United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-009 - Saint Lucie 1 (Florida Power & Light Co.)

March 25, 1998

EA 98-009

Florida Power & Light Company
ATTN: Mr. T. F. Plunkett
President - Nuclear Division
P. O. Box 14000
Juno Beach, Florida 33408-0420

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY - $88,000 (NRC SPECIAL INSPECTION REPORT NOS. 50-335/97-16, 50-389/97-16)

Dear Mr. Plunkett:

This refers to the inspection conducted on November 3, 1997, through January 9, 1998, at the St. Lucie facility. The results of the inspection were formally transmitted to you by letter dated January 23, 1998. An open, predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the Region II office on February 13, 1998, with you and members of your staff to discuss the apparent violations, the root causes, and corrective actions to preclude recurrence. A list of conference attendees, copies of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) slides, and Florida and Power Light Company's (FP&L) presentation materials are enclosed. In addition, a video presented by FP&L at the predecisional enforcement conference is available in the NRC Region II office.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that two violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation, and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report. Violation A involves the failure to ensure that the design basis was correctly translated into specifications, drawings, procedures, and instructions. Specifically, in 1993, you revised the Unit 1 Refueling Water Tank (RWT) instrument loop and bistable calculation to establish a new setpoint for the RWT level instruments and bistables. This new setpoint was not correctly translated into instrument calibration procedures. This resulted in a Recirculation Actuation Signal (RAS) bistable setpoint of 36 inches indicated level, instead of 48 inches indicated level as required by Technical Specifications (TSs). Violation B, a direct result of the incorrect RWT setpoint, is associated with the failure to comply with two TSs. TS 3.3.2.1 requires that the trip setpoint for the Containment Sump Recirculation actuation signal be set at 48 inches above the RWT bottom. Because the trip setpoint for the RAS was set at 36 inches instead of 48 inches above the RWT bottom, you failed to comply with this TS for the period of April 1993 until December 1997. TS 3.5.2 requires that two independent Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) subsystems be operable with each comprised of an independent operable flow path capable of taking suction from the RWT on a safety injection signal and automatically transferring suction to the containment sump on an RAS. The incorrect setpoint would cause ECCS pump air entrainment under certain design basis accident scenarios.

Given the air entrainment into the ECCS pumps, you did not have reasonable assurance that the ECCS systems would remain operable under all postulated accident scenarios. Therefore, the NRC considers that the ECCS systems were inoperable, and thus you failed to comply with TS 3.5.2. The analysis performed by your staff and that of your contractor, as referenced in Licensee Event Report 50-335/97-011, supports this conclusion. The root cause of the violations was a failure to follow setpoint program and Engineering Quality Instructions which resulted in a failure to properly revise the RWT level bistable calibration procedure.

Although there was not an actual safety consequence of the incorrect RWT setpoint as safety systems were not called upon to function, this issue is risk significant and has potential safety consequences. The design basis of your facility requires that during certain loss of coolant accidents (LOCAs), ECCS subsystems must be capable of automatically transferring suction to the containment sump upon receipt of an RAS. Because of the incorrect trip setpoint of the RWT level instrument bistables, automatic transfer of the ECCS pumps' suction source from the RWT to the containment sump under certain conditions would cause an open channel flow condition. This condition could cause damage to the ECCS pumps because of air entrainment, absent operator intervention to manually initiate transfer to the containment sump prior to the open channel condition. Systems affected by this condition include the high pressure safety injection system, the low pressure safety injection system, and the containment spray system, which are designed to prevent or mitigate serious safety events. Damage to these systems because of air entrainment would prevent them from performing their intended safety function. The NRC recognizes that your Emergency Operating Procedures require monitoring of the RWT level, and direct operators to manually transfer the ECCS pump suction source from the RWT to the containment sump, if necessary. However, the design basis of the plant calls for automatic transfer of the ECCS suction source. In such a case, your analysis as described in Licensee Event Report 50-335/97-011 and as presented during the enforcement conference, concluded that there was a substantial increase in the core damage frequency (i.e., based on your calculations, you estimated the core damage frequency increased by a factor of two to 5.5E-5). This further confirms the significance of these violations. For these reasons, these violations represent a very significant regulatory concern. Therefore, Violations A and B have been classified in the aggregate in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level II problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $88,000 is considered for a Severity Level II problem. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two 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. This issue was identified because of critical, questioning attitudes by operations and engineering personnel. During replacement of the RWT level circuitry bistable cards in October 1997, a main control room operator initially questioned a difference in the safeguards cabinet RWT level meter reading when compared to the meter reading prior to replacement. After notifying engineering personnel, the system engineer reviewed this anomaly and, in addition, conducted a thorough review of the RWT level circuitry which led to the identification of the incorrect RAS setpoint. In addition, your corrective actions were comprehensive. Short-term corrective actions included verification that the issue was limited to only the Unit 1 RWT level RAS setpoint, formation of an event response team which identified the root cause and contributing causes, revision of Engineering Quality Instructions to clarify requirements regarding transmittal of design information to the plant and use of engineering hold points for critical design aspects, revision and cross-referencing of bistable calibration procedures, and re-emphasis of management expectations on design transmittal requirements. You also conducted an unannounced simulator exercise with a minimum control room staff to gain a high level of confidence that operators would manually initiate a transfer of the ECCS pump suction source to the containment sump prior to pump damage, given a failure of an automatic transfer to the sump. Finally, you initiated a comprehensive engineering program implementation review to verify that the root and contributing causes which led to this setpoint error were not translated into other engineering programs. As of the date of the predecisional enforcement conference, reviews for many programs have been completed, with other program reviews in progress and planned. Thus, based on the above, the NRC has concluded that credit is warranted for Identification and Corrective Action.

Notwithstanding credit for Identification and Corrective Action, the NRC considers the exercise of discretion to propose a civil penalty for problems categorized at Severity Level I or II, in accordance with Section VII.A.1 of the Enforcement Policy. In this case, the violations resulted in a significant increase in risk over the more than four year period in which the conditions existed. In addition, the violations are not associated with old design issues in that they were caused by engineering performance deficiencies in the 1990's. Moreover, better quality assurance of engineering activities at the time of the setpoint change could have prevented the violation altogether. Therefore, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, and the Deputy Executive Director for Regulatory Effectiveness, I have been authorized to exercise discretion to propose a base civil penalty of $88,000 in this case. This penalty is intended to emphasize the importance of effective engineering activities and associated quality assurance commensurate with the core damage risk. If not for the questioning attitudes displayed by your staff and, in particular, the aforementioned licensed operator and system engineer, which led to the identification of the setpoint error, a more substantial civil penalty would have been proposed.

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

Sincerely,




Luis A. Reyes
Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-335, 50-389
License Nos. DPR-67, NPF-16

Enclosures:
1. Notice of Violation
2. List of Attendees
3. NRC Slides
4. Licensee Material

cc w/encls:
J. A. Stall
Site Vice President
St. Lucie Nuclear Plant
6351 South Ocean Drive
Jensen Beach, FL 34957

H. N. Paduano, Manager
Licensing and Special Programs
Florida Power and Light Company
P. O. Box 14000
Juno Beach, FL 33408-0420

J. Scarola
Plant General Manager
St. Lucie Nuclear Plant
6351 South Ocean Drive
Jensen Beach, FL 34957

E. J. Weinkam
Licensing Manager
St. Lucie Nuclear Plant
6351 South Ocean Drive
Jensen Beach, FL 34957

M. S. Ross, Attorney
Florida Power & Light
P. O. Box 14000
Juno Beach, FL 33408-0420

John T. Butler, Esq.
Steel, Hector and Davis
4000 Southeast Financial Center
Miami, FL 33131-2398

Bill Passetti
Director
Division of Emergency Preparedness
Department of Community Affairs
2740 Centerview Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2100

County Administrator
St. Lucie County
2300 Virginia Avenue
Ft. Pierce, FL 34982


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Florida Power & Light
St. Lucie
Docket No. 50-335
License No. DPR-67
EA 98-009

During an NRC inspection conducted on November 3, 1997 through January 9, 1998, violations of NRC requirements were 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 violations and associated civil penalties are set forth below:

A. 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion III, "Design Control" requires, in part, that measures shall be established to ensure that the design basis is correctly translated into specifications, drawings, procedures, and instructions.
Contrary to the above, on January 22, 1993, Calculation PSL-1FJI-92-011, Revision 0, was issued identifying a new setpoint for the Refueling Water Tank level instruments and bistables for Unit 1. The licensee failed to correctly translate this design change into procedures in that as of December 2, 1997 instructions had not been provided to change Calibration Procedure 1-1400052, Engineered Safety Features Actuation System - Channel Functional Test, to reflect the revised setpoint information. (01012)
B. Technical Specification 3.3.2.1 states that the Engineered Safety Features Actuation System instrumentation channels and bypasses shown in Table 3.3-3 shall be operable with their trip setpoints consistent with the values shown in Table 3.3-4. Table 3.3-4, item 5.b identifies a trip setpoint for the Containment Sump Recirculation (RAS) as 48 inches above the Refueling Water Tank (RWT) bottom.
TS 3.5.2 states that two independent Emergency Core Cooling Systems (ECCS) subsystems shall be operable with each subsystem comprised of an independent operable flow path capable of taking suction from the RWT on a Safety Injection signal and automatically transferring suction to the containment sump on a Recirculation Actuation Signal.
Contrary to the above, from April 19, 1993, until December 2, 1997, the Unit 1 trip setpoint for the Containment Sump Recirculation (RAS) was set at 36 inches from the Refueling Water Tank (RWT) bottom. With the trip setpoint for the Containment Sump Recirculation set at 36 inches, air entrainment would occur under certain design basis accident scenarios and consequently, there was not reasonable assurance that the ECCS systems could fulfill their intended safety functions in all accident scenarios and therefore, were inoperable. (01022)
These violations represent a Severity Level II problem (Supplement I).
Civil Penalty - $88,000

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Florida Power and Light 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 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 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: 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 II and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the St. Lucie facility.

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 Atlanta, Georgia
this 25th day of March 1998


1. A Severity Level III problem was issued on December 11, 1997, associated with the failure to maintain two trains of containment cooling operable as required by Technical Specifications (EA 97-501). A Notice of Violation (NOV) and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty in the amount of $100,000 was issued on January 10, 1997 for violations of the plant security access control program, the emergency preparedness program, and requirements for nuclear instrumentation

(EAs 96-458, -464, and -457). A Severity Level III violation was issued on September 19, 1996, associated with the failure to comply with 10 CFR 50.59 (EA 96-326). An NOV and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty in the amount of $50,000 was issued on March 28, 1996, for multiple violations associated with a dilution event (EA 96-040).

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