NRC starts special inspection at Erwin facility

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) initiated a special inspection Tuesday at the Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) facility in Erwin, Tennessee, to evaluate the internal circumstances involving an unintended chemical reaction.

Operated by Babcock & Wilcox, the NFS facility is responsible for converting about 40 metric tons of highly enriched uranium into fuel material for the Tennessee Valley Authority. The unplanned event occurred April 4 within a 2-liter bottle stored in an access-controlled storage area. The bottle held various cleaning materials, some nitric acid and a small quantity of uranium. There were no employee exposures or injuries during or after the event.

“Although no one was injured and there were no employee exposures, it could have been worse had employees been in that area at the time,” NRC Region II Administrator Victor McCree said. “Based on that potential, we needed to inspect exactly what happened and what steps are necessary to prevent it from happening again.”

An NRC inspection team will spend a week on site reviewing the events, evaluate the company’s response to the incident, and assess any potential effects or lasting damage the event may have caused. The NRC inspection report will be made available to the public within 30 days of the end of the inspection.

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Babcock & Wilcox

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