The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced Thursday it intends to fine Westinghouse Electric Company $17,500 for alleged safety violations at its Columbia commercial nuclear fuel plant.
The penalty is based on violations involving a spill of about 200 gallons of wastewater inside the plant which NRC officials say contained ammonia and low levels of uranium.
A pump failure is said to be blamed for the spill and operators shut down the process in only a few minutes. No one was exposed to any significant levels of uranium and no medical attention was required. While NRC agrees there was no actual harm done as a result of the spill, they say the potential consequences to workers were significant. NRC says the civil penalty was warranted because the Westinghouse plant has been the subject of increased enforcement during the past two years.
The company has taken steps to preclude a recurrence of the problem. Westinghouse has 30 days from the time they received the notification to pay the penalty or protest its imposition.