United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-235 - Kewaunee (Wisconsin Public Service Corp.)

August 6, 1997

EA 97-235

Mr. Mark L. Marchi, Manager
Nuclear Business Group
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation
Post Office Box 19002
Green Bay, WI 54307-9002

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION 
          (NRC INSPECTION REPORT 50-305/97006)

Dear Mr. Marchi:

This refers to the inspection conducted at the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant from March 31 to May 12, 1997. During this inspection, the inspectors reviewed the circumstances surrounding your March 10, 1997, identification of a design error that rendered the reactor vessel level indication system (RVLIS) incapable of accurately measuring reactor vessel water level. The report documenting our inspection was sent to you by letter dated June 9, 1997. The significance of the issues and the need for lasting and effective corrective action were discussed with members of your staff at the inspection exit meeting on May 12. Our June 9, 1997, letter offered you the option to request a predecisional enforcement conference or respond to the apparent violations. You elected to respond to the apparent violations and did not request a predecisional enforcement conference.

The NRC determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. This determination was based on the information developed during the inspection; the information that you provided during the exit meeting; your April 9, 1997, Licensee Event Report; and your July 9, 1997, response to the apparent violation discussed in the inspection report. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the inspection report.

A design error that occurred during the installation of the RVLIS rendered the system incapable of accurately measuring reactor vessel water level since the system was installed in 1986. RVLIS is part of the accident monitoring instrumentation that is required by Technical Specification 3.5, "Instrument Systems" and Table TS 3.5-6, "Accident Monitoring Instrumentation Operating Conditions for Indication." RVLIS aids the operator in assessing plant conditions during and following several accidents. The impact of the level instruments' error could have resulted in a nonconservative estimation of reactor vessel void formation during an accident. However, most scenarios involving the need for RVLIS occur during beyond-design-basis accidents, which have a very low probability of occurrence. RVLIS provides the means for acquiring data, is supplemented by other instruments (e.g., core exit thermocouples) to aid operators in their assessment of plant conditions, performs no operational plant control, and is not relied upon during routine plant operations. Although the design error existed since the system was installed in 1986, RVLIS is not normally in service during refueling outages when such a deficiency would most likely be found. The plant conditions created during the extended '96/'97 refueling outage facilitated your identification of the design error. The design error that occurred during the installation of the RVLIS rendered the system incapable of accurately measuring reactor vessel water level since the system was installed in 1986 and resulted in the 2 violations listed in the Notice. These violations are classified in the aggregate in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level III problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $50,000 is considered for Severity Level III violations occurring prior to November 12, 1996. Since the majority of the noncompliance period occurred prior to November 12, 1996, a base civil penalty of $50,000 was considered for this case. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions 1 within the last two years, 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. You were given credit for both identifying this deficiency and for initiating prompt and effective corrective action. Your corrective actions included a revision to the RVLIS software and a verification that your current administration process to control software development would likely have prevented this problem.

Therefore, to encourage prompt identification and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for this violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence and the date when full compliance will be achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 50-305/97006, LER 305/97-003, and your letter dated July 9, 1997. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position.

In that case, or if you choose to provide additional information, please follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter and the enclosures will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.

                            Sincerely,


                            A. B. Beach
                            Regional Administrator

Docket No. 50-305

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/encl:
C. R. Steinhardt, Senior
Vice President - Nuclear Power
C. A. Schrock, Manager,
Kewaunee Plant
Virgil Kanable, Chief
Boiler Section
Cheryl L. Parrino, Chairman,
Wisconsin Public Service Commission
State Liaison Officer


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation                       Docket No. 50-305
Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant                               License No. DPR-43
                                                           EA 97-235

During an NRC inspection conducted from March 31 through May 12, 1997, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

1. 10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion III, "Design Control," requires that measures be established to assure that regulatory requirements and the design basis are correctly translated into specifications and instructions. The design control measures shall provide for verifying or checking the adequacy of design. Design changes shall be subject to design control measures commensurate with those applied to the original design.

Contrary to the above, during 1986, design measures established to assure that the RVLIS design basis were correctly translated into specifications and instructions failed to assure that the indication software correctly specified the proper level span. As a result, both RVLIS channels were inoperable since initial system installation in 1986. (01013)

2. Technical Specification (TS) 3.5.e, "Instrument Systems" and Table TS 3.5-6, "Accident Monitoring Instrumentation Operating Conditions for Indication" requires operability of both RVLIS channels whenever the plant is above a hot shutdown. TS 3.5.e and Table TS 3.5-6 permits Inoperability of one RVLIS channel for 7 days.

Contrary to the above, both RVLIS channels were inoperable since initial system installation in 1986. This greatly exceeded the allowed out of service time. (01023)

This is a Severity Level III problem (Supplement I)

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence and the date when full compliance will be achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 50-305/97006, LER 305/97-003, and your letter dated July 9, 1997. However, you are required to submit a written statement or explanation pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201 if the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to respond, clearly mark your response as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and send it to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, DC 20555, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region III, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice.

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

Because the 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 would 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 6th day of August 1997


1. EA 97-087 issued an NOV for a Severity Level III Problem with a $50,000 civil penalty for test control problems associated with the auxiliary feedwater (AFW) system. These problems were identified during a January 1997 inspection. EA 95-267 issued an NOV for a Severity Level III Violation with no civil penalty for an inoperable turbine-driven AFW pump that was identified during a November - December 1995 inspection.

 

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012