ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is conducting a special inspection at Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin after a “loss of safety controls” earlier this month, according to the agency.
NRC staff members launched the inspection this week “to learn more about the circumstances that led to the loss of safety controls in a process ventilation system.”
According to an NRC release, Nuclear Fuel Services staff members were conducting a routine inspection of ventilation system ducts on Oct. 1 and “found one of the drains in a condition that potentially affected its safety function.”
“Further inspection of the drains by plant staff found instances where a second redundant drain had been obstructed in the past and where both drains were degraded at the same time, potentially increasing the chances of an accident,” the NRC said in the release.
The agency said the loss of safety controls did not endanger workers, the public, or the environment.
Nuclear Fuel Services reported the condition to the NRC as required “and took immediate corrective actions in the affected area,” according to the NRC.
An NRC resident inspector is monitoring the plant’s response to the incident, including the repair work.
The agency said an inspection report will be published within 45 days.
“The special inspection will examine how NFS inspects and maintains the safety controls associated with its ventilation systems,” the NRC said. “It will also review the facts surrounding the event, the company’s response, and corrective actions to prevent it from happening again.”
A spokesperson for Nuclear Fuel Services issued this statement Tuesday night:
Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. (NFS) self-identified this issue to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Oct. 5. This incident did not result in any radiation exposures to the workers, environment, or the public.
NFS discovered a problem with a ventilation drain during routine maintenance and testing activities. NFS immediately shut down the system to make necessary repairs. NFS response and restart actions ensure safety is the first priority.Nuclear Fuel Services
Nuclear Fuel Services manufactures nuclear fuel for U.S. Navy submarines and aircraft carriers and also converts stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium into fuel that can be used in commercial nuclear reactors.