of smoke, the

worker would immediately notify the on-site firefighting

brigade, he said.

"It is a very important function," Sheehan said.

Along her route, David's duty's took her to the plant's cable

spreading room and to the emergency diesel generator room - the

site of a small June 2003 fire.

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station is equipped with four

emergency diesel generators that kick on when the plant loses

power.

The generators serve as a source of backup energy. They power

the plant's vital equipment including systems used to safely

shut down the power station, Sheehan said.

In June 2003, NRC inspectors found that plant technicians had

not adequately tightened the engine top cover flange joint bolts

of an emergency diesel generator during a maintenance procedure.

As a result, lube oil leaked from the joint and caused a small

fire on the exhaust manifold during a test.

While no fires occurred during David's shifts, an internal

investigation carried out by Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station

officials did raise eyebrows concerning David's actions while on

the job.

In February, while on duty, David's personal dosimeter sounded

when it should not have gone off, Schilpp said. Typically worn

around the neck, a dosimeter is a pager-sized piece of equipment

that measures and detects radiation.

As part of the plant procedure, when a worker's dosimeter

sounds, that person must leave the room and locate a plant

technician, Schilpp said.

A quick check found that David had come from an area of the

plant that was not part of her route, Schilpp said.

"She was not supposed to anywhere near that area," Schilpp

said. "At that point, (the plant) started to question other

things."

As part of the investigation, plant officials checked previous

dosimeter readings and found that, in some cases, David's scans

did not match what they should have been for her predetermined

route.

Plant investigators tracked David by her badge, which is

needed as a key to enter specific areas of the site.

"The evidence was overwhelming that things were not going

right," Schilpp said. "We saw a pattern emerge."

At the onset of its own investigation, the plant alerted the

NRC to the situation, she said.

"We self-identified the problem," Schilpp said. "We want

people to be doing the things we ask them to do and to fulfill

the obligations of our license."

Site officials confronted David with their evidence and

conducted an interview to make sure the plant had not been

deficient in explaining to the contracted employee what her job

had entailed.

"She told us that she fully understood the job," Schilpp said,

adding, "We don't want this to happen again."

Peach Bottom notified Bartlett Services that David had not

been doing her job as assigned and had falsified fire watch

records.

Bartlett Services removed David from her fire watch position

at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in late March. On April 15,

the NRC opened its own investigation.

Since the commission is not a legal or judicial agency, the

NRC notified the U.S. Department of Justice of its

investigation. The Department of Justice, in turn, accepted the

case for potential action.

"If we have findings of a criminal or deliberate nature,"

Sheehan said, "we refer those to the (U.S. Department of

Justice)."

At the guilty plea proceedings held earlier this month, David

acknowledged that she had falsified her fire watch records, said

Martin Carlson, the assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the case.

A sentencing date for David has not yet been set.

-Report by Sean Adkins of the York Daily Record/Sunday News

 

 

Feb. 19, 2006

Peach Bottom reactor operating after shut down

 

The operators of Three Mile Island, Peach Bottom and Limerick nuclear power plants are checking their systems for leaks of water laced with tritium, a radioactive isotope linked to cancer. 

Chicago-based Exelon Energy Co., which owns the plants, ordered the inspections after water contaminated with tritium was found in the groundwater or in test wells at three of its plants in Illinois. Exelon owns 10 nuclear plants. 

The company ordered each plant to conduct inspections of systems that carry tritium-laced water. The inspections will include pipes, pumps, valves, tanks and other equipment, said Ralph DeSantis, a spokesman for AmerGen Energy, the operator of TMI and a subsidiary of Exelon. 

Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, is a byproduct of the nuclear reaction. In large doses, it has been linked to cancer. 

"Our purpose is to ensure that we have a full understanding of the health of our systems that handle tritium and that we have satisfied ourselves ... that our equipment has a high degree of integrity," said Charles Pardee, Exelon's nuclear chief operating officer. 

TMI officials have been monitoring tritium since shortly after the 1979 accident that destroyed the Unit 2 reactor. About a dozen monitoring wells are checked at TMI quarterly, DeSantis said. 

Higher-than-usual tritium levels were found in a test well at TMI last fall, said David Allard, the director of the state Department of Environmental Protection's Radiation Control Program. The amounts never exceeded 19,000 picocuries per liter of water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows up to 20,000 picocuries per liter in drinking water. There is no standard for groundwater. 

The leak was traced to a sump pump and corrected, Allard said. 

Tritium-laced water is routinely released into the Susquehanna River by TMI, where it is diluted. 

The DEP monitors the river at Steelton and Columbia. "I'd be very surprised if we ever saw any tritium," Allard said. 

Eric Epstein, the chairman of the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, called on Exelon to be more aggressive with its well testing. 

The EPA describes tritium as one of the least dangerous radioactive substances because it emits weak radiation and usually leaves the body within a month.

-Report by Garry Lenton of the Patriot-News 

 

 

Jan. 22, 2006 

TMI guards sue over wages

 

Dozens of guards at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant claim in a federal lawsuit that a private security agency made them work unpaid overtime for more than two years.

The lawsuit alleges that Wackenhut Corp. wasn't paying the 79 guards for the time it took them to get armed and check through security from January 2002 until April 2004.

The guards' lawyer, Leslie Deak, said the time in question was typically 10 or 15 minutes before work and a few minutes at the end of their shifts, and that the workers are entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay.

The company has declined to compensate them for the allegedly lost wages, but began paying the guards for that time after they staged a work action, she said.

The guards are armed but do not take their weapons home, and they require some time at the start and end of their shifts to deal with the guns and other equipment, she said. The company had not been paying them for that time until the work action took place.

Ralph DeSantis, a spokesman for Three Mile Island's owner, AmerGen Energy Co., had no comment on the lawsuit but said Wackenhut has provided security there for about the past five years.

"We have a contract with Wackenhut, but they are the ones that pay the officers and determine the work rules with those officers," DeSantis said. AmerGen Energy is headquartered in Warrenville, Ill.

Three Mile Island, located in Middletown, about 10 miles southeast of Harrisburg, was the site of the nation's worst nuclear accident when a partial meltdown occurred in March 1979. Security there has tightened considerably since Sept. 11, 2001.

-Report by Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

 

 

 

Feb. 28, 2006 

NRC examing TMI security 

 

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to investigate the management of the security force at Three Mile Island, focusing on fitness-for-duty issues such as fatigue and sleeping on the job. 

The probe, announced in a certified letter delivered to a Patriot-News reporter, was prompted by a story published Jan. 29. 

The story reported on a memo in which John Young, head of the Wackenhut security, scolded security supervisors for failing to note that veteran officers were telling new hires safe places to sleep undetected while on duty. Wackenhut is a private security firm hired by plant owner Exelon Nuclear to guard the nuclear station. 

The memo also said officers were telling new hires ways to short-cut patrol duties. 

Of additional concern to the NRC were reports that security officers were being allowed to work excessive hours. The newspaper documented one person who worked more than 150 hours during a 14-day period, and averaged more than 54 hours a week for more than 10 months. 

Since March 2004, AmerGen Energy, the operator of TMI, investigated and disciplined five workers for "inattentiveness to duty." The phrase is used by the industry and regulators to cover an array of conditions, including sleeping. Three of those workers were security officers. 

Guards, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said fatigue from long hours and boredom were to blame for the inattentiveness. 

Guards work 12-hour shifts at TMI. Federal regulations limit those hours to 16 out of 24; 26 hours out of 48; and 72 out of seven days. 

The agency said it will not announce the findings of the probe. 

"Due to the nature of the security-related issues ... we are not providing you with further information on this matter," wrote David J. Vito, senior allegation coordinator for the NRC. 

-Report by Garry Lenton of the Patriot-News

 

March 1, 2006

Drop-in inspections planned by state 

 

Prompted by reports of sleeping or inattentive employees at Three Mile Island, the state said it will conduct surprise inspections at least twice a month at Pennsylvania's five nuclear power plants. 

The first round of inspections last month found no instances of inattentiveness on the part of control roomoperators or plant security, Gov. Ed Rendell said yesterday. 

 

The state Department of Environmental Protection will continue the inspections through the end of the year. Then the DEP will decide whether to continue the practice, said Ronald Ruman, a department spokesman. 

The inspections came shortly after The Patriot-News reported on five cases of inattentiveness at TMI that occurred since March 2004. 

Report by Garry Lenton of the Patriot-News 

 

 

May 17, 2006

After employee falsified records, plant stays in compliance, with firing

 

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave its lowest form of

enforcement notice to the nuclear power plant in Peach Bottom Township

after an investigation into falsified plant records.

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station sidestepped a more severe infraction

from the regulatory agency by identifying and immediately acting on

the violation by a contracted employee, the federal commission said in

a letter dated May 12.

As part of a backup verification to its fire safety system, Exelon Corp. contracts with Bartlett Service of Massachusetts to enter certain rooms and verify there is no fire or risk of a fire.

Between January and March of 2005, Exelon determined an employee of

Bartlett whom the commission did not name – falsified records on

the fire watch logs on almost 200 occasions.

When Exelon realized what had happened, the employee was fired, and

the company started its own investigation, along with notifying the

proper authorities of the violation.

In the letter to Exelon, the commission said it considered a more

severe infraction, but settled on a "non-cited violation." As a

result, the power plant must take corrective action to improve the

fire watch performance and prevent the violation from happening again

– which the commission noted Exelon had already done a year prior.

"You restored compliance immediately after identification of the violation by terminating the employee," the commission said in the letter, "and by conducting a prompt investigation to review the access records for other contractor fire watch staff that concluded that the individual's action was an isolated case."

The violation was classified at Severity Level IV, the lowest severity

level. In comparison, commission spokeswoman Diane Screnci said a

Severity Level III violation would have included the consideration of

a fine.

Exelon agreed with the level of severity set by the commission, said

April Schilpp, a spokeswoman for the Peach Bottom power plant.

-Report by Charles Schillinger of the York Dispatch

  

 

Aug. 16, 2006

'Unusual Event' Declared, Terminated at Peach Bottom Plant in York County

 

Exelon Nuclear’s Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station’s fire brigade extinguished a small fire onsite yesterday after a backup emergency diesel generator’s exhaust gasket on the roof of the diesel generator building unexpectedly caught fire.  

The fire occurred during routine testing of one of the station’s four diesel generators. The fire prompted the declaration of an Unusual Event at 6:14 p.m. Tuesday, in accordance with station procedures, due to a fire in the Protected Area that was not extinguished within 15 minutes. The fire was extinguished at 6:35, and the Event was terminated at 8:40 p.m. No offsite fire responders were needed to extinguish the fire.

There was no threat to the safe operation of the plant, and there was no danger to station personnel. 

An Unusual Event is the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There was no danger to the public during the event and no special action by the public was needed. 

Exelon Nuclear notified all appropriate federal, state and local emergency response officials of the Unusual Event.

 

 

Oct. 11, 2006 

Reactor back in service

 

A nuclear power plant reactor in southern York County returned to service yesterday morning after a cracked pipe in the cooling system forced owner Exelon Nuclear to shut the reactor down Saturday night. 

The shutdown was the second at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Station in 15 months and the third since 2003. 

The reactor, which had been off line for three weeks for refueling and maintenance, was only two hours into its restart when an equipment operator noticed a leak in a pipe used to test the cooling system, said April Schilpp, spokeswoman for the plant. 

-Report by Garry Lenton of the Patriot-News

 

 

 Oct. 20, 2006 

Peach Bottom among nuclear power plants included in study

 

The Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania and Seabrook Station in New Hampshire has been chosen as one of six nuclear power plants nationwide to be part of a study of the consequences of an accident that would release radioactivity into the atmosphere. 

The other nuclear plants being reviewed are Diablo Canyon in California; Duane Arnold in Iowa; Fermi in Michigan; and Salem in New Jersey. The study is expected to take three years. 

"The sites were picked based on the demographics of the surrounding communities and the type of containment used," said Scott Brunnell of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

The study will bring together information about how accidents could occur within containment buildings; how containment could be breached; how radioactive plumes could travel; and how effective emergency planning would be, Brunnell said. 

Ultimately, the criteria developed as a result of this study would be applied to all U.S. nuclear power plants, Brunnell said. 

Seabrook Station spokesman Alan Griffith said that all nuclear plants would eventually be reviewed. He said this is an effort on the part of the NRC to update its methodology. 

"It will be beneficial to the community because the NRC will be taking a look at emergency planning," Griffith said. "Ultimately, it will be good for all of us." 

-Report by the Portsmouth Herald

 

Feb. 28, 2007

Power plant fire not a threat, officials say

 

An electrical fire at the Peach Bottom nuclear station in southern York County yesterday posed no threat to the plant's operating nuclear reactors, according to company and government officials.

The fire, discovered shortly after 9 a.m. in a non-nuclear area, was extinguished by 10:32 a.m. and there were no injuries, officials said.

The fire was traced to a transformer cabinet in the turbine building of the Unit 3 reactor, said April Schilpp, spokeswoman for the plant's owner, Exelon Nuclear. As a precaution, officials shut down the turbine and cut power to 50 percent.

Company officials were assessing the damages, but they were expected to be minor.

"It should not prevent the plant from operating normally," Schilpp said.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Diane Screnci said the plant was stable and that its inspectors were in the plant control room monitoring the situation.

The fire is the ninth at Peach Bottom since 1986, and the second in the Unit-3 turbine buildings, according to a chronology put together by the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert using NRC documents.

The most recent was a small fire in an emergency backup diesel generator in August, 2004.

"Fires at nuclear power plants are never a welcome development," said TMIA Chairman Eric Epstein. "Older plants with aging parts, like Peach Bottom, require heightened vigilance. The root cause needs to be identified and defeated."

-Report by Garry Lenton of the Patriot-News

 

March 17, 2007

Fire was electrical 

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources reported that it was a breaker that caught on fire at the Peach Bottom plant in February. A spokesman said the fire was electrical in nature.  

"They replaced the breaker and verified proper connections and amperages to prevent a recurrence. I have not yet seen the utility's root cause evaluation, but Dennis Dyckman of my staff is following up on this with the plant," according to Rich Janati, of the DEP.

 

2007

Baltimore Examiner summary of Peach Bottom sleeping guards incidents 

 

March: John Jasinski sends the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a letter alleging guards are sleeping throughout the nuclear plant in York County, Pa. The NRC refers the concern to plant owner Exelon and security provider Wackenhut.

Sept. 10: WCBS in New York informs the NRC that it has a videotape of guards asleep or nodding off in a “ready room” near the nuclear reactor.

Sept. 21: An NRC inspection confirms only the 10 guards caught on tape were sleeping — only one of four shifts is implicated.

Nov. 1: Exelon terminates its contract with Wackenhut and takes over the plant’s security. Whistle-blower Kerry Beal, on leave during the investigation, is not among the Wackenhut guards rehired by Exelon.

Nov. 5: NRC inspectors follow up at Peach Bottom to ensure Exelon is correcting the problem.

December 2007-2008: NRC pledges to monitor Peach Bottom.

Baltimore Examiner, December 12, 2007

 

March 13, 2007

NRC: 2002 miscue accidental

 

In 2002, a plant security officer falsified fire watch logs at Peach   Bottom Atomic Power Station. 

A contracted security officer at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station - who logged a fire watch he didn't actually perform - did not willfully falsify fire watch records, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigation.

In April 2002, a Wackenhut contract security officer did not conduct a required fire watch but indicated on a log sheet that the action had been completed, according to NRC Office of Investigations records.

While investigating an unrelated matter in July 2006, commission investigators learned about the 2002 missed fire watch, said Neil Sheehan, a commission spokesman.

Investigators discovered that the officer believed his missed fire watch would be conducted by another officer during a scheduled tour of that same area. However, the second officer was assigned to cover the area once every four hours and not every hour as required to cover fire watches.

 

 

April 11, 2007 

Security guards to receive back wages 

 

The Miami-based company that employs guards at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station has agreed to pay $129,953 in back wages to 157 workers at the nuclear-powered plant.

A U.S. Department of Labor's Wages and Hour Division investigation found that Wackenhut Corp. paid guards their regular rates of pay regardless of how many hours they worked.

A federal act states that employees must be paid time and a half should they work more than 40 hours per week.

In the case of Wackenhut Corp., the company required security guards to arm themselves prior to the start of their shift, said Leni Uddyback-Forston, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor. "The arming-up process could take five to 15 minutes per employee each day" she said. "They were not being compensated for that time."

Also, regular changes to Wackenhut's work schedule resulted in some guards being paid for four hours at their regular rate instead of overtime pay, Uddyback-Forston said.

Wackenhut officers guard both Three Mile Island in Dauphin County and Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

A representative from Wackenhut Nuclear Services said he could not comment on the reimbursement of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station guards.

Wackenhut has paid more than 90 percent of the back wages owed, Uddyback-Forston said.

The company is in the process of reimbursing the remaining 26 of 157 guards affected, she said.

-Report by Sean Adkins of the York Dispatch

 

 

April 26, 2007

Work hours to be limited for some nuclear plant workers

 

Security workers and others in critical jobs at the nation's nuclear plants will no longer be allowed to log excessive overtime hours under new rules approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The change in the NRC's "fitness for duty" requirements is meant to reduce fatigue among plant employees and improve safety and security.

Exelon Nuclear, owner of Three Mile Island, Peach Bottom and Limerick nuclear stations in Pennsylvania, and seven other plants nationwide, expects to increase security staffing to reduce overtime.

"Any area where you have 24/7 coverage is most likely to be impacted," said Craig Nesbit, a spokesman for the company.

The regulations, which should go into effect this year, end a policy that allowed plant operators to meet work-hour limits by averaging the hours of dozens of employees. The process allowed some employees to log hundreds of hours of overtime a month. The new rule bases hourly limits on individuals.

The work-hour limits apply to security, maintenance and operations staffers, such as control room operators.

The rule is common sense, said Dave Lochbaum, a nuclear safety expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group.

"Groups don't get tired. People do," he said.

David Desaulniers, an NRC staffer who helped shepherd the rule change through a seven-year administrative review, said the revision will improve plant safety.

"I think that what the commission has approved will be a substantial step forward in addressing worker fatigue issues in the future," said Desaulniers, senior human factors analyst for the agency.

The shortcomings of group averaging were evident at TMI, where some security officers employed by Wackenhut Nuclear Services logged 72-hour weeks for six weeks straight last year.

In 2005, TMI officials cited three security workers for being inattentive or sleeping on the job. Each incident occurred during the night shift. Security officers contacted by The Patriot-News at the time said the incidents were not surprising given the overtime officers were being compelled to work.

The NRC rule, which must undergo review by the federal Office of Management and budget before it goes into effect, also:

• Increases the minimum break between shifts from eight hours to 10.

• Establishes training requirements for fatigue management.

• Limits the reasons plant operators may waive the hourly limits.

• Revises drug- and alcohol-testing requirements.

 

A veteran security officer at TMI employed by Wackenhut welcomed the changes. "It will definitely keep things from getting really bad again like they were in '02 and '03," said the officer, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.

Another officer, also requesting anonymity, said the change would significantly reduce fatigue. But he remained skeptical of how much leeway employers would have to waive the rules under special circumstances.

Though the NRC establishes the regulations, it does not require plants to obtain agency approval before authorizing a worker to go over the limit.

Eric Epstein, chairman of the Harrisburg-based watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, had similar concerns. "I believe the standards are contingent upon voluntary compliance," he said. "I see nothing that suggests there will be more aggressive oversight of a new fitness-for-duty program."

-Report by Garry Lenton of the Patriot-News

 

 

May 8, 2007 

Worker faking records was isolated case

 

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station has not been cited even though a plant worker falsified records on two occasions, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

An NRC investigation substantiated that a low-level worker deliberately falsified fire-protection-surveillance records without the knowledge of plant management, according to an NRC document dated April 30.

Plant officials ran an investigation into the matter and fired the worker, the document states.

Exelon Nuclear checked the records of other operators to determine if anyone else was involved in the falsification of the records. The commission determined that the violation resulted from the isolated actions of one worker.

-Report by Sean Adkins of the York Dispatch

 

 

Feb. 5, 2008

Peach Bottom plant repairs safety valve

 

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station operators shut down Unit 3 this morning to repair a safety valve.

The valve prevents steam lines to the electric turbine from becoming over-pressurized, said Bernadette Lauer, power station spokeswoman.

In a release, Lauer said the plant's operators are investigating the cause of the equipment malfunction. There was no risk to the public, she said.

Unit 2 continues to operate at full power. Units 2 and 3 are boiling water reactors, and Unit 2 is capable of generating approximately 1,138 net megawatts and Unit 3 is capable of generating approximately1,140 net megawatts.

-Report by York Daily Record/Sunday News

 

 

Feb. 8, 2008 

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station's Unit 3 reactor came back online at 3:30 p.m. Thursday after workers had replaced a safety relief valve that had malfunctioned earlier this week.

Peach Bottom's Unit 2 reactor continued to operate at full power without interruption during the Unit 3 shutdown.

-Report by Sean Adkins of the York Dispatch

 

 

November 13, 2008

NRC inspects Peach Bottom plant, finds three violations, makes no citations 

 

A Sept. 30, 2008 inspection of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found three violations by owner Exelon Generation Company LLC, though no citation were made. 

In a self-revealing non-cited violation, a failure to follow procedure was revealed after an emergency service water leak (ESW) was discovered on the E-1 emergency diesel generator (EDG), according to the NRC's report, dated Nov. 13, 2008. The report said the leak "resulted in safety-related equipment being adversely affected." 

The NRC determined the finding was of "very low safety significance," or Green level, because it did not represent an actual loss of system safety function. 

Also, a transformer fire and petroleum spill were not properly reported to the NRC, according to the NRC report. A Level IV Severity event, NRC inspectors noted the NRC was not notified by the Peach Bottom Power Station of the reportable event on July 23 and 24, 2008. Inspectors found a planned press release and notification of other government agencies concerning the transformer fire and petroleum spill. The NRC report state "the failure to make a required report could adversely impact the NRC's ability to carry out its regulatory mission," and that the event was related to public health and safety as it contributed to the loss of the plant's three offsite power sources. The event was also noted as an environmental protection issue because "it involved the spill of more than minor quantity of oil the required reporting to the state of Pennsylvania." 

Because the NRC had been "informally notified," the NRC determined the finding was a non-citation violation. 

NRC inspectors also found the Peach Bottom plant did not conduct a sufficient quality assurance program, adequate to identify incorrect gamma spectroscopy analyses of a principal gamma emitting radionuclide used to scale hard-to-detect radionuclides for purposes of waste classification in accordance with 1- CFR  61.55. The report noted, "The failure to conduct a sufficiently robust quality assurance program ... is a performance deficiency that was reasonably within the licensee's ability to foresee and correct." The NRC called the finding "more than minor" because it affect the plant's "cornerstone objective" by failing to identify incorrectly anylyzed samples used to classify radioactive waste for land disposal. 

The finding was considered of "low safety significance" because no radiation limits were exceeded, there was no breach of packaging and no certificate of compliance finding, no low-level burial ground non-conformance, and no failure to make notifications or provide emergency notification. 

- Report by Marlene Lang 

 

Dec. 10, 2008

Hunters trespass on power plant property

Several hunters were found to be trespassing on company property in the vicinity of the north substation of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. 

The incident was classified as an Event of Potential Public Interest (EPPI) by officials, who issued a report for Units 2 and 3 around 1 p.m. on Dec. 10. 

The state Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Radiation Protection was notified along with Military and Veteran Affairs, the Public Utility Commission, state police, officials of Chester, York and Lancaster counties and PEMA's central office. 

-Report by Marlene Lang