United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-019 - Oconee 1, 2, & 3 (Duke Power Company)

March 5, 1996

EA 96-019

Duke Power Company
ATTN: Mr. J. W. Hampton
Vice President - Oconee Site
P. O. Box 1439
Seneca, South Carolina 29679

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $50,000  (NRC Inspection Report Nos. 50-269/96-02,
          50-270/96-02 and 50-287/96-02)

Dear Mr. Hampton:

This refers to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) special inspection conducted on January 8-25, 1996 at the Oconee facility. The inspection included a review of the facts and circumstances related to a spent fuel assembly being inadvertently left withdrawn from the Unit 1 and 2 spent fuel pool rack during the period December 14, 1995 through January 8, 1996. The report documenting the inspection was sent to you by letter dated February 2, 1996. An open predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the Region II office on February 21, 1996 to discuss the apparent violations, the root causes, and your corrective actions to preclude recurrence of the violations. This conference was open for public observation in accordance with the Commission's trial program for conducting conferences as discussed in the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (NRC Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600. A list of conference attendees, NRC slides, and a copy of your presentation materials are enclosed.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation is cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty, and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report. The violation involved the failure to provide adequate procedures to control fuel assembly movement in the spent fuel pool. This failure is of safety significance in that it resulted in an irradiated fuel assembly being left attached to the fuel bridge mast and withdrawn from its storage location in the spent fuel pool for a period of over three weeks following fuel assembly inspection activities. Had an accident scenario involving the standby shutdown facility occurred, requiring water to be supplied from the spent fuel pool, the irradiated fuel assembly could have been uncovered. The root cause of the violation was your failure to develop appropriate corrective actions for previous violations in this area to ensure that procedures provided detailed instructions for all work evolutions involving fuel assembly movement, not just those involving in-core manipulations. At the conference, you stated that additional contributing factors included the failure of the operator involved to verify his actions were appropriate and complete, and the lack of clearly defined management expectations associated with this type of fuel handling process.

The NRC is concerned that the control of fuel assembly movement continues to be a problem at the Oconee site. On August 2, 1994, the NRC issued an enforcement action that included a Severity Level IV violation and associated $15,000 civil penalty for the failure to implement procedural requirements related to the identification and independent verification of fuel assembly location during movement of fuel from the spent fuel pool to the Unit 1 reactor core. The action also included a second Severity Level IV violation for an inadequate procedure for the control of fuel assembly movement during the Unit 1 reactor core reload. This previous enforcement action reflected our concerns with regard to repetitive violations in this area and the failure to implement comprehensive corrective actions to ensure adequate management oversight of fuel handling activities. The current violation, which could have been prevented had broader actions been implemented to correct the underlying cause of previously identified violations, also represents a significant regulatory concern in that it is indicative of a lack of attention to detail and poor management guidance and oversight in the control and execution of fuel handling activities. Therefore, this violation has been categorized in accordance with the NRC Enforcement Policy, NUREG-1600, at Severity Level III.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $50,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last 2 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. In this case, the NRC has concluded that it would not be appropriate to give credit for Identification because the violation was identified as a result of an event and there were prior opportunities to identify and correct the deficiencies in procedural guidance for the movement of fuel assemblies. Your corrective actions for this violation included: (1) initiation of a Significant Event Investigation Team (SEIT) to review the incident; (2) suspension of all fuel handling activities until the evaluation and recommendations from the SEIT were formalized and corrective actions implemented; (3) revisions to site procedures to ensure proper control of all fuel movement; (4) restructuring of the management responsible for fuel handling activities; (5) personnel training; (6) formalization of pre-job briefings; and (7) initiation of a comprehensive technical audit of fuel handling and spent fuel pool related activities. In view of these actions, the NRC concluded that credit is warranted for Corrective Action.

To emphasize the importance of maintaining control over fuel movement activities and implementing effective corrective actions, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the base amount of $50,000 for the Severity Level III violation.

You are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. In your response, you should document the specific actions taken and any additional actions you plan to prevent recurrence. After reviewing your response to this Notice, including your proposed corrective actions and the results of future inspections, the NRC will determine whether further NRC enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with NRC regulatory requirements.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosures, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR). 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 without redaction.

Should you have any questions concerning this letter, please contact us.

                              Sincerely, 

                              Original signed by
                              Stewart D. Ebneter

                              Stewart D. Ebneter
                              Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-269, 50-270, and 50-287
License Nos. DPR-38, DPR-47, and DPR-55

Enclosures:
1. Notice of Violation and Proposed
Imposition of Civil Penalty
2. List of Conference Attendees
3. NRC Slides
4. Licensee Presentation Material

cc w/encls:
Mr. J. E. Burchfield
Compliance
Duke Power Company
P. O. Box 1439
Seneca, SC 29679

Mr. Paul R. Newton
Duke Power Company
422 South Church Street
Charlotte, NC 28242-0001

Mr. Robert P. Gruber
Executive Director
Public Staff - NCUC
P. O. Box 29520
Raleigh, NC 27626-0520

Mr. Robert B. Borsum
Babcock and Wilcox Company
Nuclear Power Generation Division
1700 Rockville Pike, Suite 525
Rockville, MD 20852

Mr. J. Michael McGarry, III, Esq.
Winston and Strawn
1400 L Street, NW
Washington, D. C. 20005

Office of Intergovernmental Relations
116 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

Mr. Max Batavia, Chief
Bureau of Radiological Health
South Carolina Department of Health
and Environmental Control
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201

County Supervisor of Oconee County
Walhalla, SC 29621

Manager, LIS
NUS Corporation
2650 McCormick Drive
Clearwater, FL 34619-1035

Mr. G. A. Copp
Licensing - EC05O
Duke Power Company
P. O. Box 1006
Charlotte, NC 28201-1006

Ms. Karen E. Long
Assistant Attorney General
N. C. Department of Justice
P. O. Box 629
Raleigh, NC 27602


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
Duke Power Company                                   Docket Nos.  50-269, 50-270, and 50-287
Oconee Nuclear Station                               License Nos. DPR-38, DPR-47, and DPR-55
Units 1, 2 and 3                                     EA 96-019

During an NRC inspection conducted on January 8-25, 1996, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission 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 particular violation and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, Instructions, Procedures and Drawings, requires, in part, that activities affecting quality shall be prescribed by documented instructions, procedures and drawings of a type appropriate to the circumstances and shall be accomplished in accordance with these instructions, procedures or drawings.
Oconee Nuclear Site Directive 4.1.7(SA), Site Procedures, Step 4.2, states, in part, that procedures shall be written to a level of detail sufficient for a qualified person to perform the task with no direct supervision required. Procedure OP/0/A/1506/01, Fuel and Component Handling, was established by the licensee to implement activities affecting quality with regard to fuel and component handling, specifically, those actions required to move fuel assemblies using the fuel handling bridge in the spent fuel pool.
Contrary to the above, on December 14, 1995, Procedure OP/0/A/1506/01 did not provide adequate instructions for the movement of fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool. Specifically, the movement of an irradiated fuel assembly was not controlled in that it was not returned to its required location in the spent fuel pool after the assembly was moved on December 14, 1995, but was left suspended and attached to the refueling bridge mast until January 8, 1996. (01013)

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement I).
Civil Penalty - $50,000.

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Duke Power Company, (Licensee) 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 license 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 2.201, the Licensee 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 Licensee fail to answer within the time specified, an order imposing the civil penalty will be issued. Should the Licensee 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 2.201, but may incorporate parts of the 10 CFR 2.201 reply by specific reference (e.g., citing page and paragraph numbers) to avoid repetition. The attention of the Licensee 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 II and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the Oconee facility.

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.

However, if you find it necessary to include such information, you should clearly indicate the specific information that you desire not to be placed in the PDR, and provide the legal basis to support your request for withholding the information from the public.

Dated at Atlanta, Georgia
this 5th day of March 1996

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