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Union of Concerned Scientists

Figure 14. Safety Violations Found by the NRC at Donald C. Cook (Bridgman, MI)

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Number of NRC Findings

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"Sea change"—NRC inspection prompts shutdown of both reactors

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Q1 1995

Q2 1995 Q3 1995 Q4 1995 Q1 1996 Q2 1996 Q3 1996 Q4 1996 Q1 1997 Q2 1997 Q3 1997 Q4 1997 Q1 1998

Q2 1998

and look at specific problems, the number of violations it identified skyrocketed during the second quarter of 1998.

The conditions at Donald C. Cook did not change overnight; the NRC’s perception of the conditions did. In other words, how could NRC inspectors not find problems at a “bad” plant? The process was essentially working backward from the way it should.

To be fair, plant owners have been equally guided by perception rather than reality. Florida’s Crystal River 3 facility offers a prime example of this tendency. When the NRC placed Crystal River 3 on its Watch List on January 29, 1997 (nearly 20 years after the reactor began operating), plant workers suddenly found the following safety problems:

  • February 1—The temperature inside the rooms housing the emergency diesel generators could exceed the 120 degrees Fahrenheit design limit when ambient temperatures in that part of Florida reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • February 7—Thermal relief valves on the cooling water system would not function under the environmental conditions experi- enced during accidents.

  • February 13—Temperatures in various plant buildings exceeded the limits established for safety-related electrical equipment.

  • February 14—Both of the emergency feed- water pumps would not function as needed in response to accidents.

  • March 7—During certain accidents, radio- logically contaminated water would have been transferred from the reactor building to the auxiliary building, resulting in excessive radia- tion exposure for workers and members of the public.

  • March 15—Containment isolation valves for the emergency feedwater system would not close as required during accidents.

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