Regulators cite inhaled radioactive material, 2 other violations at Connecticut nuclear plant

Federal inspectors cited the state's nuclear plant on Tuesday for three minor safety violations, including a worker who inhaled radioactive material.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it found three violations of "very low safety significance" in a quarterly inspection of the Millstone Power Plant on June 30.

Two contractors working on radioactively contaminated pipes April 20 failed to wear respirators that were not required by the plant. Millstone's decision was not documented, the NRC said.

A previous evaluation by the plant, owned by Dominion Resources Inc., determined that work on the replacement of a safety injection system valve should be done with respiratory protection. However, two contractors began machining radioactively contaminated piping to prepare for welding a new valve and were not wearing respirators, the NRC said.

A machinist breathed in a fine, dust-like material containing radioactivity that was from the interior surfaces of the piping being machined. Some of the material would likely have become airborne as the pipes were cut, the federal agency said.

The incident did not result in overexposure or a substantial potential for overexposure, regulators said.

Millstone spokesman Ken Holt said the violations will be corrected.

The nuclear plant also was cited for failing to maintain procedures at its two units to assess a loss of cooling during refueling operations. The NRC said Dominion established temporary measures to correct the problem, including procedure changes to direct operators to the shutdown safety assessment checklists.

Federal regulators also said Millstone failed to maintain an adequate procedure for filling and draining reactors that incorporates guidance from the NRC.