A series of wide ranging, federal inspections of the twin Salem nuclear power plants has found extensive decay and cracks as long as six feet in the concrete containment buildings, corrosion of the buildings’ steel liners by decades of leaks from radioactive and acidic water, and “aggressive” groundwater penetration throughout the power complex.
In addition, inspectors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that PSEG Nuclear, operators of the Salem nuclear complex, skipped required inspections of the ageing containment buildings. That prompted the agency to send out a generic “information notice” to all nuclear operators around the country to adhere to the inspection schedules and be on the lookout for deepening cracks in the containment walls.
The findings of the plants’ deteriorating physical condition are contained in a series of reports by NRC inspection teams analyzing PSEG’s ability to maintain the structural integrity of the nearly 40 year old nuclear complex for an additional 20 years. The reports include demands for explanations from Thomas Joyce, president of PSEG Nuclear, for a variety of PSEG maintenance examinations and practices and responses from the nuclear operating company.