United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-327 - Washington Nuclear 2 (Washington Public Power Supply System)

November 26, 1996

EA 96-327

J. V. Parrish, Chief Executive Officer
Washington Public Power Supply System
3000 George Washington Way
P.O. Box 968, MD 1023
Richland, Washington 99352

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $100,000 
          (NRC Inspection Report No. 50-397/96-19)

Dear Mr. Parrish:

This refers to the matters discussed with Washington Public Power Supply System (Supply System) representatives at the predecisional enforcement conference conducted on October 22, 1996, in Arlington, Texas. As noted in NRC Inspection Report 50-397/96-19, issued September 23, 1996, the conference was conducted to discuss several apparent violations of Technical Specification requirements at the Washington Nuclear Project-2 facility, Richland, Washington.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements did occur. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice), and the circumstances surrounding them were described in detail in the subject inspection report.

Briefly, the violations involved: 1) shifting plant operational modes with one train of the control room emergency filtration system inoperable; 2) shifting plant operational modes without conducting required equipment surveillances (four examples); 3) not having an adequate procedure to assure that a required stroke-time test of reactor core isolation cooling containment isolation valves was performed prior to a mode change and in accordance with established procedures; and 4) failing to conduct required equipment surveillances during plant operations (two examples). These violations appear to have been caused by ineffective processes and procedures for verifying completion of required surveillance tests, and, in part, a poor understanding of the involved requirements for completing surveillance tests prior to mode change.

At the conference, the Supply System expressed no disagreement with the apparent violations; described a number of specific and broad corrective actions to address the root causes; noted that the Supply System had identified all but one of the issues; and pointed out the similarity between two of the current violations and previous violations and stated that the corrective actions from the previous violations had been less than fully effective. Additionally, despite the number of violations, the Supply System stated its perspective that the violations did not indicate a systemic degradation in Nuclear Operations performance. Finally, the corrective actions described by the Supply System to address the current violations included the implementation of process and procedural enhancements, establishment of a surveillance and post-maintenance testing team, discussions of the events with operating crews, and lessons-learned training.

Although these violations did not result in actual safety consequences, the NRC considers the regulatory significance of the violations high. Taken collectively, the violations indicate that the Supply System did not maintain an effective program for assuring that required operational checks of equipment were performed at the appropriate times and in accordance with the Technical Specifications. The number of violations, and the fact that they occurred over a relatively short period of time, suggest a serious weakness in this very fundamental and important area. In addition, similar violations were cited in August 1995, as part of a Severity Level III problem that resulted in a $50,000 civil penalty being assessed (EA 95-096). As you acknowledged at the conference, your corrective actions for the previous violations focused on human performance and did not address the process-related weaknesses that were at the root of the current violations.

In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, these violations are classified in the aggregate 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 last 2 years, as noted above, the NRC would normally consider whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in determining whether a civil penalty should be assessed, as described in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. As discussed above, the Supply System identified most of the violations and has taken corrective actions which we consider prompt and comprehensive. We believe it is important to note that the Supply System identified most of the current violations, and important to recognize that this is, in and of itself, a sign of improved performance on the part of the Supply System. However, the fact that these violations occurred, particularly in light of the NRC having taken escalated enforcement action in 1995 for violations with similar root causes, remains a significant regulatory concern. The NRC takes escalated enforcement action infrequently and does so, in part, to encourage prompt and comprehensive corrective action to prevent potentially significant violations from recurring.

Thus, notwithstanding the Supply System's efforts in identifying and correcting the current violations, and to emphasize: 1) the significance of taking corrective actions that are effective in precluding similar violations; and 2) the fundamental importance of having an effective program for assuring that surveillances are performed as required, I have been authorized, after consulting with the Director, Office of Enforcement and the Deputy Executive Director for Nuclear Reactor Regulation, Regional Operations and Research, to issue the enclosed Notice proposing a $100,000 civil penalty in accordance with the discretion described in Section VII.A.1 of the Enforcement Policy.

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). 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.

                            Sincerely, 

                                 /s/

                            L. J. Callan
                            Regional Administrator

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and
Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

Docket No.: 50-397
License No.: NPF-21

cc w/Enclosure:
Frederick S. Adair, Chairman
Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council
P.O. Box 43172

Olympia, Washington 98504-3172

Chairman
Benton County Board of Commissioners
P.O. Box 69
Prosser, Washington 99350-0190

Mr. Paul R. Bemis (Mail Drop PE20)
Vice President, Nuclear Operations
Washington Public Power Supply System
P.O. Box 968
Richland, Washington 99352-0968

Mr. Rodney L. Webring (Mail Drop PE08)
Vice President, Operations Support/PIO
Washington Public Power Supply System
P.O. Box 968
Richland, Washington 99352-0968

Mr. Greg O. Smith (Mail Drop 927M)
WNP-2 Plant General Manager
Washington Public Power Supply System
P.O. Box 968
Richland, Washington 99352-0968

Mr. David A. Swank (Mail Drop PE20)
Manager, Regulatory Affairs
Washington Public Power Supply System
P.O. Box 968
Richland, Washington 99352-0968

Mr. Al E. Mouncer (Mail Drop 396)
Chief Counsel
Washington Public Power Supply System
P.O. Box 968
Richland, Washington 99352-0968

Ms. Lourdes C. Fernandez (Mail Drop PE20)
Manager, Licensing
Washington Public Power Supply System
P.O. Box 968
Richland, Washington 99352-0968

Mr. Malcolm H. Phillips, Jr., Esq.
Winston & Strawn
1400 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005-3502


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
Washington Public Power Supply System                        Docket No. 50-397
Washington Nuclear Project-2                                 License No. NPF-21 
                                                             EA 96-327  

During an NRC inspection conducted on June 28 through September 4, 1996, violations of NRC requirements were 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 violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

A. Technical Specification 3.0.4 states, in part, that entry into an OPERATIONAL CONDITION or other specified condition shall not be made unless the conditions for the Limiting Conditions for Operation are met without reliance on provisions contained in the ACTION requirements.

Technical Specification 3.7.2 (Limiting Condition for Operation) states, in part, that two independent control room emergency filtration system trains shall be OPERABLE in all OPERATIONAL CONDITIONS, and describes actions to be taken if one or more trains are inoperable.

Contrary to the above, on June 2, 1996, reactor operational condition was changed from Operational Condition 5 to Operational Condition 4 with Train A of the control room emergency filtration system inoperable. The conditions for the Limiting Conditions for Operation contained in Technical Specification 3.7.2 were not met without reliance on the provisions contained in the ACTION requirements. (01013)

B. Technical Specification 4.0.4 states, in part, that entry into an OPERATIONAL CONDITION or other specified applicable condition shall not be made unless the Surveillance Requirement associated with the Limiting Condition for Operation have been performed within the applicable surveillance interval, or as otherwise specified.

Technical Specification 3.3.1 (Limiting Condition for Operation) states, in part, that as a minimum, the reactor protection system instrumentation channels shown in Table 3.3.1-1 shall be OPERABLE in the OPERATIONAL CONDITION as shown in Table 3.3.1-1. Technical Specification 4.3.1.1 (Surveillance Requirements) states, in part, that each reactor protection system instrumentation channel shall be demonstrated OPERABLE by the performance of the CHANNEL CHECK, CHANNEL FUNCTIONAL TEST and CHANNEL CALIBRATION operations for the OPERATIONAL CONDITIONS and at the frequencies shown in Table 4.3.1.1-1, Reactor Protection System Instrumentation Surveillance Requirements.

Technical Specification 3.3.6 (Limiting Condition for Operation) states, in part, that the control rod block instrumentation channels shown in Table 3.3.6-1 shall be OPERABLE with their trip setpoints set consistent with the values shown in the Trip Setpoint column of Table 3.3.6-2. Technical Specification 4.3.6 (Surveillance Requirements) states, in part, that each of the above required control rod block trip systems and instrumentation channels shall be demonstrated OPERABLE by the performance of the CHANNEL CHECK, CHANNEL FUNCTIONAL TEST and CHANNEL CALIBRATION operations for the operational conditions and at the frequencies shown in Table 4.3.6-1.

Contrary to the above:

  1. On June 20, 1996, reactor OPERATIONAL CONDITION was changed from Operational Condition 2 to Operational Condition 1, and the surveillance requirements associated with Limiting Conditions for Operation of Technical Specification 3.3.1 for Turbine Throttle Valve - Closure, as shown in Table 4.3.1.1-1, Functional Unit 9, were not met.

  2. On June 28, 1996, the reactor OPERATIONAL CONDITION was changed from Operational Condition 4 to Operational Condition 2, and the surveillance requirements associated with Limiting Conditions for Operation of Technical Specification 3.3.6 for the upscale, inoperative, and downscale channel checks for the rod block monitor, as shown in Table 4.3.6-1, Trip Functions 1.a, 1.b and 1.c, were not met.

  3. On June 29, 1996, reactor OPERATIONAL CONDITION was changed from Operational Condition 2 to Operational Condition 1, and the following surveillance requirements associated with Limiting Conditions for Operation contained in Technical Specification 3.3.6 for the average power range monitor (APRM) downscale rod block channel functional test, and the APRM fixed neutron flux upscale trips, as shown in Table 4.3.6-1, Trip Functions 2.a and 2.c, were not met. (01023)

C. Technical Specification 6.8.1.a states, in part, that written procedures shall be established, implemented, and maintained covering the activities referenced below, including "d. Surveillance and test activities of safety-related equipment."

Technical Specification 6.8.2 states, in part, that each procedure of Specification 6.8.1, and changes thereto, shall be reviewed by the Plant Operations Committee (POC) and shall be approved by the Plant Manager prior to implementation.

Technical Specification 3.6.3 (Limiting Condition for Operation) states, in part, that the primary containment isolation valves shown in Table 3.6.3-1 shall be OPERABLE with isolation times less than or equal to those shown in Table 3.6.3-1 in Operational Conditions 1, 2 and 3.

Technical Specification 4.6.3.1 (Surveillance Requirements) states, in part, that each primary containment isolation valve shown in Table 3.6.3-1 shall be demonstrated OPERABLE prior to returning the valve to service after maintenance, repair, or replacement work is performed on the valve by cycling the valve through at least one complete cycle of full travel and verifying the specified isolation time.

Technical Specification 4.6.3.2 states, in part, that each primary containment automatic isolation valve shown in Table 3.6..3-1 shall be demonstrated OPERABLE during COLD SHUTDOWN or REFUELING at least once per 18 months by verifying that on a containment isolation test signal each automatic isolation valve actuates to its isolation position.

Table 3.6.3-1, Primary Containment Isolation Valves, lists Reactor Core Isolation Cooling Valves RCIC-V-63 and RCIC-V-76 as Automatic Isolation Valves.

Contrary to the above, as of June 12, 1996, procedures utilized during reactor startup were inadequate, in that they failed to ensure, prior to shifting OPERATIONAL CONDITIONS from Operational Condition 4 to Operational Condition 2, that reactor core isolation cooling containment isolation Valves RCIC-V-63 and RCIC-V-76 were stroke-time tested in accordance with established procedures for conducting such surveillances and which had been reviewed by the POC. Specifically, the licensee performed post-maintenance testing of the valves which was equivalent to the surveillance test but with a procedure (PPM 10.25.132) that had not been reviewed by the POC. (01033)

D. Technical Specification 4.4.1.3 (Surveillance Requirements) states that recirculation loop flow mismatch shall be verified to within the limits as least once per 24 hours while in Operational Conditions 1 and 2.

Contrary to the above, on June 13 and 14, 1996, the plant was in Operational Condition 2, and the daily recirculation loop flow mismatch surveillances were not performed. (01043)

E. Technical Specification 4.3.1.1 (Surveillance Requirements) and associated Table 4.3.1.1-1, Functional Unit 2.b, requires that the APRM channel check be performed daily in Operational Condition 1.

Contrary to the above, on June 21 and 23, 1996, the plant was in Operational Condition 1 and the daily APRM channel checks were not performed. (01053)

The above violations represent a Severity Level III problem (Supplement I).
Civil Penalty - $100,000.

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Washington Public Power Supply System 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 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.

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 IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at WNP-2.

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 Arlington, Texas,
this 26th day of November 1996

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