United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-007 - Nine Mile Point 1 (Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation)

November 5, 1997

EA 97-007

Mr. B. Ralph Sylvia
Executive Vice President, Generation Business
Group and Chief Nuclear Officer
Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation
Nuclear Learning Center
450 Lake Road
Oswego, New York 13126

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $50,000
          (NRC Inspection Report No. 50-220/96-12)

Dear Mr. Sylvia:

This letter refers to the NRC inspection of your Maintenance Rule implementation program conducted between October 7 and October 11, 1996, at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, Unit 1. The findings of the inspection were discussed with you and members of your staff during an exit meeting held on October 11, 1996. The inspection report was sent to you on January 15, 1997. Based on the inspection, apparent violations of NRC requirements were identified. On February 25, 1997, a Predecisional Enforcement Conference (Conference) was conducted with you and members of your staff to discuss the findings of several inspections including the violations addressed herein, their causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and, after evaluation of the information that you provided during the Conference, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These 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 violations set forth in the Notice represent a significant failure to implement key aspects of the Maintenance Rule. These violations, collectively, represent a programmatic breakdown in the development and implementation of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation's (NMPC's) program to ensure compliance with the regulatory requirements of the Maintenance Rule. Escalated enforcement is warranted due to the significant regulatory concern with the common underlying root causes of the violations. The root causes included a lack of individual accountability, inadequate management oversight, and insufficient self-assessment of Maintenance Rule implementation. These findings demonstrate that management did not apply sufficient resources to assure adequate implementation of the Maintenance Rule program. These violations are indicative of a programmatic failure to implement key aspects of the Maintenance Rule. Therefore, the violations have been categorized 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.

The Commission determined that a maintenance rule was necessary to assure licensees monitor the effectiveness of maintenance to minimize the likelihood of failure of safety-significant equipment that could initiate or adversely affect a transient or accident. Even though the final rule was issued in July 1991, it did not become effective until July 1996. During the five year interim period before the rule became effective, the staff and the industry worked in concert to assure licensees had developed useful guidance and clearly understood the manner in which NRC would inspect implementation. This was accomplished through public workshops and a pilot inspection program, the results of which were documented and shared with the industry.

Notwithstanding the time allotted to implement this program, as well as the guidance provided for establishing a program to meet the Maintenance Rule, your program at Nine Mile Point, Unit 1, was determined to be weak in a number of key aspects. At the Conference, you acknowledged the program deficiencies and noted that implementation of the Maintenance Rule program did not meet your expectations. You identified inadequate management oversight, ineffective integration of industry insights, and insufficient self assessments as some of the overall causes of the program weaknesses.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $50,000 is considered for a Severity Level III problem that occurred prior to November 12, 1996. Since Nine Mile Point has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last 2 years,1 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 for the Severity Level III problem. Credit is not warranted for Identification because the violations were identified by the NRC. Credit is warranted for Corrective Actions because your corrective actions, once the violations were identified by the NRC, were considered prompt and comprehensive. These actions, which were discussed during your presentation at the Conference, included, but are not limited to: (1) improvement of senior management oversight of the Maintenance Rule program, including establishing a full-time Maintenance Rule Manager; (2) administrative control procedure enhancements; (3) plans to conduct periodic internal and external assessments of the program; (4) plans to use your Project and Task Management process to improve the program; and (5) plans to benchmark the program against plants recognized as leaders in Maintenance Rule implementation.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of implementation of effective Maintenance Rule programs, as well as adequate management oversight of such programs, 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.

Additionally, based on further NRC review, the failure to have effective goals and monitoring for the reactor recirculation system and the failure to have effective and timely monitoring and trending of maintenance activities were determined not to be violations of NRC requirements. However, these failures were considered significant weaknesses in your Maintenance Rule program that warrant corrective actions.

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

                              Sincerely, 


                              Hubert J. Miller
                              Regional Administrator 

Docket No. 50-220
License No. DPR-63

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encl:
R. Abbott, Vice President & General Manager - Nuclear
C. Terry, Vice President- Safety Assessment and Support
J. Conway, Vice President - Nuclear Engineering
K. Dahlberg, Vice President - Nuclear Operations
D. Wolniak, Manager, Licensing
J. Warden, New York Consumer Protection Branch
G. Wilson, Senior Attorney
M. Wetterhahn, Winston and Strawn
J. Rettberg, New York State Electric and Gas Corporation
P. Eddy, Director, Electric Division, Department of Public Service, State of New York
C. Donaldson, Esquire, Assistant Attorney General, New York Department of Law
J. Vinquist, MATS, Inc.
F. Valentino, President, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
J. Spath, Program Director, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (NMPC)           Docket No. 50-220
Nine Mile Point, Unit 1                           License No. DPR-63
                                                  EA 97-007

During an NRC inspection conducted between October 7 and October 11, 1996, 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 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. 10 CFR 50.65(b)(2) requires that the scope of the monitoring program specified in paragraph (a)(1) include non-safety related structures, systems, and components (SSCs): (i) that are relied upon to mitigate accidents or transients or are used in plant emergency operating procedures (EOPs); (ii) whose failure could prevent safety related SSCs from fulfilling their safety related function; or (iii) whose failure could cause a reactor scram.

10 CFR 50.65(a)(1) states that licensees shall monitor the performance or condition of SSCs against licensee established goals, in a manner sufficient to provide reasonable assurance that such SSCs, as defined in paragraph (b), are capable of fulfilling their intended functions.

Contrary to the above, on October 11, 1996, the following non-safety related SSCs were not included in the 10 CFR 50.65 monitoring program:

1. Control rod position indication system which is used in the EOPs.

2. Communications system (plant announcement system) which is used to mitigate accidents or transients and used in EOP implementation.

3. Emergency lighting which is relied upon to mitigate accidents or transients and used in EOP implementation.

4. Instrument air system isolation function which is used to prevent failures in the non-safety related portions of the system from affecting the safety related portions of the system.

5. Reactor building sumps and drains which are used in EOP implementation.

6. Annunciator system which is used to mitigate accidents or transients and used in EOP implementation.

7. Circulating water system which, if failed, could cause a reactor scram. (01013)

B. 10 CFR 50.65(a)(1) requires, in part, that the holders of an operating license shall monitor the performance or condition of SSCs, as defined by 10 CFR 50.65(b), against licensee-established goals, in a manner sufficient to provide reasonable assurance that such structures, systems, and components are capable of fulfilling their intended functions. When the performance or condition of a structure, system, or component does not meet established goals, appropriate corrective action shall be taken.

10 CFR 50.65(a)(2) requires, in part, that monitoring as specified in 10 CFR 50.65 Section (a)(1) is not required where it has been demonstrated that the performance or condition of a structure, system, or component is being effectively controlled through the performance of appropriate preventive maintenance, such that the structure, system, or component remains capable of performing its intended function.

Contrary to 10 CFR 50.65(a)(2), as of July 10, 1996, (the time that the licensee elected to not monitor the performance or condition of the following SSCs against licensee-established goals pursuant to the requirements of 10 CFR 50.65 (a)(1)), the licensee failed to demonstrate that the performance or condition of the following risk significant systems, within the scope of 10 CFR 50.65, had been effectively controlled through the performance of appropriate preventive maintenance in accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR 50.65(a)(2). Specifically, the licensee failed to adequately evaluate the appropriateness of the performance of preventive maintenance on these SSCs prior to placing these SSCs under Section (a)(2). The licensee failed to establish unavailability measures for the systems and system's function identified below. Without these unavailability measures, the licensee was unable to demonstrate that the performance of the following SSCs was effectively controlled through the performance of appropriate preventive maintenance, such that these SSC's remain capable of performing their intended function.

1. Electric system - function: provide power in order to shut down the facility and maintain it shutdown.
120 Volt AC system
600 Volt AC system
4160 Volt AC system
125 Volt DC system

2. Automatic depressurization system - function: depressurize the reactor coolant system in order to permit injection with low pressure pumps of the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS).

3. Anticipated transient without scram (ATWS) system - function: provide alternate negative reactivity injection to safely shutdown the reactor.

4. Main steam system - functions: provide overpressure protection for the reactor and remove decay heat and provide isolation of reactor from the balance of plant systems.

5. Primary containment structure vacuum relief system - function: protect structural integrity of the containment.

6. Reactor protection system - functions: shutdown the reactor and initiate (1) reactor coolant and primary containment isolations; and (2) ECCS and emergency safeguards features (ESF) SSCs.

7. Reactor vessel instrumentation system - function: provide reactor level and pressure indication and actuation for ESF.

8. Control rod drive system (scram function) - function; provide capability to insert negative reactivity to safely shutdown the reactor.

9. Containment spray system (torus cooling function) - function: reduce temperature in the torus to maintain containment pressure suppression capability. (01023).

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (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 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 civil penalties. Upon failure to pay any civil penalty due which 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 penalty, unless compromised, remitted, or mitigated, may be collected by civil action pursuant to Section 234(c) 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: Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region I and a copy to the NRC 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 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 King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
this 5th day of November, 1997


1. A $200,000 civil penalty was issued on April 10, 1997 (EAs 96-474, -475, -494, and -541) for several Severity Level III violations; an $80,000 civil penalty was issued on July 24, 1996 (EA 96-116) for a Severity Level II violation; and a $50,000 civil penalty was issued on June 18, 1996 (EA 96-079) for a Severity Level III violation.

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