United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-99-154 - Framatome ANP Richland, Inc.

June 5, 2001

EA-99-154

Mr. John Matheson
Vice President and Operating Director
Framatome ANP Richland, Inc.
2101 Horn Rapids Road
Richland, Washington 99352

SUBJECT:   NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC INSPECTION REPORT 70-1257/97-04 AND INVESTIGATION REPORT NO. 4-1997-033)

Dear Mr. Matheson:

This refers to the referenced inspection and investigation of uranium dioxide (UO2) shipments made by Framatome ANP Richland, Inc. (formerly Siemens Power Corporation) in 1996 and 1997. Based on the inspection and investigation, the NRC identified several apparent violations of NRC transportation requirements associated with an August 27, 1996 shipment, and notified your organization on January 31, 2001, that the NRC was considering escalated enforcement action. We also notified you that we were concerned that the apparent violations associated with this shipment may have been committed deliberately.

On February 22, 2001, we provided Framatome a letter describing the apparent violations and a factual summary of the investigation report. On April 17, 2001, a closed, transcribed predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the NRC's Arlington, Texas office with members of your staff to discuss the apparent violations, their significance, their root causes, and your corrective actions.

At the conference, Framatome acknowledged the violations, denied that there was any willful intent to commit the violations, contended that the violations posed no potential to result in an accidental criticality, and described corrective actions taken since the violations were discovered by Framatome in early 1997. On May 11, 2001, Framatome submitted a letter to the NRC providing additional information requested at the conference, including information that Framatome was relying upon to conclude that accidental criticality was not a concern.

Based on our review of the information developed during the inspection and investigation, and the information that you provided during and following the conference, we have determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and include: (1) the failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the competent authority certificate (CAC) for NT-IX shipping containers; (2) proceeding to export with reason to believe that the requirements of 10 CFR Part 71 had not been met; (3) certifying that a shipment met the requirements of the Department of Transportation (DOT) when in fact it did not; and 4) the failure to follow the requirements of your Safety Manual relative to maintaining copies of CACs in appendices to the manual. We note that the first three violations, while applicable to shipments made in December 1996 and February 1997, focus on the August 27, 1996 shipment, and the fourth violation focuses on the latter two shipments.

The corrective actions described by Framatome in documents submitted to the NRC during the investigation of the overweight shipments and at the conference include: enhancement and formalization of the process for the receipt and dissemination of new or revised CACs, including the review of any changes made to the CACs; formalization and expansion of the role of the Manufacturing Quality Team (MQT) relative to all shipping containers; development and use of a powder loading parameter sheet; and improved definition and documentation of final shipment inspections, sign-offs and certifications. In addition, Framatome described a number of actions designed to enhance training and improve knowledge of the requirements of 10 CFR Part 71, as well as enhanced management oversight of transportation activities.

The NRC carefully reviewed the information Framatome provided regarding the potential for accidental criticality and whether there was any willful intent to commit the violations. We accept the results of Framatome's criticality analyses indicating that the three shipments made with more UO2 per container than was authorized did not pose a credible potential for accidental criticality during transport. Thus, from a safety perspective, the violations associated with the specific shipments that violated the CAC requirements were not risk significant and would normally be classified at Severity Level IV. With regard to willfulness, the NRC does not believe the available evidence supports a conclusion that Framatome personnel deliberately violated the container loading limits in making the August 27, 1996 shipment. However, the NRC does believe there were elements of careless disregard associated with this shipment. Specifically, employees of Framatome had knowledge that the weight limits were going to change before the revised CAC was issued, yet took no action when they received the revised CAC to determine whether the weight limits had changed. Framatome personnel also took no action prior to or on the date of the issuance of the revised CAC to assure that the shipment would be made in compliance with the revised CAC. To the contrary, as indicated in the testimony of several Framatome employees involved in this matter, the primary focus was on obtaining the CAC so that the shipment could occur, as scheduled, on August 27, 1996. We note, for example, that the shipping certifications for the August 27 shipment, certifying that the shipment met all DOT requirements, all were signed on August 26, 1996, the day before Framatome received the revised CAC and before Framatome was in a position to know the container weight limits.

Thus, while the violations associated with the specific shipments were not significant from a safety standpoint, the circumstances surrounding the August 27 shipment leads the NRC to conclude that Framatome employees acted with careless disregard for the requirements that were imposed by the CAC. Based on this determination, the NRC has classified the violations associated with the August 27 shipment as a Severity Level III problem in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600. We assigned a single severity level to the violations as a "problem" since they all stemmed from the same root cause or causes and are closely related.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy in effect when the violations occurred in 1996, a base civil penalty in the amount of $13,750 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because the violations involved careless disregard, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Since Framatome identified in early 1997 the failure to comply with Revision 4 of the CAC, which ultimately led to the identification of all of the overweight shipments, the NRC has determined that Framatome is deserving of identification credit. Based on the numerous corrective actions that Framatome has taken to improve its processing of changes to CACs, as discussed above, the NRC has determined that Framatome is deserving of corrective action credit.

Therefore, in recognition of your identification of these violations and your comprehensive corrective actions to prevent a recurrence, 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 problem constitutes escalated enforcement action, that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

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 made available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the Publicly Available Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS). ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public NRC Library).

Sincerely,

  /RA/

  Ellis W. Merschoff
Regional Administrator

Docket No.: 70-1257
License No.: SNM-1227

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/Enclosure:

State of Washington

Robert Freeman, Manager, Regulatory Affairs


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Framatome ANP Richland, Inc.
Richland, Washington
  Docket No. 70-1257
License No. SNM-1227
EA-99-154

During an NRC inspection conducted April 14-18, 1997, and an investigation conducted from April 29, 1997 to May 11, 1999, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

A.   10 CFR 71.3 states: Except as authorized in a general license or a specific license issued by the Commission, or as exempted in this part, no licensee may (a) Deliver licensed material to a carrier for transport; or (b) Transport licensed material.

10 CFR 71.16(a) states that a general license is issued to any licensee of the Commission to transport, or to deliver to a carrier for transport, licensed material in a package, the design of which has been approved in a foreign national competent authority certificate that has been revalidated by DOT as meeting the applicable requirements of 49 CFR 171.12.

10 CFR 71.16(d) states, in part, that this general license applies only to a licensee who (1) Has a copy of the applicable certificate, the revalidation, and the drawings and other documents referenced in the certificate, relating to the use and maintenance of the packaging and the actions to be taken before shipment; and (2) Complies with the terms and conditions of the certificate and revalidation.

Contrary to the above, on August 27, 1996, the licensee failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the applicable certificate when it shipped licensed material in packages, the design of which had been approved in a foreign national competent authority certificate and revalidated by DOT. Specifically, the licensee shipped for export approximately 158 NT-IX shipping containers which contained uranium dioxide (UO2) powder in excess of the applicable weight limits contained in the U.S. DOT Competent Authority Certificate (CAC) No. USA/0442/AF-85, Revision 4, issued for the NT-IX containers on August 27, 1996.

B.   10 CFR 71.3 states: Except as authorized in a general license or a specific license issued by the Commission, or as exempted in this part, no licensee may (a) Deliver licensed material to a carrier for transport; or (b) Transport licensed material.

10 CFR 71.16(a) states that a general license is issued to any licensee of the Commission to transport, or to deliver to a carrier for transport, licensed material in a package, the design of which has been approved in a foreign national competent authority certificate (CAC) that has been revalidated by DOT as meeting the applicable requirements of 49 CFR 171.12.

10 CFR 71.16(d) states, in part, that this general license applies only to a licensee who (1) Has a copy of the applicable certificate, the revalidation, and the drawings and other documents referenced in the certificate, relating to the use and maintenance of the packaging and the actions to be taken before shipment; and (2) Complies with the terms and conditions of the certificate and revalidation.

10 CFR 110.50 (a)(7) states: A licensee shall not proceed to export or import and shall notify the Commission promptly if he knows or has reason to believe that the packaging requirements of Part 71 of this chapter have not been met.

Contrary to the above requirements, on August 27, 1996, the licensee proceeded to export licensed material in the form of UO2 powder despite having reason to believe that the packaging requirements of Part 71 had not been met. Specifically, the licensee had knowledge prior to August 27, 1996, that the permissible weight limits for UO2 powder for the model NT-IX radioactive materials shipping package would be lowered with the issuance of Revision 4 of the U.S. DOT CAC. In fact, Revision 4 of the U.S. DOT CAC was issued on August 27, 1996, and did lower the permissible weight limits for UO2 powder. Despite knowledge that the weight limits would be lowered, the licensee proceeded to ship for export approximately 158 NT-IX shipping containers which contained UO2) powder in excess of the applicable weight limits contained in the Revision 4 of the U.S. DOT CAC, in violation of Part 71 requirements.

C.   10 CFR 71.5 (a) requires that a licensee who transports licensed material outside 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 Department of Transportation (DOT) in 49 CFR Parts 170 through 189 appropriate to the mode of transport.

49 CFR 172.204 (a), shipper's certification states, in part, that each person who offers a hazardous material for transportation shall certify that the material is offered for transportation in accordance with this subchapter by printing on the shipping paper containing the required shipping description the certification contained in paragraph (a)(1) of this section or the certification (declaration) containing the language contained in paragraph (a)(2) of this section: (1) "This is to certify that the above-named materials are properly classified, described, packaged, marked and labeled, and are in proper condition for transportation according to the applicable regulations of the Department of Transportation." or, (2) "I hereby declare that the contents of this consignment are fully and accurately described above by the proper shipping name, and are classified, packaged, marked and labeled/placarded, and are in all respects in proper condition for transport according to applicable international and national governmental regulations."

Contrary to the above requirements, on August 27, 1996, the licensee made an export shipment of UO2 powder in which the shipping papers for Shipment No. NFI-113/Trucks 1 through 6, were signed certifying "This is to certify that the above-named materials are properly classified, described, packaged, marked and labeled and are in proper condition for transportation according to the applicable regulations of the Department of Transportation." Contrary to the signed certification and 10 CFR 71.5 (a), the shipment did not comply with the restricted weight limits for UO2 powder specified in U.S. DOT CAC No. USA/0442/AF-85, Revision 4.

D.   Special Nuclear Material License No. SNM-1227, Part I, License Conditions, Section 2.5 stated, in part, that SPC (referring to Siemens Power Corporation, now Framatome) conducts its business in accordance with a system of Standard Operating Procedures, Company Standards and Policy Guides, and that SPC is committed to controlling activities in accordance with these approved written procedures, standards, and guides.

Part II of Special Nuclear Material License, Section 11.4, Operating Procedures, stated, in part, that there are mini-libraries located within the various operating facilities which contain copies of the approved operating procedures for ease of access by operating personnel.

SPC's Safety Manual, EMF-30, Revision 23, issued April 19, 1996, Chapter 5, Radioactive Material Shipping Standard, Section 1.0, Introduction, stated, in part, that the appendices to this chapter contain copies of certificates (licenses) which include descriptions, limits, controls, and approvals by government authorities such as DOT and NRC, associated with shipping containers typically used by SPC.

Contrary to the above, as of December 4, 1996, and February 12, 1997, copies of the applicable U.S. DOT Competent Authority Certificate (CAC) associated with the NT-IX shipping containers were not contained in the appendices to Chapter 5 of the licensee's Safety Manual (Appendix N for the NT-IX containers), and were not available in the mini-libraries within the various operating facilities. Specifically, the licensee had discontinued maintaining copies of the applicable certificates in the appendices to Chapter 5 of the Safety Manual, and had developed an informal, non-proceduralized process for maintaining copies of certificates. As a result, licensee personnel responsible for packing UO2 powder into NT-IX containers for shipments made on December 4, 1996 and February 12, 1997, were unaware that Revision 4 of U.S. DOT CAC No. USA/0442/AF-85 had been issued on August 27, 1996, and had lowered the quantities of UO2 powder that could be loaded into the NT-IX containers. This resulted in these shipments exceeding the allowable container weight limits and violating DOT and NRC requirements.

These violations represent a Severity Level III problem (Supplement V).

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Framatome ANP Richland, Inc., is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, DC 20555, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region IV, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and should include for each violation: (1) the reason for the violation, or, if contested, the basis for disputing the violation or severity level, (2) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (3) the corrective steps that will be taken to avoid further violations, and (4) the date when full compliance will be achieved. Your response may reference or include previous docketed correspondence, if the correspondence adequately addresses the required response. 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 to why the license should not be modified, suspended, or revoked, or why such other action as may be proper should not be taken. Where good cause is shown, consideration will be given to extending the response time.

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.

Because your response will be made available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the Publicly Available Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS), to the extent possible, it should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be made available to the public without redaction. ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public NRC Library). 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 this 5th day of June 2001

 

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