BOSTON – The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth experienced 108 lower-level and two higher-level safety violations from 2000 through 2012.
The violations were included in a congressional study expected to be released this month showing that safety violations at nuclear plants across the country vary dramatically from region to region.
A Pilgrim spokeswoman said they’re committed to addressing even minor issues and that enhancing safety is their top concern.
Twenty-six Northeast reactors reported more than 2,500 violations, about 97 per reactor, during the 13-year period.
Lower-level violations pose very low risk.
Higher-level violations range from low to high safety significance, such as an improperly maintained electrical system that caused a fire affecting a plant’s ability to shut down safely.
The GAO’s analysis shows 3,225 of these violations from 2000 through the end of 2012 across 21 reactors in the West. By contrast, there were 1,885 such violations in the Southeast. Yet that region is home to 33 reactors – 12 more than in the West. The West registered 153.6 violations per reactor, while the Southeast saw just 57.1.
The Midwest, with 24 reactors, had 3,148 violations, for a rate of 131.2 per reactor. The 26-reactor Northeast also fared worse than the Southeast, with 2,518 violations, or 96.8 per reactor.
The Cooper nuclear station in Brownville, Neb., led all sites in lower-level violations per reactor with 363.
The GAO found less regional variation in higher-level safety violations. The five plants with the most higher-level violations per reactor from 2000 to 2012 were Davis-Besse in Oak Harbor, Ohio, with 14; Kewaunee, nine; Perry, eight; Palisades, in Covert, Mich., eight; and Fort Calhoun, in Fort Calhoun, Neb., eight.
“I believe the oversight process is totally arbitrary,” said Paul Blanch, an engineer who once blew the whistle on problems from within the industry and later returned to work on safety. He also said the NRC isn’t providing consistent training to inspectors and regional staff. Blanch was made aware of the GAO findings by the AP.
The report also indicates that some regulators may be missing small problems or giving them short shrift, safety experts said. And they said little violations can pile up and interact with one another to create bigger risks.
Read more at Report: Pilgrim had 110 violations from 2000-2012