United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-132 - Clinton (Illinois Power Company)

August 1, 1997

EA 97-132

Mr. John G. Cook
Senior Vice President
Illinois Power Company
500 S. 27th Street
Decatur, IL 62525

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTIES - $110,000 
          (NRC Engineering and Technical Support and Startup
Readiness Inspection 
          Report 50-461/97003(DRS))

Dear Mr. Cook:

This refers to the inspection conducted from January 6, 1997, through March 7, 1997, at the Clinton Power Station (CPS). The inspection included aspects of engineering and technical support and selected startup readiness review action items. An exit for the inspection was conducted on March 7, 1997. A predecisional enforcement conference was conducted on May 15, 1997, to discuss issues related to safety-related electrical breaker maintenance.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information CPS provided during the predecisional enforcement conference, the NRC has determined that a significant violation of NRC requirements occurred. The enclosure contains a Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties (Notice) that describe the violation. The circumstances surrounding the violation are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

The violation represents a significant program breakdown in that assurance was lost in that safety-related electrical breakers would function if required. Both industry information and a previous related violation should have triggered broad-scoped corrective actions to identify, correct, and prevent electrical breaker degradation. Failure to aggressively implement the requirements of 10 CFR 50, Appendix B, resulted in inadequate corrective action for a longstanding equipment problem and the serious degradation of safety-related electrical breakers.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because Clinton has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two 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 credit for identification was not warranted because the issue was identified by the NRC during an inspection. Corrective actions described at the predecisional enforcement conference included establishment of a team to focus attention on breakers, a refurbishment plan for GE, Westinghouse, and ABB breakers, reviews of industry information, an improved review process for vendor information, a lowered threshold for condition reports, procedure improvements to specify lubricants, increased supervisory presence in the field, and training on procedure compliance. Your staff also discussed a maintenance review group responsible for tracking equipment failures and detailed system reviews to be performed over a five-year period. While these actions appeared adequate to restore the condition of the breakers, your staff did not address the broader problem of repetitive equipment failures. Specifically, CPS did not look at maintenance work requests or other equipment failure data to determine if there was a history of repetitive problems with other components. Therefore, credit for corrective action was not warranted.

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 in the amount of $110,000. The need for this action is to emphasize the importance of strong and broad scope corrective action when deficiencies are identified relative to safety-related equipment.

You are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. In your response, you should document the specific actions taken and any additional actions you plan to prevent recurrence. After reviewing your response to this Notice, including your proposed corrective actions and the results of future inspections, the NRC will determine whether further NRC enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with NRC regulatory requirements. I further note that my staff continues to review activities at CPS, and further enforcement actions may be taken if additional violations are identified.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosure(s), and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                            Sincerely, 

                            /s/ A. Bill Beach

                            A. Bill Beach 
                            Regional Administrator 

Docket No. 50-461
License No. NPF-62

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties

cc w/encls:
W. Romberg, Clinton Power Station
P. Yocum, Plant Manager
Clinton Power Station
R. Phares, Manager-Nuclear Assessment
J. Sipek, Director - Licensing
Nathan Schloss, Economist
Office of the Attorney General
G. Stramback, Regulatory Licensing
Services Project Manager
General Electric Company
Chairman, DeWitt County Board
State Liaison Officer
Chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES

Illinois Power Company                         Docket No.50-461
Clinton Power Station                          License No. NPF-62
Clinton, Illinois                              EA 97-132

During an NRC inspection conducted from January 6, 1997 to March 7, 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 penalty are set forth below:

A. 10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion XVI, "Corrective Actions," requires, in part, that measures be established to assure that conditions adverse to quality, such as failures, malfunctions, deficiencies, deviations, defective material and equipment, and nonconformances are promptly identified and corrected. In the case of significant conditions adverse to quality, the measures shall assure that the cause of the conditions is determined and corrective actions are taken to preclude repetition.

A Notice of Violation (Notice) was issued on June 16, 1995, which identified that a significant condition adverse to quality, hardening of grease in ABB K-line breakers, had not been properly identified and corrected.

Contrary to the above, as of March 7, 1997, the licensee failed to assure that the above significant condition adverse to quality was promptly corrected in that further examples of these problems were identified that had not been corrected as a result of actions taken in response to the Notice. Specifically, the licensee failed to adequately correct the hardened/hardening grease on ABB, GE and Westinghouse electrical breakers. The lack of prompt corrective action resulted in binding of various breaker components and the failures of safety-related and critical non-safety related breakers to operate during testing and on demand. (01013)

B. 10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion VIII, "Identification and Control of Materials, Parts, and Components", requires, that measures shall be established for the identification and control of materials, parts, and components, including partially fabricated assemblies. These measures shall assure that identification of the item is maintained by heat number, part number, serial number, or other appropriate means, either on the item or on records traceable to the item, as required throughout fabrication, erection, installation, and use of the item. These identification and control measures shall be designed to prevent the use of incorrect or defective material, parts, and components.

Contrary to the above, as of March 7, 1997, adequate measures were not established to prevent the use of incorrect lubricants or cleaning agents to clean or lubricate safety related electrical breaker components in an approved manner. Specifically, an unapproved lubricant ("Never Seize") was utilized on breaker 2B for RR pump 1A and other breakers, and an unapproved cleaning agent, Freon, was utilized as a degreaser on breaker 5B for RR pump 1B and other breakers in an uncontrolled manner. In addition, an approved lubricant (Mobil 28 grease) was used in an incorrect, unauthorized fashion on numerous breakers. (01023)

This is a Severity Level III problem (Supplement 1).
Civil Penalty - $110,000.

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Illinois Power Company 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 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 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 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 answers 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 answers 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 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 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 the 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 stationed at the Clinton facility.

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 1st day of August 1997


1. Enforcement actions 96-412, 97-001 and 97-002 were issued June 9, 1997, for issues related to the September 1996 seal failure event, the Division III emergency diesel and feedwater isolation valves.

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