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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And They Wonder Why People Worry About Nuclear Power Plants............


The Associated Press is reporting on a disturbing foul-up at the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford. As a colleague said to me when mentioning this story, "It's like something out of "The Simpsons."

Here's the AP story:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday that operators at the Millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut failed in numerous ways - including an operator who pressed the wrong button numerous times - while testing turbine control valves last February that caused a power surge.

As a result, federal regulators said they will impose more oversight at the Millstone Power Station in Waterford. The plant, on Connecticut's southeast coast, is the only nuclear power plant in the state. Officials said at the time that the Feb. 12 surge posed no public danger.

The NRC said an operator noticed an increase in pressure at the plant, which is owned by the Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources Inc., and incorrectly pressed an "increase" button instead of a "decrease" button. When the pressure did not fall the operator pressed the "increase" button three more times and then pressed the "decrease" button twice.

Those actions resulted in a rapid, unintended rise in reactor power, regulators said. A senior operator added to the problem by failing to notice reactor power was rising and withdrew control rods, the NRC said

Bill Dean, region administrator at NRC, said plant safety at Millstone (shown at left) was not affected due to the incident, but regulators hold control room operators to the highest standards.

"This inspection finding signals the need for plant personnel to step back and learn from this event in order to prevent it from occurring again," he said.

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