United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC, United States Enrichment Corp. Officials to Discuss Apparent Violations at Portsmouth Plant



NRC Seal NRC NEWS

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 (630) 829-9662/e-mail: opa3@nrc.gov

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: RIII-98-36

May 29, 1998

NRC, UNITED STATES ENRICHMENT CORP. OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS APPARENT VIOLATIONS AT PORTSMOUTH PLANT

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will meet Friday, June 5, with representatives of the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC) for a predecisional enforcement conference on apparent violations at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, located in Piketon, Ohio.

The meeting will start at 1 p.m. (CT) in the Third Floor Conference Room of the NRC Region III Office, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois. It is open to public observation. NRC officials will be available at the conclusion to answer questions from the news media and other interested observers.

The discussion will focus on the Corporation's failure to control components with uranium deposits, inadequate maintenance, testing and operation of safety valves on equipment, and exceeding the possession limit for uranium enriched greater than 20 percent.

U.S. Enrichment Corporation operates the Portsmouth plant under a lease from the Department of Energy, the owner and previous operator. Effective March of last year, regulatory authority over plant operations was transferred from the Department of Energy to the NRC. The facility uses a gaseous diffusion process to enrich uranium hexafluoride in the uranium-235 isotope, so that the material can be used as nuclear fuel in commercial nuclear power plants.

The decision to hold an enforcement conference does not mean the NRC has determined that a violation has occurred or that enforcement action will be taken. Rather, the purpose is to discuss apparent violations, their causes and safety significance; to provide the licensee an opportunity to point out any errors that may have been made in the NRC inspection report; and to enable the company to outline its proposed corrective actions.

No decision on the apparent violations or any contemplated enforcement action, such as a fine, will be made at this conference. Those decisions will be made by senior NRC officials at a later date.

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