United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-182 & 97-257 - Salem 1 & 2 (PSEG Nuclear, LLC)

October 8, 1997

EAs 97-182 97-257

Mr. Leon R. Eliason
Chief Nuclear Officer & President
Nuclear Business Unit
Public Service Electric and Gas Company
Post Office Box 236
Hancocks Bridge, New Jersey 08038

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND EXERCISE OF DISCRETION
          (NRC Inspection Report Nos. 50-272; 50-311/97-09 and 50-311/97-11)

Dear Mr. Eliason:

This letter refers to two NRC inspections conducted at Salem Units 1 and 2 between March 24 and April 18, 1997. The first inspection was a special inspection conducted to examine the emergency core cooling system (ECCS) semi-automatic switchover (from the injection mode to long-term recirculation cooling) and related residual heat removal (RHR) system flow issues at Unit 2. The second inspection examined certain aspects of your fire protection programs for Units 1 and 2. The findings of these inspections were discussed with Mr. E. Simpson and other members of your staff at exit meetings on April 17, and April 23, 1997, respectively. The inspection reports were forwarded to you on June 3, 1997, and May 22, 1997, respectively. In the letters forwarding these reports, we indicated that it was not necessary to conduct a predecisional enforcement conference (conference) in order to enable the NRC to make an enforcement decision on the apparent violations of NRC requirements that were identified during the inspections. However, you stated your preference to have a conference. On July 10, 1997, a conference was conducted with Mr. Simpson and other members of your staff to discuss the violations, their causes, and your corrective actions.

With respect to the first inspection which focused on ECCS and RHR design issues, the apparent violations of NRC requirements identified involved: (1) untimely identification and correction of a significant condition adverse to quality; (2) noncompliance with technical specifications (TS) for emergency core cooling systems; (3) three examples of failures to obtain NRC approval for changes to the facility which constituted unreviewed safety questions (USQs); (4) two examples of failure to report unanalyzed conditions outside the Salem Unit 2 design basis; and (5) failure to update the Updated Final Safety Analysis Report (UFSAR). Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information provided during the conference, two violations associated with the switchover of ECCS from the injection mode to long-term recirculation cooling are being cited. The remaining five violations are not being cited as described herein.

In November 1995, Westinghouse performed an evaluation of the drain-down of the refueling water storage tank (RWST) associated with the switchover of ECCS from the injection mode to long-term recirculation cooling. In March 1996, changes were made to the emergency operating procedures (EOPs) and the UFSAR that reflected the changes in RWST drain down time and operator response time as determined by the Westinghouse evaluation. That evaluation identified that, under certain conditions, the operators may not have been able to complete the switchover in time to prevent interruption of ECCS flow to the core. This was contrary to the design bases for Unit 2 which assumed uninterrupted flow during the switchover. The interruption of emergency core cooling flow that could occur increased the probability of a failure of the ECCS pumps. Therefore, the changes to the EOPs and the UFSAR that reflected the changes in RWST drain down time and operator response time, involved a USQ. As such, the failure to obtain NRC approval prior to making the changes constituted the first example of a violation of 10 CFR 50.59. Additionally, the failure to report the condition that was outside the design bases of Unit 2 constituted the first example of a violation of 10 CFR 50.72 and 10 CFR 50.73. These violations resulted from activities following the shutdown and; therefore, did not meet the criteria for exercise of discretion in accordance with Section VII.B.2 of the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG 1600. These violations are cited in Section I of the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice).

The transfer of ECCS pump suctions from the RWST to the containment sump during the switchover in response to a loss of coolant accident is one of the most risk significant operator actions at Salem. Failure to complete this evolution successfully prior to drain-down of the RWST would result in interruption of ECCS flow to the core, and significant increase in the risk of core damage. The reduced time available to the operators to complete the switchover introduced an increased probability of failure, and decreased the overall available margin to perform these risk-significant operator actions. Therefore, the violations associated with the switchover have been classified in the aggregate as a Severity Level III problem in accordance with the Enforcement Policy.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a civil penalty is considered for a Severity Level III problem. However, because a significant enforcement action ($600,000 civil penalty issued in October 1995) has already been taken based on similar deficiencies in your engineering programs, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, and the Deputy Executive Director for Regulatory Effectiveness, to exercise discretion in accordance with Section VII.B.6 of the Enforcement Policy to not propose a civil penalty in this case.

In deciding to exercise discretion, the NRC also considered that, subsequent to identification of the concerns by the NRC, your corrective actions were prompt and effective. These corrective actions included, but were not limited to: (1) revision of EOPs to accomplish the ECCS switchover within licensed times and without interruption of flow to the core; (2) improvements to your 50.59 program; (3) establishment of a design and licensing basis review project; (4) establishment of Site Operations Review Committee (SORC) expectations for maintenance of the licensing basis; and (5) improved reportability reviews.

The other deficiencies identified during the ECCS inspection involved your actions associated with an identified RHR excessive flow condition. As of October 19, 1992, information was available to your staff which indicated that the functionality of long-term ECCS cooling was in question due to predicted RHR pump runout and the loss of net positive suction head (NPSH) that would result from the excessive flow condition. A modification to correct the condition was not implemented until July 1994. This delay in addressing an identified significant condition adverse to quality constitutes a violation of 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion XVI. The runout concern with the RHR pumps caused the facility to be in violation of its TS in that two independent RHR subsystems were not capable of supplying reactor coolant system (RCS) hot leg recirculation cooling from identification of the condition in October 1992 until the modification was made in July 1994. Upon recognition of the runout condition in October 1992, your failure to report operation of the facility in this unanalyzed condition pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72 and 10 CFR 50.73 constituted the second example of a violation of these NRC reporting requirements.

In addressing related concerns with increased RHR system flows predicted during the initiation of the cold leg recirculation mode, it was found that changes in the EOPs and the UFSAR were needed to reflect the higher predicted flows. These changes were based on calculations that credited containment overpressure for maintenance of required NPSH. The reliance on containment overpressure was inconsistent with the licensing basis for Unit 2, and constituted an unreviewed safety question (USQ). The change constituted an USQ because the probability of a malfunction of the RHR pumps was increased. Failure to obtain NRC approval prior to implementing a change that involved an USQ, is the second example of a violation of 10 CFR 50.59.

The violations involving the potential RHR pump runout condition and the crediting of containment overpressure in RHR pump NPSH calculations, are not being cited in accordance with the criteria of Section VII.B.2 of the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG 1600. These violations are not being cited because they stem from licensed activities prior to the shutdown period and have since been addressed by broad comprehensive PSE&G programs underway at Salem to identify and correct such problems.

The elimination of a hot leg recirculation flowpath to address the RHR pump runout concern was identified as the third apparent violation of 10 CFR 50.59 involving an USQ. The NRC determined through subsequent discussions with PSE& G staff and confirmed at the conference, that the elimination of the hot leg recirculation flowpath did not increase the susceptibility of single failure of the hot leg recirculation function, and therefore the modification did not involve an USQ. Consequently there was no violation of 10 CFR 50.59.

Another violation stemming from this ECCS inspection, involving the failure to update the UFSAR to reflect the semi-automatic switchover of ECCS pump suction sources from the RWST to the containment sump following approval of License Amendment No. 69, is being treated as a Non-Cited Violation (NCV) consistent with Section VII.B.1 of the Enforcement Policy. The failure to update the UFSAR was identified by your staff during the Salem UFSAR Project, and appropriate corrective actions were taken to revise the UFSAR.

During the fire protection program inspection of April 1997, two apparent violations were identified, involving (1) inadequate post-fire alternative shutdown system design which relied on a significant number of repairs to achieve and maintain hot-standby plant conditions; and (2) failure to adequately qualify installed electrical raceway fire barrier systems (ERFBSs). Based on information developed during the inspection and the information provided at the conference, two violations involving your failure to assure that ERFBSs were installed in accordance with NRC guidelines and failure to maintain compensatory measures for degraded fire barriers are being cited and one violation involving your failure to meet electrical independence requirements for the post-fire alternative shutdown system design is not being cited.

In May 1993, the inspectors found that the fire resistive capability of three types of one hour ERFBSs was in question. These conclusions were based on the fact that the installed configurations of the ERFBSs were not representative of the tested configurations approved by the NRC. During the fire protection program inspection in April 1997, the inspectors found that the qualification status of each fire barrier type remained unchanged since the 1993 inspection. Firewatch patrols, required to compensate for the unqualified fire barriers, were in place at the time of the 1993 inspection; however, on April 8, 1997, you discovered that the fire watches had not been maintained. Apparently, the fire watches were terminated following completion of the fire damper project in April 1994. Based on the information developed during the inspections, and the information provided during the conference, the NRC has concluded that the failure to assure that the installed ERFBS configurations replicated the tested configurations and the failure to maintain appropriate compensatory measures constituted violations of NRC fire protection program requirements. Because both Units were shutdown during most of the time that compensatory measures were not in place, the violations have been classified at Severity Level IV in accordance with the Enforcement Policy.

We determined that you had several opportunities to address the technical issues associated with the qualification of the ERFBSs, including via three Information Notices (IN 93-40, IN 93-41 and IN 95-52), a Generic Letter (GL 92-08), and, most notably, your own self assessment, dated March 1996, which identified the same technical problems noted by the NRC in 1993. The failure to initiate corrective action for these problems until April 1997, reflected current performance, and therefore, the criteria for exercise of discretion in accordance with Section VII.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy were not met in this case. The violations are cited in Section II of the enclosed Notice.

Also, in May 1993, the NRC identified concerns related to the post-fire alternative shutdown system design. Following a meeting in February 1996, and review of your written responses, the staff concluded, in a letter dated March 17, 1997, that the alternative shutdown system did not meet the NRC electrical independence requirements (contained in a license condition for Unit 2 and 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix R for Unit 1). The NRC has determined that the reliance on repairs for post-fire alternative shutdown systems; the failure to consider one or more circuit failures (e.g., hot shorts, shorts to ground, open circuits); and the insufficient protection of motor-operated valves (MOVs) constituted a violation of your Unit 2 license condition and 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix R. However, the violation is not being cited based on Section VII.B.6 of the NRC Enforcement Policy. Even though you were notified in January 1996, that your alternative shutdown system did not meet regulatory requirements, we have concluded that the violation stems from activities prior to the shutdown period and was addressed promptly when brought to the attention of current licensee management in March 1997. Corrective actions have been taken for Unit 2 and are planned for Unit 1, involving installation of isolation transfer switches which eliminate the reliance on repairs, and rewiring torque and limit switches on MOVs to address the electrical independence inadequacies. We have also considered the potential generic aspects of compliance with the "hot shorts" provisions of Appendix R in making our decision to exercise discretion.

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

                            Hubert J. Miller
                            Regional Administrator 

Docket Nos. 50-272; 50-311
License Nos. DPR-70; DPR-75

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/encl:
L. Storz, Senior Vice President - Nuclear Operations
E. Simpson, Senior Vice President - Nuclear Engineering
E. Salowitz, Director - Nuclear Business Support
A. Kirby, III, External Operations - Nuclear, Delmarva Power & Light Co.
D. Garchow, General Manager - Salem Operations
J. McMahon, Director - Quality Assurance & Nuclear Safety Review
D. Powell, Manager, Licensing and Regulation
R. Kankus, Joint Owner Affairs
A. Tapert, Program Administrator
J. Keenan, Esquire
J. Isabella, Manager, Joint Generation Atlantic Electric
Consumer Advocate, Office of Consumer Advocate
William Conklin, Public Safety Consultant, Lower Alloways Creek Township
Public Service Commission of Maryland
State of New Jersey
State of Delaware


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
Public Service Electric and Gas Company                    Docket Nos. 50-272/50-311
Salem Nuclear Generating Station                           License Nos. DPR-70/DPR-75
Units 1 and 2                                              EA Nos. 97-182 and 97-257

During NRC inspections conducted May 17 to 21, 1993, July 19, 1993, and March 24 to April 18, 1997, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the following violations were identified:

I. VIOLATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH ECCS SUCTION SWITCHOVER

A. 10 CFR 50.59, Changes, tests, and experiments, permits licensees to make changes to the facility and to procedures, as described in the Safety Analysis Report, without prior Commission approval, provided that the proposed changes do not involve an unreviewed safety question. A proposed change, test, or experiment shall be deemed to involve an unreviewed safety question if the probability of occurrence of a malfunction of equipment important to safety evaluated in the safety analysis report may be increased.

Contrary to the above, on March 16, 1996, the licensee made changes to the facility and procedures as described in the Updated Final Safety Analysis Report (UFSAR) that increased the probability of an occurrence of a malfunction of equipment important to safety and resulted in an unreviewed safety question, without prior Commission approval. Specifically, changes were made to procedure 2-EOP-LOCA-3, Transfer to Cold Leg Recirculation, and to the UFSAR to reflect changes in refueling water storage tank drain down time and operator response time that resulted, in certain cases, in interruption of emergency core cooling flow to the reactor core. The interruption of ECCS flow to the core increased the probability of a malfunction of the ECCS pumps. (01013)

B. 10 CFR 50.72 and 50.73 require the NRC to be notified within one hour, and a Licensee Event Report to be submitted within 30 days, respectively, for any event or condition that results in the nuclear power plant being in a condition that is outside the design basis of the plant, or for any event or condition that alone could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of systems that are needed to remove residual heat.

Contrary to the above, as of April 17, 1997, the licensee did not notify the NRC within one hour, or submit a Licensee Event Report within 30 days, of conditions that resulted in the nuclear power plant being in a condition that is outside the design basis of the plant and a condition that alone could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of systems that are needed to remove residual heat. Specifically, in certain cases, the time available to complete switchover of reactor coolant system cold leg recirculation cooling from the refueling water storage tank to the containment sump was not sufficient to ensure that emergency core cooling system flow to the reactor core would not be interrupted. This was not consistent with the design basis for License Amendment No. 69 which specified uninterrupted flow to all ECCS pumps during the switchover. With the reduced time available to complete the switchover, it was more likely that the switchover would not be completed successfully. The failure to successfully complete the switchover prior to drain-down of the RWST could have prevented the RHR system from performing its function of removing residual heat during long-term recirculation cooling. These conditions were identified on November 1, 1995; however, they had not been reported to the NRC as of April 17, 1997. (01023)

Violations I.A and I.B are classified in the aggregate as a Severity Level III problem (Supplement I).

II. VIOLATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH FIRE BARRIER SYSTEMS

10 CFR 50.48,"Fire Protection" requires, in part, that all nuclear power plants licensed to operate prior to January 1, 1979, which includes Salem Unit 1, have a fire protection plan that satisfies Criterion 3 of Appendix A to 10 CFR Part 50 and that fire protection features required to satisfy Criterion 3 of Appendix A meet the requirements of Appendix R to 10 CFR Part 50.

For Salem Unit 2, facility operating license DPR-75, license condition 2.C.10, requires, in part, that the licensee implement and maintain in effect all provisions of the approved fire protection program as described in the Updated Final Safety Analysis Report (UFSAR).

Section 9.5.1 of the UFSAR, common to both units, describes the fire protection program and features. Section 9.5.1.1.5 of the UFSAR, "Quality Assurance Program for Fire Protection," states, in part, that the Quality Assurance (QA) program at Salem Generating Station assures that the requirements for installation for the fire protection program for safety-related areas are satisfied and that the QA program for fire protection is part of the overall station QA program.

A. Section 9.5.1.1.5 of the UFSAR, requires, in part, that design control measures are established to assure that applicable NRC guidelines are included in design, and that design changes and deviations are adequately reviewed and approved.

Contrary to the above, prior to April 18, 1997, design deviations were not adequately reviewed and approved for the fire protection program electrical raceway fire barrier systems (ERFBSs). Specifically, the installed configurations of certain Kaowool, FS-195, and Interam E-50 ERFBSs were not consistent with the configurations in which the ERFBSs were tested and the deviations were not resolved by representative testing. As a result, it could not be assured that the ERFBSs met the NRC guidelines for compliance with the requirements of 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix R, Section III.G.2.c for one hour rated fire barriers. (02014)

B. 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, requires, in part, that activities affecting quality be prescribed by and accomplished in accordance with documented instructions or procedures.

Nuclear Fire Protection procedure SC.FP-AP.ZZ-0003(Q), Rev. 5, "Actions For Inoperable Fire Protection - Salem Station," section 5.2 and Attachment 1, specify that, with an inoperable fire barrier in Class 1 (safety-related) areas, firewatch patrols must be established within one hour.

Contrary to the above, from April 1994, until April 8, 1997, fire watch patrols were not properly implemented or maintained for inoperable fire barriers during such time as the capability of the three types of one hour ERFBSs was in question as described in II.A above. (03014)

These are Severity Level IV violations (Supplement I).

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Public Service Electric & Gas Company (Licensee) is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region I, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the facility that is the subject of this Notice, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and should include for each violation: (1) The reason for the violation, or if contested, the basis for disputing the violation, (2) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (3) the corrective steps that have been taken to avoid further violations, and (4) the date when full compliance will be achieved. Your response may reference or include previous docketed correspondence, if the correspondence adequately addresses the required response. If an adequate reply is not received within the time specified in this Notice, an order of 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. Where good cause is shown, consideration will be given to extending the response time.

Under the authority of Section 182 of the ACT, 42 U.S.C. 2232, this response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

Because your response will be placed in the NRC Public Docket 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 8th day of October 1997

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