United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-222; EA-97-223- Zion 1 & 2 (Commonwealth Edison Co.)

September 2, 1997

EAs 97-222, 97-223

Mr. John 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
          PENALTIES - $330,000 NRC Augmented Inspection Report 50-295/97006 and
          Inspection Reports 50-295/304-97002 and 50-295/304-97007)

Dear Mr. Mueller:

The NRC conducted three inspections at the Zion Nuclear Power Plant from February 6, 1997, through April 28, 1997. These inspections reviewed several matters, including the reactivity management event that occurred on February 21, 1997, the displacement of reactor coolant from the reactor vessel on March 8, 1997, and the failure to comply with a Technical Specification Limiting Condition for Operation on February 24, 1997. The reports of these inspections were sent to you by letters dated April 29, May 21, and June 4, 1997. Because of the seriousness of the issues evaluated during these inspections, a predecisional enforcement conference was held in the Region III office on July 3, 1997, to discuss the issues.

Based on the information developed during these inspections and the information that was provided during the predecisional enforcement conference, the NRC has determined that several violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection reports.

Section I.A of the Notice refers to the reactivity management event of February 21, 1997 in which a licensed reactor operator was assigned a task of reducing reactor power to the point of adding heat and inadvertently made the reactor subcritical. When the operator realized that the reactor was substantially subcritical -- instead of stopping, evaluating, and communicating the unauthorized change in reactivity -- the operator started withdrawing rods to make the reactor critical at the point of adding heat. This activity was observed by a Qualified Nuclear Engineer who expressed some concerns but failed to adequately communicate technical advice for excessive control rod manipulation to shift management. The plant was in the process of shutting down pursuant to Technical Specifications due to an inoperable containment spray pump. Prior to the shutdown, the shift and site management team failed to appropriately plan the shutdown and effectively communicate to the operating staff their expectations for shutting down the reactor. Licensee senior management assumed that Unit 1 was being shut down since the containment spray pump could not be repaired within the Technical Specification allowed outage time. However, management was not aware that the shift engineer directed that the unit be kept critical in anticipation of the pump being returned to service. Operations supervision was so focused on pump restoration activities, that appropriate oversight of control rod manipulations was not provided. In addition, the licensee's failure to control the ingress of personnel into the control room resulted in the impairment of the formality and professionalism of control room activities, which contributed to the reactivity management event. During the 8 minutes between tripping the main turbine and tripping the reactor, the same time period during which the primary nuclear station operator excessively manipulated control rods, 39 people were in the control room envelope, with 15 people in the immediate vicinity of the areas where the primary nuclear station operator and unit supervisor were stationed. Accordingly, the violations in this section concern both the direct failure to follow plant operating procedures and the failure to conform with station administrative procedures regarding responsibilities for reactivity control, supervisory oversight of control room activities, requirements for infrequently performed evolutions, maintenance of control room decorum, and proper control room communications. The failure to comply with plant operating and station administrative procedures during a power descent resulted in eight violations of NRC requirements, as discussed in Section I.A of the Notice. Collectively, these violations reflect a breakdown in management oversight and control of operational activities. Accordingly, 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.

Section I.B of the Notice addresses the failure to implement effective corrective actions for previous reactivity control problems that had either been documented in the licensee's corrective action system or were the subject of NRC Notices of Violation. In April 1996 and January 1997, the licensee experienced previous reactivity management issues in which inadequate command, control, and communications were identified as causal factors. The NRC issued a Notice of Violation in each instance. Additionally, an internal Zion station memorandum dated February 1996, clearly identified an adverse trend in reactivity management to operations management, and corrective actions were not effectively implemented. The failure to implement effective corrective actions for previous reactivity control problems resulted in three violations of NRC requirements as discussed in section I.B of the Notice. The violations are classified in the aggregate, in accordance with the Enforcement Policy, as a Severity Level III problem.

Section I.C of the Notice addresses the failure to prevent the recurrence of reactor coolant displacement from the reactor vessel caused by undetected gas (primarily nitrogen) accumulation in the Unit 2, and to a lesser extent, Unit 1 reactor coolant systems while the units were in cold shutdown on March 8, 1997. This gas accumulation or voiding is of concern because it presents a threat to the ability to maintain shutdown cooling flow. This topic had been the subject of several generic correspondences and had previously occurred at Zion in September 1996, when Unit 1 was in cold shutdown. Corrective actions to preclude recurrence had been identified, but implementation of necessary procedure changes was deferred. The failure to implement effective corrective action for a previous occurrence of undetected gas accumulation in the reactor coolant resulted in one violation of NRC requirements as discussed in section I.C of the Notice. This violation is classified in accordance with the Enforcement Policy as a Severity Level III violation.

Collectively, the violations are of significant regulatory concern in that several administrative and managerial control systems were ineffective. The violations indicate that several licensee processes and barriers were not used to their fullest potential to permit the early detection and timely resolution of significant performance deficiencies. For example the licensee's line organization had failed to maintain command and control of control room activities during non-routine activities such as the February 21, 1997, plant shutdown and reactivity changes. In addition, the site management team failed to adequately plan activities with the potential for risk significance, and failed to adequately communicate their expectations for shutting down the unit. Lastly, the corrective action system suffered from a noticeable lack of senior management review, oversight, and prioritization which resulted in significant conditions adverse to quality -- such as the precursors to the reactivity management event and reactor coolant displacement by gas -- not being resolved in a timely manner. The NRC's concerns were heightened by continued poor performance in the area of plant operations and in a recent escalated enforcement action1 caused by ineffective management of plant operation.

The actual safety consequences of these events were low. For the reactivity management event, numerous reactor protection system plant trips were enabled that would have precluded safety limits from being exceeded due to a power excursion. The reactor coolant displacement due to gas accumulation was detected by operators before the capability to remove decay heat was affected. However, the underlying causes for these events could have resulted in events of greater consequence. Had plant operating and administrative procedures been properly implemented and had effective corrective actions for previous precursor and actual events been taken, neither of these events would have occurred and operations personnel would not have been unnecessarily challenged to prevent further degradation of plant conditions. Furthermore, the NRC considers the action taken by your facility management in returning the individuals involved in the reactivity management event to licensed shift duties prior to understanding the causes of the event and prior to the completion of the operators' remediation training, to be a further indication of a lack of management oversight. Therefore, the regulatory significance of the reactivity management event and the coolant displacement event is high.

In accordance with the enforcement policy a base civil penalty of $55,000 is assessed for each Severity Level III violation or problem. The NRC considered whether discretion was warranted to escalate the enforcement sanction in accordance with Section VII.B of the Enforcement Policy. After reviewing the merits of this enforcement action, the NRC has determined that discretion is warranted to double the base civil penalty for the reactivity management and command and control problems (discussed in Section I.A of the Notice) due to particularly poor licensee performance manifested in the poor management oversight of these plant activities. In addition, for the corrective action problem and corrective action violation (discussed in Sections I.B and I.C of the Notice), the NRC has determined that discretion is warranted to double the base civil penalty because the violations represent a history of poor past performance in the corrective action area.

Ineffective or untimely corrective actions at Zion have been the subject of previous enforcement action and have been discussed at a number of management meetings with Commonwealth Edison Company over the past year. For the violations in this case your short term Corrective Actions were only marginally acceptable as demonstrated by the previously detailed failure of the management oversight team to keep crew members involved in the reactivity management event off-shift until they had completed remedial training and the failure to ensure compliance with a Technical Specification action statement. By contrast, your plans for long term Corrective Actions were global in nature and pertained to developing communication skills, enhancing command and control, establishing an organization to preplan activities with the potential to be risk significant and manage the flow of work to the control room, improving the support of engineering organizations to plant operations, resolving plant material condition problems, improving the corrective action system, developing an effective plant oversight group, and the removal of both units from service until the corrective plan can be implemented. However, the inability to implement effective, long-standing corrective actions continues to impact performance at Zion.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of effective management oversight of plant operations and the importance of timely, effective and lasting corrective actions, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement and the Deputy Executive Director for Regulatory Effectiveness, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties in the amount of $110,000 (twice the base) for each of the two Severity Level III problems and the Severity Level III violation described in the Notice. This results in total Civil Penalties of $330,000.

The violations described in Section II of the Notice discussed three Severity Level IV violations that were not assessed a Civil Penalty. These violations address a less significant failure to comply with the action statement for a Technical Specification Limiting Condition for Operation, the failure to establish upper tier procedures to manage plant activities while a unit was in cold shutdown for an extended period of time, and the failure to make required reports.

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 Penalties

cc w/encl:
D. A. Sager, Vice President
Generation Support
H. W. Keiser, Chief Nuclear
Operating Officer
R. Starkey, Plant General Manager
R. Godley, Regulatory Assurance
Supervisor
I. Johnson, Acting Nuclear
Regulatory Services Manager
Document Control Desk - Licensing
Richard Hubbard
Nathan Schloss, Economist,
Office of the Attorney General


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES

Commonwealth Edison Company                        Docket Nos:  50-295 and 50-304
Zion Nuclear Generating Station                    License Nos:  DPR-39 and DPR-48
                                                   EAs 97-222 and 97-223

During NRC inspections conducted from February 6 through April 28, 1997, several 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 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 penalties are set forth below:

I. Violations Assessed a Civil Penalty

A.1 Reactivity Management

Zion Technical Specification 6.2, Procedures and Programs, requires, in part, that "[w]ritten procedures including applicable checkoff lists covering items listed below shall be prepared, implemented, and maintained: a.) The applicable procedures recommended in Appendix A, of Regulatory Guide 1.33, Revision 2, February 1978."

Appendix A of Regulatory Guide 1.33, Revision 2 dated February 1978, recommends that written procedures should cover activities associated with "Authorities and Responsibilities for Safe Operation," (paragraph 1.b) and "General Plant Operating Procedures," (paragraph 2) activities associated with all modes of operation.

a. General Operating Procedure (GOP) 4, "Plant Shutdown and Cooldown," Revision 13, partially implements paragraph 2 of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. In Mode 2 with the reactor critical, step 5.21.f, states, Hold "#363, ROD MOTION CONTROL" switch IN to minimize dumping steam and establish power at or less than the point of adding heat." (2.5 x 10E-2% intermediate range (IR) or 0.025 percent power).

Contrary to the above, on February 21 1997, with the reactor critical in Mode 2, the primary Nuclear Station Operator (NSO) manipulated the control rods, but did not accomplish this activity in accordance with GOP-4, step 5.21.f. Specifically, the primary NSO did not establish power at or less than the point of adding heat in accordance with GOP-4, step 5.21.f, but made the reactor sub-critical, i.e., entered Mode 3 (01013)

b. Zion Administrative Procedure (ZAP) 300-01B, "Reactivity Management Guidelines," Revision 1, partially implements paragraph 1.b of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. Section G.2.c.1, states that strict reactivity controls are required to minimize the potential for core damage, and that all plant personnel, particularly operators, must stop and question unexpected situations involving reactivity, criticality, power level, or core anomalies.
Contrary to the above, on February 21, 1997, the primary Nuclear Station Operator failed to implement strict reactivity controls when he did not stop and question unexpected changes in reactivity, criticality, and power level. The primary Nuclear Station Operator made the reactor substantially sub-critical (non- power) and, instead of stopping and evaluating the unexpected change in reactivity and criticality, he attempted to return the reactor to the point of adding heat (0.025 percent power) by continuously withdrawing control rods. (01023)
c. ZAP 300-01B, "Reactivity Management Guidelines," Revision 1, partially implements paragraph 1.b of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. Section G.l.1, states the Qualified Nuclear Engineer's (QNE) responsibility to implement the reactivity management policy by providing technical advice on reactivity related matters.
Contrary to the above, on February 21, 1997, the QNE failed to provide technical advice on reactivity related matters to either the primary Nuclear Station Operator or the Shift Supervisor concerning the excessive control rod manipulations and resultant reactivity changes. Specifically, the QNE observed the Nuclear Station Operator (NSO) take the reactor subcritical and then observed the NSO inappropriately add positive reactivity by withdrawing control rods in an unauthorized manner in an attempt to reachieve criticality. Instead of promptly addressing the inappropriateness of the NSO's actions, the QNE, by his inaction, allowed the unauthorized control rod withdrawal to continue and left the control room to discuss the matter with the Lead Nuclear Engineer. (01033)

A.2 Command, Control, and Communication

Zion Technical Specification 6.2, Procedures and Programs, requires that "[w]ritten procedures including applicable checkoff lists covering items listed below shall be prepared, implemented, and maintained: a.) The applicable procedures recommended in Appendix A, of Regulatory Guide 1.33, Revision 2, February 1978."

Appendix A of Regulatory Guide 1.33, Revision 2 dated February 1978, states in paragraph 1.b, that written procedures should cover activities associated with "Authorities and Responsibilities for Safe Operation."

a. ZAP 300-01, "Conduct of Operations," Revision 3, partially implements paragraph 1.b of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. Section VI.A, states, in part, that all operations personnel from the Operations Manager to the Nuclear Station Operator share the responsibility for the reactor core. The Nuclear Station Operator, Unit Supervisor and station Reactor Engineer have a greater responsibility, and share this ownership on a continuous basis. Section VI.A further states, in part, that: (1) Operations personnel SHALL be attentive to the condition of the plant at all times and (4) the Unit Supervisor and Shift Engineer should NOT become so involved in any single operation that distracts them from the overall perspective of plant operations.
Contrary to the above, on February 21, 1997, while the licensee was performing a Unit 1 shutdown, the Shift Engineer and the Unit Supervisor were so focused on containment spray pump restoration activities that they failed to be attentive to the fact that the Nuclear Station Operator had made the reactor substantially subcritical and was withdrawing control rods, in an attempt to return the reactor to criticality. (01043)
b. ZAP 300-01, "Conduct of Operations," Revision 3 partially implements paragraph 1.b of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. Attachment A, Section VI.A.3, requires that a briefing be conducted prior to the conduct of an infrequently performed evolution.
ZAP 300-01, "Conduct of Operations," Revision 3, Section IV.G.2 defines infrequently performed evolutions as evolutions whereby the performance frequency is greater than annually AND the evolution requires the coordination of two or more departments, OR three or more individuals, AND has the potential to adversely affect reactivity control, OR core cooling.
Contrary to the above, on February 21, 1997, the licensee failed to perform a briefing prior to conducting an activity to maintain the reactor at the point of adding heat (2.5 x 10E-2% IR), which was an infrequently performed evolution in that it had not been performed in more than a year, required the coordination of three individuals, and had the potential to adversely affect reactivity control. (01053)
c. ZAP 300-01, "Conduct of Operations," Revision 3 partially implements paragraph 1.b of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. Section IX.E.3, requires the individual who is to perform the activity to be responsible for adequately reviewing the procedure and fully understanding assigned responsibilities, and cognizant of all the limitations, precautions, and requirements.
Contrary to the above, on February 21, 1997, the primary Nuclear Station Operator and Unit Supervisor, failed to adequately review GOP-4, "Plant Shutdown and Cooldown," prior to performing the Unit 1 shutdown and failed to understand their assigned responsibilities as evidenced by the actions of the NSO in driving in control rods until the point of adding heat as measured on the intermediate range monitors. In doing so, the NSO failed to account for the time delay associated with the addition of substantial negative reactivity and as a result inadvertently made the reactor subcritical. The inadequate review and failure to understand assigned responsibilities was further demonstrated by the Nuclear Station Operator's actions in subsequently withdrawing control rods once he recognized that he had made the reactor subcritical. (01063)
d. ZAP 300-01A, "Control Room Access and Conduct," Revision 4 partially implements paragraph 1.b of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. Section VIII.A.2, requires that Control Room business SHALL be conducted at a location and in such a manner that neither on-shift licensed personnel attentiveness nor the professional atmosphere is compromised.
Contrary to the above, on February 21, 1997, the presence of an excessive number of individuals in the control room -- 39 people were in the control room envelope, with 15 people in the immediate vicinity of the primary Nuclear Station Operator and Unit Supervisor -- caused a loud and disruptive environment. The high ambient noise level due to the large number of individuals present made communications between operators and operations supervision difficult. This created a control room environment that was not conducive to conducting a controlled and orderly shutdown. As a result, licensed personnel attentiveness and the professional atmosphere of the control room were compromised. (01073)
e. ZAP 300-09, "Station Operational Communications," Revision 3 partially implements paragraph 1.b of Appendix A to Regulatory Guide 1.33. Section VII.A.3., requires, in part, that if the receiver does not understand an operational communication, then the receiver shall promptly inform the sender and ask the sender to repeat or rephrase the message.
Contrary to the above, on February 21, 1997, the primary Nuclear Station Operator (the receiver) failed to promptly inform the Unit Supervisor (the sender) that he did not understand the communication concerning establishing power at the point of adding heat and ask the Unit Supervisor (the sender) to repeat or rephrase his message. The Nuclear Station Operator did ask the Unit supervisor if he wanted him (the Nuclear Station Operator) to drive rods in, indicating he did not understand the instruction, and instead of explaining or rephrasing, the Unit supervisor simply reread the step aloud. (01083)
These violations represent a Severity Level III problem (Supplement I) - $110,000
B. Corrective Actions -- Reactivity Management Event
10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion XVI, "Corrective Actions," requires, in part, that measures be established to assure that conditions adverse to quality are promptly corrected, and in the case of significant conditions adverse to quality, that measures be established to assure that the cause of the condition is determined and corrective actions taken to preclude recurrence.
1. Contrary to the above, as of February 21, 1997, following the identification by the licensee of an adverse trend in reactivity management activities, which was documented in an internal Zion Station memorandum, "ZNG:96-002" dated February 12, 1996, and which constituted a significant condition adverse to quality, corrective actions were not prompt and commensurate with the safety significance of the issue and failed to preclude recurrence of a reactivity management event on February 21, 1997. (02013)
2. Contrary to the above, as of February 21, 1997, following issuance of a Notice of Violation (50-304/96005-03) on April 8, 1996, that identified an inadvertent mode change -- a significant condition adverse to quality that was caused by poor communications, weak command and control, and poor reactivity management -- corrective actions taken to preclude recurrence were not adequate as demonstrated by the February 21, 1997, actions of the Unit 1 operating crew, where failures in communications, command and control, and reactivity management directly caused an unauthorized and uncontrolled positive reactivity addition.(02023)
3. Contrary to the above, as of February 21, 1997, following a command and control, communication and reactivity management problem during the Unit 1 startup on September 16, 1996, which was a significant condition adverse to quality, corrective actions taken to preclude recurrence were not effective as demonstrated by the February 21, 1997, reactivity management event. The problem that occurred on September 16, 1996 was the subject of a Notice of Violation (50-295/96014-02) issued on January 28, 1997. (02033)
These violations represent a Severity Level III problem (Supplement I) - $110,000
C. Corrective Actions -- Reactor Voiding Event
10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion XVI, "Corrective Actions," requires, in part, that measures be established to assure that conditions adverse to quality are promptly identified and corrected, and in the case of significant conditions adverse to quality, that measures be established to assure that the cause of the condition is determined and corrective actions taken to preclude recurrence.
Contrary to the above, from September 2, 1996, through March 8, 1997 the licensee failed to take prompt corrective actions commensurate with the undetected accumulation of gas in the reactor vessel head which displaced reactor coolant and threatened the ability to maintain decay heat removal. Engineering and Operations personnel had determined the corrective actions necessary to preclude recurrence but failed to revise appropriate operations procedures prior to the recurrence of the event on March 8, 1997, in both Units 1 and 2. (03013)
This is a Severity Level III Violation (Supplement I) - $110,000
II. Violations Not Assessed a Civil Penalty
A. Failure to Comply With a Limiting Condition for Operation (LCO)

Technical Specification (TS) 3.1. "Reactor Protection Instrumentation and Logic," requires, that with the minimum number of operable channels below the limits specified by Table 3.1-1, "Reactor Protection Systems - Limiting Operation Conditions and Setpoints," plant operation shall be as specified in Column 5 of Table 3.1-1. Table 3.1-1 specifies that if there are less than a minimum of two operable channels per loop of Low Primary Coolant Flow, maintain Hot Shutdown and, if the minimum conditions are not met within 24 hours, the unit shall be in the Cold Shutdown condition within an additional 24 hours.

Contrary to the above, on February 24, 1997, the licensee failed to comply with the Limiting Condition for Operation of TS 3.1 when Unit 1 was not placed in cold shutdown conditions within 48 hours of rendering all three-reactor coolant system loop "A" flow instrumentation channels inoperable. (04014)

This is a Severity Level IV Violation (Supplement I)

B. Undetected Displacement of Reactor Coolant

10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, "Instructions, Procedures, and Drawings," requires, in part, that activities affecting quality be prescribed by documented instructions, procedures, or drawings, of a type appropriate to the circumstances and be accomplished in accordance with these instructions, procedures, or drawings.

Contrary to the above, as of March 8, 1997, procedures for activities affecting quality, extended operation in cold shutdown, were not appropriate to the circumstances. Specifically, no operating procedures were prescribed which included measures to diagnose or prevent the displacement of reactor coolant from the reactor vessel caused by the undetected accumulation of nitrogen gas in the reactor coolant system. (05014)

This is a Severity Level IV Violation (Supplement I)

C. Failure to Report the Accumulation of Gas in the Reactor Coolant System

10 CFR Part 50.72(b)(2)(iii)(B) requires that the licensee shall notify the NRC as soon as practical, and in all cases within four hours, of any event or condition that alone could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of structures or systems that are needed to remove residual heat.

10 CFR Part 50.73(a)(2)(v)(B) requires that the licensee shall submit a Licensee Event Report within 30 days after the discovery of the event, for any event or condition that alone could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of structures or systems that are needed to remove residual heat.

Contrary to the above, the licensee did not notify the NRC within four-hours and did not submit to the NRC a Licensee Event Report within 30 days after discovery that nitrogen gas had accumulated in the reactor vessel head on both Unit 1 and Unit 2 on March 8, 1997. This condition (nitrogen gas accumulation in the reactor coolant system) alone could have caused the loss of both trains of shutdown cooling prior to the nitrogen gas bubble reaching the size where pressurizer level would have provided direct indication of reactor vessel water level and, therefore, could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of a system needed to remove residual heat. Additionally, the nitrogen gas in the reactor coolant system could have accumulated in the steam generators which would have resulted in the obstruction of natural circulation cooling. This condition also could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of a system needed to remove residual heat. (06014)

This is a Severity Level IV Violation (Supplement I)

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Commonwealth Edison Company (the 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 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 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 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 penalties 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 answer 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 answer 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 a 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: 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 III and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the Zion 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 2nd day of September 1997


1. EA 96-216 issued a NOV with Severity Level III Violation with a $ 50,000 civil penalty for a number of operator errors and unplanned mode changes that occurred from January - June, 1996 time frame.

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