United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-538 - B&W Fuel Company

March 4, 1997

EA 96-538

B&W Fuel Company
Commercial Nuclear Fuel Plant d/b/a
Framatome Cogema Fuels
ATTN: Mr. Charles W. Carr, Vice President
Manufacturing and Field Services
P.O. Box 11646
Lynchburg, VA 34506-1646

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL 
          PENALTY - $12,500 
          (NRC Inspection Report No. 70-1201/96-202)

Dear Mr. Carr:

This refers to the special team inspection conducted on November 13 - 15, 1996, at the B&W Fuel Company (B&W) facility in Lynchburg, Virginia. The inspection included a review of circumstances that led to the reported event on November 13, 1996, of an unaccounted for low-enriched, unirradiated fuel assembly. The inspection report was issued on January 13, 1997. Confirmatory Action Letter, its addendum, and a response letter were issued to your staff on November 20, 1996, December 3, 1996, and January 22, 1997, respectively, concerning your root cause analysis and corrective action plan, future receipts of the assembly sea-vans, and resumption of fuel assembly downloading operation. A predecisional enforcement conference to discuss the apparent violations, their causes, and your corrective actions was held at the NRC Headquarters on January 27, 1997. A summary of this conference was sent to your staff by letter dated February 10, 1997.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice), and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report. Specifically, the violations included B&W's failure to: (1) follow its procedures for the downloading operation; (2) provide adequate procedures for the downloading operation; (3) conduct a reasonable survey of container #440/70-30, which contained the fuel assembly; (4) comply with numerous requirements for the shipment of licensed material; and (5) adequately implement material control and accounting (MC&A) procedures and practices to verify the presence of fuel assembly #31908.

Collectively, these violations are a significant regulatory concern because they are indicative of inadequate B&W management attention and involvement with all aspects of the downloading operation. The lack of management oversight is evidenced by the fact that opportunities were missed that could have prevented the event. As a result of B&W's failure to confirm the presence of special nuclear material (SNM) in the shipping container and to identify in a timely manner that SNM was missing from its inventory, the unirradiated fuel assembly was inadvertently returned in its original shipping container to its point of origin in Greifswald, Germany. In light of the loss of control of unirradiated radioactive fuel, the number of violations that are related to this single event, and the number of opportunities available that could have prevented the event, the violations have been classified in the aggregate in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level III problem.

The NRC acknowledges B&W's actions in response to this event and subsequent corrective actions. Specifically, your corrective actions described during the predecisional enforcement conference included: (1) initiation of a management oversight team and a self assessment team to assure that effective investigation would be performed and comprehensive corrective actions taken; (2) institution of a formalized examination and modification of administrative controls, procedures, and methods with emphasis on evaluation of risk in situations where conditions are changing or are non-standard; (3) revision of employee training syllabus to emphasize the need and importance of adequate procedures and strict adherence to procedures; (4) establishment of procedural requirements through full authority and control of a quality assurance plan for all operations involving SNM; (5) revision of all procedures relating to the downloading operation, radiation protection and survey, and shipping of licensed materials, to provide necessary details, independent verification, and sign-offs; and (6) revision of the Fundamental Nuclear Material Control Plan to correct deficiencies in the control program of SNM.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $12,500 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last 2 years1, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. The NRC determined that your initiative in identifying the problem requiring corrective action is noteworthy. However, given the ease of discovery of the problem, the prior opportunities that existed to identify the problem, and the fact that the violations were not identified as a result of a licensee self-monitoring effort, the NRC has determined that credit for identification is not warranted. Credit for your corrective actions, however, is warranted because your actions noted above were prompt and comprehensive.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of management oversight of operations involving control of licensed material and the need for identifying the problems before they occur, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice in the base amount of $12,500 for the Severity Level III problem described above.

You are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. In addition, given the fact that a broad spectrum of violations in your shipping program were identified, the NRC is concerned that such performance could occur in similar and other operations of the B&W Fuel Company. Therefore, in your response, you should document the specific actions taken and any additional actions you plan to prevent recurrence at each of your facilities. After reviewing your response to this Notice, the NRC will use your response, in part, to determine whether further enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

During the special team inspection, an apparent violation was identified for failure to adhere to procedures involving event notification to the NRC. This violation is not being cited because the NRC determined that, under the event circumstances, B&W's interpretation and actions related to reporting requirements were not unreasonable in view of the guidance provided in NUREG-1065, "Acceptable Standard Format and Content for the Fundamental Nuclear Material Control Plan (FNMCP) Required for Low-Enriched Uranium Facilities." However, the requirements in this area are being reviewed and will be the subject of a separate correspondence.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosure, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR). To the extent possible, as provided in the enclosed Notice, your response should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be released to the public and placed in the PDR without redaction.

                            Sincerely, 


                            Elizabeth Q. Ten Eyck, Director
                            Division of Fuel Cycle Safety
                               and Safeguards, NMSS

Docket No. 70-1201
License No. SNM-1168

Enclosure:
Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encl:
Mr. Robert B. Hoffman, President
B&W Fuel Company d/b/a
Framatome Cogema Fuels
3315 Old Forest Road
P.O. Box 10935
Lynchburg, VA 24506-0935

Ms. Gayle F. Elliott, Manager
Safety and Licensing
B&W Fuel Company


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
B&W Fuel Company                                               Docket No.  70-1201
Commercial Nuclear Fuel Plant                                  License No.  SNM-1168
Lynchburg, Virginia                                            EA 96-538

During a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) special inspection conducted on November 13-15, 1996, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the NRC proposes to impose a civil penalty pursuant to Section 234 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (Act), 42 U.S.C. 2282, and 10 CFR 2.205. The particular violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

A. License Condition No. S-1 of License No. SNM-1168 requires that licensed materials be used in accordance with statements, representations, and conditions of Part I of the licensee's application dated June 22, 1990, and supplements thereto.

Chapter 2, Paragraph 2.6 of the License Application requires, in part, that applicable procedures shall be available in the work area and adherence to procedures shall be required for all personnel.

Section 4.3.1.1 of Procedure MA-587, "Handling of NUKEM Shipping Container," Revision 0, approved June 12, 1996, requires operators to check that the container was unloaded and the interior was properly secured when preparing the empty container for shipment.

Contrary to the above, from September 14 through September 25, 1996, Procedure MA-587, "Handling of NUKEM Shipping Container," Revision 0, was not adhered to in that the operators performing fuel assembly off loading operations failed to ensure that fuel transport containers hed been unloaded. (01013)

B. License Condition No. S-1 of License No. SNM-1168 requires that licensed materials be used in accordance with statements, representations, and conditions of Part I of the licensee's application dated June 22, 1990, and supplements thereto.

Chapter 2, Paragraph 2.6 of the License Application requires, in part, that procedures for operations where nuclear and radiological safety are involved shall include specific reference to applicable safety requirements, and procedure and format shall be such that operations are clearly detailed and specific directions are provided for operation under normal and non-routine conditions.

Contrary to the above, since February 1996, Procedure MA-587, "Handling of NUKEM Shipping Container," Revision 0, approved June 12, 1996, was inadequate in that:

  1. No specific procedural guidance was given for fuel off loading operations,

  2. No independent verification of off loading was required,

  3. No procedural guidance was given for non-routine operations, and

  4. Required documentation of off loading operations was insufficient to track fuel movement. (01023)

C. 10 CFR 20.1501 requires that each licensee shall make or cause to be made surveys that are reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate the extent of radiation levels, and concentrations or quantities of radioactive materials, and the potential radiological hazards that could be present.

Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.1003, survey means an evaluation of the radiological conditions and potential hazards incident to the production, use, transfer, release, disposal, or presence of radioactive material or other sources of radiation.

Contrary to the above, from September 19 through September 25, 1996, the licensee failed to conduct a reasonable survey of fuel container #440/70-30 to assure compliance with 10 CFR 20.1501. Specifically, a radiological contamination survey of the inner portion of fuel transport container #440/70-30 was not performed after fuel was removed from the container and there were indications of external radiation pointing to the presence of radioactive material. (01033)

D. 10 CFR 71.5(a) requires that a licensee who transports licensed material outside of the site of usage, as specified in the NRC license, or where transport is on public highways, or who delivers licensed material to a carrier for transport, comply with the applicable requirements of the regulations appropriate to the mode of transport of the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 49 CFR Parts 170 through 189.

49 CFR 171.2(a) prohibits any person from offering hazardous material for transportation unless, among other requirements, the hazardous material is properly classed, described, packaged, marked, labeled, and in condition for shipment as required or authorized under the Hazardous Material Regulations (49 CFR Parts 171-177).

10 CFR 110.5 prohibits the export of special nuclear material (SNM), including unirradiated fuel, unless authorized by a general or specific license issued under Part 110. In addition, 49 CFR 173.477(b) and 173.478 require the approval of export shipments and the notifications to competent authorities for export shipments.

49 CFR 173.428 states, in part, that a packaging which previously contained Class 7 materials and is emptied of contents as far as practical, is excepted from shipping paper and certification, marking and labeling requirements, and other chapter requirements provided that certain requirements are met. Several of these requirements are delineated in 49 CFR 173.421.

49 CFR 173.421 excepts limited quantities of radioactive material, specified as radioactive material whose activity per package does not exceed the limits in 49 CFR 173.425, from the specification packaging, marking, and labeling requirements, and if not a hazardous substance or hazardous waste, the shipping paper and certification requirements of 49 CFR Parts 171-177, and the requirements of Subpart I of 49 CFR Part 173, provided, among other things, that the radiation level at any point on any external surface of the package does not exceed 0.005 millisievert per hour (0.5 millirem per hour).

49 CFR 172.702 requires that each HAZMAT employer shall ensure that each HAZMAT employee is trained and tested, and that no HAZMAT employee performs any function subject to the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 171-177 unless trained, in accordance with Subpart H of 49 CFR Part 172. The terms HAZMAT employer and HAZMAT employee are defined in 49 CFR 171.8.

Contrary to the above, on September 25, 1996, the licensee inadvertently shipped a unirradiated fuel assembly from their site in Lynchburg, Virginia, to an overseas location on Greifswald, Germany, and the licensee failed to comply with the transportation requirements for the shipment of licensed material specified in 10 CFR 71.5 and 49 CFR 170 through 189 in that:

  1. The shipment of transport container TE 440/70-30 was classed as non-hazardous, when in fact, unirradiated fuel assembly #31908, which contains hazardous material, was present;

  2. The shipment of transport container TE 440/70-30 failed to comply with several DOT hazard communication requirements, including those for shipping papers [49 CFR 172.200(a)] in that it failed to describe the hazardous material, marking [49 CFR 172.301(a)] in that it failed to mark the package with the proper shipping name and identification number, and labeling [49 CFR 403(a)] in that it failed to label the package in accordance with the requirements;

  3. The shipment of transport container TE 440/70-30 to Germany resulted in the export of unirradiated fuel assembly #31908, a quantity that requires an NRC specific license under 10 CFR 110.5. The licensee did not obtain the required export license for this shipment. Further, the shipment did not meet DOT's requirements regarding the approval of export shipments [49 CFR 173.477(b)], or regarding the notifications to competent authorities for export shipments (49 CFR 173.478);

  4. The licensee labeled a package as "Empty," but the package contained radioactive material and was not prepared for shipment, as required, in accordance with 49 CFR 173.421. Specifically, the licensee determined that the radiation level on the external surface of the package exceeded 0.5 millirem per hour, and offered the package to a carrier for transport, labeling the package as "empty"; and

  5. The licensee failed to provide training for one of its HAZMAT employees (the Health Physics technician that performed the outgoing radiological survey) as required by Subpart H to 49 CFR Part 172, and the licensee otherwise meets the definition of HAZMAT employer in 49 CFR 171.8. (01043)

E. License condition SG-1.1 states, in part, that the licensee shall follow Chapters 1.0 through 8.0 of its "Fundamental Nuclear Materials Control Plan."

10 CFR 74.31 requires the licensee's material control and accounting (MC&A) system to confirm the presence of special nuclear material (SNM).

10 CFR 74.31(c)(6) requires that licensees maintain current knowledge of items when the sum of the time of existence of an item, the time to make a record of the item, and the time necessary to locate the item exceeds 14 days, and also store and handle, or subsequently measure, items in a manner so that unauthorized removals of substantial quantities of material from items will be detected.

Sections 5.3, 5.6, and 5.8 of the licensee's Fundamental Nuclear Material Control (FNMC) Plan require that the licensee maintains current knowledge of items, detect unauthorized and unrecorded removal of items, and perform an item count to verify that the number of containers received agrees with the shipper's packing list.

10 CFR 74.31(c)(7) requires the licensee to promptly detect and resolve all significant shipper-receiver differences (SRD).

10 CFR 74.15(a) requires, in part, that each licensee who receives and special nuclear material shall complete a Nuclear Material Transaction Report in accordance with instructions in NUREG/BR-0006, "Instructions for Completing Nuclear Material Transaction Reports and Concise Note Forms." Section II of NUREG/BR-0006 states, in part, with exceptions not applicable here, that if delayed measurements are to be made, they must be completed and reported on a copy of the initial DOE/NRC Form 741 within thirty (30) days after receipt of each shipment.

Section 5.6.2 and 6.0 the FNMC Plan require that the licensee perform shipper-receiver comparisons and detect and resolve all significant SRD.

10 CFR 74.31(d) requires the licensee to maintain an MC&A record retention program.

Chapter 8 of the FNMC Plan requires the licensee to establish a record system and those records necessary to show that the nuclear material control system requirements of 10 CFR 74.31 have been met.

Contrary to the above, from September through November 1996, the licensee failed to adequately implement MC&A procedures and practices to verify the presence of fuel assembly #31908, to accurately account for the storage location, and to detect the occurrence of the missing assembly in that:

  1. The licensee's item control program failed to confirm the presence of fuel assembly #31908 and to detect the occurrence of the missing fuel assembly,

  2. The licensee failed to implement and maintain an item monitoring system that would verify the items for which the total length of time that the item exists plus the time to locate the item exceeds 14 days,

  3. The licensee failed to detect and resolve all significant shipper-receiver differences within the required 30-day time frame for SNM involving the downloading project of VVER fuel assemblies, and

  4. No records of measurements, transfer and shipment, including DOE/NRC Form 741, "Nuclear Material Transaction Report," were generated for the return shipment of fuel assembly #31908 to Germany. (01053)

These violations represent a Severity Level III Problem (Supplements V and VI).
Civil Penalty - $12,500.

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, B&W Fuel Company (Licensee) is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, within 30 days of the date of this Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and should include for each alleged violation: (1) admission or denial of the alleged violation, (2) the reasons for the violation if admitted, and if denied, the reasons why, (3) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (4) the corrective steps that will be taken to avoid further violations, and (5) the date when full compliance will be achieved.

If an adequate reply is not received within the time specified in this Notice, an order or a Demand for Information may be issued as why the license should not be modified, suspended, or revoked or why such other action as may be proper should not be taken. Consideration may be given to extending the response time for good cause shown. Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2232, this response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

Within the same time as provided for the response required above under 10 CFR 2.201, the Licensee may pay the civil penalty by letter addressed to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with a check, draft, money order, or electronic transfer payable to the Treasurer of the United States in the amount of the civil penalty proposed above, or the cumulative amount of the civil penalties if more than one civil penalty is proposed, or may protest imposition of the civil penalty in whole or in part, by a written answer addressed to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Should the Licensee fail to answer within the time specified, an order imposing the civil penalty will be issued. Should the Licensee elect to file an answer in accordance with 10 CFR 2.205 protesting the civil penalty, in whole or in part, such answer should be clearly marked as an "Answer to a Notice of Violation" and may: (1) deny the violations listed in this Notice, in whole or in part, (2) demonstrate extenuating circumstances, (3) show error in this Notice, or (4) show other reasons why the penalty should not be imposed. In addition to protesting the civil penalty in whole or in part, such answer may request remission or mitigation of the penalty.

In requesting mitigation of the proposed penalty, the factors addressed in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy should be addressed. Any written answer in accordance with 10 CFR 2.205 should be set forth separately from the statement or explanation in reply pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201, but may incorporate parts of the 10 CFR 2.201 reply by specific reference (e.g., citing page and paragraph numbers) to avoid repetition. The attention of the Licensee is directed to the other provisions of 10 CFR 2.205, regarding the procedure for imposing a civil penalty.

Upon failure to pay any civil penalty due which subsequently has been determined in accordance with the applicable provisions of 10 CFR 2.205, this matter may be referred to the Attorney General, and the penalty, unless compromised, remitted, or mitigated, may be collected by civil action pursuant to Section 234c of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2282c.

The response noted above (Reply to Notice of Violation, letter with payment of civil penalty, and Answer to a Notice of Violation) should be addressed to: Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-2738, with a copy to the Director, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Because your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR), to the extent possible, it should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be placed in the PDR without redaction. If personal privacy or proprietary information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, then please provide a bracketed copy of your response that identifies the information that should be protected and a redacted copy of your response that deletes such information. If you request withholding of such material, you must specifically identify the portions of your response that you seek to have withheld and provide in detail the bases for your claim of withholding (e.g., explain why the disclosure of information will create an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy or provide the information required by 10 CFR 2.790(b) to support a request for withholding confidential commercial or financial information). If safeguards information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, please provide the level of protection described in 10 CFR 73.21.

Dated at Rockville
this 4th day of March 1997


1. A Severity Level III problem with a $12,500 civil penalty was issued on January 30, 1996, for violations involving a failure to use shipping packages that conformed to the Certificates of Compliance, as documented in NRC Inspection Report No. 70-1201/95-02.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012