US nuclear regulator begins inspection at Columbia Generating Station

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has undertaken a special inspection at the Columbia Generating Station to investigate a problem with a piece of equipment that provides cool air to a room, which houses emergency electrical equipment.

Energy Northwest operates the plant situated near Richland, Wash. An inspection conducted recently by the licensee revealed a large heat exchanger that provides cool air for a room housing electrical circuit breakers and safety-related batteries was not maintained properly, minimizing its capability.

A redundant system could have provided cooling and workers would have responded to address maintenance issues in the event of an emergency, said the NRC.

NRC Region IV Administrator Arthur T. Howell said, “The purpose of this special inspection is to better understand the sequence of events that contributed to the maintenance problem and review the licensee’s corrective actions to ensure this cooling system will perform as intended.”

A week will be spent by NRC inspectors onsite to evaluate the licensee’s root cause analysis and corrective actions, following which an inspection report detailing the team’s findings would be made available for the public within 1 ½ months of the inspection.