The head of the Tennessee Valley Authority acknowledges that the commitment to excellence and safety by the managers and employees of the federal utility wasn’t what it should have been in the past, which contributed to TVA receiving record fines over the past year for previous safety violations at its nuclear plants.
But as a licensed nuclear engineer who has helped run three of North America’s biggest nuclear power programs, TVA President Jeff Lyash insists TVA can and is doing better today.
“TVA’s nuclear program in decades past was too accepting of mediocrity and just rising to the average,” Lyash said in an interview with the Times Free Press this week. “That’s not a nuclear program we want. We want a nuclear fleet that is best in the industry.”
Lyash said the penalties imposed against TVA earlier this month for regulatory violations five years ago during the restart of a Tennessee nuclear power plant underscore some of the deficiencies at TVA in the past. The NRC gave TVA three fines totaling $903,471 for providing inaccurate and insufficient information to regulators and violating proper procedures in November 2015 when pressurized water levels rose uncontrollably during the restart of the Unit 1 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.