BGE fined for Calvert Cliffs errors 2 fire safety violations at nuclear plant to cost utility $50,000

July 27, 1996|By Alec Matthew Klein | Alec Matthew Klein,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. took full responsibility yesterday for two fire safety violations at its Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant, agreeing to pay a $50,000 fine imposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"We do not intend to appeal the fine because the actions they described took place," said Karl Neddenien, spokesman for the plant in Lusby, about 65 miles southeast of Baltimore. The plant contains two nuclear reactors capable of generating power for 40 percent of BGE's customers, about 400,000 homes.

The NRC informed BGE of the violations in a letter received Thursday, giving the utility company 30 days to pay the fine or appeal.

The "violations represent a breakdown in the control of licensed activities that collectively represent a potentially significant lack of attention toward licensed responsibilities which resulted in your failure, for an extended period of time, to demonstrate that the safe shutdown equipment criteria had been met," Thomas T. Martin, the NRC Region I administrator, said in the letter.

In April 1992, during an inspection of the plant's electrical system, the NRC identified a potential problem in the electrical -- switch gear room, which houses the equipment that provides power for safety-related equipment in each reactor. The equipment is needed to safely shut down the reactors in case of a loss of power or other emergencies, although it is only one of bTC the plant's backup safety measures.

If a fire is ignited in the electrical switch gear room, the NRC determined, it could cause overheating in another electrical switch gear room one level below in each of the reactors.

BGE installed a large fan with wheels and a portable generator to power the fan adjacent to the lower-level switch gear rooms.

In March, nearly four years later, NRC inspectors questioned whether the fans would prevent overheating. BGE turned on the fans and found that they didn't create as much cooling as they were supposed to. BGE installed another fan in each of the lower-level switch gear rooms.

Despite its efforts to solve the problem, BGE was hit with two violations. The first was the lack of an emergency cooling plan for the lower-level switch gear rooms before the NRC brought the problem to BGE's attention. And the second was that even after the NRC identified the problem, BGE did not take proper action to solve it.

Pub Date: 7/27/96

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