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US NRC Launches Special Inspection
at Columbia Reactor

Elaine Hiruo
Platts, July 22, 2013

After six years of service in Columbia Generating Station's reactor, nuclear fuel rods are moved to a holding pool prior to be loaded into steel and concrete storage casks. The fuel still retains 95 percent or more of its energy after six years. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a special inspection at Energy Northwest's Columbia nuclear plant in Washington, the agency said Monday.

The inspection will focus on a problem with a heat exchanger that cools a room with important emergency electrical equipment, NRC said in a statement.

"The purpose of this special inspection is to better understand the sequence of events that contributed to the maintenance problem and review the licensee's corrective actions to ensure this cooling system will perform as intended," Arthur Howell, NRC Region IV administrator, said in the statement.

Energy Northwest discovered during a recent inspection that a large heat exchanger had not been properly maintained, reducing its capability, the agency said. It said the heat exchanger provides cool air to a room housing electrical circuit breakers and safety-related batteries.

"In the event of an emergency, a redundant system could have contributed to the cooling and workers have taken corrective action to address maintenance issues," the agency said.

Elaine Hiruo
Feds Begin Special Inspection at Washington Nuclear Plant
Platts, July 22, 2013

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