From: Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash.
Published October 21, 2004 12:00 AM

Review Gives Thumbs Up to Richland, Wash., Nuclear Plant

Oct. 21—A Nuclear Regulatory Committee review of safety performance of the Richland plant that produces commercial nuclear fuel found that it has corrected problems found in a 2003 emergency exercise.

The NRC plans a public meeting at 1 p.m. Oct. 28 in Richland to discuss the safety performance of Framatome ANP, also called Areva, from May 1, 2002, through July 31, 2004.

The review found that Framatome continued to conduct its activities safely. A July 2004 emergency exercise demonstrated that deficiencies found in an October 2003 emergency exercise had been resolved, according to the NRC.

During the earlier drill with a scenario in which a radiation release went off-site, workers either were unfamiliar with some procedures or did not follow them and needed more training, according to the NRC.

Members of the emergency response team responded without communication equipment or self-reading dosimeters, according to the NRC. It also criticized the drill for giving out all radiation release information at one time rather than throughout the exercise.

Problems of lack of scenario development, control of the exercise and lack of training have been resolved, the NRC said in a Sept. 30 letter to Framatome. However, it will continue to monitor the improvements.

It's also recommending continued improvement in the communication of criticality safety information to workers and control of criticality safety documentation. It found a couple of missing postings among more than 100 that are required. A criticality is an uncontrolled nuclear reaction that can release bursts of potentially dangerous radiation.

The public meeting will be in Conference Room 5 of Framatome at 2101 Horn Rapids Road.

© 2004, Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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