What were we just saying about the attendant risks to removing fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool at Vermont Yankee?
Here’s another twist to keep VY watchers worried.
The NRC has stepped-in to nix some impromptu modification to VY’s heavy duty fuel lifting crane.
The next-to-last quarterly safety inspection at Vermont Yankee has turned up three low-level safety violations, including a plan by Entergy to change the crane’s electrical controls…The NRC said the change would have compromised the “independence of the redundant upper travel limits” of the crane.
Reprising its performance as the clueless innocent, one last time, Entergy maintains that it was just trying to improve the crane and didn’t think the changes required NRC approval.
Thankfully, the NRC inspection happened upon the modification before the crane was engaged to relocate spent fuel.
In the wake of this latest test of confidence some may recall a 2008 incident at VY (during the first off-loading of spent fuel to dry cask storage), in which the brakes on the crane failed to engage properly causing it to come dangerously close to dropping a load of high level radioactive waste.
It’s difficult to believe that the attempted “modification” isn’t symptomatic of a bailing wire and duct-tape approach to problem solving at the geriatric plant that will only worsen in the months and years between shut-down and full decommissioning.
NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan downplays the seriousness of the situation, pointing out that the modified crane had not yet been engaged to move spent fuel.
However, Sheehan did acknowledge that
‘Entergy implemented the change to the crane control system that removed redundancy, increasing the likelihood of occurrence of a malfunction that could result in damage to spent fuel”….(with) “more than a minimal increase in the likelihood of occurrence of a malfunction of a system, structure or component important to safety.”
Commissioner of Public Service, Chris Recchia was considerably less sanguine about all of the violations.
“We just want to get to the end of December,” he said. “I am concerned when these things happen, and this is fundamentally why we want the plant to close,” he said. “It’s just another indication it needs to just close.”
All the more reason why Entergy should not get the Emergency Planning waiver it has recently requested.
As always, despite my ongoing work with Fairewinds Energy Education (in a non-technical capacity), whatever I write on Green Mountain Daily reflects my own personal opinion and observations. These do not necessarily coincide with those of my Fairewinds co-workers.