NRC-Duke meeting draws large crowd

On a day when the local area was under a tornado warning, Duke Energy pledged to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission it will diligently pursue the completion of projects to enhance the safety of the Oconee Nuclear Station. At a well-attended meeting at the World of Energy, Eric Leeds, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, commended Duke for making progress, but said his agency would like those safety enhancements to be closed out. And Duke’s Oconee Nuclear manager, Preston Gillespie, said that’s exactly what his company intends to do. In a slide presentation, Duke officials outlined what they are doing to complete its protected service water project, as well as transition to National Fire Protection standards. The delay in completing fire safety enhancements, however, made for contentious dialogue between the NRC’s Leeds and Paul Gunter of the Maryland-based group Beyond Nuclear. Gunter took the position that NRC has been lenient with Duke considering the utility failed to meet a January 1 deadline and asked for a two-year extension. NRC officials say the matter is in an enforcement process and they hinted penalties against Duke could be forthcoming.