A couple of items from this week’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Event Notification Reports page:
1. NRC regulations require both random and for-cause testing of nuclear workers for drugs and alcohol. As part of the program, some samples are submitted to one testing lab, which then sends the sample to other labs as a quality control test. This week, a sample from the Calloway nuclear power plant was identified by the ProTox laboratory as being negative and dilute, that is, no drugs or alcohol were detected, but analysis indicated that the sample had been diluted. This is usually an indication that the tested employee had tampered with the sample by adding water.
ProTox then submitted the same sample to three additional laboratories, Toxicology, Quest and CRL. All three labs reported that the sample was negative for drugs or alcohol, but none indicated that the sample was negative and dilute. The NRC now thinks that the error was made by ProTox, since the remaining three did not detect dilution. The investigation continues….
2. Speaking of running water, early yesterday morning, operators at the Millstone nuclear power plant notified the NRC that the Unit 2 High Pressure Core Spray (HPCS) system was inoperable. The reactor had been in a Technical Specification-required shutdown after an electrical problem in the diesel generator that powers the HPCS. Strangely enough, the fact that the HPCS was declared inoperable allowed the reactor to be removed from the Tech Specification shutdown, since the diesel was no longer required to power a system that had been declared inoperable. Consequently, the plant is operating at 100 per cent power, even though the HPCS is out of service. NRC regulations refer to the inoperability of the HPCS as a an ‘event or condition that at the time of discovery could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of structures or systems that are needed to (m)itigate the consequences of an accident.’