United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-249 - U. S. Enrichment Corporation

July 14, 1998



EA # 98-249; 98-250; 98-251

Mr. J. H. Miller
Vice President - Production
United States Enrichment Corporation
Two Democracy Center
6903 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD 20817

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY- $55,000 (NRC Inspection Report 70-7002/98005(DNMS))

Dear Mr. Miller

This refers to the inspection conducted March 9, 1998 through May 8, 1998, at the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio. The purpose of the inspection was to review the activities authorized by NRC Certificate Number GDP-2. The inspection report detailing our findings was issued on May 18, 1998. A predecisional enforcement conference was held with you and members of your staff on June 5, 1998, to discuss the apparent violations, the root causes, and the corrective actions. A summary report of the conference will be sent to you by separate correspondence.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding the violations are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

The most significant violation, which is described in Section I of the Notice, involves a programmatic deficiency in the maintenance and surveillance program for air-operated, safety-related valves at the Portsmouth plant. Specifically, during the inspection, NRC staff raised concerns about the ability of air-operated autoclave containment isolation valves to perform their intended safety function with a degraded plant air system. The air-operated isolation valves normally operate with nonsafety-related plant air, and have safety-related backup air reservoirs. At the time of the inspection, routine functional tests of the air-operated valves were not performed; however, a scheduled leak rate test was performed on each autoclave for the "pigtail" isolation valve. As a result of the NRC's concerns, you initiated testing of air-operated autoclave isolation valves, which identified that as of June 5, 1998, numerous valves were not capable of meeting the test acceptance criteria (24 failures out of 55 valves tested).

During the conference, your staff stated that the root cause for the violation in Section I was the failure to develop a testing program to demonstrate that autoclave air-to-close valves perform their design function after a loss of normal supply air. In addition, your staff stated that this violation should be categorized at Severity Level IV based on your assessment that there was no impact on safety. The NRC has considered all of the information surrounding this violation and concluded that while there were no actual safety consequences in this case, the violation is a significant safety concern because: (1) there was an increased potential for a significant release if a loss of plant air and a catastrophic rupture of a uranium hexafluoride cylinder had occurred concurrently; and (2) the root cause indicates a lack of fundamental understanding of the importance of demonstrating that safety system components will perform their intended safety functions over the full range of operating conditions. Further, this violation is of particular concern given the duration and number of test failures identified. Therefore, the violation has been categorized in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions (Enforcement Policy)," NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level III violation.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because Portsmouth has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two years, 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. Credit for identification is not warranted because NRC staff identified the valve issue and brought it to USEC's attention. However, credit for corrective action is warranted because you took prompt and comprehensive action to define the magnitude of the problem and to implement corrective actions. Specifically, the corrective actions described during the conference included: (1) declaring affected autoclaves inoperable; (2) declaring all safety-related systems with air-to-close valves either inoperable or performing an Operability Evaluation; (3) establishing criteria by which to test and repair the valves; (4) issuing by June 17, 1998, formal testing criteria to be used for surveillance testing of the backup air reservoir tanks; and (5) developing by July 10, 1998, an action plan to verify that design bases systems credited for backup are being properly tested.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of prompt identification of violations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty in the base amount of $55,000 for the Severity Level III violation.

The violations in Section II of the Notice involving improper installation of a containment valve actuator, failure to maintain a fluorinating environment for a uranium deposit greater than safe-mass, failure to report laboratory sample results, failure to implement maintenance procedures, and failure to perform adequate post-maintenance testing, are each categorized as Severity Level IV violations in accordance with the Enforcement Policy. At the conference, you provided information regarding one of the examples (Cell 29-3-6) of an apparent violation regarding the failure to maintain a fluorinating environment for which you believed a violation did not occur. After reviewing the information presented at the conference, the NRC concluded that no violation of Technical Safety Requirements occurred for Cell 29-3-6.

During the conference, one apparent violation regarding exceeding your possession limit for enriched uranium was discussed. In your presentation, you stated that a possession limit violation had not occurred, based on a December 20, 993 Joint Statement of Understanding between the NRC and the Department of Energy. Further, you stated that Compliance Plan Issue A4 did not clearly describe several issues regarding possession of uranium enriched to greater than ten percent U-235. Upon further review, the NRC concluded that the enriched uranium possession limits of Portsmouth Safety Analysis Report, Section 1.5 were violated. However, this non-repetitive, licensee-identified and corrected violation is being treated as a Non-Cited Violation in accordance with Section VII.B.1 of the NRC Enforcement Policy.

You are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. The NRC will use your response, in part, to determine whether further enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

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.

  Sincerely,
 
Original Signed by
 
Carl J. Paperiello
Acting Regional Administrator

Docket No. 70-7002
License No. GDP-2

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

United States Enrichment Corporation
Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant
Piketon, Ohio
  Docket No. 70-7002
Certificate No. GDP-2
EAs 98-249; 250; 251

During an NRC inspection conducted March 9, 1998 through May 8, 1998, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," (Enforcement Policy), 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 violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

I. Violation Assessed a Civil Penalty

Technical Safety Requirement Section 2.1.3.5 titled, "Autoclave Shell High Pressure Containment Shutdown," requires that the autoclave shell high pressure containment system shall be operable.

Technical Safety Requirement Section 1.2.13, requires, in part, that a safety system component shall be operable or have operability when it is capable of performing its specified function(s), and when other auxiliary equipment that are required for the safety system component to perform its specified function(s) are also capable of performing their related support function(s).

Contrary to the above, prior to April 9, 1998, Autoclave Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in Building X-343 were operated with an autoclave shell high pressure containment safety system component incapable of performing a specified safety function. Specifically, as-found testing conducted April 10 through April 21, 1998, of the air-to-close autoclave containment valves for Autoclaves 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in Building X-343, demonstrated that 7 of 25 of the air-to-close containment valves failed the test acceptance criteria and were not capable of performing the related support function. (01013)

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement VI).
Civil Penalty $55,000

II. Violations Not Assessed a Civil Penalty

  A.    Technical Safety Requirement Section 2.1.3.5 titled, "Autoclave Shell High Pressure Containment Shutdown," requires that the autoclave shell high pressure containment system shall be operable.

Technical Safety Requirement Section 1.2.13, requires, in part, that a safety system component shall be operable or have operability when it is capable of performing its specified function(s), and when other auxiliary equipment that are required for the safety system component to perform its specified function(s) are also capable of performing their related support function(s).

Contrary to the above, from March 25 through March 27, 1998, Autoclave Number 4 in Building X-343 was operated with an autoclave shell high pressure containment safety system component incapable of performing a specified safety function. Specifically, on March 24, 1998, a containment valve actuator was incorrectly installed, causing the FV-416X containment valve to work "backwards" while the autoclave was operated for two heating and feeding cycles. (02014)

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

  B. Technical Safety Requirement 2.2.3.15, "Moderation Control," limiting condition for operation requires, in part, for cascade operational modes I, II, III, IV, V and VI, that moderation control shall be maintained when the UO2F2 (uranyl fluoride) mass is greater than safe mass.

Action B.1 of Technical Safety Requirement 2.2.3.15, requires, in part, that equipment containing UO2F2 deposits greater than safe mass not in a fluorinating environment and in Mode VI, to be pressurized with plant air or N2 (nitrogen) to greater than or equal to 14 psia within eight hours after a UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) negative was obtained in the system.

Contrary to the above, from March 31, 1998 through April 8, 1998, Cell 29-5-2 contained a UO2F2 deposit with an enrichment of 5.5 percent of approximately 6238 grams (+/- 3119 grams) of uranium-235, a deposit greater than safe mass, was not in a fluorinating environment and in Mode VI, and was not pressurized with plant air or N2 to greater than or equal to 14 psia within eight hours as required. (03014)

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

  C. Technical Safety Requirement Section 3.9.1, requires, in part, that written procedures shall be implemented for the activities described in Safety Analysis Report (SAR) Section 6.11.4.1 and listed in Appendix A to SAR Section 6.11. Appendix A to SAR Section 6.11 requires communication activities to be covered by written procedures.

Section 6.4 of written Procedure XP2-TS-TS1032 Revision 0, dated September 11, 1996, titled "Communications with Cascade Operations," requires, in part, that process services staff shall report sample results (requested by the Cascade Controller) to the Cascade Controller as the sample results become available.

Contrary to the above, process services staff failed to report sample results (requested by the Cascade Controller) to the Cascade Controller as the sample results became available for Cell 29-5-2 on March 31, 1998. (02034)

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

  D. Technical Safety Requirement Section 3.9.1, requires, in part, that written procedures shall be implemented for activities described in Safety Analysis Report (SAR), Section 6.11.4.1, and listed in Appendix A to SAR Section 6.11. Appendix A to SAR Section 6.11 requires maintenance activities to be covered by written procedures.

Section 8.2.12 of written Procedure XP4-TE-MM4104, Revision 0, Change C, dated January 15, 1997, titled, "Valve Actuator Removal, Replacement and Installation," requires, in part, that the maintenance staff performing the work activity ensure that each of the following has a "V" stamped on it: valve end of the torque shaft; valve side of the actuator housing; and, valve end of the coupling between the torque shaft and the valve stem. In addition, Section 8.2.24 directs the maintenance staff performing the work activity to request Operations personnel to perform an operational check.

Contrary to the above, on March 24, 1998, maintenance staff performing an actuator replacement on autoclave containment valve FV-416X did not ensure that a "V" was stamped on the valve end of the torque shaft, the valve side of the actuator housing, and the valve end of the coupling between the torque shaft and the valve stem. Further, maintenance staff did not request that an operational check be performed on the repaired actuator. (04014)

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

  E. 10 CFR 76.93, "Quality Assurance," requires, in part, that the Corporation shall establish, maintain, and execute a quality assurance program satisfying each of the applicable requirements of ASME NQA-1-1989, "Quality Assurance Program Requirements for Nuclear Facilities."

Section 2.11 of the Quality Assurance Program titled, "Test Control," requires, in part, that the test control system for "Q" items, is planned and executed to assure that testing is performed to demonstrate that safety system components will perform satisfactorily in service.

Contrary to the above, on March 24, 1998, the post-maintenance test plannedand executed for Work Order Number R9811626-01, failed to demonstrate that the "Q" safety system component, autoclave containment valve FV-4166X, would perform satisfactorily in service by closing upon a containment signal. (05014)

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 76.70, the United States Enrichment Corporation (Certificatee) 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 Certificate of Compliance 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 76.70, the Certificatee 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 Certificatee fail to answer within the time specified, an order imposing the civil penalty will be issued. Should the Certificatee 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 violation 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 76.70, but may incorporate parts of the 10 CFR 76.70 reply by specific reference (e.g., citing page and paragraph numbers) to avoid repetition. The attention of the Certificatee 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: James Lieberman, 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 Regional Administrator, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region III, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois 60532 and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the facility that is the subject of this Notice.

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 Lisle, Illinois
this 14th day of July 1998

 

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