The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding two 6PM open house sessions in the state this week, Monday in Rock Hill for the Catawba nuclear power plant and Thursday in Seneca for the Oconee nuclear power plant. The sessions give citizens in both communities the opportunity to ask questions about the agency’s assessment of the safety performance at each plant over the previous year.
Several staff experts including managers and resident inspectors at the individual plants are on hand for the annual assessment meetings. NRC spokesman Roger Hanna says it the past the meetings were semi-formal with plant staff members making presentations and ending the sessions with questions from people who live near the respective facilities.
Hanna says the “open house” format is being tried this year to solicit more participation from area citizens. “Traditionally there has not been a large turnout especially at those plants that operate well. There are not a lot of people from the public that have questions or concerns and they don’t come to the meetings. We’re trying this to give those people who might be hesitant to ask questions in a more formal setting an opportunity to do that in a one-on-one setting.Hanna says a number of NRC officials will be on hand to answer more global questions like handing spent fuel or the future of the NRC.
Hanna says persons who attend have a variety of questions concerning nuclear energy in general and specific questions concerning the plant in their particular areas. “A lot of people that live near a particular nuclear power plant ask how the plant did from a safety standpoint during the previous year, whether there were major safety issues. We frequently get questions about how we inspect nuclear plants, how we regulate them, and how the NRC oversight process works.”
Hanna says the Catawba plant near Rock Hill operated last year with no issues that would require any additional NRC oversight. Hanna says the Oconee facility near Seneca had one small issue on one of the three units that will require a follow up inspection by the NRC.
“It’s kind of technical. It basically involves maintenance procedures possibly not being followed completely and there was an event where some water drained down to a level lower than where it should have been. And without getting into too many technical details, we want to go back and look at exactly how that event occurred.”
Hanna says a subsequent inspection for the unit is scheduled for some time later this summer or fall.