Commission 'cautiously optimistic' about Prairie Island nuclear plant's safety progressby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission say they're "cautiously optimistic" about Xcel Energy's progress in addressing a series of human errors at the Prairie Island nuclear plant.
At a public meeting last Tuesday night, Xcel reported to the commission about the steps it's made to improve training and procedures at the plant.
"We've put a lot of actions in place in the last year, and we have results that we were able to demonstrate today that show that we're on the right track," said Mark Schimmel, Xcel's site vice president at Prairie Island. "I wanted to leave them with that we were truly committed to continuing to improve the performance of the plant, and I think we were able to do that."
The plant has been getting extra inspections from the NRC for about a year-and-a-half. Schimmel said he expects that to end early next year.
The commission's Jack Giessner said the big question now is whether Xcel can continue to sustain its recent improvements.
"But we still have a question, and they attempted to answer the sustainability, which is through their supervisors making sure their processes will go, so when we stop our assessment and our pressure, and we're putting pressure on them, they'll continue to perform," Giessner said.
Some of the plant's neighbors, including the Prairie Island Indian Community, say they continue to have concerns about the plant's safety record.