United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-057 - Three Mile Island 1 (GPU Nuclear Corp.)

March 26, 1996

EA 96-057

Mr. James Knubel
Vice President and Director, TMI
GPU Nuclear Corporation
Three Mile Island Nuclear Station
Post Office Box 480
Middletown, Pennsylvania 17057-0191

          (NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 50-289/96-03) 

Dear Mr. Knubel:

This refers to the inspection conducted on February 6-23, 1996, at the Three Mile Island, Unit 1, Nuclear Station (TMI) facility. The inspection report was sent to you on March 1, 1996. The inspection was conducted to review the circumstances associated with a security degradation that existed at the facility for approximately one day in February 1996. The degraded condition was identified by a member of your security staff. A predecisional enforcement conference was held with you and members of your staff on March 19, 1996, to discuss the apparent violation, its causes and your corrective actions.

The violation, which is described in detail in the enclosed Notice of Violation, involved a degradation of the protected area barrier in that a pathway (that provided an opportunity for unauthorized access and undetected access to the protected area from the owner controlled area) was created when a grate was removed from a storm drain during maintenance activities in the protected area. Appropriate compensatory measures were not implemented for a period of about one day.

The NRC is concerned that operations, maintenance, planning, and security personnel were not sensitive to the security requirements at the time the maintenance activity was planned and subsequently carried out. In addition, a number of security force members, while conducting patrols, failed to identify the degraded barrier. This failure is significant because three similar degradations had occurred in September 1995 (and were the subject of a predecisional enforcement conference with you on October 25, 1995). In our view, the corrective actions taken in response to the violation cited for those degradations should have prevented this recent violation from occurring. For example, after the prior violation, TMI job planners and lead maintenance foremen were counseled to ensure that the security department would be notified prior to the performance of any task that may involve a degradation of a protected or vital area barrier. Also, the security force members received training that should have sensitized them to that condition.

In addition, TMI supervisory control room personnel were directed, in writing, to ensure that security is notified prior to the performance of any task that may involve a degradation of a protected or vital area barrier. Also, a memorandum was sent from the Security Department to the Planning Department which listed components that trigger a notification to security that included the removal of any storm drain grating within the protected area. Further, you planned to revise the GMS-2 work control computer software program to provide a security "trigger" on job orders, although we recognize that this change was not scheduled to have been completed before the February 1996 event. The NRC believes that the above actions did not prevent the February 1996 event because they were not properly implemented and management oversight to ensure proper implementation of those actions was not adequate.

Although the security degradation that occurred in February 1996 was not easily identifiable nor exploitable, particularly without detection, the violation has been categorized at Severity Level III in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, because of the repetitive nature of the violation.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $50,000 was considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two years (a Severity Level III violation was issued to you on March 11, 1996 for a violation related to inadequate control of a design modification, Reference, EA 95-238), 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 warranted because the violation was identified by a member of your security force during a routine patrol. Credit for corrective actions is also warranted because your corrective actions for this event appear now to be both prompt and comprehensive. These actions, which were noted in the inspection report and your presentation at the predecisional enforcement conference, and which have now been implemented, included, but were not limited to: (1) counseling plant personnel who failed to meet management's expectations; (2) redistributing a memorandum to planning and increasing the distribution to operations and maintenance specifying plant security barriers; (3) adding a security "trigger" to the GMS-2 job planning system; and (4) advising each shift of security personnel of the problems and management's expectations for their performance.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of prompt identification and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, any similar violation in the future may result in a civil penalty.

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 enclosure, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR), with Safeguards Information removed. 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.

The responses directed by this letter and the enclosed Notice are not subject to the clearance procedures of the Office of Management and Budget as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96.511.


                              Thomas T. Martin 
                              Regional Administrator

Docket No. 50-289
License No. DPR-50

Notice of Violation (Contains Safeguards Information (SGI))

cc w/enclosure (w/o SGI):
E. Blake, Shaw, Pittman, Potts and Trowbridge (Legal Counsel for GPUN)
J. Fornicola, Director, Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
M. Ross, Director, Operations and Maintenance
J. Wetmore, Manager, TMI Licensing Department
TMI-Alert (TMIA)
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


GPU Nuclear Corporation                                       Docket No. 50-289
Three Mile Island, Unit 1                                     License No. DPR-50
                                                              EA 96-057

During an NRC inspection conducted on February 6-23, 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 violation is listed below:

The TMI Modified Amended Physical Security Plan (the Plan), Revision 31, dated February 10, 1995, Section 4.8.2, states, in part, that "barriers are installed at the entrance to, or the exit from, openings that exceed 96 square inches, or in culverts, tunnels or sewers that penetrate the protected area barrier. These openings are secured by grates, doors or coverings of sufficient strength to preserve the barrier integrity." The Plan further states, in part, that "if the integrity of the physical barrier is degraded, increased patrols are instituted, or if the Protected Area is breached, an Armed Site Protection Officer is assigned at the degraded barrier until such time as the barrier is restored."
Contrary to the above, from 10:25 a.m. on February 5, 1996, until 9:35 a.m. on February 6, 1996:
1. An opening exceeding 96 square inches existed between the protected area and the owner controlled area via a storm drain located in the protected area.
It eventually passes beneath the protected area barrier and empties into a 36" storm drain in the owner controlled area. The opening was not secured by grates, doors or coverings of sufficient strength to preserve the barrier integrity."
2. In addition, during the time the barrier was degraded, increased patrols were not instituted, nor was an Armed Site Protection Officer assigned at the degraded barrier until the barrier was restored. (01013)

This is a repetitive violation.

This is a Severity Level III Violation. (Supplement III)

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, GPU Nuclear Corporation is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region I, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the facility that is the subject of this Notice, 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, (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 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.

Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2232, this response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

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 King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
this 26th day of March 1996

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