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NRC delivers annual performance review of Brunswick Nuclear Plant


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission delivered its annual performance assessment of Progress Energy’s Southport nuclear power plant last night.

Over the last twelve months, only one event qualified as a low to moderate-level safety breach at the Brunswick County facility.  WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports the problem is corrected – but it’s that type of safety issue that resonates with authorities after last year’s massive failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. 

Resident Inspector Phil O’Bryan of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission discovered that the enclosure protecting Progress Energy’s diesel generators – the backup power source at the nuclear plant -- was at risk of being flooded. 

“We found that the enclosure had been degraded to a point where water could have entered given a certain type of hurricane – a really severe hurricane – with basically worst-case flooding at the site.” 

It was that sort of failure that contributed to the scale of the Fukushima disaster – which was the largest nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl in 1986.  But NRC officials say lessons learned from Fukushima are informing new regulatory requirements – including finding better ways to safeguard critically important backup power sources.