United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-249 - Zion 1 & 2 (Commonwealth Edison Co.)

January 15, 1998

EA 97-249

Mr. J. Brons
Site Vice President
Zion Station
Commonwealth Edison Company
101 Shiloh Boulevard
Zion, IL 60099

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTIES - $110,000 
          (NRC Special Inspection Report 50-295(304)/97017)) 

Dear Mr. Brons:

This refers to the special inspection conducted between June 19 and September 22, 1997, at the Zion Station Nuclear Facility. The inspection reviewed the circumstances surrounding reports that Zion station personnel failed to implement the fitness-for-duty (FFD) program and conduct for-cause testing when the odor of alcohol was detected on personnel working within the protected area. Due to the seriousness of these issues, a predecisional enforcement conference was held in the Region III office on December 1, 1997.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information provided during the predecisional enforcement conference, the NRC has determined that four violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty. The circumstances surrounding each violation are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

The four violations contained in the Notice reflect a lack of management commitment to implement the Zion station FFD policy and procedures. The first violation occurred because two supervisors failed to require for-cause testing when they detected the odor of alcohol on a third supervisor in the protected area. Instead, they permitted the individual to leave the site without an adequate evaluation and for-cause test. The next two violations occurred because two supervisors both failed to implement the FFD program when one was called back to work outside of normal working hours. The calling supervisor failed to ask if the subordinate supervisor had consumed alcohol during the abstinence period. The subordinate supervisor failed to inform the caller that alcohol had, in fact, been consumed during the abstinence period. The last violation occurred because a member of the technical staff failed to notify supervisors when the odor of alcohol was detected on co-workers, so that an adequate evaluation and for-cause testing could be implemented. The violations are significant because they involved multiple failures of fully trained and qualified supervisors and technical staff to implement FFD procedures, that are intended to assure a substance-free work environment. Collectively, the four violations represent a programmatic breakdown in the implementation of the FFD program. Therefore, these violations are classified in the aggregate in accordance with the NUREG-1600, "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), as a Severity Level III problem.

One of the root causes of the violations was poor judgement by individuals, which included both supervisors and members of the technical staff. This appeared to be aggravated because the Zion station management team failed to reinforce expectations regarding FFD program implementation and ensure effective implementation of the FFD program by all personnel working at the Zion station. The violations are significant because the Zion station FFD program must provide reasonable assurance that nuclear power plant personnel will perform their tasks in a reliable and trustworthy manner, free from the influence of a substance which may affect their ability to safely and competently perform their duties. Fortuitously, the safety and risk significance of these specific violations was low because the individuals had not or were not performing safety related activities at the time the smell of alcohol was detected. However, the regulatory and potential safety significance was high because failure to implement FFD procedures allowed individuals who may have been unfit for duty to enter and remain in the protected area without an adequate evaluation and without mandatory for-cause testing being accomplished.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last 2-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. Identification credit was not warranted because these issues were identified as the result of an allegation and the programmatic nature of this problem was identified by the NRC. In addition, the Zion staff failed to resolve repeated (April 1996, January 1997, and February 1997) precursors to these violations that were identified through the audit process. That audit effort clearly identified that the requirements for unscheduled worker call outs were not met. Corrective Action credit was not warranted because the corrective actions discussed at the enforcement conference were inadequate to address the programmatic breakdown of the FFD program. The majority of the corrective actions addressed only the failures of individuals and included initial access suspension, re-training of specific individuals, some disciplinary action, and counseling of the involved individuals. These actions were necessary to correct the proximate and identified problems only. We do acknowledge that other, more general actions involving non-mandatory measures (such as newsletters, routine FFD commercials on the in plant communication network, and tailgate sessions) were taken. However, the corrective actions failed to address the findings of Zion station's self-assessments and the clear indications that the multiple individual FFD violations demonstrated. In fact, one of those self-assessments documented in March 1997, that: (1) people were not sensitized to the gravity of the FFD program, (2) most people interviewed found the FFD program awkward and unpleasant, (3) apathy was perceived to be the prevailing sentiment toward the FFD program, and (4) there was a lack of overall commitment and resultant inconsistent implementation of the FFD program. The investigation report stated that the ". . . importance, implementation, adherence to, and enforcement of the FFD Program has not been successfully instilled in Station personnel, because management has not been aggressive enough in its oversight of this program other than what is being communicated during NGET and the Random Testing being performed through Security, not much more is being done to ensure that people are complying with the requirements. . ." It is clear that significant programmatic weaknesses exist, and corrective actions presented at the enforcement conference were not sufficiently comprehensive to address them. Since the NRC has determined that Identification and Corrective Action credit was not warranted, the base civil penalty has been escalated by 100% (for a total of $110,000) in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of management's commitment for effective FFD program implementation at the Zion station, 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 (Notice) in the amount of $110,000 (a base civil penalty escalated by 100%).

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.

Even though we expressed the escalated nature of this issue and the need for a predecisional enforcement conference during multiple exit meetings, numerous calls to several Commonwealth Edison managers, and in our letter transmitting the subject inspection report, the predecisional enforcement conference was unnecessarily delayed when we experienced significant difficulty and conflicting responses when attempting to schedule this conference. Because of the lack of appreciation for the significance of this issue, the NRC expects that the Commonwealth Edison Company will ensure that the lessons learned from this enforcement action will be communicated to and acted upon (as necessary) by the other Commonwealth Edison nuclear power stations and corporate office staff.

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, 



                              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 Penalty

cc w/encl:
O. Kingsley, Nuclear Generation Group President and Chief Nuclear Officer
M. Wallace, Senior Vice President, Corporate Services
H. G. Stanley, Vice President PWR Operations
Liaison Officer, NOC-BOD
D. A. Sager, Vice President, Generation Support
D. Farrar, Nuclear Regulatory Services Manager
I. Johnson, Licensing Operations Manager
Document Control Desk-Licensing
R. Starkey, Plant General Manager
R. Godley, Regulatory Assurance Supervisor
Richard Hubbard
Nathan Schloss, Economist, Office of the Attorney General
Mayor, City of Zion
State Liaison Officer
State Liaison Officer, Wisconsin
Chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Commonwealth Edison Company                  Docket Numbers 50-295; 50-304
Zion Generating Station, Units 1 and 2       License Numbers DPR-39; DPR-48
                                             EA 97-249

During an NRC inspection conducted between June 19 and September 22, 1997, four violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the NUREG-1600, "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," the NRC 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:

A. 10 CFR 26.24(a)(3), "Chemical and alcohol testing," requires, in part, testing for-cause as soon as possible following any observed behavior indicating possible substance abuse.

Zion Administrative Procedure 1130-00 (Revision 3 dated April 17, 1995), "Commonwealth Edison Fitness for Duty Program," at paragraph G.3 requires, in part, that for-cause urinalysis and breath alcohol testing may be required for Commonwealth Edison or contractor employees, following any observed behavior indicating possible substance abuse, including detection of the odor of alcohol per CNSG 207, "Testing For Cause."

Corporate Nuclear Guideline No. 200 (Revision 6 dated June 1996), "ComEd Fitness-For-Duty Program," at Paragraph 5.7.6 requires, in part, testing for cause after the odor of alcohol has been detected on an individual and confirmed by a management employee trained in Fitness-For-Duty Supervisor responsibilities.

Corporate Nuclear Security Guideline No. 207 (Revision 9 dated November 1996), "Testing For Cause'," at Paragraph 5.1.6 requires, in part, a for-cause test be conducted when the odor of alcohol has been detected on an individual and a supervisor has confirmed the odor of alcohol.

Contrary to the above, on February 1, 1997, between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., three FFD-trained supervisors failed to require a for-cause test for an employee with the smell of alcohol in the protected area. (01013)

B. 10 CFR 26.20(e), "Written policy and procedures," requires, in part, that each licensee subject to this part shall establish and implement written policies and procedures designed to meet the general performance objectives and specific requirements of this part. Written policies must address Fitness-For-Duty through a procedure that will ensure that the person called in to perform an unscheduled working tour is fit to perform the task assigned. This procedure must (1) require a statement to be made by a called-in person as to whether he or she has consumed alcohol within the length of time stated in the pre-duty abstinence policy, and (2) if alcohol has been consumed within this period, require a determination of fitness for duty by breath analysis or other means.

1. Corporate Nuclear Guideline No. 200, a procedure that implements 10 CFR 26.20(e), at paragraph 5.8 specifies, in part, that supervisors and others performing call-outs will ask if the employee has consumed alcohol within the five (5) hour abstinence period.

Contrary to the above, on February 1, 1997, at approximately 9:00 p.m., the supervisor performing the call-outs failed to ask an employee if she had consumed alcohol within the five-hour abstinence period prior to directing her to report to the plant. (01023)

2. Corporate Nuclear Guideline No. 200, at paragraph 5.6.1 states, in part, when contacted at home, each individual is responsible for alerting the caller if he or she is uncomfortable about responding to a work related matter due to consumption of alcohol.

Corporate Nuclear Security Guideline No. 206 (Revision 6 dated February 1996), "Call-Outs for Unscheduled Work," a procedure that implements 10 CFR  26.20(e), at paragraph 5.1.5 specifies if you are called to work unscheduled overtime, inform the person calling if you have consumed alcohol within the five (5) hours period prior to reporting to work.

Contrary to the above, on February 1, 1997, at approximately 9:00 p.m., an employee directed to come into the plant on unscheduled overtime did not inform the caller that she had consumed alcohol within the five-hour abstinence period. (01033)

3. Corporate Nuclear Guideline No. 200, at paragraph 5.6.1 requires, in part, that individuals report to their supervisor instances of violation of the Fitness-For-Duty policy and/or procedures which might adversely impact safe operation and maintenance of the station.

Contrary to the above, the following instances constitute failures by an individual to notify his supervisor of violations of the Fitness-For-Duty policy which might adversely impact safe operation and maintenance of the station. (01043)

An employee stated that in the September/December 1996 time frame, he detected the odor of alcohol on a co-worker but did not notify his supervisor.

On March 11, 1997, an employee failed to notify his supervisor that he detected the odor of alcohol on a co-worker.

On June 12, 1997, an employee detected the odor of alcohol on a contract employee but failed to notify his supervisor.

These violations represent a Severity Level III problem (Supplement VII) - $110,000

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Commonwealth Edison (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 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 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 the cumulative amount of the civil penalties if more than one civil penalty is proposed, 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 answers 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 answers 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 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 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: OE, 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. 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, IL
this 15th day of January 1998


1. EA 97-222 issued a Severity Level III Problem with a $330,000 civil penalty to emphasize the importance of effective management oversight of plant operations and the importance of timely, effective and lasting corrective actions for known plant and industry problems.

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