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Last updated 6:11PM ET
April 22, 2021
Safety Concerns at Dothan Nuclear Plant Scrutinized
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Workers knew of a possible safety problem with a cooling system at Farley Nuclear Plant but failed to correct it for months, leading to a potential citation against Southern Nuclear, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulator Commission said Friday.

The public never was in danger, officials said, and a plant spokeswoman said proper corrective action was taken promptly.

Plant employees discovered a problem with a valve at the plant during tests in April 2006, but they didn't fix it until the fault showed up again during another test nine months later, according to the NRC's Ken Clark.

The valve part of a system used to remove residual heat from the Unit 2 reactor did not pose a public safety threat, Clark said, but it could have been a problem had an emergency shutdown been required.

"It's already been fixed, but it wasn't handled the way it should have been," said Clark.

Regulators and Southern Company officials will hold a public meeting in Atlanta on Sept. 12 to discuss the problem, which could result in a citation against the company, Clark said.

A citation would not necessarily result in a fine, he said, but it would mar the plant's record.

Southern Nuclear spokeswoman Gina Warren said later Friday that when a valve did not open on the first stroke as expected during routine testing in April 2006, plant personnel did some diagnostic tests, conducted testing one a week, then once a month and back to quarterly, without any problem. In January 2007, during a quarterly test, they found a similar valve with a similar problem, she said, and made modifications to fix it.

"We did do corrective actions immediately following those instances," she said.

She said all valves on the units were tested and there were no other problems. Like Clark, she said at no time was there a public safety issue.

She said the Sept. 12 meeting will give plant officials an opportunity to discuss with the NRC the corrective actions that have been taken.

Southern Nuclear Operating Co. is a division of the Atlanta-based Southern Co., which includes Alabama Power Co.

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