Federal nuclear regulators plan to question Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. executives Thursday about apparent safety violations during a recent refueling of its Calvert Cliffs power plant in Lusby, including the exposure of a diver to radiation.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission summoned BGE executives to the agency's mid-Atlantic regional office in King of Prussia, Pa., to review "a series of problems" that occurred during refueling of the plant, 65 miles southeast of Baltimore in Calvert County. Calvert Cliffs has two nuclear reactors that generate 850 megawatts -- enough power for 400,000 homes.
One of the two reactors was shut down from mid-March until mid-May for refueling, but the outage lasted "several days" longer than planned because of equipment problems and the diver incident, said Karl Neddenien, a BGE spokesman.
The NRC said equipment used to handle spent nuclear fuel assemblies was in poor condition, and the plant staff failed to follow proper procedures or consult engineering drawings before trying to make repairs.
The diver incident occurred April 3 in a large pool of water where spent fuel is stored.
Neddenien said problems arose because of a failure of equipment used to transfer spent fuel assemblies from the reactor into the storage pool. A fitting apparently became loose on the equipment, causing it to jam.
"It appears that our maintenance program did not meet our standards," the utility spokesman said.
A specially trained diver was hired to help fix the malfunctioning equipment in the pool, which is 54 feet long, 25 feet wide and 39 feet deep.
The area where the diver was supposed to work had been thoroughly checked to ensure that it was safe for him to descend, Neddenien said. But the diver did not have the most up-to-date dive plans, and ventured into another area of the pool to check out a cable, where monitors he was wearing showed an unexpected jump in radiation levels.
The diver was promptly removed from the pool, Neddenien said.
The radiation dose that the diver received was about one-tenth of the federal safety threshold, but utility officials and federal regulators both are concerned about the potential for other such unplanned exposures.
The NRC will decide after Thursday's meeting whether to fine BGE. The utility paid the federal agency $50,000 a year ago for two fire safety violations.
Pub Date: 6/10/97