The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

January 27, 2013

Feds say Perry nuclear power plant needs to improve safety

PERRY — Federal regulators are giving the nuclear power plant six months to show more improvement in worker safety programs.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials say the improvements made at the Perry plant in Lake County aren’t enough to resolve all issues. Special inspectors spent months at the plant last year to check on changes made since a 2011 incident that briefly exposed contractors to radiation. They weren’t hurt, but officials say the incident could have been avoided with better planning.

Cleveland’s Plain Dealer reports that regulators have told the FirstEnergy Corp.-owned plant that it must make more improvements in worker training and procedures, or face more intensive investigations.

A plant spokeswoman said the plant is well on its way to meeting the goal.

“We have strengthened our safety procedures, trained all of our radiation employees; those who supervise, and those who do the actual work,” said Jennifer Young.

The NRC had tagged the plant as one with too many human performance issues. It has said that the staff has made minor mistakes in routine operations over the years, sometimes without identifying and correcting the problem. Issues showed up in work planning, practices and oversight, the NRC has said.

Inspections last year found some improvement, but not enough to satisfy inspectors the plant had gotten to the root of the problems. Plant managers also detected and fixed a potential security problem.

“Perry’s overall performance is adequate and has improved,” said Charles Casto, NRC manager for the Midwest. “Perry does not have the widespread problems we normally see in a plant that must have even more federal oversight.”

He got permission from NRC headquarters to give Perry until July to clear up remaining issues, and said he expected the plant to resolve them quickly.

Young said the plant now has internal online radiation maps to be checked before any project is started.

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