United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-048 - Zion 1 & 2 (Commonwealth Edison Co.)

June 17, 1997

EA 97-048

Mr. J. H. Mueller
Site Vice President
Zion Generating Station
Commonwealth Edison Company
101 Shiloh Boulevard
Zion, Illinois 60099

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY -$50,000 
          (NRC ROUTINE RADIATION PROTECTION INSPECTION REPORT 
          50-296/96021(DRS); 50-304/96021(DRS))

Dear Mr. Mueller:

This refers to the inspection conducted from December 3, 1996, through January 22, 1997, at your Zion Generating Station Unit 1 and 2 facilities. This inspection included a review of Zion's program for transportation of radioactive material. The written results of this inspection were provided to you on February 11, 1997. A predecisional enforcement conference was conducted on March 19, 1997.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information 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, and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report. The violations involved numerous weaknesses in the transportation of radioactive material program and included: failure to train personnel in accordance with procedures; inadequately maintaining radioactive material shipping procedures; inadequately implementing radiation control procedures; and exceeding the radiation limits of 49 CFR 173.425 for a shipment of radioactive materials. These violations taken collectively demonstrate an overall programmatic deficiency and are described below.

First, two of the seven workers authorized to release and approve shipments of licensed radioactive materials were not adequately trained in accordance with station procedures. While the workers attended the appropriate training, they did not pass the associated examination. In addition, the training offered did not address facility instructions or operating procedures. While failing to train authorized personnel was significant, especially since the applicable regulations were substantially revised on April 1, 1996, the radioactive material shipments were reviewed by trained individuals.

Second, a number of Zion's radioactive waste and material shipping procedures were not properly maintained to meet the April 1, 1996, revisions to applicable transportation regulations. Since a computerized software program was used to accomplish the intent of the procedures, Zion's staff deemed these procedures to be obsolete without properly deleting these procedures, and without addressing or documenting the known procedural deficiencies. While not adequately implementing the station process for revising procedures was significant, the instructions in the procedures were not necessary for processing radioactive material shipments. The instructions in the procedures were for manual determinations of shipment requirements, but manual determinations were no longer being performed.

Third, certain of Zion's radiological control procedures were not implemented. On two occasions Zion's staff failed to analyze waste streams annually to determine radionuclide scaling factors as required by procedures. In failing to implement these procedures, Zion's staff did not provide reasonable assurance that the use of scaling factors to determine nuclide activity could be accurately correlated with actual measurements. This issue is significant because incorrect information could have been provided to the radioactive waste burial site as a result of inaccurate radioactivity estimations. It is unlikely that the difference would have changed the waste classification or would have exceeded the burial site license, but it is important for these activities to be accurate to ensure that waste is properly segregated and is stable. In addition, on January 8, 1997, operations personnel removed a potentially contaminated rod from a posted contaminated area without complying with procedural requirements to contain the rod or to have the rod released by a radiation protection technician. This particular event was not radiologically significant, but improperly removing contaminated items increases the potential of contaminating clean areas and personnel. This event was indicative of the ongoing problems with radiation worker practices at the station.

Finally, problems were observed concerning the December 9, 1996, limited quantity shipment of radioactive material to the Byron Nuclear Station. The Byron staff identified dose rates in excess of the Department of Transportation's (DOT) contact radiation limits for a limited quantity shipment. The original radiological survey of this shipment, conducted by Zion's staff, clearly indicated that the dose rates exceeded the limit of 0.5 millirem per hour. However, the dose rates were incorrectly documented on the shipping papers. These shipping papers had been reviewed by four members of Zion's staff without this error being identified. This issue is not radiologically significant, due to the low dose rates on the package; however, the issue is of regulatory significance because the classification allowed the shipment to be excepted from additional DOT requirements.

While individually each of these issues would not constitute a matter of high safety significance, collectively, these issues are significant because they indicate inadequate implementation and a lack of oversight of the program. We are particularly concerned that problems were identified in virtually every phase of the program. Additionally, an April 1996 audit conducted by Zion's staff in this area lacked the depth and thoroughness necessary to identify the fundamental program weaknesses. Lack of an effective audit in this area was particularly noteworthy given that a major change to the applicable transportation regulations was made effective April 1, 1996. Coupled with the poor history in radiation protection performance over the past 12 months (violations have been identified concerning inadequate posting of radiological hazards, inadequate contamination control practices, inadequate procedures to control radiation monitors, and failure to perform compensatory actions for inoperable radiation monitors), these issues indicate a breakdown in this program and weaknesses in the ability to perform adequate self assessments. 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 base civil penalty in the amount 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, 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. The NRC determined that no credit for Identification was warranted because this problem was identified by the NRC during a routine inspection, and not identified through Commonwealth Edison Company's self assessment process. The NRC determined that credit for Corrective Action was warranted because corrective actions were timely and thorough. Once these issues were brought to the attention of facility management, all shipments of radioactive material were suspended, and the assistance of the corporate subject matter expert was obtained. Training was completed for appropriate personnel, and the training process was enhanced. All outdated procedures were deleted, and procedural rebaselining was initiated. Considerable efforts were implemented to improve the waste stream analysis process through procedural revisions and additional training, and an emphasis was placed on complying with radiation control procedures. Finally, more descriptive guidelines and expectations were created for the approval of radioactive material shipments.

While your corrective actions were thorough, the initial audit of the radioactive material program was superficial and identified none of the above weaknesses. It is imperative that Commonwealth Edison Company can rely on self assessments to identify program deficiencies, and not depend solely on personnel rationalizations to supersede inadequate procedures to ensure the program is adequately implemented. The administrative barriers to prevent this type of problem eroded to the point that the transportation program was significantly degraded. Poor oversight of the radioactive material shipping program is significant since this program controls radioactive material entering the public domain.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of procedural compliance, attention to detail, compliance with technical specifications, compliance with radiation limits, and prompt identification of violations, 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 for the Severity Level III problem.

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, 

                            Original Signed By
                            A. Bill Beach
                            Regional Administrator 

Docket Nos. 50-295; 50-304
License Nos. DPR-39; DPR-48

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed
Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encl:
T. J. Maiman, Senior Vice President, Nuclear Operations Division
D. A. Sager, Vice President, Generation Support
H. W. Keiser, Chief Nuclear, Operating Officer
L. W. Pearce, Station Manager
C. C. Peterson, Regulatory Affairs, Manager
I. Johnson, Acting Nuclear Regulatory Services Manager
Richard Hubbard
Nathan Schloss, Economist
Office of the Attorney General
State Liaison Officer
Chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission
J. R. Bull, Vice President, General & Transmission, MidAmerican Energy Company
Document Control Desk-Licensing


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
Commonwealth Edison Company                          Docket No. 50-295; 50-304
Zion Generating Station                              License No. DPR-39; DPR-48 
                                                     EA 97-048

During an NRC inspection conducted from December 3, 1996, through January 22, 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 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:

1. Technical Specification 6.1.5 requires that retraining and replacement training of station personnel shall be in accordance with ANSI N18.1, "Selection and Training of Nuclear Power Plant Personnel," dated March 8, 1971.

ANSI N18.1, dated March 8, 1971, step 5.1, requires that a continuing program of training be used for training replacement personnel and for retraining necessary to ensure that personnel remain proficient.

ZAP 200-09, "Training," revision 0, dated September 17, 1992, step 3.a.1, requires, in part, that personnel, other than station-men, involved in the transfer, packaging, or transport of radioactive material shall be trained in accordance with IE Bulletin 79-19, and retrained biennially.

IE Bulletin 79-19 states that personnel should be trained in the DOT and NRC regulatory requirements, the waste burial license requirements, and in the instructions and operating procedures for the transfer, packaging, and transport of radioactive waste.

Contrary to the above, since April 1992 and April 1994, two licensee personnel involved in the packaging of radioactive material and authorized by the licensee to release licensed material to carriers were not trained in the DOT and NRC regulatory requirements, the waste burial license requirements, and in the instructions and operating procedures for the transfer, packaging, and transport of radioactive waste in accordance with ZAP 200-9, revision 0.

2. Technical Specification 6.2.2.A requires, in part, that radiation control procedures be maintained and shall be consistent with the requirements of 10 CFR 20.

10 CFR 20.2006 requires, in part, that each shipment of radioactive waste intended for disposal at a licensed land disposal facility must be accompanied by a shipment manifest which includes a certification by the waste generator as specified in Section III of Appendix F to Part 20.

Section III of Appendix F to Part 20 requires that the waste generator certify that the transported materials are properly classified, described, packaged, marked and labeled and are in proper condition for transportation according to the applicable regulations of the Department of Transportation and the Commission.

Contrary to the above, since April 1, 1996, the licensee failed to maintain ZRP 5600-7 "Off-site shipment of Radioactive Material," revision 0, to be consistent with the requirements specified in 10 CFR 20.2006. Specifically, ZRP 5600-7 was not updated to incorporate the April 1, 1996, revisions to the Department of Transportation regulations (49 CFR 100-179), and contained inaccurate instructions for the classification, description, packaging, marking, and labeling of radioactive material.

3. Technical Specification 6.2.2.A requires, in part, that radiation control procedures be implemented.

ZRP 5610-4, "Preparation and Shipment of Samples for Special Analysis," revision 0, dated November 12, 1993, step E.3, requires, in part, that primary spent resin and steam generator blowdown resin samples be sent out for analysis yearly, in accordance with 10 CFR 61 guidelines.

ZAP 610-3, "Unescorted Access to and Conduct in Radiologically Posted Areas," revision 1(G), dated September 12, 1996, step E.5, requires, in part, that personnel are to contain contaminated equipment removed from contaminated areas or have the equipment released by a radiation protection technician.

Contrary to the above:

a. Between August 1993 and November 1996, the licensee failed to send out primary spent resin samples for analysis, in accordance with ZRP 5610-4.

b. Since September 1994, the licensee failed to send out steam generator blowdown resin samples for analysis, in accordance with ZRP 5610-4.

c. On January 8, 1997, operations personnel removed a potentially contaminated rod from a posted contaminated area without containing the rod or having the rod released by a radiation protection technician in accordance with ZAP 610-3.

4. 10 CFR 71.5 requires, in part, that each licensee who transports licensed material outside of the site of usage, or where transport is on public highways, or who delivers licensed material to a carrier for transport, shall comply with the applicable Department of Transportation regulations in 49 CFR parts 170 through 189 appropriate to the mode of transport.

49 CFR 173.421 requires, in part, that a Class 7 (radioactive) material whose activity per package does not exceed the limits specified in 49 CFR 173.425 and its packaging are excepted from the specification packaging, marking, and labeling, and the shipping paper and certification requirements, if the radiation level at any point on the external surface of the package does not exceed 0.005 mSv/hr (0.5 mrem/hr).

Contrary to the above, on December 9, 1996, the licensee improperly transported a Class 7 (radioactive) material package as a package expected from the specification packaging, marking, and labeling requirements, and the shipping paper and certification requirements. Specifically, this package exceeded the 0.005 mSv/hr maximum radiation limit on the external surface of the package required for expected packages in 49 CFR 173.421.

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Commonwealth Edison Company (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 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 III 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. 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 Lisle, Illinois
this 17th day of June 1997


1. A Severity Level III Problem with a $100,000 Civil Penalty was issued on March 12, 1997 (EA 96-355); a Severity Level III Violation with a $50,000 Civil Penalty was issued on August 23, 1996 (EA 96-216); a Severity Level III Violation with a $50,000 Civil Penalty was issued on February 21, 1996 (EA 95-283); a Severity Level III Violation with a $50,000 Civil Penalty was issued on November 28, 1995 (EA 95-144); and a Severity Level III Violation with no Civil Penalty was issued on September 22, 1995 (EA 95-118).

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