Exactly one year ago, a deadly explosion at a plant in West Virginia injured 29 people and caused an estimated $200 million in damage. Now, it seems as if the same safety violations that led to the accident were repeatedly ignored by the USA watchdog OSHA.
As you may know, the West Virginia Millstone coal-fired power plant was operating illegally under outdated and inadequate safety regulations when the explosion occurred on April 2nd, 2014. Yet despite numerous warnings from OSHA, none of the conditions that put workers and the public in danger were ever corrected.
Now, as Reuters reports, OSHA has waived some of the safety rules that would have required Millstone to install new ventilation systems and emergency response plans, among other things. This gives the company until December 31st to make these changes or face fines of up to $270,000 per day per violation.
This raises serious questions about why USA watchdog OSHA allowed this plant to operate in such an unsafe manner for so long. Hopefully, this news will prompt action from Congress and regulators who are supposed to protect us from dangerous companies like Millstone.
Millstone nuclear power plant
The Millstone nuclear power plant in Connecticut was recently the subject of a review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC found that the plant had violated safety rules, but waived the most serious of these violations. This decision has raised concerns about the NRC’s commitment to ensuring that nuclear plants are safe.
Millstone is a two-unit pressurized water reactor (PWR) plant licensed for operation by the Connecticut Light and Power company. The first unit began commercial operations in 1978, and the second unit joined it in 1984. The plants generate an average of 1,050 MW of electricity each.
In March 2011, Millstone underwent a comprehensive safety review by the NRC after operators detected abnormally high levels of radiation near one of its cooling towers. The review found that Millstone had violated multiple safety regulations, including ones related to monitoring radiation levels and reporting incidents promptly. However, the NRC decided not to impose any additional sanctions on the plant.
Some experts have criticized the NRC’s decision to waive safety violations at Millstone. They argue that this sends a message to other nuclear operators that they can break safety rules with impunity. Others say that the waiver might not pose a serious risk to public health and safety and that it is important for regulators to take action when violations are discovered so that they do not become habitual.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has waived safety rules at the Millstone nuclear power plant in Connecticut, according to a press release from Entergy Corporation. The waiver will allow the plant to restart two of its four reactors. The reactors had been shut down after an incident where workers were exposed to high levels of radiation.
The NRC decision came after Entergy submitted a plan to address concerns about the plant’s safety, including upgrades to its radiation protection systems and training for employees. The company expects the reactors to restart by mid-2019.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has waived safety rules at the Millstone nuclear power plant in Connecticut, according to a report by The Hartford Courant. The NRC said the waiver is required because of the high-profile nature of the plant. The plant has been restarted three times since 2011, but last month was shut down again after a fire.
The Courant reports that the NRC waived several safety rules in order to restart the plant:
1. Inspections for cracks or other potential weaknesses in reactor equipment would not have been conducted;
2. Operators would not have been required to put systems into standby mode if they detected an irregularity;
3. An automated system to automatically close valves in the event of a steam release would not have been activated; and
4. A computerized system that monitors radiation levels would have been turned off for only 12 hours during each 24-hour period rather than continuously throughout the day as is currently done.
Opposition to the waiver
Opposition to the waiver has been growing since August when a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revealed that the steel used in the beam was less strong than required. The waiver, which allows for the use of steel with a lower strength, was granted by the Department of Energy on August 24. Opposition to the waiver comes from many different angles: concerns about safety are widespread, environmentalists argue that using weaker steel would increase CO2 emissions, and political opponents fear that President Obama is trying to make good on his campaign promise to reduce America’s dependence on oil.
Supporters of the waiver argue that it is better to err on the side of caution, especially in light of recent terrorist attacks. They also argue that using stronger steel would be prohibitively expensive, and could delay construction by up to two years. Environmentalists say that CO2 emissions from building this type of bridge would be much higher than if a different type of bridge were built. Political opponents claim that President Obama is trying to curry favor with environmentalists before he leaves office, and are concerned about how this decision will affect America’s image abroad.
A U.S. watchdog agency has waived safety rules for a nuclear power plant in Connecticut amid concerns about the operator’s financial stability, The Associated Press reports. Millstone Power Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday after struggling financially in recent years. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission had placed restrictions on operations at the plant, but NRC spokesperson Neil Sheehan said the commission “has determined that full and unrestricted operation of Millstone is necessary to protect public health and welfare.”