Construction errors halt construction of new Tennessee nuke; Workers removed parts from operating reactor

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported today:

TVA has ordered an unpaid safety work stoppage at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant for about 1,000 contract workers after finding cables had been erroneously removed from Unit 1 — the operating reactor — in December. (Emphasis is mine — I thought it was important.)

Last week, a valve in Unit 2, the reactor now under construction at the plant, also was removed from another system without workers following proper guidelines.

Mike Skaggs, TVA’s senior vice president for nuclear generation, development and construction, ordered the stoppage — known as a “stand-down” — to start at noon Wednesday “until the errors discovered are clearly communicated to all personnel,” along with TVA’s demand for quality work, according to TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci.

Despite the fact that cables were removed from the operating reactor, there is no indication so far a shutdown was considered. Unit 1 is still listed at 100 per cent power on this morning’s Reactor Status Report.

It’s not like the TVA didn’t do anything to help its workers know which was the hot nuke:

TVA has color coded the two reactors to help workers know they are working on the correct reactor.

This was the second incident in a week of workers removing the wrong part during the project:

Last week, a valve in Unit 2, the reactor now under construction at the plant, also was removed from another system without workers following proper guidelines.

In that incident, workers ignored written instructions, according to TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci:

In the second incident, the valve that was removed was tagged with specific instructions, and those instructions were not followed, she said.

The work stoppage is designed to remind the construction team that they are, in fact, working on a nuclear power plant, and that safety is kind of important:

(NRC spokesman Joey) Ledbetter and Martocci said the unusual action of ordering a widespread stand-down is a tool designed to get the attention of the workforce.

“It gives management an opportunity to communicate the importance of a strong safety culture,” said Ledbetter.

Martocci said TVA managers on Thursday were required to come up with ways to talk to and train — perhaps even retrain — workers to be more mindful of safety rules and processes.

This week’s problems were not the only ones that have had an impact on the construction of Watts Barr Unit 2:

Last year, two contractors were charged federally with falsifying inspection records on nonexistent electrical cables at Watts Bar.

Here’s a link: http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/20/tva-orders-unpaid-safety-work-stoppage-watts-bar-n/

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About Robert Singleton

By day, I work for a call center. In my spare time, I try to save my hometown (and planet) from a nearly constant onslaught of greedheads, lunatics and land developers. I live in a fictional town called Austin, Texas, where I go to way too many meetings.
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