NRC Begins Special Inspection at Columbia Generating Station - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

NRC Begins Special Inspection at Columbia Generating Station

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RICHLAND, WA - Federal regulators will begin inspecting the Columbia Generating Station after the nuclear plant shipped waste that had higher radioactivity than was reported.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says operator Energy Northwest has been temporarily barred by the Washington Department of Health from sending waste to a commercial disposal site.
Regulators said Monday the plant shipped low-level nuclear waste - a cask of contaminated filters - to the disposal site on Nov. 9. Workers there measured radiation levels seven times higher than reported in the shipping manifest.
Energy Northwest spokesman Mike Paoli says that though the radioactivity of the source was higher than on the manifest, the dose received by those handling the shipment remained well below the workplace safety standards.
The commission says there was no undue risk to the public, but a transportation accident could have potentially exposed people to excessive radiation levels.

“The purpose of NRC’s special inspection is to better understand the circumstances surrounding this event, which revealed weaknesses in the licensee’s process for packaging and preparing radioactive waste shipments,” NRC Region IV Administrator Kriss Kennedy said. “While there was no undue risk to the public, had a transportation accident occurred, there was a potential that members of the public could have been exposed to radiation levels in excess of NRC regulatory limits.” 

A three-member inspection team will spend this week at the plant near Richland.