NRC Staff Identifies Nuclear Power Plants Warranting Increased Regulatory Attention

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January 29, 1997



NOTE: The letters to the utilities and background information are available on the NRC's Watch List Page.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff advised the Commission today that it has identified 14 nuclear power plants that warrant increased NRC regulatory attention.

The plants were placed on the NRC watch list earlier this month at a meeting during which senior NRC managers conducted their semi-annual review of the performance of operating nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities.

The plants are:

Crystal River Unit 3, operated by Florida Power Corp. near Crystal River, Florida (listed for the first time).

Dresden Units 2 and 3, operated by Commonwealth Edison Co. near Morris, Illinois (first listed in June 1987, removed in December 1988, and added again in January 1992);

Indian Point 3, operated by the New York Power Authority near Buchanan, New York (listed in June 1993);

LaSalle Units 1 and 2, operated by Commonwealth Edison near Ottawa, Illinois (listed for the first time);

Maine Yankee, operated by Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co., near Bath, Maine (listed for the first time);

Millstone Units 1, 2 and 3, operated by Northeast Utilities Service Co. at Waterford, Connecticut (first listed last January);

Salem Units 1 and 2, operated by Public Service Electric and Gas Co. near Salem, New Jersey (listed for the first time); and

Zion Units 1 and 2, operated by Commonwealth Edison 40 miles north of Chicago (first listed in January 1991 and removed in January 1993).

The staff informed the Commission that the decision to place the Salem units on the Watch List was not based on any recent performance problems or decline; the staff believes that Salem's efforts to achieve needed improvement are correctly targeted and the NRC is satisfied with the licensee's overall approach. However, the staff noted that Salem should have been placed on the Watch List previously because of Salem's past safety performance. The staff also indicated that the agency increased its attention and resources at Salem commensurate with a Watch List plant. Finally, the staff concluded that, notwithstanding the improvements at Salem, it would not have been removed from the Watch List at this time had it been previously identified, because it has yet to demonstrate a period of safe performance at power.

The staff also informed the Commission that it has identified a trend of declining performance at Illinois Power Company's Clinton plant near Clinton, Illinois, and at Wisconsin Electric Power Company's Point Beach facility near Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

In an additional action, the NRC staff also has sent Commonwealth Edison Co. a letter formally requiring it to submit, within 60 days, information under oath or affirmation explaining why NRC should have confidence in the company's ability to operate six nuclear stations while improving performance at each site. In its response, the utility is also required to list criteria it has established, or planned, to measure its performance in light of NRC's concerns and to discuss its proposed actions if those criteria are not met.

EDITORS: Texts of letters to utilities with plants on the watch list or with a declining trend, along with the special letter to Commonwealth Edison, will be available on the NRC's Internet home page. The transcript of the Commission briefing will be posted later this week.

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