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

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: RIII-99-25

April 6, 1999

NRC FINDS D.C. COOK "COMMITTED TO AGGRESSIVELY EVALUATING"

ITS PROBLEMS IN LATEST REVIEW OF NUCLEAR PLANT PERFORMANCE

*** Meeting to Discuss Performance Planned for April 15 ***

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has found that American Electric Power is now "committed to aggressively evaluating" the problems of its shutdown D. C. Cook Nuclear Power Station after previously making "little progress" in resolving the deficiencies.

The NRC staff has issued its latest review of plant performance covering the period from March of last year through January 31. The plant, located near Bridgman, Michigan, has been shut down since September 1997.

The NRC staff will meet with utility officials on April 15 to discuss the findings of the performance review and the status of performance improvement activities at the plant.

The meeting will be at 1 p.m. in the Training Building at the D. C. Cook plant on Red Arrow Highway north of Bridgman. The meeting is open to public observation. NRC officials will be available after the meeting for questions from the public and news media.

In a letter to American Electric Power Company Geoffrey Grant, Division Director in the NRC's Region III Office, said, "Both D.C. Cook units remained shut down throughout this assessment period while repair and modification work was conducted on safety-related systems. Overall, the licensee [American Electric Power] made little progress towards resolving the performance problems that resulted in the licensee's decision to maintain both units shut down since September 1997."

He continued, "Late in 1998, the licensee realized that previous improvement initiatives were ineffective. The licensee has recently demonstrated that they are committed to aggressively evaluating their processes and programs to define the breadth and depth of problem areas."

The text of the plant performance review letter is available from the NRC Region III Office of Public Affairs and on the NRC web site at: http://www.nrc.gov/OPA/ppr.

NRC reviews safety performance twice a year at every licensed nuclear power plant in the nation. These reviews give the agency staff an integrated assessment of plant performance and provide a basis for planning inspection activities.

Plant performance reviews are an interim measure NRC is using to monitor nuclear power plant safety. The agency began using it for this purpose after suspending the Systematic Assessment of License Performance (SALP) process until a new assessment program is developed. Previously, SALP reports were issued every 12 to 24 months.

The new reactor oversight and assessment program being developed will provide quarterly performance reports, based on a number of performance indicators and on inspection findings. This program will be tested at eight sites beginning in June and will be extended to all plants next January. A full description of the new program is available on the NRC web site at: http://www.nrc.gov/OPA/primer.htm.

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