Spring Quarterly 2018
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission slapped a $145,000 fine on Southern Co. for falsifying records of inspections at Plant Votgle, 30 miles southeast of Augusta, Georgia. According to news accounts, “at least” 13 workers at Southern Nuclear Operating Co., a subsidiary of Southern Co., signed off on inspections of equipment and conditions in units 1 and 2 that never happened. The system operators falsified inspection records by entering data into electronic logs, between August and October 2016, indicating they had done the work. The required inspections are for Votgle’s two operating reactors, the 41-year-old Unit 1, and 39-year-old Unit 2, not the two that are currently under construction. The violations happened multiple times, a NRC press release says. The company has 30 days to pay the fine or challenge it. Southern Co. is building two new reactors at the site, Units 3 & 4, the only nuclear power reactors to be approved in 30 years, but the projected construction cost estimate has doubled to more than $25 billion.
The Southern Co. fraud case is similar to Xcel Energy’s fraud at its Monticello reactor on the Mississippi River in central Minnesota. In late 2013, Xcel managers failed to monitor the testing of welds on heavy casks holding highly radioactive waste fuel. They then falsified reports about their safety-related tests on the canisters, which are stored onsite, outside, above ground, indefinitely. —Washington Examiner, the Aiken Standard, & Bloomberg, Feb. 21, 2018; Star-Tribune, July 28, 2015.