NRC Gives Yankee Good Grades For 2012

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant did a good job last year in protecting public health and safety.

The nuclear agency released its annual assessment report on Thursday. Spokesman Neil Sheehan said Yankee does not require additional inspections because any problems uncovered last year were of low safety significance.

"So based on that the plant would continue to get the normal level of oversight in 2013, although as we always point out that still consists of several thousand hours of inspection," he said.

The annual report looks at issues such as unplanned shutdowns, emergency preparedness, and radiological exposure.

According to Sheehan, Yankee has not always enjoyed a favorable ranking from federal regulators. He said about one-fifth of the nation’s 104 nuclear plants are subject to increased oversight from the NRC.

Sheehan said the NRC will also oversee how Yankee complies with modifications needed to prevent accidents such as the one that crippled reactors in Fukushima, Japan two years ago. The reactors there are the same design as Vermont Yankee.

Sheehan said the nuclear commission has not yet decided the full scope of the Fukushima upgrades.

"The question is whether they should have to install filtered vents, so after a severe accident when there is a release of radioactive gases, that it would go through a filtering facility before that occurs," he said.

The NRC staff has recommended that the vents be installed. The nuclear industry and an NRC advisory panel have suggested other, less expensive engineering solutions.

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