Washington's Only Nuclear Power Plant Criticized For Six Unplanned Shut-downs

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Columbia Generating Station in Richland, Washington, has been coming increased federal scrutiny lately. Washington's only commercial nuclear power plant has had six unplanned shutdowns in the last two years. The National Regulatory Commission held a hearing about the plant's performance Tuesday.

It was like a parent/teacher conference. The Columbia Generating Station managers sat on one side of the room and members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sat on the other. The power plant managers fidgeted with their pens and listened as the NRC regulators told them: you need to improve your performance. The feds have downgraded the plant's performance status from green to white. Mahdi Hayes is the NRC inspector that watches over the plant more than 8 hours a day.

Mahdi Hayes: “It's our job to make sure they are meeting the conditions of their license. We've licensed them to do certain things, to run at a certain power level and we are there every day to make sure they are meeting those requirements.”

The power plant managers say they are trying hard to do better. They say they are improving employee training to make safety a higher priority at the plant. And making sure all their equipment works properly. The plant's next meeting with the NRC will be in November.