NRC ends stepped-up oversight at Ariz. nuke plant

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PHOENIX -- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is ending stepped-up inspections at the nation's largest nuclear power plant complex because of improvements made by the plant's operator.

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The triple-reactor Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station 50 miles west of Phoenix has been under heightened scrutiny since 2004. That's when federal inspectors found that plant operator Arizona Public Service Co. had left air pockets in portions of the emergency core cooling system at all three reactors.

More problems followed, and in 2006 the NRC lowered the plant's safety rating to the lowest of any U.S. nuclear plant.

Palo Verde supplies electricity to about 4 million customers in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California. It is run by APS for a consortium of power companies in the four states.

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