2010 Fuel Cycle Facilities
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On December 16, 2010, the NRC issued a Notice of Violation to GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas for two Severity Level III violations involving the failure to implement Special Nuclear License SNM-960, Condition S-9 and 10 CFR 20.1501. Specifically, on February 16, 2010, one worker identified contamination on his wrist at 240-260 corrected counts per minute, but failed to log the personnel contamination as required by licensee procedure; and on February 16, 2010, the licensee did not make or cause to be made surveys that were reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate the concentrations or quantities of radioactive material.
On November 16, 2010, a Confirmatory Order (effective immediately) and a Notice of Violation (NOV) were issued to Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. (NFS) to confirm commitments made as a result of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mediation sessions held on October 4, 2010. This enforcement action is based on the failure of NFS to provide complete and accurate information to the NRC, as required by 10CFR70.9(a), on two occasions. Specifically, (1) on November 25, 2008, NFS submitted a response to a previously issued NOV stating that all fire dampers in Procedure NFS-GH-22 were inspected in September 2008 and all passed the inspection, when 12 of the fire dampers had not been inspected; and (2) in August 2009, during an inspection to verify the corrective actions as documented in the response to the previously issued NOV, a former NFS employee created and provided a document to an NRC inspector that indicated that all but one of the dampers had been fully inspected in 2008, when in fact more than one of the dampers had not been fully inspected. The NRC concluded that these actions were willful and associated with the same former employee. As a result of the ADR agreement, the licensee agreed to a number of actions, including: (1) issuance of a NOV as part of the Confirmatory Order; (2) conducting an effectiveness review within one year of each corrective action to the NOV; (3) performing an assessment of the effectiveness of its corrective actions by an independent group to assure adequacy and accuracy of information submitted to the NRC; (4) developing and implementing an appropriate safety culture improvement plan and conducting periodic integrated safety culture assessments; and (5) assessing its current corrective action program (CAP) against NQA-1-2008 and submitting a license amendment request within nine months incorporating the CAP into its license. In recognition of these actions, the NRC agreed to refrain from proposing a civil penalty for this matter.
On November 3, 2010, a Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of a Civil Penalty in the amount of $17,500 was issued to Westinghouse Electric Company, Commercial Nuclear Fuel Division, for a Severity Level III problem involving two violations associated with a spill of uranium bearing ammoniated waste water inside the plant on January 25, 2010. Specifically, the violations involved (1) the failure to identify in the Integrated Safety Analysis (ISA) that a spill in the quarantine tank system could lead to an intermediate consequence event as required by 10CFR70.62(c)(1), and (2) the failure to designate items relied on for safety (IROFS) to limit the risk of an intermediate consequence event resulting from an overflow of the quarantine system as required by 10CFR70.61(e). In addition, two Severity Level IV violations involving failure to follow license condition requirements, and a Severity Level IV problem involving three violations associated with failure to follow Site Emergency Plan requirements were issued.
On October 12, 2010, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (Board) issued an Order approving a settlement agreement between Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Operations Group, Inc. (B&W NOG) (formerly BWX Technologies (BWXT), Inc) and the NRC related to the failure by B&W NOG to adequately neutralize a spill of hydrofluoric acid (HF) which, on April 28, 2008, resulted in an operator receiving an ocular exposure requiring onsite and offsite emergency medical treatment. The original enforcement action associated with this incident, which was retracted and reissued on February 23, 2010, was issued on October 20, 2008 (ML082960026). In accordance with the Board Order, the NRC agreed (1) to withdraw the Order imposing a monetary civil penalty in the amount of $32,500 issued on June 15, 2010 (ML101580256); and, (2) to recategorize the violation issued on February 23, 2010 (ML100540701) from a Severity Level III violation to a violation with no severity level. In accordance with the Board Order, B&W agreed to (1) not challenge the existence of a violation of NRC requirements related to the HF spill and withdraw its request for a hearing; (2) pay a settlement fee of $32,500 in lieu of the withdrawn civil penalty; (3) perform one quarterly emergency drill within a twelve-month period related to a chemical exposure event; and, (4) give a presentation addressing lessons learned at the 2011 Fuel Cycle Information Exchange.
On September 2, 2010, a Notice of Violation, Exercise of Enforcement Discretion, and Proposed Imposition of a Civil Penalty in the amount of $140,000 was issued to Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. (NFS). This action was based on a Severity Level III problem involving three violations associated with an event which occurred on October 13, 2009. The three violations involved (1) the failure to have adequate engineered or administrative controls for operations of the bowl cleaning station in violation of 10 CFR 70.61(b); (2) the failure to comply with multiple facility operating procedures regarding the facility system change process; and (3) the failure to maintain records necessary to support NFS’s determination that specific facility changes did not require prior NRC approval in violation of 10 CFR 70.72. Specifically, during routine facility operations in the uranium-aluminum line of the Blended Low-enriched Uranium Preparation Facility, nitric acid was added into the bowl cleaning stations which contained small particles of high-enriched uranium scrap material, and the resultant solution produced an unexpectedly high exothermic chemical reaction deforming some of the process piping. The temperatures from the reaction created excess nitrogen compound gases which resulted in the evacuation of the building. Although the failure to have adequate engineered or administrative controls for operations of the bowl cleaning station did not result in any actual personnel exposure consequences in this case, a more significant event could have resulted in a high consequence occupational exposure under different circumstances. In recognition of particularly poor licensee performance and previous escalated enforcement history, the NRC exercised enforcement discretion and doubled the $70,000 Civil Penalty derived from the normal civil penalty assessment process.
On June 9, 2010, a Notice of Violation and Exercise of Enforcement Discretion (Notice) was issued to Global Nuclear Fuels – Americas, LLC (GNF-A). This action was based on a Severity Level III problem involving three violations of regulatory requirements. Specifically, the licensee failed to (1) identify credible accident scenarios as required by the license; (2) characterize criticality accident scenarios in the integrated safety analysis (ISA) as high consequence events as required by the license; and (3) designate engineered or administrative controls as items relied on for safety (IROFS) when necessary to comply with the performance requirements of 10 CFR 70.61(b) – (d), as required by 10 CFR 70.61(e). Because, in part, the NRC staff and the licensee did not share a common understanding of GNF-A’s application of its ISA methodology to scenario evaluation and IROFS identification during the ISA summary review and related inspection activities, the NRC concluded that enforcement discretion to forego proposing a civil penalty was appropriate in this case. No actual consequences resulted from these violations because there were no incidents and no existing safety controls were identified as degraded.
On April 26, 2010, a Confirmatory Order (effective immediately) was issued to AREVA NP – Richland, Inc. (AREVA) to formalize commitments reached as part of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mediation session involving a violation of a facility procedure by an employee who willfully defeated the function of an Item Relied On For Safety (IROFS) on April 21, 2009. Specifically, an electronic eye sensor known as the vacuum wand interlock was deliberately bypassed by an employee and made to work by using tape. As a result, IROFS 1111 was not available and reliable as required by 10 CFR 70.61(e). Although the vacuum wand interlock was disabled, sufficient system IROFS remained in service to perform the intended safety function for identified accident scenarios and protect the health and safety of the public. As part of the settlement agreement, AREVA agreed to take a number of actions in addition to those already completed. These additional actions include: (1) incorporating lessons learned from this incident, including enhanced safety conscious work environment (SCWE) training, into General Employee training for new employees and annual refresher training for all Richland employees; (2) implementing a management observation program for the purpose of reinforcing task performance standards and work practices; (3) performing a survey to determine the results of efforts to increase supervisor availability in the work area; and (4) developing a presentation on the incident and lessons learned with regard to work practices for a future industry forum. In recognition of these actions, the NRC agreed to refrain from proposing a civil penalty and issuing a Notice of Violation or other enforcement action.
On January 11, 2010, a Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of a Civil Penalty in the amount of $35,000 was issued, to Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Operations Group, Inc. (B&W -NOG). This action was based on a Severity Level III violation involving the failure of the licensee to declare an Alert in a timely manner as required by Appendix G to their Emergency Plan. Specifically, on July 15, 2009, the licensee failed to declare an Alert for more than 2 hours even though employees were cognizant that during that time, critically controls associated with a band saw reservoir did not exist and that the lost controls could not be immediately reestablished. Although the failure to declare an Alert in a timely manner did not result in any actual consequences in this case, the potential consequences of an untimely emergency declaration could have been significant under different circumstances.
In addition, a Severity Level III problem associated with three procedural violations was identified as a result of this incident. The three violations involved the failure of the licensee (1) to ensure that the band saw’s built-in coolant reservoir was disabled and not usable prior to operation of the band saw, (2) to establish controls on the band saw cutting fluid reservoir to prevent process changes which would make a criticality accident possible such as accumulation of cutting fluid or fissile material in the reservoir, and (3) to evaluate an accident scenario or establish appropriate controls preventing the accumulation of high enriched uranium and moderator in the band saw cutting fluid reservoir, an unfavorable geometry vessel. In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a civil penalty was not proposed for these violations.