United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-269 - Sequoyah 1 & 2 (Tennessee Valley Authority)

November 19, 1996

EA 96-269

Tennessee Valley Authority
ATTN: Mr. Oliver D. Kingsley, Jr.
President, TVA Nuclear and
Chief Nuclear Officer
6A Lookout Place
1101 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $50,000 
          (NRC INSPECTION REPORT NOS. 50-327 AND 50-328/96-10)

Dear Mr. Kingsley:

This refers to the inspection conducted during the period July 8 through August 22, 1996, at your Sequoyah Nuclear Plant. The inspection included a review of the fire protection program and associated corrective actions previously identified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) Quality Assurance (QA) organization. The results of this inspection were sent to you by letter dated September 27, 1996. A closed, predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the Region II office on October 24, 1996, with members of your staff to discuss the apparent violations, the root causes, and corrective actions to preclude recurrence. A list of conference attendees, NRC slides, and a copy of TVA's presentation materials are enclosed. Prior to the conference, TVA provided, in a letter dated October 18, 1996, its views on the application of the Enforcement Policy to this case. Subsequently, on October 31, 1996, TVA submitted the supplemental information requested by the NRC at the predecisional enforcement conference.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, the information that was provided during the conference, and TVA's letter of October 31, 1996, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

Violation A involved three examples of TVA's failure to promptly resolve adverse conditions related to the fire protection program at Sequoyah. Specifically, the first example addresses fire protection program discrepancies which were identified by your QA organization during 1992, 1994, and 1995, for which corrective actions have yet to be completed. The second example addresses numerous fire dampers that did not comply with the vendor's design and installation requirements. Although this issue was identified in 1993, it has yet to be fully resolved. The final example relates to the continuing failure to control combustibles and transient fire loads in the plant in accordance with procedure requirements, including expired transient fire load permits and lack of engineering analyses and approval of the Site Fire Protection Engineer to support continued storage of transient combustibles.

Violation B involves the inoperability of the carbon dioxide (CO2) system for the plant computer room. This system was rendered inoperable in May 1990 during modifications to the Control Building HVAC system which added penetrations to the room but failed to equip the penetrations with fire dampers designed to close and isolate the room upon actuation of the CO2 system. Although an hourly fire watch patrol has been established to comply with Technical Specification (TS) requirements, the system remains out of service. Violation C involves your failure to perform the required 18-month surveillances for the Auxiliary Building penetrations in high radiation areas. Violation D involves your failure to demonstrate the operability of fire hose stations in the reactor buildings due to the failure to hydrostatically test fire hoses at these locations. This latter violation was attributable to the failure of TVA's Surveillance Procedure Nos. 1/2-SI-FPU-026-191.R, Fire Hose Inspections, to assure that the fire hose for these locations had been hydrostatically tested as required by TSs.

At the conference, you identified the overall root cause of these violations as ineffective management involvement in the fire protection program and a lack of ownership for the program due to the division of responsibilities between various onsite groups. In addition, you stated that the TVA QA program failed to promptly recognize the collective significance of the issues being identified and to raise this concern to the appropriate levels of management in order to achieve resolution.

Although compensatory measures, in the form of fire watches are in place to assure compliance with TSs, collectively, the violations are of significant regulatory concern because they represent a significant lack of attention and priority to the overall fire protection program. Specifically, the violations are associated with long standing fire protection issues of which TVA was aware; but, due to a lack of management prioritization, they have not been corrected in a timely manner. In addition, the use of fire watch patrols, such as those being implemented at Sequoyah, are required by the NRC as interim, short-term compensatory measures until degraded fire protection features can be repaired or replaced. Sequoyah's practice of routinely using fire watch patrols in lieu of correcting fire protection deficiencies in a timely manner is not consistent with NRC policy or expectations and compromises the design objective of defense in depth. As a consequence, the fire protection program at Sequoyah has not been fully effective, resulting in the plant's safety related components being more vulnerable to potential fire exposure or damage in the event of a fire. Further, the violations are of concern because the lack of centralization of responsibility for the fire protection program should have been identified earlier, specifically, during your previous organizational reviews conducted earlier in the 1990's. Therefore, these violations are classified in the aggregate in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level III problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $50,000 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two years1, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process described in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. In this case, the NRC concluded that credit was warranted for Identification because TVA, in general, identified the issues to be corrected in this case. Regarding Corrective Action, at the conference and in TVA's October 31, 1996, letter, TVA stated that its actions included: (1) assignment of a new Fire Protection Manager on July 31, 1996; (2) conduct of a self-assessment of the fire protection program in September 1996; (3) revision of transient fire load procedures on August 16, 1996, and initiation of actions to reduce transient combustibles in the plant; (4) centralization of ownership of the fire protection program within the operations department; (5) weekly senior management involvement in fire protection program status; (6) establishment of schedules for completion of the remaining fire protection issues; (7) appropriate procedure revisions and personnel training for fire hose testing; and (8) inspection of the fire penetration barriers in high radiation areas and implementation of disciplinary actions against the responsible individuals. Based on the above, it appears that TVA's attention is now appropriately focused on this program area; however, NRC determined that credit for the factor of Corrective Action was not appropriate in that the actions were not timely. As discussed previously, many of these issues are longstanding, and licensee efforts to prioritize and correct the deficiencies have not been prompt.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of management attention to and oversight of fire protection activities and the need for prompt corrective actions, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, 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 problem.

Please be advised that the NRC did consider your October 18, 1996, letter in applying the Enforcement Policy in this case. However, based on the NRC's determinations related to Identification and Corrective Actions, Sequoyah's escalated enforcement history related to employee protection had no impact on the resultant proposed civil penalty.

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 consider 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 enclosures, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                            Sincerely,

                            Original Signed by 
                            L. A. Reyes

                            Stewart D. Ebneter
                            Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-327, 50-328
License Nos. DPR-77, DPR-79

Enclosures:
Notice of Violation and Proposed
Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encls:
O. J. Zeringue, Senior Vice President
Nuclear Operations
Tennessee Valley Authority
6A Lookout Place
1101 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801

Dr. Mark O. Medford, Vice President
Technical Services
Tennessee Valley Authority
6A Lookout Place
1101 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801

R. J. Adney
Site Vice President
Sequoyah Nuclear Plant
Tennessee Valley Authority
P. O. Box 2000
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379

General Counsel
Tennessee Valley Authority
ET 10H
400 West Summit Hill Drive
Knoxville, TN 37902

Raul R. Baron, General Manager
Nuclear Assurance and Licensing
Tennessee Valley Authority
4J Blue Ridge
1101 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801

Pedro Salas, Manager
Licensing and Industry Affairs
Tennessee Valley Authority
4J Blue Ridge
1101 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801

Ralph H. Shell, Manager
Licensing and Industry Affairs
Sequoyah Nuclear Plant
P. O. Box 2000
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379

Michael H. Mobley, Director
Division of Radiological Health
3rd Floor, L and C Annex
401 Church Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1532

County Executive
Hamilton County Courthouse
Chattanooga, TN 37402


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
Tennessee Valley Authority                             Docket Nos. 50-327 and 50-328 
Sequoyah Nuclear Plant                                 License Nos. DPR-77 and DPR-79      
                                                       EA 96-269 

During an NRC inspection conducted during the period July 8 through August 22, 1996, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the NRC 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 violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

A. Technical Specification (TS) 6.8.1.f provides that written procedures shall be established, implemented and maintained covering the Fire Protection Program.

Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Nuclear Quality Assurance Plan (NAQP), TVA-NQA-PL89-A provides a complete description of the quality assurance program for operation of the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant (Sequoyah). NAQP TVA-NQA-PL89-A, Section 5.0 identifies the programs and features to which the NAQP applies. Section 5.0.B.6 lists fire protection as one of these programs.

NAQP, TVA-NQA-PL89-A, Section 10.2.2.B, Corrective Action for Adverse Conditions, requires, in part, that the TVA nuclear organizations and onsite non-TVA nuclear service organizations performing quality-related activities at nuclear facilities promptly identify and resolve adverse conditions.

Contrary to the above, adverse conditions related to the fire protection program were not promptly identified and/or resolved, in that:

1. Quality Assurance (QA) audits of the fire protection program, dated October 9, 1992, August 1, 1994, January 24, 1995, and July 14, 1995, identified discrepancies associated with inadequate implementation of the Sequoyah fire protection program, and corrective actions had not been implemented and/or completed to adequately address these discrepancies. Specifically: a. Inadequate installation of emergency lighting and an inadequate program for preventive maintenance of the installed lighting units was identified during the 1992 QA audit; however, as of August 22, 1996, field testing of installed lighting and preventive maintenance procedure revisions to resolve this issue had not been completed.

b. Lack of a restoration program for approximately 1500 degraded fire barrier penetration seals was identified during the QA 1994 audit; however, as of August 22, 1996, no date had been proposed for the completion of any required modifications.

c. Inadequate procedures for the evaluation and control of transient combustibles was identified during the 1994 QA audit; however, as of August 22, 1996, the applicable procedures had been revised but had not been effectively implemented. The issue associated with the storage of combustible materials was scheduled to be resolved by November 1996.

d. Inadequate design control of fire barrier penetration seals was identified during the 1994 QA audit. As of August 22, 1996, this issue had not been fully resolved and was scheduled for completion in late 1997.

e. Changes made to the plant without following the design change process (i.e., inadequate controls over plant modifications which affect the fire protection program) were identified during the 1995 QA audit. As of August 22, 1996, this issue was scheduled to be resolved by 1997.

f. Lack of testing of the backup fire suppression system for the cable spreading room since 1982 was identified by the 1995 QA audit. As corrective action, TVA planned to install a blind flange in this system and remove it from service; however, as of August 22, 1996, the design change package was scheduled to be issued September 15, 1996, but no schedule date was provided for completion of this modification.

2. From initial plant licensing until September 21, 1993, 326 fire barrier penetrations in Units 1 and 2 which provided fire rated separation between redundant safety related components were not functional as required by TS 3.7.12, Fire Barrier Penetrations. Specifically, on September 21, 1993, TVA determined that a number of fire dampers in Units 1 and 2 were not installed in accordance with the vendor's recommendations and were not functional. The required compensatory measures, which included an hourly fire watch, were implemented for these areas on September 21, 1993, and continue; however, as of August 22, 1996, final resolution of this issue was not scheduled until 1997.

3. TVA's 1994 QA audit identified problems with the control of combustible and transient fire loads in the Elevation 669 Spare Room, yet two specific violations of transient fire load procedural requirements, contained in Procedure SSP-12.15, Fire Protection Plan, Appendix E, Procedure SSP-9.3, Plant Modifications and Design Change Controls, and/or SSP-12.4, Temporary Alterations Control Program, continued as of July 8-12, 1996. Specifically:

a. Transient Fire Load (TFL) Permit TFL-95-0254 was issued for the storage of 1100 pounds of clothing and 400 pounds of rubber/plastic radiation protective clothing on Elevation 690 between column lines A4 and A6 in the Auxiliary Building. This TFL permit expired on December 31, 1995, and a new permit had not been issued nor had an appropriate engineering analysis been performed, as required. This material was stored directly beneath electrical raceways containing safe shutdown related cables.

b. The following permits issued for the spare room on Elevation 669 were issued for longer than six months, had not received approval by the Site Fire Protection Engineer, and had not received an engineering analysis to justify the change in occupancy:

(1). Permit TFL-95-0033 (high fire load), issued February 5, 1995, and extended to December 31, 1996;

(2). Permits TLC-96-0003 (no fire load indicated) issued January 1, 1996, with expiration date of December 31, 1996;

(3). Permit TFL-96-004 (medium fire load), issued January 1, 1996, with expiration date of December 31, 1996; and

(4). Permit TFL-96-0005 (no fire load indicated) issued January 1, 1996, with expiration date of December 31, 1996. (01013)

B. TS 3.7.3, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Systems, requires that the computer room low pressure CO2 system shall be operable whenever equipment protected by the CO2 system is required to be OPERABLE. The computers in this room are required to support plant operations.

Contrary to the above, from May 1990 until December 18, 1995, the computer room low pressure CO2 system was not operable when the computers within this room were required to be operable to support plant operations. Specifically, in May 1990, the heating ventilation air conditioning system for the Control Building was modified by the installation of duct penetrations which were not arranged with dampers to close and isolate the room upon actuation of the CO2 system. The computer room CO2 system was placed out of service in December 1995 and, as of August 22, 1996, remained out of service with an hourly fire watch patrol implemented to meet the compensatory requirements of the TS. (01023)

C. TS 4.7.12.a, Fire Barrier Penetrations, Surveillance Requirements, provides that each of the required fire barrier penetrations shall be verified to be functional at least once per 18-months.

Contrary to the above, all fire barrier penetrations were not verified to be functional at least once per 18 months, in that the Auxiliary Building penetrations in high radiation areas were not included in the 18-month surveillances performed in March 1994 and August 1995. (01033)

D. TS 4.7.11.4.c.2 states that each of the fire hose stations shown in Table 3.7-5 shall be demonstrated operable at least once per three years by conducting a hose hydrostatic test at a pressure of 150 pounds per square inch gauge (psig) or at least 50 psig above maximum fire main operating pressure, whichever is greater. The hose stations installed in the reactor buildings are included in Table 3.7-5.

Contrary to the above, between November 10, 1990, and February 15, 1996, the fire hoses installed in the hose stations in the reactor buildings were not demonstrated operable at least once per three years by conduct of hose hydrostatic tests, as required. (01043)

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, the Tennessee Valley Authority (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 to 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 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 violations 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.

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 penalties, and Answer to a Notice of Violation) should be addressed to: Mr. 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 Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.

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. 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 at Atlanta, Georgia
this 19th day of November 1996


1. A Severity Level II violation and proposed civil penalty of $80,000 were issued on February 20, 1996 (EA 95-252) related to employee discrimination in Department of Labor Case Nos. 92-ERA-19 and 92-ERA-34.

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