The University Record, June 7, 1993

NRC fines University for exceeding licensed power level for Ford Reactor

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a fine of $3,750 against the University for exceeding the licensed power level of its Ford Nuclear Reactor during a reactor startup March 24.

The two-person reactor operations crew failed to correctly follow procedures during the startup, missing a calibration adjustment at the midpoint (one megawatt) level, and therefore reached a full-power level of 2.3 megawatts. This was 15 percent over the facility’s NRC-licensed capacity of 2 megawatts.

The NRC noted that there was no direct safety concern because the power level never went over half of the safety limit of 4.68 megawatts.

The error was noticed after about 10 minutes of operation. Power was reduced immediately, the reactor was adjusted to the proper level and the NRC was informed.

The Ford Reactor administration took corrective action, including removing the shift supervisor from reactor operation duties, revising the reactor startup procedure, and conducting an unannounced examination of all reactor operations staff.