United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-367 - Indian Point 2 (Consolidated Edison Company of New York)

October 7, 1997

EA 97-367

Mr. Stephen B. Bram
Senior Vice President - Central Operations
Consolidated Edison Company of
New York, Inc.
Indian Point 2 Station
Broadway and Bleakley Avenues
Buchanan, New York 10511

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTIES - $110,000 
          (NRC Inspection Report No. 50-247/97-08)

Dear Mr. Bram:

This letter refers to the NRC inspection conducted between June 16, 1997, and July 21, 1997, at your Indian Point 2 nuclear facility. During the inspection, apparent violations of NRC requirements were identified and were discussed with you and members of your staff at an exit meeting on July 29, 1997. The inspection report was sent to you on August 8, 1997. On September 5, 1997, a Predecisional Enforcement Conference was conducted with you and members of your staff, to discuss the violations, their causes, and your corrective actions. Based on the information developed during the inspection, and the information provided during the September 5, 1997, enforcement conference, five violations of NRC requirements are being cited and are described in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties (Notice).

The first three violations are set forth in Section I of the enclosed Notice. These violations, identified through NRC questioning during observation of control room activities, relate to the Overpressure Protection System (OPS) being inoperable for approximately two and one half days in June 1997 while the reactor was shutdown. The OPS is designed to provide pressure relief of the Reactor Coolant System (RCS) while at low temperatures to protect the reactor vessel during overpressure transients. Since the OPS was inoperable, and there was not a required minimum vent area, Technical Specification (TS) Figure 3.1.A-3, required pressurizer level to be less than or equal to 30%, and the actual reactor coolant system temperature and pressure to be maintained within acceptable limits. This TS figure was not adhered to by the operations crew in that pressurizer level was as high as 80%. The OPS was inoperable in that the power operated relief valve (PORV) control switches were in the trip-pull out position and their associated block valves were closed, thereby defeating its pressure relief capability.

An inadequate procedure for performing the Reactor Coolant System filling and venting operations contributed to the violation of the technical specifications, in that the procedure did not refer to, or require verification of the operability of, the OPS prior to or during the RCS fill and vent evolution. In addition, although the inoperability of the OPS constituted a condition adverse to quality that existed for approximately two and a half days, this adverse condition was not identified by your staff despite numerous opportunities to do so, including: (1) during surveillance tests of pressurizer pressure and level as required by your technical specifications; (2) during several operators' shift turnover reviews of the reactor operator turnover logs (which documents whether OPS is required or not); and (3) during several senior watch supervisors' reviews, each shift, of the reactor operator logs. In addition, although the control room board provided indications of OPS inoperability, the RCS parameters of temperature, pressure and pressurizer level were not properly assessed with respect to technical specification surveillance requirements.

Collectively, these three violations raised questions, not only regarding the quality of procedures at your facility, particularly "infrequently used" procedures as occurred in this case, but also the adequacy of operator training, as well as control of equipment configuration at the facility. It is of particular concern that these violations were not identified until the NRC questioned your operations staff regarding this matter. As such, these violations set forth in Section I collectively represent a significant lack of attention towards licensed responsibilities and therefore are classified in the aggregate as a Severity Level III problem in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600 (Enforcement Policy).

The fourth violation, which is set forth in Section II of the enclosed Notice, involved the poor response by management to (1) a significant reduction in the observed differential head of one of the recirculation pumps in 1989, and to (2) an engineer's identification in 1995 of this reduction in performance. The pump's differential head, which had been trending around 520 feet during the tests conducted each outage prior to 1989, was observed to have decreased significantly to 480 feet during the 1989 outage, only 5 feet above the limit. Following restart from the 1995 refueling outage, one of your engineers identified that the pump barely met the minimum engineering acceptance limit during the 1995 test, and based on his subsequent review of past performance data on the pump, the engineer informed site management that a significant decline in the pump performance had occurred, especially since 1989. The engineer also stated to managers that he believed the pump would not pass the next scheduled surveillance test during the 1997 refueling outage. However, the engineer's concern was not entered into the site corrective action system and, therefore, did not receive a formal evaluation. As a result, the pump remained in service without further testing until the 1997 outage, at which time it failed the test and was replaced.

Subsequent inspection of the pump revealed a 25 foot section of hose wrapped around the impeller. That hose, which likely entered into the system during refueling outage testing in 1989, was the likely cause of the degraded pump performance, raising questions regarding the adequacy of your foreign materials exclusion program at the time. After the engineer raised his concern in 1995, your attention to this matter focused on whether it was acceptable to lower the test limit, rather than determine the cause of the reduced pump performance. Two years later, when the recirculation pump failed its surveillance test during the 1997 outage, your initial response again was to perform analysis to see if the acceptance limit could be lowered, rather than determine the cause of the reduced performance trend, and the pump was not replaced until the system engineer, who had raised concerns in 1995, provided additional arguments for replacing the pump. Given the failure to resolve the degradation of this safety related system sooner, despite the opportunities to do so, this violation is also classified at Severity Level III in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600.

A common thread among the violations in Sections I and II was your failure to identify and correct the existing adverse conditions despite several clear opportunities to do so. Furthermore, these failures involved more than one discipline, including the operations staff who did not identify the inoperable OPS system until the NRC began questioning the matter in June 1997, as well as the engineering staff and management who did not aggressively deal with the engineer's identification of the reduced differential head for one of the recirculation pumps. The failure to identify the OPS issue occurred in June 1997, subsequent to the May 1997 civil penalty, and demonstrates that concerns remain regarding your ability to identify and correct problems.

The NRC recognizes that the recirculation pump problem actually occurred prior to the NRC issuance of a $205,000 civil penalty on May 27, 1997, and this is another example of the fundamental performance problem for which the May 1997 civil penalty was issued, namely, the failure to aggressively pursue anomalous conditions. Nonetheless, this finding regarding your ineffective resolution of the recirculation pump anomaly provides additional insight into the scope and depth of the performance problem that has existed at Indian Point 2. In addition, this violation was identified when the pump failed its surveillance test in May, rather than via an aggressive review to look for any other anomalous conditions after the problems that resulted in the May 1997 civil penalty had been identified by the NRC in late 1996 and early 1997. As such, it appears that you had not aggressively questioned your staff, following those previous findings, as to whether they were aware of other significant anomalous conditions at the facility. Even at the recent enforcement conference on September 5, 1997, there were no indications that you had taken action to further seek from your staff whether any other similar anomalies exist at Indian Point 2 that could significantly impact the operability of equipment.

A base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for each Severity Level III violation or problem. Since Indian Point 2 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 for each of the Severity Level III issues. Credit for identification is not warranted in any of these cases. With respect to the violations in Section I, credit for identification is not warranted because the violations were identified by the NRC. With respect to the violation in Section II, credit for identification is not warranted because of the prior opportunity in 1995 to identify the degradation that likely occurred in 1989. Credit was given for your corrective actions. These actions included (1) revisions of procedures, including those that are not performed frequently; (2) planned retraining of operators and engineering personnel regarding the technical specifications; (3) outage logic sequencing for OPS; (4) programmatic review of vendor safety evaluations; (5) replacement of the recirculation pump; and (6) performing a root cause analysis of the handling of the recirculation pump issue. The NRC plans to continue to follow your actions closely to determine the effectiveness of your actions in precluding future problems.

Based on the above, separate $55,000 civil penalties are warranted for the Severity Level III problem in Section 1 and the Severity Level III violation in Section II of the enclosed Notice. With respect to the violation in Section II, the NRC considered exercising discretion and not proposing a civil penalty for that violation because it occurred prior to the NRC issuance of the May 1997 civil penalty that principally focused on that same performance problem. However, the staff has decided not to exercise discretion, given this violation raised serious concerns regarding the scope and depth of your prior corrective actions, particularly with respect to pursuing and raising anomalous conditions. While the NRC recognizes that the problems that led to the May 1997 civil penalty are deep rooted cultural issues that take time to correct, the NRC would have expected that all engineers and staff had been apprised of the importance of surfacing any anomalous conditions they were aware of, as well as continually looking for others, and that this issue would have been raised before the test failure.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of promptly identifying and correcting problems at the facility, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties (Notice) in the cumulative amount of $110,000 for the violations.

One other violation identified during the inspection, involving the failure to consider the effects of ambient temperature during the testing of pressurizer code safety valves, has been classified at Severity level IV and is described in Section III of the enclosed Notice.

You are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. In your response, you should specifically describe (1) what confidence you have that there are not other anomalies involving safety-related systems that may exist at Indian Point 2 and are being handled informally without being entered into your formal corrective action systems, and (2) plans to ensure your staff understands the need for promptly entering new safety-related issues, when they arise, into the formal systems. In this regard, your response should indicate the extent of your discussions with all engineers and staff to determine whether they are aware of such anomalous conditions at Indian Point 2. 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, 


                             Hubert J. Miller
                             Regional Administrator 

Docket No. 50-247
License No. DPR-26

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and
Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties

cc w/encl:
P. Kinkel, Vice President, Nuclear Power
C. Jackson, Manager, Nuclear Safety and Licensing
B. Brandenburg, Assistant General Counsel
C. Faison, Director, Nuclear Licensing
C. Donaldson, Esquire, Assistant Attorney General, New York Department of Law
Director, Electric Division, Department of Public Service, State of New York
W. Stein, Secretary - NFSC
F. William Valentino, President, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
J. Spath, Program Director, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.   Docket No. 50-247
Indian Point 2 Nuclear Generating Station       License No.  DPR-26
                                                EA 97-367
                                                           

During an NRC inspection conducted from June 16, 1997 to July 21, 1997, for which an exit meeting was held on July 29, 1997, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission proposes to impose 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 RELATED TO INOPERABLE OVERPRESSURE PROTECTION SYSTEM

A. Technical Specification (TS) 3.1.A.4.a. states, except as permitted by Table 3.1.A-2, the overpressure protection system (OPS) shall be armed and operable when the RCS temperature is less than or equal to 305F. TS Table 3.1.A-2 states that OPS is not required to be operable at or below 305F if the conditions of Column I are met for the specified conditions. Column I requires, that with a maximum number of 3 charging pumps and one safety injection pump energized, operating restrictions identified in TS Figure 3.1.A-3 shall be observed. Use of TS Figure 3.1.A-3 requires pressurizer level less than or equal to 30%.

TS 3.1.A.4.b. states, in part, that if both power operated relief valves (PORVs) and their associated block valves are inoperable, action shall be initiated immediately to place the reactor in a condition where OPS operability is not required.

Contrary to the above, between 2:30 a.m. on June 15 until 10:15 a.m. on June 17, 1997, Con Edison did not operate within the restrictions of TS Figure 3.1.A-3, in that pressurizer level was greater than 30% (as high as 80%) with the OPS inoperable and Con Edison did not initiate immediate actions to place the plant in compliance with the TS until the NRC raised questions about the OPS TS curves. (01013)

B. Technical Specification 6.8.1 requires that written procedures be established covering activities referenced in Appendix A of Regulatory Guide 1.33, November 1972. Regulatory Guide 1.33, Section 3.A, requires, in part, written procedures for filling and venting the Reactor Coolant System.

Contrary to the above, as of June 17, 1997, an adequate written procedure for filling and venting the Reactor Coolant System was not established, in that System Operating Procedure SOP 1.1.1, "Vacuum Filling and Venting the Reactor Coolant System," Revision 35, did not refer to, nor require verification of, the operability of OPS during an RCS fill evolution. As a result, after vacuum filling and venting the RCS on June 14, 1997, when the OPS was inoperable, while the system was maintained within the pressure and temperature limits imposed by TS Figure 3.1.A-3, the pressurizer level was outside the requirements of TS Figure 3.1.A-3. (01023)

C. Technical Specification surveillance requirement 4.18.C., states that, when pressurizer pressure and level control is being used for overpressure protection, as permitted by TS 3.1.A.4, then these parameters shall be verified to be within their limits at least once per shift.

Contrary to the above, between June 15 and 17, 1997, while the OPS was inoperable and pressurizer pressure and level control were being used for overpressure protection, operators did not adequately verify parameters were within limits, in that pressurizer level was not maintained less than or equal to its limit of 30%. (01033)

These violations are classified in the aggregate at Severity Level III (Supplement 1).
Civil Penalty - $55,000

II. VIOLATION RELATED TO DEGRADED RECIRCULATION PUMP FLOW

10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion XVI, "Corrective Action," requires, in part, that measures shall be established to assure that conditions adverse to quality, such as failures, deficiencies, and deviations, defective material and equipment are promptly identified and corrected.

Contrary to the above, between September 1995 and May 1997, a condition adverse to quality existed at the facility, namely, degradation of the performance of the No. 21 recirculation pump. The degradation involved reduced pump differential head as determined during the periodic refueling outage surveillance test, which was very near the lower limit of 475 feet when tested in 1995. Subsequently, during the same test in May 1997, the pump failed its surveillance test, in that pump differential head was found to be 471 feet. Following examination of the pump internals, a rubber hose was found wrapped around the impeller, and was believed to have been drawn into the pump prior to or around 1989. Under certain conditions, this pump would not have been able to perform its post-accident safety function and thus would have been inoperable, contrary to Technical Specification 3.3.A.1.f. This adverse condition to quality was not identified despite prior opportunities to do so, in that:

1. prior to 1989, pump differential head, as identified during the surveillance test conducted each outage, was in the range of 520 feet. Beginning with the 1989 test thru the 1995 test, differential head was determined to be around 480 feet, providing clear evidence of some pump degradation; and

2. following the pump test in 1995, an engineer brought a concern to management's attention regarding the degraded pump performance since 1989, and also predicted that the pump would not pass the next test in 1997, yet the engineer's concern was not entered into the problem identification system to ensure a formal review of the concern was performed. (02013)

This violation is classified at Severity Level III (Supplement 1).
Civil Penalty - $55,000

III. VIOLATIONS RELATED TO RCS PRESSURIZER CODE SAFETY VALVES' LIFT SETPOINTS BEING ABOVE TS LIMITS

Technical Specification 4.2.1 requires, in part, that inservice testing of pumps and valves whose function is required for safety shall be performed in accordance with the applicable edition and addenda of Section XI of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code of 10 CFR 50.55a(g). Since 1994, the applicable edition and addenda of Section XI for Indian Point 2 has been the 1989 edition. ASME Section XI (1989 edition) section IWV-1100, Valve Test, refers to ASME/ANSI OM-1987, Part 1. Paragraph 8.1.1.5 of this document states that the operating environment shall be simulated during set pressure testing of safety valves. The implementing procedure to test pressurizer safety valves is PT-R5A, Hot Setting of Pressurizer Safety Valves by Wyle Labs.

Contrary to the above, in April 1995, during performance of PT-R5A, Con Edison failed to implement the provisions of ASME/ANSI OM-1987 part 1, paragraph 8.1.1.5, in that the operating environment was not adequately simulated during set pressure testing. Specifically, ambient conditions surrounding the pressurizer code safety valves were not incorporated into procedure PT-R5A. (03014)

This violation is classified Severity Level IV (Supplement 1).

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Consolidated 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 receipt 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 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 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 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 penalty.

Upon failure to pay any civil penalty due that 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: Mark Satorius, Deputy 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 I, and a copy to the NRC Senior Resident Inspector at the facility that is the subject of this Notice.

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. If redactions are required, a proprietary version containing brackets placed around the proprietary, privacy, and/or safeguards information should be submitted. In addition, a non-proprietary version with the information in the brackets redacted should be submitted to be placed in the PDR.

Dated at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
this 7th day of October 1997


1. e.g., A Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty in the amount of $205,000 was issued on May 27, 1997 for numerous violations of NRC requirements, including several violations of failure to identify and correct problems at the facility.

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