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Nuclear Regulatory Commission explains daily role at South Texas Project Nuclear

By adriana_acosta
Aug. 1, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

John Dixon, senior resident inspector at South Texas Project, speaks at the Bay City Chamber of Commerce July luncheon.

NRC open house

The NRC will hold an open house for South Texas Project to discuss the results of an inspection for STP's license renewal application.

WHEN: 4-5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 1,

WHERE: The Center for Energy Development, 4000 Ave. F in Bay City.

BAY CITY - The safety and wellbeing of the community is the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions' main focus.

Senior resident inspector, John Dixon, presented an overview of their daily role at the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company on Thursday at the Bay City Chamber of Commerce July's luncheon.

"We are the eyes and ears to ensure that everything at the plant is working properly," he said. "We are federal inspectors overseeing plant operations on a daily basis."

Dixon said their job is to be a watchdog over nuclear units in the United States.

"Our typical day is not like any other typical day. We perform a very important job every day," he said.

The ultimate goal is to make sure procedures are achieved. Daily inspections include control room operations, maintenance, surveillance and testing programs, security, emergency response, and radiation protection.

Walk-downs are done individually, making sure that everything is in order, he said.

After the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, the NRC decided to have a presence at locations needing regulation.

"We knew it was important to have someone onsite at all times and have the ability to act from the plant at a timely fashion," he said.

Dixon said the NRC has unfettered access, which allows them full access to review and observe any activity that goes on at the power plant.

"We have access to review and observe any activity they have and read any documents that they write," he said.

Every nuclear facility has at least two inspectors who work around the clock, he said.

They have no set hours and are onsite seven days a week, 24-hours a day. Each resident inspector stays at a plant no more than seven years.

"This is to ensure we don't lose our objectivity and get too friendly with them," he said.

Dixon's seven year assignment ends next year.

Each year they do twice a year assessments on all power plants to ensure the protection of public health and safety, as well as protect the environment.

"We oversee everything that requires use of radioactive material, we at some point get involved with the process," he said.

Presence of the NRC includes hospitals and oil rigs.

Dixon spoke about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. He said they have procedures set for any disaster.

"We feel that what happened at Fukushima would not happen in the United States, but we do multiple walk-ins and scenarios, independently from STP," he said.

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