Inspection of Maryland Nuclear Reactor Alert Finds 7 Apparent Violations: NRC Report

By NBCWashington Staff 

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection of the February 2021 alert at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) nuclear reactor found seven apparent violations NRC will examine further to decide what enforcement to take.

The NRC’s final report confirms the public was safe during and after the event when a fuel element was damaged and the reactor automatically shut down.

“We have already begun making changes to our organization and procedures and will work closely with the NRC to make sure an incident like this does not happen again,” said James Olthoff of NIST.

Radiation levels inside its reactor complex became elevated Feb. 3, 2021, requiring at least 10 workers to be decontaminated before they were sent home. An alarm on the site warned of the radiation levels during a restart of the reactor from regularly scheduled maintenance, and the facility was evacuated, NIST said.

The NRC inspection confirmed previous NIST and NRC reports that the overheating of one fuel element caused the reactor to exceed the fuel temperature safety limit. The inspection found shortcomings in policy, procedure, training and safety were contributing factors.

Five of the violations relate to the fuel temperature and damaged fuel element. The others involve emergency planning and equipment modification. Continue reading at NBC 4.


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