NRC Issues Assessments for Nuclear Plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent assessment letters to all the 104 operating commercial nuclear power plants in the United States and said these facilities continue to operate safely.

The commission is, however, is attending to performance issues at one plant, Palo Verde in Arizona. The government also is monitoring 16 other plants.

"Our ongoing assessment of nuclear power plant performance is at the heart of the agency's mission of protecting people and the environment," said Frederick Brown, director of the Division of Inspection and Regional Support in the NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. "The 2007 year-end results show that about 80 percent of the plants are performing strongly enough that we’re satisfied with our basic level of inspections at those locations."

If a nuclear power plant's performance declines, the commission assigns additional personnel to ensure the plant operator is taking the steps necessary to correct the situation. Only one plant, Palo Verde in Arizona, requires the highest level of attention. It will continue to undergo additional inspections this year to confirm the plant's performance issues are being addressed. Eight plants require significant attention, and another eight plants will get some additional attention beyond the basic level.

Later this spring and summer, the commission will meet publicly with the operators of every plant in nearby locations to discuss plant performance. A separate announcement will be issued for each plant meeting. In addition to the annual assessment letters, plants also receive an inspection plan for the coming year. Updated information on plant performance is posted to the Web site every quarter. The plants also receive a mid-cycle assessment letter during the year; the next mid-cycle letters will be issued in September.

The assessment letters sent to each licensee are available at http://www.nrc.gov/NRR/OVERSIGHT/ASSESS/index.html and through ADAMS, the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System. Help in using ADAMS is available from the NRC Public Document Room by calling (301) 415-4737 or (800) 397-4209.

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