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Kan. Nuclear Plant Off 'Watch List', But New Problems Surface

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has taken the only nuclear power plant in Kansas off of its special "watch list" for plants with problems needing closer scrutiny, but some new issues have arisen.

The NRC has listed Wolf Creek in the “degraded performance” category for more than a year. That’s the next-to-the-lowest of four ratings. Those problems have been resolved, and the plant has been upgraded to normal status. 

Now the NRC wants Wolf Creek management to resolve another problem: some employees, especially those charged with making sure the plant operates safely, are afraid to report safety concerns because of potential retaliation. 

In a letter to Wolf Creek last month, the NRC says it has received 19 allegations, five of them claiming employees had been terminated for reporting safety concerns since 2010.

“Safety culture is a key, core value for the NRC,” said NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding. “It’s imperative to the safety of operations at nuclear power plants that any worker who raises a safety concern should feel free to do so without fear of retaliation.”

The NRC wants Wolf Creek management to respond by September 19 with specific plans to make employees feel free to report safety concerns. They also want a report in six months on how effective those efforts have been. 

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