NRC Declares Piketon Test Site Safe; Citizens Register Proactive Concerns

Updated 9 years ago
NRC Declares Piketon Test Site Safe; Citizens  Register Proactive Concerns

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff held a public meeting in Piketon, Ohio, on April 25 to discuss results of the agency's most recent review of USEC Inc.'s American Centrifuge Lead Cascade Facility.

The NRC staff assessed USEC's performance last year in the areas of safety operations, radiological controls, facility support and other areas. The NRC staff review determined that USEC continued to conduct its activities safely and securely, protecting public health and the environment.

However, neighbors for an Ohio Valley Alternative (NOVA) has demanded the operating license at Piketon be suspended. Although the 2012 NRC inspections show no incidents, the group cites a test cascade crash in 2011 about three months following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Following the incident, the NRC issued a letter ordering that uranium hexafluoride not be introduced into the casing of the centrifuge facility due to multiple failures. (See Attachments Below)

Patricia Marida, chair of the Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear Issues Committee, and Robert Shields, chair of the Ohio Sierra Club, wrote of the June 11, 2011 incident in a July 20, 2011 letter to the Department of Energy:

"Six centrifuges at the USEC, Inc. American Centrifuge Project at Piketon, Ohio were damaged by a power outage.Both the main and auxiliary power systems failed, with subsequent disabling of ventilation and hydrogen monitors in a battery room.  As you are aware, hydrogen buildup and subsequent fire are a serious hazard in the present, but catastrophic should this occur with a full enrichment process in operation."

Still, the NRC found no areas needing improvement during the performance review period. Due to that performance level, NRC inspections at the facility during the next review period are being conducted at the normal level of inspection for this type of nuclear fuel facility, and no additional inspections are required.

"The NRC inspects nuclear fuel facilities such as USEC's Piketon facility and monitors their performance on an ongoing basis," said NRC Region II Administrator Victor McCree. "We issue inspection reports and hold these meetings near each facility to discuss our oversight and answer any questions local residents may have".

A copy of the review for the USEC facility in Piketon is available on the NRC website.

The 2011 incident: