Plymouth: NRC says nuclear plant violated rules on medical exams for operators

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering fining or ordering additional oversight at the Plymouth Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant after the plant apparently violated the requirements for performing and reporting medical exams of control room operations.

Control room operators at nuclear plants must meet specific physical requirements, and plants are obligated to have operators undergo medical exams.

The NRC says the Pilgrim Plant committed two violations, by not properly performing all exams and by failing to properly report the results of exams.

The NRC says Entergy, the corporation that owns the Pilgrim Plant, submitted renewal applications for two reactor operators in 2011 in which they stated the operators met stamina requirements–but it was found that no exam involving stamina was ever done. Also, in one case, a licensed reactor operator, during a medical exam had a blood pressure reading that exceeded the standard limit, but the medical examiner wasn’t aware of the standards and determined the operator to be medically fit.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan says they have strict requirements for a reason.

“There is no more important job at a nuclear power plant than that of the control room operator,” said Sheehan. “There are moments when they need to make decisions on a split-second basis, so obviously it’s very important that they be fully capable of carrying out those duties.”

Sheehan says that at no point was the public in danger.

Entergy has a ten-day window to respond to the NRC findings before any enforcement action is taken.

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