The Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Lacey Township will undergo augmented inspections by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which today finalized a finding of low-to-moderate safety significance based on a water hose failure last January.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan noted that parent company Exelon accepted the finding without requesting an opportunity to present supplemental data in a regulatory conference, and without submitting a written response.

During a scheduled test on January 4, a three-inch hose that feeds water to cool one of two identical diesel backup generators failed, prompting the NRC review that led to the "White" categorization.

The generators are designed to send electricity to key plant safety systems in the event of a power outage.

In written comments, Sheehan said, "Exelon did not have appropriate work instructions to replace the emergency diesel generator cooling flexible coupling hoses every 12 years as specified by the company’s procedures and vendor information. As a result, the hose was in service for approximately 22 years and subjected to thermal degradation and aging that eventually led to its failure."

The diesel generator was deemed inoperable beyond the seven-day window allowed under technical specifications, Sheehan said.

At a date to be determined by Exelon's prep time, NRC inspectors will conduct another plant review that includes an examination of the company's root-cause analysis and corrective steps, and an evaluation of safety implications for other sections of the generating station.

Oyster Creek, the nation's oldest commercial nuclear generating station in operation, is scheduled to begin decommissioning in 2019.

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