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Industry News

Con Edison Inspections of Indian Point 2 'Deficient'

LCG, Sept. 1, 2000A Nuclear Regulatory Commission special investigation team looking into the Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant owned by Consolidated Edison Co. of New York has concluded that the company's inspections of the plant's steam generators "were deficient in several respects."

The 975 megawatt (nominal) plant was shut down on February 15 when a tube in a steam generator leaked, emitting a small amount of radioactive steam into the atmosphere.

The one-cubic foot puff of steam was inconsequential and the NRC pointed out that Con Edison operators appropriately responded to the situation, that plant equipment performed as expected and that there were no public health and safety consequences associated with the event itself.

But the NRC said deficiencies in Con Edison's steam generator inspection program resulted in the company's failure to adequately account for conditions which adversely affected the detectability of, and increased the susceptibility to, tube flaws. The NRC team concluded that these failures resulted in tubes with flaws being left in service following an inspection conducted by the company in 1997.

When Indian Point 2 was still relatively new, it was discerned that the steam generators made by Westinghouse were deficient. The utility and several other plant operators having the same problem sued the maker and Westinghouse provided all of them with new replacement steam generators.

The other parties, including operators of Indian Point 3 at the same site as the Con Edison plant, all replaced their steam generators when the new ones were received. Not Con Edison. It is still using the originals and, when a tube springs a leak, it is pinched off and the plant makes do with one fewer. That's why it is capable of only 931 megawatts of output instead of 975.

The NRC assessed the potential impact of running the plant for an operating cycle with the steam generators in a degraded condition. The agency said it determined the issue to be of potentially high risk significance.

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