NRC Proposes $145,000 Penalty for Southern Nuclear Operating Co.

Southern Nuclear Operating Co. has taken a number of corrective actions, including procedure revisions, additional training and oversight, and disciplinary action for the employees who entered false data indicating they had completed equipment data checks and area inspections.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Feb. 21 that its staff is proposing a $145,000 civil penalty against Southern Nuclear Operating Co. for violations at the company's Vogtle nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Ga., because plant employees did not complete required rounds to check equipment and plant conditions but provided inaccurate documentation indicating they had done so.

The power plant is located about 26 miles southeast of Augusta. The violations, identified during an NRC inspection, occurred from August to October 2016. An NRC investigation completed in August 2017 found that on multiple occasions during that period, at least 13 system operators failed to complete their rounds as required by plant procedures but entered data in an electronic log indicating they had completed the equipment status checks and area inspections.

"Outside rounds are conducted for a variety of reasons, including the early identification, trending, and correction of degraded, abnormal, or undesirable plant conditions. In this case, however, this vital function was intentionally precluded by the deliberate misconduct," NRC said its its letter to the company. The federal agency said its review showed there were no actual safety consequences, adding that it "is unaware of any equipment issues or conditions missed during the time the rounds were not completed."

Southern Nuclear Operating Co. has taken a number of corrective actions, including procedure revisions, additional training and oversight, and disciplinary action for the individuals involved. The company has 30 days to pay the fine or protest it.

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