United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-462 - Beaver Valley 1 & 2 (Duquesne Light Company, DLC)

March 10, 1997

EA 96-462
EA 96-540

Mr. J. E. Cross, President
Generation Group
Duquesne Light Company (DLC)
Post Office Box 4
Shippingport, Pennsylvania 15077

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES - $160,000 (NRC Inspection Report Nos. 50-334/96-08, 50-412/96-08, 50-334/96-09 and 50-412/96-09)

Dear Mr. Cross:

This letter refers to NRC inspections conducted between September 29 and December 21, 1996, at the Beaver Valley Power Station facility, the findings of which were discussed with you and members of your staff during exit meetings on November 27 and December 27, 1996. The purpose of the inspections was to determine whether activities authorized by the license were conducted safely and in accordance with NRC requirements. During the inspections, apparent violations of NRC requirements were identified, as described in the NRC inspection reports sent to you with our letters, dated November 29, 1996, and January 2, 1997, respectively. On January 16, 1997, a Predecisional Enforcement Conference was conducted with you and members of your staff to discuss the violations, their causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the information developed during the inspections, and the information provided during the conference, five violations are being cited and are described in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties (Notice). Four of the violations relate to deficiencies associated with inadequate control of leak sealant repairs on the Unit 2 reactor head vent system (HVS) in December 1996. The deficiencies resulted in degradation of the system. The remaining violation involves the failure to correct a condition adverse to quality at Unit 1 involving the operation of the reactor with two of the three pressurizer power operated relief valve (PORV) block valves shut for an extended period of time (from 1981 until 1996).

With respect to violations related to the leak sealant repairs on the HVS at Unit 2, sealant was injected into the HVS after operators had identified, in November 1996, a leak of approximately 15 drops per minute from a blind flange downstream of a normally shut 1 inch isolation valve in a dead-leg portion of the HVS. In order to eliminate the identified leakage prior to reactor startup, your station management directed that a temporary leak injection repair be performed. However, in preparing for the injection, your engineering staff erred in specifying the temperature constraints for application of the sealant. Although the type of material injected was suitable for HVS design temperatures, it was not suitable for injection at the lower temperature which existed while the HVS was being repaired. In addition, although the leak sealant activities were performed by a vendor, maintenance and quality assurance oversight of the vendor's activities were not adequate to verify key parameters such as the quantity and injection pressure for the leak sealant material, as well as the injection port location. As a result, the sealant failed to harden properly, migrated to unintended portions of the HVS system, and degraded the proper operation of the HVS flow control valves due to sealant accumulating on the valve seats. In addition, the procedural controls used during the activity were not commensurate with the safety importance of the work, and the vendor procedures used to perform the repairs had not been properly reviewed and approved. While the HVS relief flow path was not completely blocked at the time of your investigation of this occurrence, the sealant material would have hardened over a long period of time and may have caused the flow control valves to remain stuck in the closed position, thereby blocking both HVS relief flow paths.

The violations related to this leak sealant repair are described in Section I of the enclosed Notice. In addition to these violations, the NRC is also concerned that this problem was revealed during a post-maintenance test of the affected valves, which was performed after the NRC questioned the leak integrity of the HVS. Absent that questioning, it is apparent that your staff did not intend to perform the testing and was proceeding to return Unit 2 to power operations. Absent the testing that occurred after the NRC questioning, the degradation of the HVS relief function would most likely not have been identified unless the system was called upon to perform its safety function. This represents a significant safety concern, and therefore, the four violations are classified in the aggregate as a Severity Level III problem in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for that Severity Level III violation1 or problem. Your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last 2 years (namely, a Severity Level III violation without a civil penalty issued on September 11, 1996, for failure to comply with 10 CFR 50.62(c)(1), in that, the ATWS Mitigation System Circuitry (AMSAC) had not been designed to perform its function in a reliable manner (EA 96-244)). Therefore, 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. Even though the problem was revealed through an event during post-maintenance testing, credit is not warranted for identification because it is unlikely that the violations would have been identified without NRC questioning and intervention to determine HVS leak integrity. Credit is warranted for corrective actions which were considered prompt and comprehensive. Those actions included, but were not limited to, (1) replacement and retest of all portions of the HVS degraded by the sealant material; (2) evaluation of existing leak repairs at both units; (3) development of a leak repair checklist; (4) revision of the leak repair procedure; (5) more stringent controls for approval of vendor procedures; (6) establishing interim controls on access of vendors to the site; (7) and other administrative control enhancements to address the weaknesses in the vendor program and the quality control program.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of appropriate oversight and control of work on safety-related systems, and in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 would normally be issued in this case. However, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to exercise discretion in accordance with Section VII.A.1 of the Enforcement Policy and increase the civil penalty amount to $110,000 in this case because the violations represent particularly poor performance by your quality assurance and maintenance staffs regarding the activities performed by the vendor. Specifically, work instructions, job prebriefs, and overall vendor oversight were inadequate. Also, prior NRC Information Notices 85-90 and 93-90 provided the industry information regarding the importance of appropriate control of leak sealant activities as a result of leak sealant injection problems at Catawba Unit 1 in 1985 and Millstone Unit 2 in 1993. In fact, Information Notice 93-90 specifically noted that the licensee had made no provision to limit the amount of leak sealant injected into the valve in question in that case. In your case, the vendor's injection of more sealant than specified contributed to this occurrence regarding the HVS system.

With respect to the violation set forth in Section II of the enclosed Notice, two of the three PORV block valves were shut in 1981 as a temporary measure to address PORV leakage, as well as seismic concerns related to NRC Bulletin 79-14. Your Updated Final Safety Analysis Report (UFSAR) and technical specifications (TS) bases state that the valves are normally open. Although piping modifications were completed in 1981 to address the seismic concerns, and PORV leakage was resolved in 1982/1983, the block valves were not reopened and the unit continued to operate with the valves in the closed position until the valves were opened on October 8, 1996, following questioning by the NRC. Leaving the valves closed for approximately 13 years, even though the leakage and seismic concerns had been resolved, constitutes a significant condition adverse to quality that was not identified and corrected by your staff.

The NRC is concerned that your staff had several opportunities to identify the incorrect valve lineup, assess the associated risk significance, and correct the condition, including most recently in 1995, yet failed to do so. For example, 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix R fire protection reviews between 1986 and 1990 should have led to the identification of this condition. Also, during your Individual Plant Examination (IPE) evaluations and submittals between 1990 and 1995, your staff had additional opportunities to identify and correct this condition, which differed from the UFSAR configuration. Finally, when submitting a TS amendment in 1995 in response to Generic Letter 90-06, your staff should have recognized that the PORV block valves should be maintained normally open as clearly stated in the bases of your TS amendment submittal. You have recently identified other instances of equipment being found outside its required position, as noted in Inspection Report Nos. 50-334/96-10 and 50-412/96-10 issued on February 21, 1997, and which were the subject of another predecisional enforcement conference with you in the Region I office on March 7, 1997. Enforcement action for those additional findings is still under review by the NRC.

Operation with the pressurizer relief system in a configuration contrary to the UFSAR represents a significant regulatory concern because of the length of time the condition existed, and the failure to identify and correct the problem despite several opportunities. Therefore, the violation has been categorized at Severity Level III in accordance with the Enforcement Policy.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, the base civil penalty amount for this Severity Level III violation is $50,000 because it occurred prior to November 12, 1996. Your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two years, as already described herein; therefore, 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 is not warranted for identification since the NRC identified the problem. Credit is warranted for corrective action because your corrective actions were both prompt and comprehensive once the violation was identified in 1996. Those actions included, but were not limited to (1) performing a 10 CFR 50.59 evaluation and restoring the valves to the normally open position; (2) plans to conduct a detailed review of the Unit 1 and 2 UFSARs; (3) completion of a review by your Quality Services Unit of selected NRC Bulletin 79-14 modifications; (4) performing a limited scope review of Unit 1 UFSAR against manual drawings and normal system alignment with similar plans for Unit 2; (5) reviewing the event and importance of adherence to the UFSAR with appropriate staff; and (6) placement of both units' UFSAR on the site computer network in a text searchable form.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive identification and correction of violations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to propose a $50,000 civil penalty in this case. If not for those corrective actions, the penalty would have been $100,000 for this violation.

As a result, cumulative civil penalties of $160,000 are proposed for these violations.

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 use 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, and its enclosure, and your response, will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                            Sincerely, 



                            Hubert J. Miller
                            Regional Administrator 

Docket Nos. 50-334; 50-412
License Nos. DPR-66; NPF-73

Enclosure:
Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties

cc w/encl:
S. Jain, Vice President, Nuclear Services
R. LeGrand, Vice President, Nuclear Operations
L. Freeland, Manager, Nuclear Engineering Department
B. Tuite, General Manager, Nuclear Operations Unit
K. Ostrowski, Manager, Quality Services Unit
R. Brosi, Manager, Nuclear Safety Department
M. Clancy, Mayor
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
State of Ohio


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES
Duquesne Light Company (DLC)                           Docket Nos.  50-334; 50-412
Beaver Valley Power Station                            License Nos. DPR-66; NPF-73
                                                       EAs 96-462; 96-540

During NRC inspections conducted between September 29 and December 21, 1996, and for which exit meetings were held on November 29, 1996, and January 2, 1997, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the NRC proposes to impose civil penalties 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 penalties are set forth below:

I. VIOLATIONS RELATED TO DEFICIENCIES IN REACTOR HEAD VENT SYSTEM LEAK SEALANT REPAIRS

A. 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion II, Quality Assurance Program, requires, in part that the quality assurance program provide control over activities affecting the quality of structures, systems, and components, to an extent consistent with their importance to safety.

Contrary to the above, on or about December 2, 1996, the licensee did not provide control of activities affecting the quality of the reactor head vent system (HVS) in that quality control oversight and hold points to verify key parameters prior to implementation of the leak sealant repairs of the reactor head vent system, were inadequate. The specific parameters that were not verified were the quantity and injection pressure of the leak sealant material, as well as the leak sealant injection port location. As a result, the amount of leak sealant material injected into the valve was twice the amount specified in the maintenance work package. Failure to monitor these parameters contributed to the migration of leak sealant to unintended portions of the system, including the seat to disc interfaces on HVS flow control valves 2RCS-HCV-250A and 250B. Valve 2RCS-HCV-250A subsequently became bound and failed to fully stroke. (01013)

B. 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion III, Design Control, requires, in part that measures be established for the selection and review for suitability of materials and processes that are essential to the safety-related functions of structures, systems, and components.

Contrary to the above, on or about December 2, 1996, the licensee did not provide adequate measures to verify the selection of suitable leak sealant material for use in a leak repair of the safety-related reactor head vent system. Specifically, licensee engineers specified an incorrect repair location temperature, in engineering memorandum 113494. This error led to the selection of an improper sealant material that failed to harden, as required, at the HVS temperature that existed at the time of the injection. As a result, the sealant material migrated to unintended portions of the system, thereby adversely affecting the operability of the HVS system. (01023)

C. Technical Specification 6.8.1 requires that written procedures be properly established and implemented covering activities recommended in Appendix A to NRC Regulatory Guide 1.33, Revision 2, "Quality Assurance Program Requirements (Operation)." Section 9 of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33 specifies that maintenance that can affect the performance of safety-related equipment be performed in accordance with written procedures, documented instructions, or drawings appropriate to the circumstances. Beaver Valley procedure NPDAP 2.15, "Administrative Controls", Revision 2, specifies requirements for control of vendor services, including maintenance activities.

Contrary to the above, on or about December 2, 1996, the licensee failed to assure that maintenance affecting the performance of the reactor head vent system was properly performed in accordance with written procedures and instructions in that:

1) The licensee did not assure that adequate controls for the leak sealant quantity and injection pressure, as specified in Maintenance Work Request 059169 and supporting Engineering Memorandum 113494, were prescribed in written procedures.

2) The licensee did not assure that vendor-performed maintenance activities associated with the reactor HVS leak sealant repair were properly conducted under procedural controls commensurate with the safety importance of the work and as would be required if licensee personnel performed the work. Specifically, the licensee failed to properly oversee vendor work during injection gun loading, the drill and tap location used, the injection pressure used, and accountability for the amount of leak sealant material injected. (01033)

D. Technical Specification (TS) 6.8.2 requires each procedure specified in TS 6.8.1 to be reviewed by the Onsite Safety Committee (OSC) and be approved by the General Manager, Nuclear Operations or a predesignated alternate.

Contrary to the above, vendor engineering repair procedures NP-2110 and NP-2139, used for two safety related leak injection repairs on December 1 and December 2, 1996, respectively, were not properly reviewed by the OSC and approved by the General Manager, Nuclear Operations, or a predesignated alternate. (01043)

These four violations are classified in the aggregate as a Severity Level III problem (Supplement I).
Civil Penalty - $110,000.

II. VIOLATION RELATED TO POWER OPERATED RELIEF VALVE (PORV) BLOCK VALVES

10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion XVI requires, in part, that measures be established to assure that conditions adverse to quality are promptly identified and corrected.

Contrary to the above, since 1983, a condition adverse to quality existed at Unit 1 involving two PORV block valves being in the closed position, and this condition adverse to quality was not identified and corrected until October 8, 1996. Two of the three PORV block valves were shut in 1981 as a temporary measure to address PORV leakage, as well as seismic concerns related to NRC Bulletin 79-14. While Section 4.2.2.7 of the licensee's UFSAR and the bases for TS 3.4.11 indicate that the block valves are normally open, TS 3.4.11 permits the block valves to be closed in the event of inoperable PORVs. Although piping modifications were completed in 1981 to address the seismic concerns, and PORV leakage was resolved in 1983, the block valves were not reopened at that time and the unit continued to operate with the valves in the closed position until the valves were opened on October 8, 1996, following questioning by the NRC. Leaving the valves closed for approximately 13 years after the leakage and seismic concerns had been resolved, constitutes the condition adverse to quality that was not identified and corrected by licensee staff, despite multiple opportunities to do so, as evidenced by the following examples.

  1. The PORV block valve configuration and power supply train separation were specifically evaluated by licensee engineers during Appendix R Fire Protection Program reviews performed between 1986 and 1990. Engineers incorrectly concluded that the PORV block valves should remain shut to mitigate the consequences of a fire due to power supply separation concerns. The licensee should have determined that the train separation concern had been procedurally addressed by isolating power to the valves in the event of a fire, but failed to do so.

  2. During IPE evaluations and submittals between 1990 and 1995, the licensee had opportunities to identify and correct this condition, which differed from the UFSAR configuration, but failed to do so.

  3. When submitting a Technical Specification amendment in 1994 (supplemented in 1995) in response to NRC Generic Letter 90-06, the licensee should have identified and corrected this condition because the bases of the TS amendment submittal clearly stated that the PORV block valves are normally open, but failed to do so. (02013)

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

Pursuant to provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Duquesne Light Company (DLC) 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 Penalties (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 penalties 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 penalties proposed above, or may protest imposition of the civil penalties, 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 penalties will be issued. Should the Licensee elect to file an answer in accordance with 10 CFR 2.205 protesting the civil penalties, in whole or in part, such answer should be clearly marked as an "Answer to a Notice of Violation" and may: (1) deny the violation(s) 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 penalties should not be imposed. In addition to protesting the civil penalties in whole or in part, such answer may request remission or mitigation of the penalties.

In requesting mitigation of the proposed penalties, 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 civil penalties.

Upon failure to pay any civil penalties due that subsequently have been determined in accordance with the applicable provisions of 10 CFR 2.205, this matter may be referred to the Attorney General, and the penalties, 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: 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 I, and a copy to the NRC Senior Resident Inspector at the facility that is the subject of this Notice.

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. If redactions are required, a proprietary version containing brackets placed around the proprietary, privacy, and/or safeguards information should be submitted. In addition, a non-proprietary version with the information in the brackets redacted should be submitted to be placed in the PDR.

Dated at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
this 10th day of March 1997


1. On November 12, 1996, the base civil penalty amounts for Severity Level III violations or problems changed from $50,000 to $55,000. Since these violations occurred after November 12, 1996, the base amount for this Severity Level III problem is $55,000.

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