Recently, several articles were published in The Arizona Republic about the shutdown of all Palo Verde units due to concerns about the Emergency Core Cooling Systems (ECCS). Then in the Republic we find that APS wants to recover $40 million in rate increases due to the shutdowns.
It would be appalling if the Arizona Corporation Commission allows APS to increase rates. The third unit was licensed in 1987 and APS management has had ample opportunity to correct any safety system design issues. The shutdowns may be the result of a recently discovered issue, but it should not have happened. Apparently, plant management long ago lost sight of its responsibilities to operate the ECCS in accordance with the license.
On April 8, 2005, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission notified Palo Verde by letter that they were to receive a $50,000 civil penalty for failure to operate the ECCS since 1992 in accordance with the license. Also on the same date, the NRC issued a separate violation for failure to maintain, since 1992, the ECCS in accordance with design basis requirements.
This latest issue and plant shutdown was discovered due to questions from the NRC. Why does plant management have to be prompted by the NRC? An Oct. 19 Arizona Republic article gives us the answer. According to the APS spokesman, "Part of the issue is, we needed more focused attention on the part of the main players."
The Arizona Corporation Commission should not require ratepayers to subsidize poor management performance, especially at a nuclear power plant.
J. Morris Brown, Payson