United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment


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U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, REGION I

475 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, Pa. 19406

CONTACT: Diane Screnci (610)337-5330/ e-mail: dps@nrc.gov
Neil A. Sheehan (610)337-5331/e-mail: nas@nrc.gov

I-98-52

May 6, 1998

NRC RATES BEAVER VALLEY "GOOD" IN LATEST ASSESSMENT

The Beaver Valley nuclear power plant has received ratings of "good" in all four categories reviewed in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's latest assessment of the facility's performance. Beaver Valley is located in Shippingport, Pa, and operated by Duquesne Light Company.

Covered by the Systematic Assessment of Licensee Performance, or SALP, report is the period from September 29, 1996 through March 21 of this year.

NRC staff and Duquesne Light Company officials will discuss the evaluation during a meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19, at the Beaver Valley Emergency Response Facility Building at the site. The session will be open to the public for observation.

Four functional areas of nuclear power plant performance are rated in NRC SALP reports: plant operations, maintenance, engineering and plant support. Ratings of Category 1 ("superior"), Category 2 ("good") and Category 3 ("acceptable") are assigned. The reports are issued roughly once every 18 months for each plant.

While Beaver Vally retained "good" ratings in three areas -- plant operations, plant support and engineering -- since its last assessment in 1996, its rating for maintenance declined from "superior" to "good" during the latest period.

Overall, the NRC found that the plant was in transition during the time it was evaluated. The staff recognized that conservative decision-making and a lowered threshold for identifying problems led to needed improvements and more of a questioning attitude among plant employees.

In a letter to the company relaying this SALP, NRC Region I Administrator Hubert J. Miller said, "Continued strong efforts by the Beaver Valley management team are necessary to assure problems with station processes are fully corrected and continued performance improvements are made."

In the area of operations, the NRC found excellent operator performance during startups, shutdowns, and operational problems. But it noted weaknesses in operator performance during day-to-day activities, including operators' knowledge of and adherence to detailed requirements contained in the plant license technical specifications.

"Continued management attention is needed to assure operations workload and work activities are properly supported and controlled," Mr. Miller wrote.

In assessing the plant's maintenance program, NRC found significant, longstanding problems with the company's adherence to the license requirement for periodic testing of various safety related systems. The agency also noted additional weaknesses in control of vendor work, troubleshooting and workmanship. On the other hand, the assessment found that corrective maintenance backlogs were gradually reduced and that material condition of the plant improved over the period.

Mr. Miller said the SALP board recommended a rating of "adequate" for the maintenance category. However, he assigned a rating of "good," he said, because weaknesses in the technical specification periodic testing program were "brought to light through extensive reviews that you conducted and because of the strong action you took in this and other instances where problems were surfaced throughout this period."

Regarding engineering, NRC found that resources were "not sufficiently focused on the timely resolution of degraded system and component conditions" early in the assessment period. But Mr. Miller said Beaver Valley engineers "provided improved support to plant operations" later in the assessment period.

In the area of plant support, good performance was recognized in the overall performance of the radiation protection and environmental and meteorological monitoring areas, as well as by the emergency response organization during drills.

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SALP reports are available on the NRC's internet web site(http://www.nrc.gov/OPA) and by e-mail subscription.


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