United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-410 - Farley 1 & 2 - (Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc.)

December 4, 1996

EA 96-410

Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc.
ATTN: Mr. D. N. Morey
Vice President
P. O. Box 1295
Birmingham, AL 35201

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $50,000 
          (NRC INTEGRATED INSPECTION REPORT NOS. 50-348 AND 50-364/96-09)

Dear Mr. Morey:

This refers to the inspection conducted during the period September 1 through October 12, 1996, at your Farley Nuclear Plant (FNP). The inspection included a review of the fire protection program associated with the installation and inspection of Kaowool fire barriers to meet the requirements of Appendix R to 10 CFR Part 50 and the FNP Fire Protection Plan. The results of this inspection were discussed with members of your staff on October 17, 1996, and were formally transmitted to you by letter dated November 8, 1996. In addition, on November 7, 1996, you submitted Licensee Event Report No. 96-006-00 which addressed Kaowool fire barrier installation deficiencies. A closed predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the Region II office on November 18, 1996, with you and 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 your presentation materials are enclosed. In addition, at the conference, you identified errors in and/or disagreement with certain statements expressed in the subject inspection report. The dispositon of your comments in this regard are also enclosed.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that was provided during the conference, 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. The violation described in Part I of the Notice involved three examples of Southern Nuclear Operating Company Inc.'s (SNC) failure to assure that one-hour fire barriers, in this case Kaowool enclosures, were installed on Unit 1 electrical cables associated with systems required for safe shutdown. The components affected by the discrepant conditions were the dedicated B Train high head safety injection pump and its room cooler; the swing high head safety injection pump and its room cooler when aligned to the B Train; one B Train main steam line isolation valve; and the B Train motor driven auxiliary feedwater pump discharge flow control valves. The Kaowool in these areas was not installed as described in design drawings and your 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix R commitments.

At the conference, you admitted the violation and provided additional background information related to the circumstances surrounding the discrepancies and their identification. You described the root causes of the violation as personnel error and insufficient design guidance during initial installation, and stated that there was no reason to believe that a breakdown in your configuration management program occurred.

Although the failure to install Kaowool fire barriers adequately did not result in an actual safety consequence, under certain circumstances, a fire could have adversely impacted your ability to achieve and maintain safe plant shutdown conditions (e.g., loss of charging). Overall, the violation is of significant regulatory concern in that the degraded fire barriers increased the vulnerability of safety related equipment to potential fire hazard or damage and compromised the design objective of defense-in-depth. At the conference you stated that alternate methods were available to mitigate the consequences of a fire affecting these safety related components. Although NRC agrees that alternate methods were available to mitigate the consequences of a fire, several of these methods rely on operator recognition and intervention which are not proceduralized and cannot be assured for 10 CFR 50, Appendix R compliance; and, the fire suppression system relied upon to mitigate a fire involving both trains of high head safety injection experienced failures during April 1994 and 1995 surveillance testing. Furthermore, NRC is concerned that your independent verification program at the time of initial installation (implemented by your construction organization) failed to identify the non-conformances, as has your periodic inspection program since then. This resulted in unknown, degraded fire barriers for an extended period of time. Therefore, this violation is classified in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level III violation.

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 not been the subject of escalated enforcement action within the last two years, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process described in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. At the conference, you stated that your corrective actions taken and/or planned include: (1) the prompt establishment of fire watches; (2) the conduct of a walk-down of motor-operated valve Kaowool installations following identification of deficiencies by the NRC; (3) conduct of a comprehensive inspection of all Kaowool installations in the plant utilizing newly trained, Level II inspectors; (4) correction of identified Kaowool installation discrepancies by January 31, 1997; (5) revision of Procedure FNP-0-FSP-43 to clearly identify the appropriate Kaowool periodic inspection criteria by January 31, 1997; and (6) conduct of additional training for the individuals who will implement the periodic inspection program. Although it appears that your corrective actions were ultimately comprehensive, the NRC determined that credit was not warranted for Corrective Action in that, collectively, your actions were not timely. Specifically, NRC identification of multiple examples of Kaowool and flammastic installation discrepancies over a several month period was required before you took comprehensive corrective actions. Although engineering reviews and evaluations were being performed as issues were identified, you did not institute the necessary positive actions to assess the extent of the condition and to characterize the Kaowool fire barrier discrepancies fully until NRC identified examples of missing Kaowool.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of maintaining an adequate fire protection program for the protection of safety related equipment and the need for prompt and comprehensive corrective actions, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice in the base amount of $50,000 for the Severity Level III violation.

The violation described in Part II of the Notice has been categorized at Severity Level IV. It involved the failure to adequately implement a program for the periodic inspection of Kaowool installed fire barriers. These inadequate inspections, lack of qualified inspectors, and incomplete inspection criteria contributed to failure to identify the Kaowool installation and material condition discrepancies earlier.

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 
                            E. W. Merschoff for 

                            Stewart D. Ebneter
                            Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-348, 50-364
License Nos. NPF-2, NPF-8

Enclosures:
Notice of Violation and Proposed
Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encls:
M. J. Ajluni, Licensing
Services Manager, B-031
Southern Nuclear Operating
Company, Inc.
42 Inverness Center Parkway
Birmingham, AL 35242

R. D. Hill, Jr.
General Manager, Farley Plant
Southern Nuclear Operating
Company, Inc.
P. O. Box 470
Ashford, AL 36312

J. D. Woodard
Executive Vice President
Southern Nuclear Operating
Company, Inc.
P. O. Box 1295
Birmingham, AL 35201

State Health Officer
Alabama Department of Public Health
434 Monroe Street
Montgomery, AL 36130-1701

M. Stanford Blanton
Balch and Bingham Law Firm
P. O. Box 306
1710 Sixth Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35201

Chairman
Houston County Commission
P. O. Box 6406
Dothan, AL 36302


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc.                    Docket Nos. 50-348, 50-364
Farley Nuclear Plant                                        License Nos. NPF-2, NPF-8
                                                            EA 96-410 

During an NRC inspection conducted during the period September 1 through October 12, 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:

I. Violation Assessed A Civil Penalty

10 CFR Part 50, Appendix R, Section III.G.2 requires, in part, where cables or equipment, including associated non-safety circuits that could prevent operation or cause maloperation of redundant trains of systems necessary to achieve and maintain hot shutdown conditions, are located within the same fire area outside of containment, the cables and equipment and associated non-safety circuits be separated by a fire barrier having a three-hour rating, or separated by a horizontal distance of more than 20 feet with no intervening combustibles or fire hazards, or one redundant train be enclosed in a fire barrier having a one-hour rating.

License No. NPF-2, Condition 2.C(4), for Farley Nuclear Plant (FNP), Unit 1, states, in part, that Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. shall implement and maintain in effect all provisions of the approved fire protection program as described in the Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR).

FSAR, Appendix 9B, Fire Protection Program, documents an evaluation of the FNP fire protection program as it complies with Appendix R to 10 CFR 50 and embodies the contents of the Fire Protection Program Reevaluation as approved by the NRC. Appendix 9B, Attachment B, 10 CFR 50 Appendix R Exemptions, provides the NRC's discussion and evaluation of the licensee's Appendix R exemption requests, and also identifies those systems and components that require one-hour Kaowool fire barriers to meet Appendix R.

Contrary to the above, the licensee failed to assure that electrical cables associated with systems necessary to achieve and maintain hot shutdown conditions were enclosed in an one-hour fire barrier as required by Appendix 9B of the FSAR as evidenced by the following examples:

1. On October 2, 1996, the NRC identified that the 1B and 1C Safety Injection Pump "B train" power cables in Room 160 of Fire Area 1-004 were not fully enclosed by a Kaowool fire barrier (approximately 18 feet of cable tray was unwrapped).

2. During the period of October 5-8, 1996, the licensee identified that the 1B and 1C Safety Injection Pump "B train" power cables and room cooler cables in Room 175 of Fire Area 1-004 were not fully enclosed by Kaowool fire barriers (approximately 24 inches of cable from four cable trays were unwrapped).

3. During the period of October 5-8, 1996, the licensee also identified that the cables for main steam isolation and auxiliary feedwater flow control in Room 319 of Fire Area 1-042 were not enclosed by an appropriate fire barrier, i.e., Kaowool, (the entire four foot span of cable tray was unwrapped). (01013)

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

II. Violation Not Assessed A Civil Penalty

License No. NPF-2, Condition 2.C(4), and License No. NPF-8, Condition 2.C(6), states, in part, that Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. shall implement and maintain in effect all provisions of the approved fire protection program as described in the FSAR.

FSAR, Appendix 9B, Fire Protection Program, documents the evaluation of the FNP fire protection program against Appendix R to 10 CFR 50 and embodies the contents of the Fire Protection Program Reevaluation as approved by the NRC.

FSAR, Appendix 9B, Section 9B.6.1, requires periodic inspections of fire protection systems and equipment to assure acceptable condition of these items. Administrative Procedure, FNP-0-AP-36, Fire Surveillance Procedures and Inspections, Revision 12, required that fire surveillance procedures are performed as written, by qualified personnel, and that these procedures provide the necessary detailed requirements.

Fire Surveillance Procedure, FNP-0-FSP-43, Visual Inspection of Kaowool Wraps, Revision 5, provided the acceptance criteria, instructions, and references to installation details for conducting periodic inspections of Kaowool wraps used to provide the one-hour rated fire barriers prescribed by the Fire Protection Program of FSAR, Appendix 9B.

Contrary to the above, the licensee failed to implement an adequate periodic inspection program for Kaowool one-hour fire barriers in that:

1. The periodic inspections failed to verify that Kaowool fire barriers were being maintained in conformance with installation drawings and the acceptance criteria specified in Procedure FNP-0-FSP-43. During the period March 4-7, 1996, licensee personnel inspected Kaowool wraps in accordance with Procedure FNP-0-FSP-43 and did not identify any deficiencies. However, from July 24 - October 2, 1996, the NRC identified multiple examples of installation deficiencies and deteriorating conditions of Kaowool wraps. Subsequent inspections by the licensee conducted during the period October 5-8, 1996, identified over a hundred similar installation and degradation problems with existing Kaowool wraps around electrical raceways.

2. Personnel performing the periodic inspection required by Procedure FNP-0-FSP-43 during March 1996 were not qualified, in that they were not knowledgeable regarding the design, installation, or material condition requirements for Kaowool wraps. These individuals were not adequately trained on Kaowool requirements nor did they have adequate prior experience in installing or inspecting Kaowool.

3. As of October 12, 1996, Procedure FNP-0-FSP-43, Revision 5, did not clearly identify all the critical characteristics to be inspected to assure Kaowool fire barriers were maintained in conformance with installation drawings (e.g., flammastic fire seals and compression). (02014)

This is a Severity Level IV violation (Supplement I).

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, the Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. (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 Farley 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 4th day of December 1996

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012