United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-419 - Virginia Power Company

October 29, 1997

EA 97-419

Virginia Power Company
ATTN: Mr. Doug Holley
Plant Manager
Chesterfield Power Station
500 Coverdale Road
Chester, Virginia 23836

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION 
          (NRC INSPECTION REPORT 999-90002/97-07)

Dear Mr. Holley:

This refers to the special, announced inspection conducted by this office on August 14, 1997, at your facility in Chester, Virginia. The purpose of the inspection was to review the circumstances surrounding the unauthorized removal of a generally licensed fixed gauge from equipment at your facility. The results of the inspection were discussed with you on August 14, 1997, and were formally transmitted to you by letter dated September 4, 1997. That letter also provided you the opportunity to respond to the apparent violations in writing or request a predecisional enforcement conference. Subsequently, you declined a conference, and by letter dated September 29, 1997, you submitted additional information to us regarding the apparent violations, the root causes, and your corrective actions to preclude recurrence. We have reviewed the inspection results and the additional information you provided and have concluded that sufficient information is available to determine the appropriate enforcement action in this matter.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that was provided in your September 29, 1997, letter, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice), and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report. Violation A involves the unauthorized removal, on June 17, 1997, of a generally licensed fixed gauge containing about 72 millicuries (mCi) of cesium 137 (Cs-137) from its permanent mounting to a fly ash hopper. The gauge was removed by a contract worker who was neither trained nor licensed to perform such activities. Your Radiation Safety Officer discovered that the gauge had been moved from its mounting on August 12, 1997. The root cause of Violation A was the failure to control contract work affecting the gauge. You failed to inform the contractor of the presence of the gauge on the fly ash hopper before authorizing work and failed to require the use of established procedures to control the work.

Violation A represents a significant regulatory and safety concern because individuals working near the removed gauge were unaware of the potential hazard and consequently took no action to monitor their radiation exposure or control the device. It was fortuitous that the device's shutter was not in a fully open position during the period in which it was not properly controlled. Due to the lack of knowledge by the contract workers, the gauge also could have been lost or disposed of inadvertently. This violation indicates a significant lack of control of the gauge, and a lack of training in security and radiation protection measures established to control licensed material at your facility. Therefore, in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, Violation A is classified as a Severity Level III violation.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $5,550 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement action within the last two years or two inspections, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process described in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. As documented in detail in the inspection report and your September 29, 1997, response, your corrective actions included prompt investigation and correction of the violation, staff training on restrictions associated with instrumentation containing radioactive material, and the implementation of steps to ensure that labels remain legible. Based on these actions, the NRC determined that credit was warranted for the factor of Corrective Action , resulting in no civil penalty for the Severity Level III violation.

Therefore, to encourage prompt identification and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty.

Violation B, characterized as a Severity Level IV violation, involves the failure to maintain the radiation warning labels of fixed gauges in a legible condition.

The NRC has concluded that the reasons for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance will be achieved are adequately addressed on the docket in your letter to the NRC dated September 29, 1997. Therefore, no response to this letter is required unless the description therein or described above 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. With issuance of the Notice of Violation, EEI 45-00048-17/97-01-01 and EEI 45-00048-17/97-01-02 are closed.

In addition, your September 29, 1997, response notified the NRC that you have completed the four actions specified in NRC Confirmatory Action Letter No. 2-97-005 issued by this office on August 18, 1997. Based on the information provided in your letter, we have concluded that the requirements stated in the August 18, 1997, Confirmatory Action Letter have been satisfied. Consequently, this Confirmatory Action Letter is considered closed.

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

                              Sincerely,


                              Luis A. Reyes
                              Regional Administrator

Docket No. 999-90002
General License (10 CFR 31.5)

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/encl:
Commonwealth of Virginia


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
Virginia Power Company                            Docket No. 030-03297
Chesterfield Power Station                        License No. 45-00048-17 
                                                  EA 97-419

During an NRC Inspection conducted on August 14, 1997, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

A. 10 CFR 31.5(c)(3) requires that any person who acquires, receives, possesses, uses, or transfers byproduct material in a device pursuant to a general license shall assure that tests for leakage of radioactive material and proper operation of the on-off mechanism and indicator, if any, and other testing, installation, servicing, and removal from installation involving the radioactive material, its shielding or containment, are performed: (1) in accordance with the instructions provided by the labels; or (2) by a person holding a specific license pursuant to 10 CFR Parts 30 and 32 or from an Agreement State to perform such activities.

Contrary to the above, on June 17, 1997, the licensee failed to assure that activities involving removal of the licensee's Kay Ray model 5062 fixed gauge containing 72 millicuries of cesium 137 was performed in accordance with the instructions provided by the labels or by a person holding a specific license pursuant to 10 CFR Parts 30 and 32 or from an Agreement State to perform such activities. Specifically, the gauge was removed by a person employed by a contractor who was not specifically licensed to remove generally licensed fixed gauges. (01013)

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

B. 10 CFR 31.5(c)(1) requires that any person who acquires, receives, possesses, uses or transfers byproduct material in a device pursuant to a general license shall assure that all labels affixed to the device at the time of receipt and bearing a statement that removal of the label is prohibited are maintained thereon and shall comply with all instructions and precautions provided by such labels.

Contrary to the above, as of August 14, 1997, the licensee did not assure that labels on various fixed gauges were maintained on the devices. Specifically, required labels on fixed gauges mounted on fly ash hoppers were obscured by fly ash or other materials and were not legible. (02014)

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

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance will be achieved are already adequately addressed on the docket in your letter to the NRC dated September 29, 1997. However, Virginia Power Company is required to submit a written statement or explanation pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201 if the description therein 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 Notice of Violation," and send it to the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, D. C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region II, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U. S. C. 2232, any response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

If you choose to provide a response, it will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR), and 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.

Dated at Atlanta, Georgia
this 29th day of October 1997

 

 

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