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NRC seeks $145,000 penalty against Southern for Vogtle violations

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing a civil penalty of $145,000 against Southern Nuclear Operating Co. after some employees were found to have deliberately "provided inaccurate documentation" related to their inspection of the Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear plant.

In an NRC inspection completed August 2017, the commission found that on several occasions from August to October 2016, at least 13 system operators of the Southern Co. subsidiary did not complete their rounds in checking equipment status and area inspections but indicated otherwise in an electronic log.

"Outside rounds are conducted for a variety of reasons, including the early identification, trending, and correction of degraded, abnormal, or undesirable plant conditions. In this case, however, this vital function was intentionally precluded by the deliberate misconduct," the commission said in a letter to the company, according to a Feb. 21 news release.

The NRC does not license system operators. Based on the commission's review, the employees' misconduct did not have any safety consequence.

Southern Nuclear has 30 days to pay the fine or file a protest on the penalty. It has also revised its procedures, added training and oversight, and imposed disciplinary measures for the employees.

The Vogtle nuclear power plant is majority-owned by Georgia Power Co., as well as by Oglethorpe Power Corp., Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.