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NRC Looking Into Wash. Nuclear Plant's 11-Year-Old Mistake

Anna King


RICHLAND, Wash. – The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking into an 11-year emergency planning mistake at the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant. Officials at the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington used faulty estimates of how much radiation could escape during a crisis.

No radiological emergency has ever happened at the Columbia Generating Station. But if it had, the faulty computer modeling used between 2000 and 2011, might have convinced operators that more or less radiation was coming out of the plant than really was.

Victor Dricks is a spokesman with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He says that could have changed officials’ response to an actual emergency.

“They were not getting the appropriate results that would enabled them to accurately classify the nature of a nuclear emergency if one were to occur," Dricks explains. "And I stress that none of these conditions ever did occur.”

The Columbia Generating Station’s leaders did report this issue themselves last summer. The power plant managers are now scheduled to explain their case in a meeting with federal regulators in about two weeks in Texas.

On the Web:

Columbia Generating Station:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission press release:

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