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    Nuclear commission fines Oyster Creek's owner $50,000 over security violations

    January 27, 2022 - Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press


      LACEY - The owner of the defunct Oyster Creek nuclear plant agreed to pay $50,000 in fines after the plant's armorer falsified documents, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an agency that oversees nuclear power plants.

      Holtec Decommissioning International LLC, based in Camden, has agreed to pay the fine, which is a reduction from the original $150,000 fine levied against the company. The regulatory commission agreed through third-party mediation to reduce the fine after HDI agreed to a series of corrective actions.

      During an NRC investigation in March 2021, the agency learned that a former security superintendent who was the plant's armorer failed to perform mandatory firearms inspections and falsified related records.

      HDI has since agreed to make the security director a standalone position, has agreed to use external experts for independent security assessments at Oyster Creek and other Holtec-owned decommissioning power plants, and to implement training and communication related to security.

      Holtec spokesman Joseph Delmar said safety of the public was the company's top priority, but declined to discuss the details, citing security.

      "We have taken steps to address the concerns and overall security performance at Oyster Creek and shared those learnings with our fleet to prevent a reoccurrence," he said in a statement to the Asbury Park Press.

      Overall, the NRC found that Oyster Creek's security program remains effective, Delmar said.

      "We take these issues very seriously and reviewed and acted on the NRC's violation findings," he said.

      The former security superintendent, who was not identified but was fired by Holtec, will be issued a Severity Level III Notice of Violation, according to the NRC. The violation will go into his permanent record and any "additional deliberate violations (in the future) could result in more significant enforcement action or criminal action," said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

      "This agreement will result in a number of significant actions that can be expected to improve the security programs not only at Oyster Creek but also at the other nuclear plants being decommissioned by HDI," NRC Region I Deputy Administrator Raymond Lorson said in a news release.

      Sheehan said the agreement and related violation are separate and distinct from another violation and fine announced in December regarding security at Oyster Creek. The agency said at the time that due to the "sensitive nature" of those violations, the NRC would not provide details.

      Related: NRC proposes $150K penalty for Holtec after Oyster Creek inspection

      Jeff Tittel, the former director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the fine amounts to a "slap on the wrist." Tittel criticized the NRC, saying the agency did not hold Holtec sufficiently accountable.

      "The lack of real enforcement will only encourage more mistakes, cutting corners and violations," said Tittel in an email to the Asbury Park Press. "We should all be concerned this could lead to accidents, spills, even a disaster."

      Local news: Brush fire sweeps across Gull Island in Point Pleasant Beach, drawing the Coast Guard

      Environment: Seal pup rescued from Island Beach State Park recouping at Brigantine stranding center

      Amanda Oglesby is an Ocean County native who covers Brick, Barnegat and Lacey townships as well as the environment. She has worked for the Press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, or 732-557-5701.

      ©2022 Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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