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NRC Says Farley Nuclear Plant Has Too Many Failures

By Associated Press

Dothan AL – The Farley nuclear power plant has had too many equipment failures, a director of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told plant officials Thursday.

NRC recently inspected the plant and presented their report to nearly a dozen plant officials during a meeting at the Houston County administration building near downtown Dothan.

The special weeklong inspection began Sept. 10 after two separate electrical breaker failures at the plant. During testing on Sept. 4 and 5, the two electrical breakers failed to close in unrelated failures.

Michael Ernstes, the NRC inspection team leader, said a written report of the special inspection will be finished within 30 days, The Dothan Eagle reported.

"We felt they had their arm around the situation," he said.

The breakers are part of the support cooling system for the plant's core, said Scott Shaeffer, an NRC regional supervisor.

"The breakers are part of a support system that help cool pumps that are needed to mitigate an accident if it were to occur," Shaeffer said. "There was a seven hour window where a cooling system would not have been available in the case of an emergency."

Farley plant vice president Randy Johnson stressed that plant officials not the NRC discovered the problem and quickly corrected it. Plant officials plan to find a long-term solution to the breaker problem by replacing all the breakers.

"Farley is performing better now than it ever has, from an equipment reliability perspective," Johnson said. "With the breaker issue in specific, we found that, and promptly took them out of service and replaced them."

The recent breaker failures were not the only equipment issues at the plant this year.

In August, the NRC released a statement of preliminary yellow finding concerning inefficient valves at the plant. That finding included a substantial risk concern.

Charles Casto, an NRC division director out of Atlanta, said most equipment failures are also organizational failures.

"There have been too many equipment failures at Farley in our opinion," Casto said.

No final decision has been made by the NRC regarding either equipment failure.

Casto said the Farley plant will have to identify both its mechanical and organizational problems. He said that would help the plant make the necessary corrections.

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Information from: The Dothan Eagle

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