NRC on alert at Beaver Valley nuclear plant in Shippingport
By Timothy Puko
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has increased scrutiny at the Beaver Valley nuclear plant in Shippingport since an inspection in August uncovered a security problem, the agency disclosed.
The NRC and the plant's operator, FirstEnergy Corp., declined to detail the problem. But security was never breached, and plant operators fixed the problem immediately, said Jennifer Young, a spokeswoman for FirstEnergy.
Regulators have stepped up assessments of security at nuclear plants since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The NRC has a four-level, color-coded scale for security violations, with a green violation being the least severe. Beaver Valley's violation was greater than green, the NRC said.
The security issue probably ranks more like a misdemeanor than a felony, a nuclear power expert said on Thursday, based on the inspection procedure code the NRC listed in its annual assessment letter for the plant, released on Wednesday.
That likely had to do with access to the plant, possibly anything from how well motion sensors, cameras and door locks worked to background checks on guards, said David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The good thing is that it's been found and identified. The NRC won't leave the site until compensatory measures have been put in place,” Lochbaum said. “I'm not trying to dismiss it, but I wouldn't be ... unable to sleep at night.”
The NRC informed the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency of the problem. A spokeswoman there declined to give details.
A security violation like the one at the Beaver plant will typically bring increased attention from the NRC for about a year, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the agency.
None of the 420 plant workers in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have reported any problems or changes in security, said Jeff Davis, a union representative. But he added that managers aren't likely to explain new security measures to workers if those changes don't affect them directly.
“I think people feel pretty safe that there's no bad guys getting into the plant,” said Davis, business manager at IBEW Local 29 in Green Tree. “The public just can't walk in there and get in — it just doesn't happen.”
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fed says economy ‘trudging’ on
- Reporter want ad: Did your health insurer cancel your plan?
- Stocks struggle as investors weigh economic news
- Railroad entrepreneur Henry Posner recovers $14.6M from Guatemala
- Steel Nation hopes to use oil, gas field success as springboard
- Companies fear burnout affects bottom line, advises workers to relax
- Technology stocks keep markets high
- Flabeg wins court battle
- Taking vacation vital, personnel managers say
- Lobby: EPA imperils energy boom
- Stocks sink as consumer spending worries deepen