United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-472 - Susquehanna 1 & 2 (PPL Susquehanna, LLC)

January 9, 1998

EA 97-472

Mr. Robert G. Byram
Senior Vice President - Nuclear
Pennsylvania Power & Light Company
2 North Ninth Street
Allentown, Pennsylvania 18101

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $55,000
          (NRC Inspection Report Nos. 50-387/97-06 and 50-388/97-06)

Dear Mr. Byram:

This refers to the inspection conducted between July 1, 1997, and August 16, 1997, at the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Berwick, Pennsylvania, the findings of which were discussed with members of your staff during exit meetings on August 26, 1997, and September 11, 1997. During the inspection, apparent violations were identified related to the misalignment of the 'A' emergency diesel generator (EDG), which was discovered by the NRC on July 11, 1997. The inspection report addressing these issues was previously forwarded to you on October 27, 1997. On December 16, 1997, a predecisional enforcement conference (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 conference, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation involved your failure to establish adequate controls for the alignment of the emergency diesel generator (EDG) woodward governor controls contrary to 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion II, "Quality Assurance." The violation is cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

Specifically, the load limit setting for the 'A' EDG governor was not adequately controlled in that the setting was not maintained in the required 100% load position. The load limit setting was misaligned sometime between June 16, 1997, when an operability surveillance test was satisfactorily performed and the setting was left in the 100% load position, and July 11, 1997, when the NRC found the setting at approximately 35%. Due to the misalignment, during an accident, the 'A' EDG would not have started within the required time and would not have been able to supply the required load as designed. As a result of the misalignment, the 'A' EDG was inoperable for an indeterminate period of time between June 16, 1997 and July 11, 1997 while both units were operating. Your subsequent investigation of the misalignment did not determine the proximate cause. However, a work sequence error, inadvertent human interaction, or tampering could not be eliminated as potential proximate causes.

During the time that the 'A' EDG was inoperable, only three EDGs were operable. Technical Specifications require four EDGs to be operable during plant operations. With the 'A' EDG inoperable, the units did not have the capability to withstand a single failure of another EDG following a design basis accident. Additionally, there was the potential that emergency core cooling system (ECCS) motors fed from the 'A' EDG operating in this degraded condition could have been damaged due to operation of the EDG at low frequency. The failure to adequately control the EDG load limit setting caused important safety-related equipment to be inoperable for an indeterminate period, thus degrading the plant's capability to respond to design basis events. Therefore, this violation has been categorized in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, at Severity Level III.

Further, the NRC is concerned that you failed to implement effective controls for the alignment of the Woodward governor controls despite the fact that multiple events involving the functioning of Woodward governors have been identified in the industry between 1985 and the present, including three at SSES. Also, the NRC is concerned that your investigation of this event could not preclude tampering as a cause and that the investigations revealed at least two other recent instances of unexplained misalignment of out-of-service EDGs similar to the misalignment of the 'A' EDG. It appears that personnel performance issues persist at SSES and there is an adverse trend in equipment status control events.

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 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." Credit was not warranted for identification because the violation was identified by the NRC. Additionally, you had prior opportunities to identify the need for additional controls on Woodward governors. Credit was warranted for corrective actions because your corrective actions were considered prompt and comprehensive. Those actions, as described at the conference, included: 1) restoration of the 'A' EDG governor to the correct alignment and verification that the other EDGs and other safety related equipment were properly aligned; 2) installation of protective covers on the EDG Woodward governor controls; 3) review and curtailment of access to vital areas; 4) assessment of EDG maintenance work practices; 5) enhancements to security and operations procedures for responding to status control events; and 6) communications with employees concerning this event and ongoing activities to improve industrial relations.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of controlling the status of safety related equipment and of prompt identification of violations, and in recognition of your previous escalated enforcement actions, 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 base 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, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                              Sincerely, 


                              Hubert J. Miller
                              Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-387; 50-388
License Nos. NPF-14; NPF-22

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/encl:
G. Jones, Vice President - Nuclear Operations
G. Kuczynski, General Manager
J. Kenny, Supervisor, Nuclear Licensing
G. Miller, General Manager - Nuclear Engineering
R. Wehry, Nuclear Licensing
M. Urioste, Nuclear Services Manager, General Electric
C. Lopes, Manager, Nuclear Security
A. Male, Manager, Nuclear Assessment Services
H. Woodeshick, Special Office of the President
. Tilton, III, Allegheny Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Pennsylvania Power and Light Company (PP&L;)      Docket Nos.50-387, 50-388
Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (SSES)         License Nos.NPF-14, NPF-22
Unit 1 and Unit 2                                 EA 97-472

During an NRC inspection conducted from July 1 to August 16, 1997, for which exit meetings were held on August 28, 1997, and September 11, 1997, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures 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:

10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion II, "Quality Assurance Program", requires, in part, that activities affecting quality be performed under suitably controlled conditions including special controls needed to attain the required quality.

Contrary to the above, as of July 11, 1997, the licensee failed to establish adequate controls for activities affecting the quality of the emergency diesel generators (EDGs). Specifically, the licensee failed to establish adequate controls for the positioning of the speed and load controls of the EDG Woodward governors allowing the 'A' EDG load limit control to be misaligned sometime between June 16, 1997, when the load limit setting was left in the required 100% load position, and July 11, 1997, when the load limit setting was found at approximately 35%. Due to the misalignment, during an accident, the 'A' EDG would not have started within the required time and would not have been able to supply the required load as designed. As a result of the misalignment, the 'A' EDG was inoperable for an indeterminate period of time between June 16, 1997 and July 11, 1997, while both units were operating, contrary to Technical Specification 3.8.1. (01013)

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Pennsylvania Power and Light 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 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: Mr. James Lieberman, 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 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 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 King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
this 9th day of January, 1998


1. e.g., A Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties in the amount of $210,000 was issued to PP&L on June 20, 1997, in part, for a Severity Level II problem involving the misalignment of an EDG breaker and the documentation of activities that had not actually been performed (EA 96-270).

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