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NRC increases oversight of Catawba nuclear plant in South Carolina

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is increasing federal oversight of the Catawba nuclear power plant near York, S.C., after determining Duke Energy Corp. plant staff did not adequately prepare for equipment failure during a test.

The NRC announced Oct. 17 its "white" assessment, or having low to moderate safety significance, based on how staff responded to one of the Catawba Unit 2 emergency diesel generators going down during a scheduled test in April. The two-unit facility is operated by Duke Energy subsidiary Duke Energy Carolinas LLC and is jointly owned by Duke Energy, the North Carolina Municipal Power Agency, the North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. and the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency. Each of Catawba's reactors has a nameplate capacity of 1,205.1 MW, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

NRC inspectors concluded that plant staff fell short of adequately developing and adjusting preventive maintenance activities as determined by operating experience, maintenance history and performance records. The NRC preliminarily ruled the finding as "white" before further reviewing Duke Energy's response to the issue.

The increased oversight will stay in place until the NRC is satisfied the issue has been addressed. This heightened level of oversight by the federal agency includes a supplemental inspection aimed at ensuring that Duke Energy fully understands the issue and has taken appropriate corrective actions.