United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-04-120 - Cooper Nuclear Station (Nebraska Public Power District)

June 25, 2004

EA-04-120

Randall K. Edington, Vice
   President-Nuclear and CNO
Nebraska Public Power District
P.O. Box 98
Brownville, NE 68321

SUBJECT: COOPER NUCLEAR STATION - NRC SUPPLEMENTAL INSPECTION REPORT 05000298/2004-011 AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Dear Mr. Edington:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conducted the onsite portion of a supplemental inspection at Cooper Nuclear Station from April 5-9, 2004, and an in-office portion April 12 through May 12, 2004. Inspection debriefs were held onsite on April 8, by telephone on April 14, and May 5, and an exit meeting was held onsite with your staff on May 12, 2004. The enclosed report documents the inspection findings, which were discussed with you and other members of your staff.

The NRC issued a White inspection finding in a letter dated March 24, 2004, "Cooper Nuclear Station - NRC Inspection Report 05000298/2004-009 Biennial Licensed Operator Requalification Inspection - Final Significance Determination for a White Finding." This finding involved a high failure rate on the licensed operator biennial requalification written examinations. The performance deficiency associated with this finding involved the failure to adequately implement the systems approach to training process required by 10 CFR 55.59, "Requalification." Failure to adequately implement the systems approach to training is notable because training and testing deficiencies resulted in a decline in licensed operator knowledge over time. The NRC found that this decline in operator knowledge was evident in both plant operating experience and biennial requalification examination performance.

This supplemental inspection was conducted to provide assurance that the root and contributing causes of the White inspection finding were understood and to provide assurance that the corrective actions were sufficient to address the causes, and prevent recurrence of the problems. Detailed observations, assessments, and conclusions of the inspection are presented in the enclosed inspection report. The inspection also reviewed aspects of the licensed operator requalification training program to determine if the program was implemented using a systems approach to training as defined in 10 CFR 55.4 and NUREG-1220, "Training Review Criteria and Procedures."

The inspection concluded that your root cause analyses of the finding was appropriately evaluated and understood. The corrective actions identified as a result of your evaluations addressed the root and contributing causes, and should adequately address correction of the requalification program weaknesses if the corrective actions are consistently implemented. However, the inspection also concluded that your extent of condition and extent of cause evaluations of the high failure rate were not completed at the time of the inspection, and that other areas of the root cause lacked in-depth evaluation, including the adequacy of operator knowledge and the establishment of objective criteria to evaluate effectiveness of the corrective actions. The inspection also concluded that the analysis and evaluation elements of a systems approach to training, described in NUREG-1220, were implemented with significant weaknesses, and that the evaluation element was inadequate during the 2-year requalification program cycle beginning February 2002.

The NRC has also determined that the failure to consistently implement all elements of a systems approach to training in the licensed operator requalification program is a violation of 10 CFR 55.59(c), as cited in the attached Notice of Violation. The circumstances surrounding the violation are described in detail in the subject inspection report. In accordance with the NRC Enforcement Policy, NUREG-1600, the Notice of Violation would be considered escalated enforcement action because it is associated with a White finding, however, since the White finding was previously issued in NRC letter dated March 24, 2004, this Notice of Violation is not considered to be a separate escalated enforcement action.

Nevertheless, you are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice of Violation when preparing your response.

The NRC also identified one finding that was evaluated under the risk significance determination process as having very low safety significance (Green). The NRC also determined that there was a violation associated with the finding. The violation is being treated as a noncited violation, consistent with Section VI.A of the Enforcement Policy. The noncited violation is described in the subject inspection report. If you contest the violation or significance of the noncited violation, you should provide a response within 30 days of the date of this inspection report, with the basis for your denial, to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, DC 20555-0001, with copies to the Regional Administrator, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011-4005; the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; and the NRC Resident Inspector at the Cooper Nuclear Station facility.

In a telephone conversation on June 25, 2004, Anthony Gody of my staff discussed the apparent violation of 10 CFR 55.59(c) with Joe Waid, Training Manager. Mr. Waid indicated that Cooper Nuclear Station declined a predecisional enforcement conference and stated that no written response would be provided prior to issuance of the violation.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.390 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/

  Dwight D. Chamberlain, Director
Division of Reactor Safety

Docket: 50-298
License: DPR 46

Enclosure:
1. Notice of Violation
2. NRC Inspection Report 05000298-2004011

cc w/enclosures:
Clay C. Warren, Vice President of
  Strategic Programs
Nebraska Public Power District
1414 15th Street
Columbus, NE 68601

John R. McPhail, General Counsel
Nebraska Public Power District
P.O. Box 499
Columbus, NE 68602-0499

P. V. Fleming, Licensing Manager
Nebraska Public Power District
P.O. Box 98
Brownville, NE 68321

Michael J. Linder, Director
Nebraska Department of
   Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, NE 68509-8922

Chairman
Nemaha County Board of Commissioners
Nemaha County Courthouse
1824 N Street
Auburn, NE 68305

Sue Semerena, Section Administrator
Nebraska Health and Human Services System
Division of Public Health Assurance
Consumer Services Section
301 Centennial Mall, South
P.O. Box 95007
Lincoln, NE 68509-5007

Ronald A. Kucera, Deputy Director
   for Public Policy
Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Jerry Uhlmann, Director
State Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 116
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0116

Chief, Radiation and Asbestos
  Control Section
Kansas Department of Health
  and Environment
Bureau of Air and Radiation
1000 SW Jackson, Suite 310
Topeka, KS 66612-1366

Daniel K. McGhee
Bureau of Radiological Health
Iowa Department of Public Health
401 SW 7th Street, Suite D
Des Moines, IA 50309

William J. Fehrman, President
   and Chief Executive Officer
Nebraska Public Power District
1414 15th Street
Columbus, NE 68601

Jerry C. Roberts, Director of
   Nuclear Safety Assurance
Nebraska Public Power District
P.O. Box 98
Brownville, NE 68321


ENCLOSURE 1

NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Nebraska Public Power District
Cooper Nuclear Station
  Docket No. 50-298
License No. DPR-46
EA-04-120

During an NRC inspection conducted on April 5 through May 12, 2004, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violation is listed below:

Section 10 CFR 55.59(c) provides, in part, that "The requalification program must meet the requirements of paragraphs (c)(1) through (7) of this section. In lieu of paragraphs (c)(2), (3), and (4) of this section, the Commission may approve a program developed by using a systems approach to training." Section 10 CFR 55.4 defines a systems approach to training as "a training program that includes the following five elements. . . ." Element (4) is "Evaluation of trainee mastery of the objectives during training."
Through Generic Letter 87-07 and the licensee's notification dated August 13, 1987, the NRC approved the licensee's requalification program, developed using a systems approach to training.
Cooper Training Program Procedure 201, "CNS Licensed/SRO Certified Personnel Requalification Program," Revision 25, Step 4.1.1 requires that, "Cycle examinations shall be used to evaluate comprehension of training subjects presented during LOR (licensed operator requalification) training. . . ." Step 2.1.7 defines a cycle written examination as, "A written exam to demonstrate proficiency on material covered during cycle(s) training." The licensee divided the biennial requalification training program into 12 training cycles, each of which was approximately 6 weeks in duration.
Contrary to the above, during the biennial requalification program period from February 25, 2002, through January 11, 2004, the licensee's use of cycle written examinations was not adequate to evaluate comprehension of training subjects presented during LOR training. During this biennial requalification program period, the licensee administered a total of three cycle written examinations. Two of the cycle examinations were administered following two cycles of training. The third cycle examination was administered following six cycles of training (a period of approximately 36 weeks) and failed to test comprehension of several training subjects, including, for example, changes to the severe accident management guidelines and modifications to the reactor vessel level control system.

This violation is associated with a White significance determination process finding that was previously issued in an NRC letter of March 24, 2004.

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Nebraska Public Power District 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, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at Cooper Nuclear Station of this Notice of Violation, 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; EA-04-026" 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 of Violation, 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, U.S. 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 NRC's document system (ADAMS), accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html, 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. 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 2.390(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 2 working days.

Dated this 25th day of June 2004

 

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