NRC lowers Pilgrim nuclear plant performance to “degraded”


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it would downgrade the performance of the 685 MW Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Massachusetts two months after the NRC increased inspections at Pilgrim. Entergy (NYSE: ETR) operates the plant.

The Pilgrim plant will be placed with seven other nuclear plants in the “degraded cornerstone column.” The degraded plants require special NRC inspections and increased oversight, said Neil Sheehan, spokesperson for the NRC.

Pilgrim was already under additional NRC oversight due to the plant automatically shutting down October 2013 for a week due to the loss of a 345 kV power line that provided offsite power to the plant. It was the second time the plant shut down last year. That incident led to the plant having a “white” performance indicator last year.

NRC’s Sheehan said in an email that the plant’s Performance Indicator for Unplanned Shutdowns per 7,000 Hours is expected to change from “green” to “white” once it is updated, which will move the plant down to degraded.

“Operating Pilgrim at the highest levels of safety and reliability is our top priority. We have conducted rigorous reviews of the plant shutdowns to identify needed improvements. Our action plan is broad-based and addresses plant equipment, processes and organizational structure. Changes have been made in some key site leadership positions to accelerate our improvement," Entergy released in a statement to Power Engineering. "It is important to note, that two of the four shutdowns were the result of electric transmission line problems external to Pilgrim. We are working closely with the owners of the transmission system to identify ways to improve electrical grid reliability. The shutdowns had no impact on the health and safety of the public or our employees.”

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