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Northwest Nuclear Plant Gets 'Preliminary White Finding' From Federal Investigation

Energy Northwest
File photo. of the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant.

Tuesday the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission scolded the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. The NRC said the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington improperly packaged, mis-labeled and shipped too-hot radioactive waste.

The NRC gave the errant shipment its white preliminary finding. In federal-government-speak that’s something that is a low-to-moderate safety problem. But the agency is still taking it seriously.

Last November workers at the Columbia Generating Station shipped a package of low-level nuclear waste to a disposal facility about 10 miles away. But when the used filters arrived, there was five times the radioactive dose coming off the package than there was supposed to be.

The report said, “… the radwaste manifest and shipping paperwork contained numerous errors, and the waste was misclassified.” ?

The waste was also sealed in the wrong type of cask. ?

The NRC said it’s taking these errors so seriously, because the package was shipped off-site and could have unduly exposed the public if an accident had occurred. To be clear, none of this waste escaped.

The report also found several preliminary green, or low safety significance findings against the Columbia Generating Station.

The NRC meets publicly on May 2 with the power plant leaders to discuss the conclusions of the investigation and possible consequences.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.