United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment



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U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, REGION III

801 Warrenville Road, Lisle IL 60532

CONTACT:    Jan Strasma (630) 829-9663/e-mail: rjs2@nrc.gov
Angela Greenman Phone: (630) 829-9662/e-mail: opa3@nrc.gov

News Release III-97-98

November 17, 1997

NRC STAFF TO DISCUSS INSPECTION FINDINGS NOVEMBER 19

AT PALISADES NUCLEAR POWER STATION

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will meet Wednesday, November 19, with Consumers Energy Company officials to discuss the findings of a recent special inspection at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant. The inspection covered an October 17 incident in which the entire reactor control rod drive system was taken out of service for maintenance of one control rod drive while the plant was in operation.

The meeting will be at 10 a.m. in the training building at the Palisades plant. The plant is located on Blue Star Highway south of South Haven, Michigan. The meeting is open to public observation.

In the October 17 incident, maintenance was planned on one of 45 control rod drives. The drives move the control rods in the reactor to increase or decrease the reactor power level. A separate system is used to quickly shut down the reactor by fully inserting all control rods.

In preparation for the maintenance, the plant staff used a procedure that was intended for use while the plant was shut down. This procedure blocked the electric power to all 45 control rod drives.

The correct procedure would have shut off the electric power to only the drive involved in the maintenance.

The control rod drives were disabled for about 3 hours while the maintenance was performed. During that time, the reactor could have been shut down if necessary by inserting all the control rods in an automatic or manual reactor trip. However, the control rods could not have been moved individually to adjust reactor power level.

There was no need to move the control rods while the maintenance was underway. The use of the incorrect procedure was discovered by the utility during a review of the maintenance activity on October 20.

The maintenance procedure was subsequently reviewed by the NRC resident inspectors, and a special NRC inspection was later conducted into the incident. The November 19 meeting will present the results of that special inspection to utility management.

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Note: The schedule of NRC meetings open to public observation is available on the NRC's internet web site at <http://www.nrc.gov/OPA>.


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