COLUMBIA — A first-quarter inspection of the Callaway Nuclear Plant indicated only a few low-level safety violations.
That's good news for Thomas Hartman, the plant's newest senior resident inspector. Hartman, whose new position was announced April 24, will represent the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the plant. He said his first impression of the Callaway plant is that it's clean, well-run and efficient at addressing issues, but that he's still determining what, if any, challenges he'll have to face.
"It seems like it's OK on the surface, but my job is to understand what they're really doing and evaluate them properly," said Hartman, adding that he previously worked at a plant that faced more regulatory challenges.
Hartman was required to move to a new plant by the commission's "objectivity limit" on the tenure of resident inspectors, who are required to change plants every seven years. At least two resident inspectors represent the commission at every commercial nuclear plant in the country.
"We try to bring in a fresh face, a different way of looking at things," said David Dumbacher, Hartman's predecessor. "Sometimes you can't tell things look different when you're looking at the same thing every day for seven years."
According to this year's assessment letter, released March 5, the Callaway plant "operated in a manner that preserved public health." And the first-quarter inspection report of the plant, released April 23, indicated only a few low-level safety violations.
Ameren Missouri, which owns the plant, took steps to assess its safety after the meltdown last year at Japan's Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant. Ameren re-evaluated its regulatory system at the Callaway plant to determine whether any safety upgrades were needed, according to a mid-cycle performance review and inspection plan. The company requested more diesel generators in case of a power outage, Dumacher said.
All inspection reports and annual assessments can be found on the commission's website.
Meanwhile, the commission is changing the way it communicates with the public.
For the first time, commission officials did not hold a formal public hearing to present the annual report on the Callaway Nuclear Plant.
In the past, attendance has been sparse, so the commission has changed its process to a "real, value-added approach," said Zach Hollcraft, a resident inspector for the commission. Hollcraft said the commission will still hold public events, but in a different format. Resident inspectors will now interact with the community at public events or when a group requests an appearance. The first event of this type will be a lecture in June at the Jefferson City Rotary Club.