State suspends low-level waste shipment from nuclear plant over manifest errors via The Seattle Times

The suspension requires Energy Northwest, operator of the region’s only nuclear-power plant, to come up with corrective actions within 90 days, and also submit to an inspection and participate in a management inspection.


The company operates the Columbia Generating Station, a boiling-water nuclear reactor located north of Richland. Northwest Energy says the station is the largest producer of power in Washington state.

An internal Energy Northwest memorandum acknowledges problems in the shipment of low-level radioactive wastes. Written July 26, the same day as the state suspension, it cites “multiple deficiencies with the shipments of radioactive wastes.”


In addition to a July 20 shipping problem that resulted in the state suspension of shipping, the memo by Robby Peek, an Energy Northwest quality services supervisor, detailed a series of other incidents that violated state and federal requirements.

They include multiple examples of incomplete and inaccurate radioactive shipment documents that were discovered in November 2015.

The July order follows another Health Department suspension of shipping privileges In November 2016 after discovery of an improperly packaged shipment. That incident led to a higher level of oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well.


Charles Johnson, a plant critic with Oregon and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, said that the state shipping suspension is part of a broader problem of poor performance.

For the last two years, the Columbia Generating Station has ranked in the bottom 25 percent of the nation’s power plants, according to the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, an industry rating group.

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