Security Officer Exchanges Gunfire With Individual Near Watts Bar Nuclear Plant; NRC Completes Monitoring

  • Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region II staff has completed monitoring the Watts Bar nuclear power plant after a security incident just before 2 a.m.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the Watts Bar plant, notified the NRC that a security officer patrolling on TVA property near the Tennessee River exchanged gunfire with an individual. This location is outside the plant’s protected area. The officer was not injured and local law enforcement is assisting in the response to the incident. The incident occurred more than a quarter mile from the plant’s protected area and the plant remains secure.

As a result of the incident, the Watts Bar plant staff declared an unusual event, the lowest of the NRC’s four emergency classifications.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region II staff said Sunday afternoon it had returned to its normal mode after entering the monitoring mode of incident response following the security incident that occurred early Sunday morning at the Watts Bar nuclear plant. The NRC had staffed its incident response center in the Region II office in Atlanta but deactivated continuous monitoring after the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the plant, determined that there was no further security condition or threat that would degrade the safety of the plant. The NRC continues to follow TVA’s action in its normal mode.

TVA exited the unusual event at 12:30 p.m. after performing inspections of the protected area, conducting a helicopter survey of the plant and adjacent river area and inspecting the intake pumping station. The plant staff has notified the NRC that it will continue to maintain security at higher than normal levels.

The NRC has dispatched two security inspectors from the Atlanta office to review the incident and the TVA response.     

The Watts Bar plant is located near Spring City, Tn., about 35 miles north of Chattanooga and 60 miles southwest of Knoxville. Watts Bar Unit 1 is at 100 percent power and Unit 2 is under construction.

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