After pieces of the hose were removed from the intakes of the two pumps after the incident, neither pump was tested to make sure it was working properly and no other pieces of hose were stuck in the piping or pump, the NRC said. The plant's day shift operators knew that the two pumps had sucked in hose pieces, but "for unclear reasons," operators did not record the pumps as inoperable in the control room log, which would have elevated awareness of the incident, the inspectors said.
Three days later, after one pump failed to operate properly, a 5-foot hose section was removed. The next day, a 5-inch piece was found in the other pump.
In its response to the NRC about the incident last year, CENG reported to the NRC inspectors that its managers had failed to impose a "healthy skepticism" toward operators' actions during the recovery from the hose intrusion, and it listed two dozen "missed opportunities" to avoid or correct errors in handling the situation. That characterization understates the failures in the company's response, the NRC staff responded last year.
"We need to adopt a questioning attitude [and] improve the rigor of decisionmaking," Maria Korsnick, CENG's chief operating officer, told the NRC staff at the Baltimore meeting.
The regulators, sitting on one side of a long conference table, and the company officials, on the other side, share an overriding goal -- maintaining safeguards that can prevent an incident or error from triggering a nuclear reactor emergency that could jeopardize the industry's future. That risk is doubly important to CENG, which is seeking approval to build a new reactor at its Calvert Cliffs site in southern Maryland, and possibly at Nine Mile Point.
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"We're sharing perspectives," said Brew Barron, CENG's CEO and chief nuclear officer and an executive vice president of Constellation Energy. "The more we communicate with each other, the more effective we can be, both of us."
But at times in the meeting, each side took note of differing perspectives. CENG said new regulatory requirements from the NRC are affecting its planning and management operations. "My concern in pressing them to getting this done is what else isn't getting done," Barron said of one NRC requirement.
"We don't make the rules up," said the NRC's James Wiggins. "We waste valuable time debating individual details instead of taking a step back and saying, 'What's the best way to get this done?'" He admonished CENG not to crowd the regulators with a late response on another regulatory requirement. "Don't stick us with a five-day window to do a 10-day job," Wiggins said. "Please give us half a chance to succeed."
For most of their operating lives, the Nine Mile Point reactors were operated by Niagara Mohawk, and Ginna by Rochester Gas & Electric. Now they are part of CENG's small "fleet," along with the Calvert Cliffs reactors in southern Maryland -- three different plants with different technologies, different histories and individual workforce cultures.
Carlin, the vice president in charge of the Ginna plant, described actions to stop water leakages from a reactor refueling pit that had been a chronic problem for three decades (the leakages were contained, Barron said at the meeting). The plant's former operators apparently had decided to live with the problem, Carlin said.
"That was unacceptable," Carlin said. "That's not where our standards are.
"It was frankly the normalization of a deviation, [and] that's not how we're going to operate the facility going forward."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500