United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-03-182 - Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC

December 22, 2003

EA-03-182

Mr. Hank A. Sepp
Director, Decommissioning
Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC
Hematite Facility
3300 State Road P
Festus, MO 63028

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION
(NRC SPECIAL INSPECTION REPORT NO. 070-00036/2003-004(DNMS))

Dear Mr. Sepp:

This refers to the special inspection conducted between July 31 and October 1, 2003, at the Hematite Facility. The purpose of the inspection was to determine whether decommissioning activities were conducted safely and in accordance with NRC requirements. Specifically, the inspection consisted of an examination of activities in response to your July 28, 2003, notification to the NRC that fuel pellets were discovered in a shipment of zirconium tubing at a scrap metal recycling facility in Canada. The shipment originated from your Hematite facility. The inspection report was transmitted to you on October 21, 2003, and contained two examples of an apparent violation involving the failure to follow work plan requirements during decommissioning activities.

On November 4, 2003, a pre-decisional enforcement conference was conducted in the Region III Office with you and members of your staff to discuss the apparent violation, its significance, its root causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation is cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report. The violation involved two examples for the failure to follow enhanced work plans for decommissioning activities specific to the preparation of contaminated materials for shipping to a metal recycling facility. The first example involved the unintentional shipment of fuel pellets and the second example, observed by the NRC, involved the inadequate inspection of shipping containers to ensure they were free of fuel pellets.

The failure to follow enhanced work plans and conduct decommissioning activities in accordance with approved procedures is a significant safety issue that resulted in the unintentional shipment of unused fuel pellets to a metal recycling facility in Canada. In addition, this event followed two other incidents involving inadequate control of fuel pellets. These incidents involved a pan of uranium oxide pellets that was found in a storage unit when the material accountability records indicated the unit was empty, and low-enriched fuel rods that were found in a box labeled poison rods. Therefore, this violation has been categorized in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600 at Severity Level III.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $15,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two years, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Credit is warranted for your corrective actions that included: (1) suspending decommissioning activities; (2) verifying the security and control of fuel pellets inadvertently shipped to the recycling facility; (3) performing a root cause analysis on the fuel pellet shipment incident; (4) chartering an independent assessment team to review management, staffing, and quality processes associated with past activities; (5) developing new procedures and revising existing procedures to enhance project oversight and quality assurance activities; (6) revising the training program to increase the focus on procedure use and compliance; (7) retraining Westinghouse and contractor personnel regarding procedure compliance; and (8) hiring a full-time quality control engineer.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive correction of violations, and in recognition of the absence of previous escalated enforcement action, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty. In addition, issuance of this Severity Level III violation constitutes an escalated enforcement action, that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved, is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 070-0036/2003-004(DNMS) and Westinghouse's letter, dated November 12, 2003. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description in our report and your letter does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to provide additional information, you should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosure, and your response, if any, will be made available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the NRC's document system (ADAMS), accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To the extent possible, your response should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be made available to the Public without redaction. The NRC also includes significant enforcement actions on its Web site at www.nrc.gov; select What We Do, Enforcement, then Significant Enforcement Actions.

Sincerely,

/RA/ Geoffrey E. Grant for

James L. Caldwell
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 070-00036
License No. SNM-33

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc:  State of Missouri


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC
Festus, Missouri
Docket No. 070-00036
License No. SNM-33
EA-03-182

During a special NRC inspection conducted between July 31 and October 1, 2003, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statements of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (NUREG-1600), the violation is described below:

License Condition 18.A. of License No. SNM-33 requires, in part, that the licensee conduct its program in accordance with the statements, representations, and procedures contained in the License Application dated October 29, 1993 (Chapters 1 through 8) including supplements.
Chapter 2, Section 2.6 of the license application states, in part, that operations which affect licensed material will be conducted in accordance with approved written procedures. Procedure, PR-GM-001, Revision 0, "Enhanced Work Planning and Change Control," provides guidance for operations that affect licensed material. Section 5.1 requires, in part, that project personnel be responsible for performing work using the methods and hazard controls defined in the applicable enhanced work plan (EWP).
 a.   EWP 03-009, "Tubing, Moly Scrap, and Mass Spec Removal by Mississauga Metals and Alloys," Revision 0, contains written instructions for the inspection of contaminated zircalloy tubing for pellets prior to shipment for recycling. Work Step 4.1.7 requires, in part, that each tube will be visually inspected for pellets by shining a light in each end and checking for a clear path from the other end.

  b.   LVI-EWP 03-009, "Inspection/Verification that Mississauga Metals SeaLand Containers are Fuel Pellet Free," Revision 1, contains written instructions pertaining to the inspection and characterization of two SeaLand containers. Work Step 4.1.6 requires, in part, that workers remove all tools from toolbox trays, inspect all emptied drawers, shake each emptied drawer, and inspect each drawer carefully using a flashlight to ensure no stowaway pellets or fragments exist in the inspected area.
Contrary to the above, licensee project personnel failed to perform work using the methods and hazard controls defined in the applicable EWP:
 a.   Prior to shipping zircalloy tubes for recycling on June 18 and 25, 2003, the licensee failed to visually inspect each tube for pellets by shining a light in each end and checking for a clear path from the other end. Upon inspection at Mississauga Metals and Alloys, fuel pellets of enriched uranium-235 were discovered in two shipments of zirconium fuel tubes, made under export License XW003.

  b.   On August 20, 2003, with respect to materials being prepared for shipment to Mississauga Metals and Alloys, the licensee failed to remove all tools from toolbox trays, to shake the emptied drawers, and to inspect each drawer carefully using a flashlight to ensure no stowaway pellets or fragments existed in the inspected area.

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement VI).

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved, is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 070-00036/2003-004(DNMS) and Westinghouse's letter, dated November 12, 2003. However, you are required to submit a written statement or explanation pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201 if the description in our report and your letter does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to respond, clearly mark your response as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation; EA-03-182" and send it to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN:  Document Control Desk, Washington, DC 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region III, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, IL 60532-4351, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

If you contest this enforcement action, you should also provide a copy of your response, with the basis for your denial, to the Director, Office of Enforcement, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

If you choose to respond, your response will be made available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the NRC's document system (ADAMS), accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. Therefore, to the extent possible, the response should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be made available to the Public without redaction.

In accordance with 10 CFR 19.11, you may be required to post this Notice within two working days.

Dated this 22nd day of December 2003.

 

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