May 18, 2016

Gillibrand Urges Nuclear Regulatory Commission To Hold On Restarting Indian Point Reactor Unit 2 Until Root Cause Analysis Is Complete

27% of baffle-former bolts at Indian Point Unit 2 damaged as a result of degradation; Gillibrand calls on NRC to complete full analysis before restarting Unit 2 and expedite inspection of Unit 3 Gillibrand: To allow the reactor to go back online without knowing the full cause and effects of the degraded bolts would be a public safety risk

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to utilize its regulatory authority to prevent the Unit 2 reactor at Indian Point from restarting until the root cause analysis of the significant incidents of baffle-former bolt degradation is complete. Currently, 227 of the 832 baffle-former bolts were found to be degraded inside Indian Point Unit 2's reactor core, and Unit 3’s baffle-former bolts are not scheduled for inspection until next year. Gillibrand is calling on the NRC to intervene and delay the restart until the cause of the failed bolts and the effect on both the threading of the bolt holes as well as the plates themselves is known.

“There have been a series of safety issues at Indian Point, and to allow the Unit 2 reactor to go back online without knowing the full cause and effects of the degraded bolts would be a public safety risk,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The root cause analysis would identify any further systemic and structural damages to Indian Point Unit 2. We need to wait until the investigation is completed to determine the root cause and extent of the damages, and give a comprehensive breakdown of the current situation, so that we can make an informed decision about how to proceed. I am also urging an inspection of Unit 3 this year, instead of waiting until next year.”


The full text of the Senator’s letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is included below:

The Honorable Stephen Burns

Chairman

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

11545 Rockville Pike

Rockville, MD 20852

 

Dear Chairman Burns,

 

I write to follow up on the extremely serious problem of degraded baffle-former bolts at Indian Point Unit 2.   It is deeply troubling that 227 baffle-former bolts were found to be degraded inside Indian Point Unit 2's reactor core.  While failed baffle -former bolts have been an issue in other nuclear reactors, it is my understanding that this instance is the largest number of failed baffle bolts of any nuclear facility in the United States.  The cause of the failed bolts is unknown and the effect on both the threading of the bolt holes as well as the plates themselves is unknown.

 

Given the large number of failed bolts at Indian Point Unit 2, we request that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) utilize its regulatory authority to prevent the reactor from restarting until the root cause analysis is complete. A root cause analysis will also ensure that structural or systemic failures can be identified and, if necessary, lessons learned can be applied more broadly across the nuclear reactor fleet to ensure that the risk of this situation occurring elsewhere is minimized to the greatest extent possible.  To allow the reactor to go back online without knowing the full cause and effects of the degraded bolts would be a severe safety risk.

 

Therefore, I request that the NRC ensure that there is no risk that additional bolts will fail or that any other part of the reactor's infrastructure is damaged or at risk before allowing it to be restarted.

 

I am also concerned about the lack of urgency to inspect Unit 3 for similar degradation.  It is my understanding that NRC staff does not recommend inspecting Unit 3's baffle bolts until the previously scheduled 2017 refueling outage.  This is completely unacceptable, and should be reconsidered by the NRC.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator