Where Lubes Cannot Fail


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently began inspecting Ameren Missouris Callaway nuclear power plant near Fulton, Mo., to check on lubrication of an auxiliary feedwater pump.

According to the commission, inspectors began work March 21 to identify circumstances surrounding an oil sample taken Feb. 8, which indicated that the pump might have been inadequately lubricated. They will also review the licensees response to the event and its evaluation of the pumps operability. The pump supplies water to the plants steam generators during some accident conditions.

NRC inspectors will write an inspection report on their findings within 45 days of the end of the inspection that will be publicly available.

The oil sample was discolored and contained particulate indicating that the oil level may have been too low to properly lubricate the pump bearing, the NRC stated. The pump may not have been able to run for a sufficient length of time to meet its safety function during an accident scenario.

The agency said its staff decided a special inspection was appropriate due to a previous event in May 2009 involving inadequate lubrication in the same system. In the 2009 incident, plant operators fixed the pump and subsequently restarted it satisfactorily. The NRC conducted a special investigation of that incident in June 2009.

By press time, Ameren Missouri did not respond to Lube Reports request for comment.

Ameren Missouri is the states largest electric utility, providing service to 1.2 million customers across central and eastern Missouri. The Callaway nuclear plant began operation in 1984 and has 1,190 megawatts of generating capacity.

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