“Apparent” violation becomes violation

After several months of back-and-forth between the government and its licensee, Duke Energy has been judged to have committed a Severity Level III violation when it comes to its fire protection system at the Oconee Nuclear Station. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stopped short of a civil penalty. In place of a fine, Duke apparently has agreed to an NRC order in which the utility pledges to comply with changes to its PSW—Protected Service Water project. An NRC letter, dated yesterday, to Scott Batson, Site Vice President at Oconee Nuclear, says, “Due to your particularly poor performance associated with the planning and execution of this modification, the NRC staff also considered the use of enforcement discretion to impose a civil penalty in accordance with Section 3.6 of the NRC’s Enforcement Policy. However, the staff concluded that the issuance of a Confirmatory Order containing specific milestones and dates for achieving compliance is a more appropriate means of enforcement to assure timely completion of the PSW project.”