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Lawmaker Asks NRC To Inspect Nuclear Plants’ Nuts and Bolts

October 20, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Public safety requires that nuts and bolts in the nation’s nuclear power plants undergo federal inspection, the chairman of the House energy oversight subcommittee says.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said Monday he had asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct an investigation of the fasteners holding together the 109 licensed nuclear power plants in the United States and the 15 others under construction.

″It is a task which must be done to assure that fastener failures do not imperil the public safety,″ Dingell said.

He announced his request at a hearing at which a California metallurgist testified of finding fasteners made of materials that were weaker than anticipated at two nuclear plants.

″NRC inspectors would be well-advised to do random samplings″ of nuts and bolts at power plants, said Jay D. Haber, president of Mobile Metal Analysis of Huntington Beach, Calif.

Haber testified that in a 1983 inspection of bolts and nuts at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California his company found a lower than expected proportion of molybdenum, a corrosive-resistant material.

He also said that in recent months, his company had found fasteners taken from another nuclear plant that were not up to standards. Haber did not identify the plant, but said it was an operating facility in the eastern United States.

Dingell’s subcommittee has been holding hearings on the question of substandard nuts, bolts and other fasteners since last summer. Dingell said his panel has no evidence of potential danger to the public from fasteners at the power plants.

NRC officials have told the subcommittee that fastener failures have not hindered the operations of any nuclear plants in the country, Dingell said.

″However, mismarked and substandard fasteners have been identified in several nuclear facilities,″ Dingell said.

NRC spokesman Frank Ingram said the commission has not yet responded to Dingell’s request.

At the same hearing, a Postal Service official and a contractor testified that substandard nuts had been found in new mail facilities under construction in Los Angeles. Some of them snapped during the Oct. 1 earthquake, he said.

″From a safety standpoint, the Postal Service is extremely concerned that the fasteners be structurallysound, all the more so in Los Angeles where, as the recent earthquake reminded us, seismic loads are a major design consideration,″ said Paul Kelly, a Postal Service project manager.

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