United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-106 - Calvert Cliffs 1 & 2 (Baltimore Gas & Electric Company)

March 20, 1998

EA 98-106

Mr. Charles H. Cruse
Vice President - Nuclear Energy
Baltimore Gas and Electric Company
Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant
1650 Calvert Cliffs Parkway
Lusby, MD 20657-4702

SUBJECT: NRC INSPECTION REPORT NOS. 50-317/98-03 and 50-318/98-03 AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Dear Mr. Cruse:

This refers to the inspection conducted on January 19-22 and 26-27, onsite, at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station, and continuing through February 17, 1998, in the Region I office to review information and documentation provided by your staff subsequent to the onsite inspection. The findings of the onsite inspection effort were discussed with your staff on January 27, 1998, by Mr. Ronald Nimitz of this office. Mr. John R. White of my staff discussed the findings of the in-office review of radiological control performance, during the May 1997, Unit 2 outage, with Mr. Peter Katz, Plant General Manager, on February 20, 1998.

The principal focus of the inspection was the follow-up and verification of corrective actions, documented in your letter dated September 11, 1997, taken in response to violations identified in our letter and Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties, dated August 11, 1997, relative to the Unit 2 spent fuel pool diving event on April 3, 1997. During the January 1998 inspection, the inspector reviewed planning and preparation for resumption of diving operations, and observed a diving evolution on January 19, 1998. The inspector also reviewed previous Unit 2 refueling outage performance in May 1997, planning for the April 1998 Unit 1 outage, and performance relative to improvement of the radiation protection program.

Our review indicated that your organization is actively continuing efforts to establish and implement corrective actions to address performance weaknesses in accordance with your September 11, 1997, response. We observed that management attention and oversight were very apparent in the planning and preparation of diving activities, and in the efforts to effect overall improvement of the radiation protection program. While activities and initiatives associated with the Radiation Protection Improvement Plan are still in progress, the inspector observed good planning and preparation for radiological work activities scheduled for the April 1998 Unit I outage.

However, based on information developed during the inspection, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred related to an airborne contamination event in May 1997 during the Unit 2 refueling outage. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the enclosed inspection report.

Specifically, your staff failed to establish radiological controls for work in the reactor cavity during cleaning of the reactor flange commensurate with the actual conditions indicated by the area survey. Accordingly, the work planning and process, personnel respiratory protective requirements, and monitoring of personnel for potential exposure to airborne radioactivity, were not evaluated in view of radiological conditions that were significantly different than originally anticipated. Further, monitoring of airborne radiological conditions were ineffective since air sampling was not representative of the workers' breathing zone; and analysis and determination of the significant concentration of airborne radioactivity, to which workers were exposed, was substantially delayed by 8 to 12 hours. In addition, the reactor cavity was not properly posted to identify the hazard when elevated airborne radioactivity concentrations were detected.

These matters were of safety and regulatory significance in light of the high levels of unevaluated transuranic activity present in the reactor cavity. However, once your staff realized that significant airborne activity existed, they established effective control of the areas, and assessed the radiation exposure of the affected personnel. No significant personnel exposures were identified by your staff; and our review ascertained that personnel exposure in excess of regulatory requirements was not evident, in this case. Our review determined that your organization did not effectively survey and evaluate the radiological conditions and revise the radiological protection requirements, accordingly. These performance errors acted to increase the risk of substantial potential internal exposure of personnel. Therefore, these violations 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" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. However, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to exercise discretion in accordance with Section VII.B.6 of the Enforcement Policy to not propose a civil penalty in this case. The decision to exercise discretion was made because the violations related to the cavity event occurred approximately one month after the diving event in April 1997, and appear to be the result of the same fundamental performance deficiencies. In the case of the diving event, an escalated enforcement action (involving a $176,000 civil penalty) was issued. Your September 11, 1997, letter discussed the diving event and the realization that a comprehensive assessment of the all aspects of the radiation safety program was warranted, including evaluation of site and radiation safety procedures. Our inspection confirmed that broad based corrective actions were underway to improve your radiological protection program, including review and evaluation of radiation safety procedures, and previously identified issue reports dealing with radiation safety matters. Additionally, your staff initiated development of a Transuranic Activity Assessment and Programmatic Action Plan to address the performance weaknesses revealed by this event and supplement the broad based corrective actions.

The circumstances surrounding these violations, the significance of the issues, and the need for lasting and effective corrective action were discussed with members of your staff by Mr. White on February 20, 1998. You acknowledged the seriousness of this matter and also noted that the circumstances surrounding this event, and the associated incident reports were included in your broad based reviews currently under way.

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

Sincerely,



Hubert J. Miller
Regional Administrator

Docket Nos. 50-317; 50-318
License Nos. DPR-53; DPR-69

Enclosures:
1. Notice of Violation
2. NRC Combined Inspection Report Nos. 50-317/98-03 and 50-318/98-03

cc w/encls:
T. Pritchett, Director, Nuclear Regulatory Matters (CCNPP)
R. McLean, Administrator, Nuclear Evaluations
J. Walter, Engineering Division, Public Service Commission of Maryland
K. Burger, Esquire, Maryland People's Counsel
R. Ochs, Maryland Safe Energy Coalition
State of Maryland (2)


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company
Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant
Docket Nos. 50-317; 50-318
License Nos. DPR-53; DPR-69
EA No. 98-106

During an NRC inspection conducted from January 19, 1998 - February 17, 1998, for which exit meetings were conducted on January 27, 1998, and February 20, 1998, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

A. 10 CFR 20.1501(a) requires, in part, that each licensee make or cause to be made, surveys that may be necessary to comply with the regulations in this part, and are reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate the extent of radiation levels, concentrations or quantities of radioactive material, and the potential radiological hazards that may be present.
10 CFR 20.1703(a)(3) requires, in part, that the licensee shall implement and maintain a respiratory protection program that includes air sampling sufficient to identify the potential hazard, permit proper equipment selection, and estimate exposures; and surveys and bioassays as appropriate to evaluate actual exposures.
Contrary to the above, on May 5, 1997, BG&E did not make necessary and reasonable surveys to comply with the requirements of 10 CFR 20.1703 (a)(3) and 20.1501(a) during cleaning of the Unit 2 reactor vessel flange. Specifically:
- BG&E did not evaluate the high levels of beta, gamma, and alpha contamination present, with regard to respiratory equipment selection to establish sufficient protection of workers.
- BG&E's air sampling was not sufficient to identify the potential hazard, in that air sampling was not performed in the workers' breathing zone during decontamination of the reactor flange.
- BG&E did not perform timely surveys (i.e., evaluations) of the air samples collected during decontamination of the reactor vessel flange. The air sample from the reactor flange decontamination was not evaluated for alpha airborne radioactivity until about 8 hours after the work activity was completed. When analyzed, the sample indicated approximately 103 DAC alpha, while the respiratory protective equipment selected only offered a protection factor of 50.
- The refueling floor air sample (69 foot elevation), collected during the flange cleaning, was not evaluated for alpha airborne radioactivity until about 12 hours after the work activity was completed. When analyzed, the sample indicated approximately 10.6 DAC alpha, and personnel unknowingly worked in the airborne radioactivity area without the use of respiratory protective equipment. (01013)
B. 10 CFR 20.1902(d) requires that the licensee post airborne radioactivity areas as defined in 10 CFR 20.1003. 10 CFR 20.1003 defines an airborne radioactivity area, in part, as an area in which airborne radioactivity exists in concentrations in excess of the derived airborne concentrations (DACs) specified in 10 CFR 20, Appendix B.
Contrary to the above, on May 5, 1997, BG&E did not post the 44' elevation of the Unit 2 reactor cavity as an airborne radioactivity area when it was determined that airborne concentrations of Co-60 were about 5 times its DAC specified in Appendix B. (01023)

These violations represent a Severity Level III problem (Supplement IV).

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Baltimore Gas and Electric (Licensee) is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region I, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the facility that is the subject of this Notice, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and should include for each violation: (1) the reason for the violation, or, if contested, the basis for disputing the violation or severity level, (2) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (3) the corrective steps that will be taken to avoid further violations, and (4) the date when full compliance will be achieved. Your response may reference or include previous docketed correspondence, if the correspondence adequately addresses the required response. 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. Where good cause is shown, consideration will be given to extending the response time.

If you contest this enforcement action, you should also provide a copy of your response to the Director, Office of Enforcement, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2232, this response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

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 20th day of March, 1998

 

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