Site operators didn’t take all possible precautions to prevent a radioactive water leak that led to shutdown of a South Carolina nuclear reactor, officials with Duke Energy said Thursday, also saying they’d learn from their mistakes.
“Duke Energy agrees that there were apparent violations,” Scott Batson, site vice president for the Oconee Nuclear Station, said during a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meeting in Atlanta.
Engineers and regulators examined the situation last November at the Oconee plant near Seneca, about 30 miles west of Greenville. The shutdown came after engineers detected flaws in the airtight, steel-lined concrete containment building designed to prevent radiation from leaking into the air or ground.
This conference put the NRC one step closer to taking action against Duke as a result of the incident:
Regulators made no decisions public Thursday about the leak’s safety significance. In June, the NRC issued a notice to Duke of an “apparent violation” that had a safety significance of “greater than green” — the lowest of the agency’s graduated safety system — and ordered the conference to hear from Duke before making a final determination on the severity of the penalty.
A government report on safety violations at Oconee was eye-opening:
In October, a Government Accountability Office report found that, since 2000, the Oconee Nuclear Station reported the most safety violations of any nuclear plant in the Southeast, with 163 lower-level violations and 14 higher-level violations.