United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-050 - Limerick 1 & 2 (PECO Energy Company)

August 5, 1997

EAs 97-050; 97-115

Mr. D. M. Smith, President
PECO Nuclear
Nuclear Group Headquarters
Correspondence Control Desk
Post Office Box 195
Wayne, Pennsylvania 19087-0195

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $80,000
          (NRC Office of Investigation Reports Nos. 1-96-006 and 1-96-033)

Dear Mr. Smith:

This letter refers to two NRC investigations conducted by the NRC Office of Investigations (OI). The investigations were conducted after you had identified and investigated instances of record falsification at Limerick, and reported your findings to the NRC. The synopses of the OI investigations were forwarded to you with the NRC letter, dated, April 29, 1997. Based on the investigations conducted by your staff and OI, the NRC has concluded that records were, in fact, falsified at the facility. Falsification of records required to be maintained by NRC regulations or license conditions constitutes an apparent violation of 10 CFR 50.9, as also noted in the NRC April 29, 1997 letter. As a result, a predecisional enforcement conference was conducted with Mr. G. Rainey and other members of your staff on June 2, 1997, to discuss the violation, its causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the information developed during the investigations, and the information provided during the June 2, 1997, conference, violations of NRC requirements are being cited. The violations are described in detail in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice). The violations involve instances of records falsification at Limerick. In one case, a chemistry technician and a former chemist, at the direction of the former Primary Chemistry Manager, deliberately falsified a record of the time a grab sample was taken from the Reactor Enclosure Cooling Water (RECW) system. The Primary Chemistry Manager also pressured the technician and chemist to lie about their actions to your security personnel investigating the matter. In another case, a fire protection technical assistant deliberately failed to perform a fire hose station visual inspection surveillance test, yet falsified the surveillance test document to indicate the test was performed.

With respect to the first violation (OI Report 1-96-006), the technical specifications require that with a radiation monitor inoperable, at least one grab sample needs to be taken at least once every 24 hours. On February 7, 1996, the sample was approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes late, yet the record was changed to indicate that the sample was taken within the 24 hour period. Further, the investigation, in addition to confirming falsification of the sample documentation, also concluded there was a conspiracy and subsequent coercion of the chemistry technician by the Primary Chemistry Manager in an attempt to cover up the late sample.

With respect to the second violation (OI Report 1-96-033), a fire protection technical assistant deliberately failed to properly perform a fire hose station visual inspection surveillance test and falsified the surveillance test document. Your investigation found that: (1) the individual deliberately failed to do the test in question, yet falsified the document; and (2) the individual deliberately failed to perform other such tests, yet falsified the related documentation on five other occasions; and (3) the individual failed to enter a specific area necessary to complete a fire suppression water system spray and sprinkler visual inspection for which he had signed documentation indicating that the visual inspection had been successfully completed.

Not performing required activities, yet documenting on records that the activities were performed, constitutes a significant regulatory concern. The NRC has previously issued documents emphasizing the importance of maintaining complete and accurate records of activities performed, such as in NRC Information Notice 92-30 issued on April 23, 1992, and NRC Generic Letter 93-03 issued on October 20, 1993. Those documents describe similar occurrences at other facilities. While the NRC is clearly concerned with the individuals who engaged in these activities at Limerick, the NRC is also concerned whether the situation involving the Primary Chemistry Manager is evidence that there has been at least pockets at Limerick where staff was fearful of raising problems when they occurred, notwithstanding generally strong corrective action processes at the site.

Even though the RECW sample was not contaminated, and all affected fire protection equipment was operable, the NRC considers record falsification a significant regularity concern. Given the number of record falsifications and given that the RECW record falsification was directed by the former primary Chemistry Manager, a licensee official, who subsequently coerced subordinates to lie to PECO investigators regarding this matter, the violations are categorized in the aggregate as a Severity Level II 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 in effect at the time these violations occurred, a base civil penalty in the amount of $80,000 is considered for a Severity Level II problem. The NRC recognizes that you identified both violations and your corrective actions were considered prompt and comprehensive. Those corrective actions included: (1) taking disciplinary action against responsible individuals; (2) taking steps to verify that there was not a more widespread integrity issue within the chemistry and fire protection departments; (3) conducting a meeting with chemistry personnel during which integrity expectations were communicated to staff; (4) reenforcing expectations within the Fire Protection group; and (5) issuing a letter from the Vice President to all site personnel with reenforcement of expectations during the group meetings. However, civil penalties are normally proposed for Severity Level II problems and for willful violations to ensure that enforcement actions reflect the significance of the circumstances.

Therefore, notwithstanding your identification and corrective action, to emphasize the importance of performing activities as required, and maintaining accurate records of such activities, and holding staff accountable to these standards, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement and the Deputy Executive Director for Regulatory Effectiveness, in accordance with Section VII.A.1 of the Enforcement Policy, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the amount of $80,000 for the Severity Level II problem.

The NRC is treating the failure to take the necessary grab sample in a timely manner as a Non-Cited Violation in accordance with Section VII.B.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. Your response should describe any additional actions you plan to take to ensure employees recognize the need to self identify and report problems when errors occur. 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 enclosures, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                            Sincerely, 


                            Hubert J. Miller
                            Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-352: 50-353
License Nos. NPF-39; NPF-85

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encl:
G. Hunger, Jr., Chairman, Nuclear Review Board and Director - Licensing
W. MacFarland, Vice President - Limerick Generating Station
J. Kantner, Manager, Experience Assessment
Secretary, Nuclear Committee of the Board
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
PECO Energy Company                                        Docket Nos.  50-352; 50-353
Limerick Units 1 & 2                                       License Nos.  NPF-39; NPF-85
                                                           EAs 97-050; 97-115

As a result of investigations conducted by the NRC Office of Investigations, and PECO Energy Company, 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:

10 CFR 50.9 requires, in part, that information required by the Commission's regulations or license conditions to be maintained by the licensee shall be complete and accurate in all material respects.

Technical Specification (TS) 6.10.2.d requires, in part, that records of surveillance activities required by TSs be retained for at least 5 years.

1. Contrary to the above, a record of a TS surveillance activity required to be maintained by the licensee at Limerick, was not complete and accurate in all material respects. Specifically, on February 7, 1996, while a Reactor Enclosure Cooling Water (RECW) radiation monitor was inoperable, the licensee was required, in accordance with TS 3.3.7.1, ACTION 72, to obtain and analyze at least one grab sample from the RECW system at least once per 24 hours. On that date, the sample needed to be taken by 11:00 a.m. to meet that requirement. Although the sample was not taken until 12:15 p.m. on that date (approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes after the time it was due), the record of the RECW Surveillance Test (ST-5-026-570-1, "Inop Reactor Enclosure Cooling Water Rad Mon Grab Sampling and Analysis"), signed by a chemistry technician and the chemist (as chemistry supervision), was inaccurate because: (1) page one of attachment 1 of the test record indicated that the time of the sample was 11:00 a.m., and (2) the attached computer printout of the Gamma Spectrum Analysis (required by step 4.3.1 of the surveillance test) also indicated that the sample was taken at 11:00 a.m.. This record was material because it provides evidence as to whether the licensee met the grab sample requirement. (01012)

2. Contrary to the above, certain surveillance records required to be maintained by the licensee at Limerick, were not complete and accurate in all material respects. Specifically, on three occasions between April 3, 1995 and June 28, 1995, the records for fire protection surveillance tests required by TS 4.7.6.2.c and TS 4.7.6.5.a were not accurate in that certain fire hose and sprinkler system inspections were recorded as having been completed, even though plant security data indicates that the technician was not present in the vicinity of the equipment to perform the inspection. These records were material because they provide evidence as to whether the licensee met the fire protection surveillance requirements. (01022)

This is a Severity Level II problem. (Supplement VII)
Civil Penalty - $80,000.

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, PECO Energy 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 receipt 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.

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 that 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 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 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 King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
this 5th day of August 1997

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