NRC Special Investigation of Browns Ferry Under Way

A two-person NRC inspection team will identify the circumstances surrounding a Nov. 7 dose rate alarm event, review the licensee's immediate response to the alarm, evaluate their corrective actions and causal analysis, and assess the program for diving, work control, radiological surveys, and movement of highly radioactive material.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a special inspection at the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant to determine how and why a diver received a dose rate alarm during underwater work in the Unit 1 equipment pit. The plant, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, is near Athens, Ala., about 32 miles west of Huntsville, Ala.

On Nov. 7, a diver working on an underwater steam dryer system received an electronic dose rate alarm when he approached the equipment pit wall to manipulate a cable. The diver immediately left the pit, and his unintended dose did not exceed regulatory limits, according to NRC, which reported that TVA later determined a basket of used filters had been moved from the spent fuel pool into a position near the equipment wall, and that this action was not communicated to the next shift.

A two-person NRC inspection team will identify the circumstances surrounding the event, review the licensee's immediate response to the alarm, evaluate their corrective actions and causal analysis, and assess the program for diving, work control, radiological surveys, and movement of highly radioactive material. The on-site portion of the inspection is expected to take several days, while a report documenting the results of the inspection is expected to be issued within 45 days of its completion.

TVA operates three nuclear plants; Browns Ferry is its only nuclear plant in Alabama.

William Dean Johnson, president and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority, announced his retirement from the federal agency on Nov. 14. Johnson, who joined TVA in 2013, will turn 65 in January 2019.

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