Nuclear regulators to discuss Columbia Station in Richland

U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION NEWS RELEASE -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will meet in Richland, Wash., April 29 with representatives of Energy Northwest to discuss the agency's 2013 assessment of safety performance for the Columbia Generating Station. The plant is located 12 miles northwest of Richland.

The meeting, which will be open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Walkley Room of the Energy Northwest Training Center, 3000 George Washington Way, Richland. In addition to the performance assessment, the NRC staff will be available to answer questions from the public on the safety performance of Columbia Generating Station, as well as the NRC's role in ensuring safe plant operation.

"The NRC continually reviews the performance of Columbia Generating Station and the nation's other commercial nuclear power facilities to ensure they are being operated safely," NRC Region IV Administrator Marc Dapas said. "This meeting will provide an opportunity for a discussion of our annual assessment of safety performance with the company and with local officials and residents who live near the plant."

A letter sent from the NRC Region IV office to plant officials addresses the performance of the plant during 2013 and will serve as the basis for the meeting discussion.

The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators to assess nuclear plant performance. The colors start with green and then increase to white, yellow, or red, commensurate with the safety significance of the issues involved. Performance indicators are statistical measurements of plant and equipment performance. The NRC's action matrix reflects overall plant performance and agency response. There are five columns in the matrix with Column 1 requiring a baseline level of inspections. A move to the other columns results in an increased level of NRC oversight and inspections.

Columbia Generating Station is in Column 1, the licensee response column of the NRC's action matrix, and will receive the normal level of oversight for the rest of 2014. Inspections are performed by two NRC Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant, inspection specialists from the Region IV office in Arlington, Texas, and specialists from the agency's headquarters in Rockville, Md.

Information about the plant's current performance is available on the NRC web site.