United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-307 - Cooper (Nebraska Public Power District)

November 20, 1996

EA 96-307

G. R. Horn, Senior Vice President
of Energy Supply
Nebraska Public Power District
1414 15th Street
Columbus, Nebraska 68601

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION 
          (NRC Inspection Report Nos. 50-298/96-18 and 96-02)

Dear Mr. Horn:

This refers to your letter dated October 25, 1996, in which you replied to our letter and NRC Inspection Report 50-298/96-18 dated September 18, 1996. The inspection report described eight apparent violations of access authorization requirements at Cooper Nuclear Station (Cooper), most of which had been identified by NPPD following a change in management of the security program in late 1995. Our letter indicated that the NRC was considering escalated enforcement action and provided the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) with the option of responding in writing or requesting a predecisional enforcement conference. NPPD provided a written response to the apparent violations in its letter dated October 25, 1996.

In its response, NPPD admitted the apparent violations, but stated that some appeared to be deviations from regulatory guidance contained in NRC Regulatory Guide 5.66 rather than violations of requirements. NPPD also noted that all but two of the violations were self-identified, and that NPPD was in compliance with the involved requirements at the time the inspection (96-18) was conducted. NPPD described numerous corrective actions, including: consolidation of the security program under the Nuclear Power Group to increase oversight and control; revisions to Cooper's security procedures to remedy the cited deficiencies; retraining of the access authorization staff; and a review of active access files to assure that unescorted access was based on appropriate information and that required information was in each file. Finally, NPPD acknowledged that a deficient access authorization program existed, but noted that aggressive steps were taken to assess and correct all deficiencies. As noted in NRC's inspection report, there was a complete turnover in the access authorization staff since the discovery of these violations in late 1995.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided in your response to the inspection report, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements did occur. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice). The circumstances surrounding them were described in detail in the subject inspection report. With regard to NPPD's position that some of the apparent violations appeared to be deviations from regulatory guidance, and not violations, the NRC notes that NRC Regulatory Guides are enforceable if they are referenced or contained in a license or other legally binding requirement. In this case, NRC License DPR-46 states that NPPD will fully implement all provisions of the NRC-approved Security Plan for the Cooper Nuclear Station. The Security Plan commits NPPD to implementing all elements of Regulatory Guide 5.66. Thus, the guidance contained in Regulatory Guide 5.66 is considered by the NRC to be legally binding on NPPD and deviations from Regulatory Guide 5.66 are considered violations of requirements.

The enclosed violations involved several past failures to implement requirements related to granting access to Cooper, including: 1) multiple failures to consider criminal history information; 2) multiple failures to develop references for applicants, including a willful failure on the part of a former Cooper access authorization technician to develop references in two cases; 3) multiple failures to review military background information; 4) multiple failures to document interviews of applicants when derogatory information was discovered; 5) multiple failures to verify activities during periods of unemployment; 6) multiple failures to conduct complete background investigations when "updating" access; 7) two failures to complete full background investigations after granting temporary access. In addition to these past failures, one current violation was discovered, involving a vulnerability in the badging process for individual access authorization.

The NRC acknowledges that most of the violations were discovered in late 1995 and early 1996 following a change in management of the security program at Cooper, and were corrected by NPPD prior to the NRC's inspection (96-18). Nonetheless, these violations indicate that for an extended period of time prior to late 1995, Cooper's access authorization program was barely functional in several areas. This appears to have been caused by inadequate or non-existent management of this program. While the NRC does not have information indicating that the violations resulted in granting unescorted access to individuals who should not have been permitted access to Cooper, the program was being run in a manner that significantly increased the likelihood of that occurring. The manner in which the access authorization program was being run was contrary to the objective in 10 CFR 73.56 of providing high assurance that unescorted access be granted only to individuals who are reliable and trustworthy. Therefore, these violations are classified in the aggregate in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level III problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a civil penalty with a base value of $50,000 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the 2 years preceding the discovery of this problem in late 1995 and early 19961, 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. The NRC determined that credit was warranted for both: Cooper security management identified most of the violations and, as discussed above, initiated prompt and comprehensive corrective action. While Section VII.A.1 of the NRC's Enforcement Policy states that the NRC may increase sanctions for violations involving particularly poor licensee performance, regardless of the Identification and Corrective Action factors, the NRC has decided not to assess a civil penalty based on the specific circumstances of this case. As NPPD stated in its October 25 letter, these problems were identified as the result of "positive action to aggressively self-identify, correct and improve" the access authorization program.

Therefore, to recognize and encourage self-identification and prompt and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation without a civil penalty in this case. However, NPPD is reminded and cautioned that significant violations in this program area in the future could result in a civil penalty.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 50-298/96-18, and NPPD's October 25, 1996 letter. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to provide additional information, you should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosure, and any response you choose to submit will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                            Sincerely, 



                            L. J. Callan
                            Regional Administrator 

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

Docket No.: 50-298
License No.: DPR-46

cc w/Enclosure:
John R. McPhail, General Counsel
Nebraska Public Power District
P.O. Box 499
Columbus, Nebraska 68602-0499

P. D. Graham, Vice President of
Nuclear Energy
Nebraska Public Power District
P.O. Box 98
Brownville, Nebraska 68321

Kansas Radiation Control Program Director
B. L. Houston, Nuclear Licensing
and Safety Manager
Nebraska Public Power District
P.O. Box 98
Brownville, Nebraska 68321

R. J. Singer, Manager-Nuclear
Midwest Power
907 Walnut Street
P.O. Box 657
Des Moines, Iowa 50303

Mr. Ron Stoddard
Lincoln Electric System
11th and O Streets
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508

Randolph Wood, Director
Nebraska Department of Environmental
Quality
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-8922

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

Cheryl Rogers, LLRW Program Manager
Environmental Protection Section
Nebraska Department of Health
301 Centennial Mall, South
P.O. Box 95007
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5007

Dr. Mark B. Horton, M.S.P.H.
Director
Nebraska Department of Health
P.O. Box 950070
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5007

R. A. Kucera, Department Director
of Intergovernmental Cooperation
Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
Nebraska Public Power District                                     Docket No. 50-298
Cooper Nuclear Station                                             License No. DPR-46
                                                                   EA 96-307

During an NRC inspection conducted from July 29, 1996 to August 2, 1996, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

NRC License DPR-46 states, in part, that NPPD will fully implement and maintain in effect all provisions of the Commission-approved Security Plan for the Cooper Nuclear Station, including amendments and changes made pursuant to the authority of 10 CFR 50.54(p).

Paragraph 1.2.1 of the Cooper Nuclear Station Physical Security Plan states, "Effective April 27, 1992, Nebraska Public Power District will adhere to the provisions of 10 CFR 73.56, "Personnel Access Authorization Requirements For Nuclear Power Plants." All elements of Regulatory Guide 5.66 will be implemented to satisfy the requirements of 10 CFR 73.56."

A. Paragraph 6.2.3 of Regulatory Guide 5.66 states, in part, that the utility shall perform a criminal history record check that includes the entire criminal history record of the individual as an adult. Paragraph 7.1 states, in part, that in making a determination of trustworthiness or reliability, that a criminal history without adequate evidence of rehabilitation must be considered. It further requires consideration of willful omission or falsification of material information submitted in support of employment or request for unescorted access.

Contrary to the above, during the latter part of 1995 or early 1996, the licensee identified approximately 10 individuals who had been granted unescorted access without a criminal history being completed. Further, approximately another 10 files contained criminal history that was not reported in the personal history questionaires and the licensee staff did not review the information to determine if the information was willfully omitted or falsified in the criminal history portion of the personnel history questionaire. (01013)

B. Paragraph 6.2.5 of Regulatory Guide 5.66 states, in part, that the applicant's reputation for emotional stability, reliability and trustworthiness must be examined through contact with two references supplied by the applicant and at least two additional references (not related to the applicant) developed during the background investigation.

Paragraph 6.4.8 of the licensee's Procedure AAPP 3.3, "Background Investigations", states, "A total of four character and reputation references shall be contacted during the conduction of the BI. Two of the references shall be developed (not provided by the SUBJECT)."

Contrary to the above, during an outage conducted in late 1995, a licensee Access Authorization Program Technician wilfully directed two contractor Access Authorization Program Technicians to use references provided by applicants as developed references. (01023)

C. Paragraph 6.2.4 of Regulatory Guide 5.66 states, in part, that military period of service within five years of an applicant requesting unescorted access must be verified by receipt of a Department of Defense (DD) Form 214 or other National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) records. The utility may grant unescorted access for 180 days or less prior to receipt of such records if all other applicable elements of the guidelines are met and a record is maintained which documents that the request for military history was submitted within 10 working days of granting the unescorted access.

Contrary to the above, during the latter part of 1995 or early 1996, the licensee identified approximately 5 persons who had been granted unescorted access without verifying the applicable military history of the individuals. In one case, the request for military records was not submitted within 10 days after temporary access was granted. (01033)

D. Paragraph 6.6.1, of Cooper Nuclear Station Procedure AAAP3.3, Revision 1, requires, in part, that the results of the investigation be documented in a formal report of investigation. Paragraph 6.5.1 of Procedure AAAP3.3, Revision 1, states, in part, that if derogatory information is developed, a non-accusatory interview will be conducted.

Contrary to the above, during the latter part of 1995 or early 1996, the licensee identified that between 1993 and 1995: 1) numerous background investigation files did not contain a formal report of investigation; and 2) in several cases, no interviews had been conducted even when derogatory information was discovered during the background investigation. (01043)

E. Paragraph 6.2.1 of Regulatory Guide 5.66 states, in part, that activities during interruptions of employment in excess of 30 days must be verified.

Paragraph 6.4.5 of the licensee's procedure AAPP 3.3, "Background Investigations", requires that employment interruptions in excess of 30 days will be verified and activities during that period will be determined.

Contrary to the above, during the latter part of 1995 or early 1996, the licensee identified numerous files in which activities during periods of unemployment in excess of 30 days were not verified. (01053)

F. Paragraph 8.3 of Regulatory Guide 5.66 states, in part, that a utility shall not authorize unescorted access where the individual's unescorted access has been interrupted for more than 365 calendar days unless the psychological evaluation and the background investigation is updated to cover the individual's activities from the date of the previous background investigation, not to exceed retrospective periods in Section 6.2 or to the period when unescorted access last held, whichever is less.

Paragraph 6.2.3 of Regulatory Guide 5.66 states, in part, that the utility shall perform a criminal history record check that includes the entire criminal history record of the individual as an adult. Paragraph 6.2.5 of Regulatory Guide 5.66 states, in part, that the applicant's reputation for emotional stability, reliability and trustworthiness must be examined through contact with two references supplied by the applicant and at least two additional references (not related to the applicant) developed during the background investigation.

Contrary to the above, during the latter part of 1995 or early 1996, the licensee identified that update background investigations included only one listed reference and one developed reference. In addition, the updated background investigations did not include a review of criminal history information. (01063)

G. Regulatory Guide 5.66, Clarification to the Guidelines, paragraph 2, states that the NUMARC Guidelines provide for temporary access authorization for 180 uninterupted days. Any longer access authorization is not temporary. Using this provision to allow back-to-back temporary access authorizations for an individual by the licensee would be a misuse of this provision.

Paragraph 6.2.2 of Cooper Nuclear Station Procedure AAAP3.3, Revision 1, states, in part, that "once a temporary background clearance has been completed, the expanded background clearance must be completed within 180 days."

Contrary to the above, during a 1995 outage, the licensee granted back-to-back temporary unescorted access to two individuals without completing the full background investigations. (01073)

H. Section 10.2 of the licensee's physical security plan states, in part, that the security program meets the general performance requirements of 10 CFR 73.55(a).

10 CFR 73.55(a) requires, in part, that the licensee's physical protection system be designed to protect against the design basis threat of radiological sabotage as stated in 10 CFR 73.1(a).

10 CFR 73.1(a) states, in part, that the design basis threat of radiological sabotage at plants is a determined violent external assault on the plant by several well trained persons, with inside assistance from a knowledgeable individual (insider), participating in an active role (e.g., facilitating entrance and exit).

Contrary to the above, as of July 30, 1996, the licensee's physical protection system was not adequately designed to protect against the single insider in the design basis threat of radiological sabotage. Specifically, the licensee's system afforded each of two supervisors (insiders) the opportunity to actively facilitate entrance and exit to the plant to unauthorized persons, by allowing these supervisors (insiders) the opportunity to fabricate unauthorized photo identification security badges and the opportunity to approve bogus unverified access authorization data for entry into the security computer. (01083)

These violations represent a Severity Level III problem (Supplement III).

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved, is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 50-298/96-18 and NPPD's letter dated October 25, 1996. However, you are required to submit a written statement or explanation pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201 if the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to respond, clearly mark your response as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation," and send it to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at Cooper Nuclear Station, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

Dated at Arlington, Texas
this 20th day of November 1996


1. For example, on December 12, 1994, a Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties in the amount of $300,000 was issued for three Severity Level III problems involving primary containment integrity, electrical buses, and thecontrol room emergency filtration system (EAs 94-164, 94-165, 94-166).

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