Apparent security-related violations were verified during a Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection of the nuclear power plant near Richland, according to an NRC letter made public Thursday.
Inspection results for Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station are being “considered for escalated enforcement action,” said the Jan. 10 letter to Mark Reddemann, Energy Northwest chief executive.
However, since Energy Northwest identified the issues and based on the NRC understanding of actions taken to increase security, a civil penalty may not be warranted, the letter said.
The specific issues were not made public, and an inspection report describing the apparent violations was not released to maintain plant security.
Energy Northwest said in a statement that in April, it notified the NRC of an issue with “security procedures surrounding on-site storage of radioactive material.”
“At that time we had already implemented lasting and effective corrective actions,” Energy Northwest said. “We also plan to bring in a group of industry experts to help us further strengthen our programs in this area.”
NRC discussed the circumstances of the apparent violations, the significance of the issues and the need for lasting corrections at a Dec. 5 exit meeting after the inspection, according to the NRC letter.
Before the NRC makes an enforcement decision, Energy Northwest may respond to the inspection report or may request a conference to allow it to provide its perspective and any other information to the NRC. The conference would be closed to the public.
A year ago, Energy Northwest paid a fine of $35,000 to the NRC over security incidents that occurred between 2012 and 2014.
Energy Northwest described the fine as being related to two security officers who were inattentive at their posts. Whistleblower letters sent to the Energy Northwest executive board said the two guards were taking nude photos while on duty.
The letters also alleged that a security officer was playing a geocaching game on duty. Gamers were invited to attempt to enter a controlled area for the nuclear plant via an online game app.