The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said yesterday that it has fined PECO Energy Co. $87,500 for failing to recognize that workers at its Peach Bottom generating plant had temporarily disabled an emergency system designed to prevent the reactors from overheating during a serious accident.
Bill Jones, a PECO spokesman, said yesterday that the company would not contest the fine.
Peach Bottom is a twin-reactor plant in Delta, Pa., on the Susquehanna River just north of the Harford County border and about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.
Although the commission and PECO agree that the plant was never in serious danger as a result of the Aug. 3 incident, the regulator increased the usual fine by 75 percent because its inspectors, not the utility, discovered the problem.
NRC Regional Administrator Thomas T. Martin said PECO's "failure to establish appropriate procedural controls" related to the emergency system "represent significant regulatory concerns and violations of NRC requirements."
The commission said the fine "was not increased further because the licensee's corrective actions were considered comprehensive and because of PECO's good past performance in the operations area."
"For anything disastrous to occur, you'd have to have a whole series of safety systems fail," Mr. Jones said.
The violation occurred when maintenance workers closed a valve that discharges water from the plant's emergency water system into the Susquehanna and left it closed for 50 minutes.
The plant takes water from the river to help cool pumps and backup diesel generators that keep the reactors from overheating during a nuclear accident.
By closing the discharge valve, Peach Bottom workers reduced by 50 percent the flow of cooling water available to keep the
emergency pumps and generators from overheating, the NRC said.