United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-265 - Braidwood 1 (Commonwealth Edison Company)

October 3, 1997

EA 97-265

Mr. H. G. Stanley
Site Vice President
Braidwood Station
Commonwealth Edison Company
RR #1, Box 84
Braceville, IL 60407

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY - $55,000
(NRC Inspection Report No. 50-546/97009; 50-457/97009)

Dear Mr. Stanley:

This refers to the inspection conducted from May 20 through June 30, 1997, at the Braidwood Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactor facilities. An exit meeting was conducted on June 30, 1997, and the inspection report was issued on August 26, 1997. A predecisional enforcement conference was conducted on September 11, 1997, to discuss the inspection issues related to strict compliance with Technical Specifications (TS) for the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) subsystems. Specifically, these issues are related to the Centrifugal Charging (CV) system, a subsystem of ECCS.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation is cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

The violation in the enclosed Notice involves the failure to strictly comply with TS surveillance test requirement 4.5.2.b(1) which requires the ECCS pump casings and discharge piping high points outside of containment be vented at least once every 31 days. On February 16, 1996, a Braidwood Station system engineer discovered that the CV pump casing and high points were not being vented every 31 days as required. The decision to not strictly comply with the TS was partially based by the Braidwood Station staff on the fact that the CV pump casings did not have vents. A subsequent operability justification determined that the intent of the TS was being met based on factors such as the pressure in the piping and the CV system design and piping configuration. However, this operability justification failed to recognize that TS requirements were not being strictly met and that a TS change was needed. The failure to recognize that the TS requirements were not being strictly met and to seek a TS change was identified by the NRC.

The potential safety consequence of this violation was low. Venting of the ECCS is required to ensure that no air is entrained in the ECCS that could result in water hammer or air binding that could prevent proper pump/system performance. Due to the pressure in the CV system piping and the system configuration, this was not likely to occur. In addition, the ultrasonic testing, performed by the Braidwood Station staff, of selected CV high points found no entrained air. However, while the potential safety consequence is low, the regulatory significance is high. The Braidwood Station staff continued to operate outside of TS requirements even after discovering that the TS was not being strictly complied with and NRC involvement was necessary in order to ensure that strict compliance with the TS requirements and the necessary TS changes were made. The failure to request the necessary TS changes denied the NRC the opportunity to determine whether safety issues were involved.

Based on the foregoing, this violation has been categorized in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600 at Severity Level III. In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last 2 years1, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy.

Identification credit was not warranted because Braidwood Station staff had an opportunity to correct the violation in February 1996 when the TS noncompliance was identified. The NRC identified the continued violation of the TS surveillance testing requirements during the 1997 inspection.

Corrective Action credit was warranted based on the corrective actions implemented and discussed at the enforcement conference. The corrective actions included (1) ultrasonic testing inspection of vulnerable areas in the CV system; (2) review of selected TS surveillance tests to verify strict compliance; (3) submittal of appropriate license amendment requests; (4) revision of affected procedures; and (5) distribution of a Station Manager letter which stresses strict compliance with TS requirements.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of compliance with technical specifications, 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 $55,000 for the Severity Level III violation.

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(s), and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                             Sincerely, 


                             A.  Bill Beach
                             Regional Administrator 

Docket No. 50-456 & 50-457
License No. NPF-72 & NPF-77

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed
Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encl:
R. J. Manning, Executive Vice President, Generation 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 Braidwood Station Manager T. Simpkin, Regulatory Assurance Supervisor Richard Hubbard Nathan Schloss, Economist Office of the Attorney General State Liaison Officer Chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES

Commonwealth Edison Company
Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2

Docket No.s 50-456; 50-457
License Nos. NPF-72, NPF-77
EA 97-265

During an NRC inspection conducted on May 20 through June 30, 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 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 violation and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

Technical Specification 3.5.2 requires that two independent emergency core cooling system (ECCS) subsystems be operable with the units in Modes 1, 2, and 3 with each subsystem comprised of a) one operable centrifugal charging pump; b) one operable safety injection pump; c) one operable residual heat removal (RHR) heat exchanger; d) one operable RHR pump; and e) an operable flow path capable of taking suction from the refueling water storage tank on a safety injection signal and automatic opening of the containment sump suction valves.

Technical Specification Surveillance 4.5.2.b(1) requires that each ECCS subsystem be demonstrated operable at least once per 31 days by venting the ECCS pump casings and discharge piping high points outside of containment.

Contrary to the above, since commercial operation began in 1987 and 1988, respectively, for Unit 1 and Unit 2 and continuing until May 1997, an ECCS subsystem consisting of the centrifugal charging (CV) pump had not been demonstrated operable at least once per 31 days by venting the casing and CV high points outside containment when the units were in Modes 1, 2, and 3. (01013)

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement I).
Civil Penalty - $55,000

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Commonwealth Edison Company (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 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 penalty should not be imposed. In addition to protesting the civil penalty in whole or in part, such answer 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: 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.

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 3rd day of October 1997


1. A $100,000 proposed civil penalty and a Notice of Violation was issued on May 16, 1996 for Severity Level III problems (EA 96-070 and EA 96-102) related to configuration control of the hydrogen monitoring system and out of service problems associated with the safety injection system.

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