Arkansas Nuclear One was rated as the worst performing nuclear power plant out of the 100 nuclear power plants in the country.
The plant’s two nuclear reactors provide about 61 percent of the electricity that its parent company Entergy Arkansas produces in one year.
Nuclear One is the only plant currently ranked in the rare “column four” category on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s scale for rating nuclear power plants. Those in column four require the highest level of oversight and the most inspections by the commission. Plants in column five are no longer permitted to operate.
Ninety four of the country’s 100 power plants are ranked in the top two performance categories.
According to Victor Dricks, spokesperson for the commission, it often takes several years to resolve all of a plant’s problems before it is able to return to column one.
The considerable decline in performance came as a result of two “substantial safety significance” findings, both relating to the 2013 incident that caused the death of Wade Walters.
The first unfavorable rating was filed in June 2013 because of the handling of the tragic accident that cost Walters his life in March of that same year. Walters was contracted to work on a non-nuclear part of the plant when a one million-pound turbine stator fell while being moved, killing him and injuring eight others.
The second unfavorable rating was filed in January of this year for Entergy’s failures to design, construct and maintain the seals that protect safety-related equipment against flooding.
The stator that fell damaged a water main and lead to water gushing into areas where it should not have been. Inspectors later found that more than 100 unsealed conduits allowed the water to flow into an auxiliary building.
Nuclear One has since made some corrective physical changes to its facility, but according to Jeremy Browning, site vice president, the majority of future changes will be in cultural behavior.
The mounting cost of the 2013 accident for Entergy Corp. was around $95 million at the end of 2014. The required additional inspections resulting from the poor performance rating are expected to increase that number.
The attorneys at Bailey & Oliver are currently pursuing justice for Walters in a wrongful death lawsuit so that his family can one day soon find peace in this tragic incident.
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