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Westinghouse making changes at South Carolina plant

Posted May 10

— Officials with Westinghouse Electric Co. say they are making changes at their nuclear fuel plant in South Carolina to improve operations.

Company officials told a public meeting Tuesday that the changes should prevent any more hazardous accumulations of uranium at the plant south of Columbia, The State newspaper (http://bit.ly/2qqm3Wi) reported.

Westinghouse said it's made extensive improvements to an air pollution control device and is conducting more rigorous inspections.

The company says it's also improved training and is encouraging employees to report any safety concerns.

Federal regulators said last summer there was the potential for an accident that might injure workers at the 48-year-old plant because of a buildup of uranium in the pollution control device known as a scrubber.

The 2016 accumulation was not significant enough to send uranium into the air or to threaten the general public, but it could have exposed workers to potentially lethal doses of radiation, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The plant employs about 1,000 people..

The Westinghouse factory is one of a handful in the U.S. that make fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.

"Clearly, nuclear safety culture is the foundation of our (improvement) effort," said Westinghouse Columbia vice president Mike Annacone, who was brought in last year after the problems cited by the NRC.

The NRC has said it will inspect the plant more frequently.

NRC officials said they are monitoring Westinghouse's recent bankruptcy to make sure it can pay to comply with safety requirements at the plant. So far, the company is meeting its obligations, said Mark Lesser with the NRC.

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