United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-00-163- Browns Ferry (Tennessee Valley Authority)

October 27, 2000

EA-00-163

Tennessee Valley Authority
ATTN: Mr. J. A. Scalice
            Chief Nuclear Officer and
             Executive Vice President
6A Lookout Place
1101 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND EXERCISE OF ENFORCEMENT DISCRETION, BROWNS FERRY NUCLEAR PLANT (NRC OFFICE OF INVESTIGATIONS REPORT NO. 2-1999-028 AND INSPECTION REPORT NOS. 50-259/00-03, 50-260/00-03, 50-296/00-03)

Dear Mr. Scalice:

This is in reference to an investigation conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Office of Investigations (OI) between September 21, 1999 and June 15, 2000, and an inspection completed on June 24, 2000. The purpose of the OI investigation and inspection was to review the circumstances involving an individual formerly employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (BFN), who failed to perform measuring and test equipment (M&TE) nonconformance evaluations in accordance with Technical Specification required site procedures.

The results of the OI investigation and inspection were formally transmitted to you by letter dated July 27, 2000. Our letter also provided you the opportunity to either respond to the apparent violation in writing or request a predecisional enforcement conference. By letter dated August 25, 2000, you responded to the apparent violation and addressed the root causes and your corrective actions to prevent recurrence. We have reviewed the 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 investigation and our review and follow-up of the information provided in your response of August 25, 2000, 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 involves the failure to adhere to TVA procedures as required by Technical Specification 5.4.1, related to out-of-tolerance M&TE. During a self-assessment in June 1999, your staff identified that certain procedurally required actions had not been taken in response to numerous out-of-tolerance M&TE. Site procedures required that upon being informed (in this case, by TVA's Central Laboratory Field Testing Services) that M&TE was out-of-tolerance, the M&TE Program Administrator was required to issue and/or disposition non-conformance evaluations for those plant components tested or inspected using the out-of-tolerance M&TE. The purpose of a nonconformance evaluation is, among other reasons, to initiate the site review process to ensure that plant components have not been negatively affected by the out-of-tolerance M&TE, and to initiate action to address plant components that have been affected. Your review determined that from June 1997 to June 1999, approximately 500 nonconformance evaluations were not properly issued and/or dispositioned. After TVA identified the full scope of unprocessed nonconformance evaluations, your staff's reevaluation of all nonconformance evaluations determined that plant component operability, and in particular, safety related component operability, was unaffected. The NRC's OI investigation concluded that the failure of the M&TE Program Administrator to issue and/or disposition nonconformance evaluations for the out-of-tolerance M&TE was deliberate. Based on the deliberate aspects of this matter, the violation has been categorized at Severity III, in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions - May 1, 2000" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600.

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 your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement action in the past two years, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process described in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Your letter of August 25, 2000, described your corrective actions in response to this issue, which included: (1) an evaluation of the impact of the unprocessed nonconformance evaluations on plant equipment; (2) an overall assessment of the M&TE program to examine compliance with internal governing documents and policies; (3) increasing the awareness of M&TE issues at the site by a weekly review of nonconformance evaluations during the Plan-Of-The-Day meeting; (4) a briefing of senior site managers on the circumstances of this particular violation; (5) the development of a new training course for first line supervisors to improve their awareness of the potential for the type of behavior encountered in this particular instance, and methods of detection; and (6) inclusion of the M&TE program in the BFN Programs and Process Core Assessment program, which will re-assess the site M&TE program in June of 2001.

As stated in our July 27, 2000 letter, the NRC initially was concerned that management oversight of the M&TE program failed to detect this situation during the two year period it was occurring, and requested that TVA address any management oversight aspects of this issue. Your response referenced, as background information, the performance of M&TE periodic status reports. The purpose of these status reports, as you indicated, was to provide feedback to management as a means to ensure that all nonconformance evaluations were being properly investigated in a timely manner. As stated in your letter, four status reports were performed by the M&TE Program Administrator from 1997 to 1999 and were submitted to his management superiors. Based on our subsequent review and follow-up of the four audit reports, we have identified that the audit reports contained only one month of nonconformance evaluation data. Based on the NRC's discussions with TVA staff, it appears that the intent of these audit reports was to provide six months of nonconformance data to plant supervision. However, this discrepancy was apparently not recognized by TVA supervision at the time the audits were provided to them, nor was the discrepancy identified during TVA's review of this matter. The NRC has concluded that BFN supervisory review of the audit reports during the time of the M&TE Program Administrator's deliberate misconduct was inadequate, in that the review failed to consider that a significant quantity of nonconformance evaluation data was not submitted for review. An adequate review of the audit reports and the work of the M&TE Program Administrator may have provided management a possible opportunity to identify the violation earlier.

More importantly, your response of August 25, 2000, indicated that an overall assessment of the M&TE program was conducted to examine compliance with internal governing documents and policies. However, the omitted data issue was not addressed by TVA. The failure to recognize the omitted data supports a conclusion that your review of the factors stemming from the violation was not adequate to fully identify management oversight deficiencies. As such, this management oversight failure was not considered in the development of TVA's corrective actions for this issue. Therefore, the NRC determined that credit is not warranted for the factor of Corrective Action.

This assessment normally would result in a proposed civil penalty of $55,000. However, the NRC may refrain from proposing a civil penalty for a Severity Level III violation in accordance with Section VII.B.6 of the Enforcement Policy. In this case, the NRC has concluded that the underlying safety significance involving the unprocessed nonconformance evaluations was low, because safety related plant component operability was unaffected. Therefore, with approval of the Director, Office of Enforcement, and in consultation with the Deputy Executive Director for Reactor Programs, I have been authorized to propose that no civil penalty be assessed in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty. Please note that an Order Prohibiting Involvement in NRC Licensed Activities (Effective Immediately) has been issued to the former employee responsible for the deliberate misconduct. A copy of the Order is enclosed for your information.

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 and its enclosures, TVA's letter dated August 25, 2000, and your response to the Notice will be available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR) or from the Publicly Available Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS). To the extent possible, your response should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be placed in the PDR and PARS without redaction. ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public NRC Library).

If you have any question regarding this matter, please contact Paul Fredrickson, Chief, Projects Branch 6 at 404-562-4530.

Sincerely,

/RA/

Luis A. Reyes
Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-259, 50-260, 50-296
License Nos. DPR-33, DPR-52, DPR-68

Enclosure:  Notice of Violation

cc w/encl:

Karl W. Singer
Senior Vice President
Nuclear Operations
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution

Jack A. Bailey, Vice President
Engineering and Technical Services
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution

John T. Herron
Site Vice President
Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution

R. J. Adney, General Manager
Nuclear Assurance
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution
General Counsel
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution

Ashok S. Bahtnager, Plant Manager
Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution

Mark J. Burzynski, Manager
Nuclear Licensing
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution

Timothy E. Abney, Manager
Licensing and Industry Affairs
Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant
Tennessee Valley Authority
Electronic Mail Distribution

State Health Officer
Alabama Dept. of Public Health
RSA Tower - Administration
Suite 1552
P. O. Box 303017
Montgomery, AL 36130-3017


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Tennessee Valley Authority
Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant
Docket Nos.: 50-259, 50-260, 50-296
License Nos. DPR-33, DPR-52, DPR-68
EA-00-163

During an investigation conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Office of Investigations (OI) between September 21, 1999 and June 15, 2000, and an inspection completed on June 24, 2000, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions - May 1, 2000," NUREG-1600, the violation is listed below:

Technical Specification 5.4.1 requires written procedures be established, implemented, and maintained covering the applicable procedures recommended in Regulatory Guide 1.33, Revision 2, Appendix A, February 1978. Appendix A, Section 8, specifically addresses procedures for control of measuring and test equipment. Appendix A further states that procedures of a type appropriate to the circumstances should be provided to ensure that tools, gauges, instruments, controls, and other measuring and test devices are properly controlled, calibrated, and adjusted at specified periods to maintain accuracy.
Browns Ferry Site Standard Practice Procedure (SSP)-6.7, Control of Measuring and Test Equipment (M&TE), Revision 8A, Effective May 27, 1997 through June 1, 1998, Step 3.14.A, states that nonconformance evaluations shall be issued for the following conditions: lost M&TE or standards, out-of-tolerance M&TE or plant standards, damaged or otherwise defective M&TE or plant standards, and disassembled M&TE or plant standards. Step 3.14.E states that all nonconformance evaluations should be completed within 30 calendar days of the site receipt of the initiating document. An extension of up to ten calendar days may be approved by the Plant Manager, or designee, using Appendix H.
Tennessee Valley Authority Standard Programs and Processes Procedure (SPP)-6.4, Measuring and Test Equipment, Revision 0, Effective May 29, 1998, Step 3.15.1, states that nonconformance evaluations shall be issued to determine the validity and acceptability of previous work for the following conditions: lost M&TE or standards, out-of-tolerance M&TE or plant standards, damaged or otherwise defective M&TE or plant standards, and disassembled M&TE or plant standards. Step 3.15.6 requires all nonconformance evaluations be completed within 30 calendar days of the site receipt of the initiating document.
Contrary to the above, during the period from June 2, 1997, to June 14, 1999, SSP-6.7 and SPP-6.4 were not implemented, in that approximately 500 nonconformance evaluations were either not issued or completed for measuring and test equipment which had been identified as out-of-tolerance or otherwise meeting the criteria for evaluation. (01013)

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Tennessee Valley Authority 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 II, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, 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: (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 previously 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.

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

Dated this 27th day of October 2000

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