United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-220 - Oyster Creek (GPU Nuclear, Inc.)

June 15, 1998

EA No. 98-220


Mr. Michael B. Roche
Vice President and Director
GPU Nuclear, Incorporated
Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station
Post Office Box 388
Forked River, New Jersey 08731

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY -
$55,000 (NRC Inspection Report No. 50-219/98-80)

Dear Mr. Roche:

This letter refers to the NRC engineering team inspection conducted between February 23, 1998, and April 2, 1998, at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, the findings of which were discussed with your staff at exit meetings on March 20, and April 8, 1998. The inspection focused on a review of the automatic depressurization system (ADS) and the containment spray system (CSS), as well as a review of the safety evaluation and corrective action programs. During the inspection, three apparent violations were identified involving the inability of three of the five Automatic Depressurization System (ADS) electromatic relief valve (EMRV) solenoids to function under certain design basis accident conditions, thereby rendering those three ADS valves inoperable. On May 29, 1998, a predecisional enforcement conference (conference) was conducted with Mr. Levine, you, and other members of the GPU staff, to discuss the violations, their causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the findings of the inspection and information provided during the conference, two violations are being cited and are described in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice). The violations involve: (1) failure of your engineering design control measures to ensure sufficient voltage for the EMRV solenoids to ensure they would function during a postulated small break loss of coolant accident (SBLOCA), concurrent with a loss of offsite power (LOOP) and a worst case single failure, thereby resulting in the three ADS valves being inoperable, contrary to the Technical Specifications; the Technical Specification required that all five ADS valves be operable when reactor water temperature is greater than 212F and pressurized above 110 psig; and (2) failure to verify that the EMRV solenoid voltage was in accordance with the environmental qualification (EQ) documentation to ensure the EMRVs were environmentally qualified as required.

These violations represent a significant NRC concern because three of the five EMRVs are required to be operable for ADS to accomplish its design basis function of depressurizing the reactor during a small break loss of coolant accident to allow for the low pressure safety emergency core cooling systems to inject water into the reactor vessel. When questioned by the NRC during the inspection, your staff indicated that you did not have any established minimum required operating voltage, nor a minimum available voltage at the solenoid terminals during a design basis accident scenario, and therefore, you could not certify that the EMRVs (and the related ADS) would operate in a design basis accident scenario. Subsequently, analysis and testing was performed on site and at Wyle laboratories which showed that a minimum voltage of 80 volts direct current (Vdc) was required in an accident environment to ensure proper operation of the EMRV solenoid valves. However, based on the in-rush currents quantified from this testing, and voltage drop calculations, you determined that the available voltage to three of the five solenoids would be less than 80 Vdc during the postulated condition and therefore, the valves would not have operated.

The NRC is also concerned that the voltage requirement in the Equipment Qualification (EQ) documentation for the five ADS valves, was not representative of the actual application as installed in the Oyster Creek Station. Specifically, there was no analysis performed to validate the specified EQ documentation number of 105 Vdc.

At the enforcement conference, you admitted the violations and you noted that the primary causes of this condition were: (1) the failure by your engineering process to include voltage analysis information into the EQ process; (2) the failure to treat voltage considerations as rigorously as other EQ parameters, such as radiation, heat, and humidity; and (3) the failure to establish clear responsibility for ensuring that qualification criteria meet the installed configuration. Although you had planned to perform more detailed dc voltage calculations that may have identified the design deficiency, the fundamental cause of the deficiency was your failure to develop design calculations to support voltage requirements at the component level. You also indicated that the potential safety consequences were minimal because at least three EMRVs would have operated for all but one low probability ADS event sequence; the isolation condensers, although not part of your ECCS, would mitigate the impact of a SBLOCA; and the increased peak cladding temperatures (PCTs) resulting from this deficiency would be expected to remain below the design basis accident PCTs. Nonetheless, the violations represent a significant regulatory concern because they indicate breakdowns in your design control process as well as your process for assuring appropriate qualification of components. Therefore, these violations, set forth in the enclosed Notice, 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. Although you had an opportunity to identify these violations during your design review in response to an NRC 50.54(f) letter issued on October 9, 1996, the violations were not identified until the NRC found them during the subject inspection.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Since Oyster Creek 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. No credit is warranted for identification because the violations were identified by the NRC. Credit is warranted for corrective actions because your actions, once the violations were identified, were considered prompt and comprehensive. Those actions, as described at the conference, include: (1) EMRV circuit modifications to ensure the required voltage is available to the solenoids; (2) review and revision of appropriate EQ files to document qualifiability of EQ components for several electrical performance parameters, including voltage, frequency, and load; (3) plans to review and revise engineering EQ procedures to include all required parameters; (4) plans to train engineering staff on the revised procedures; and (5) plans to conduct a self assessment of the EQ program using a "vertical slice" approach.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of appropriate equipment qualification at the facility, as well as appropriate design controls, to ensure that equipment is maintained in accordance with the 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 in the base amount of $55,000.

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,
Original signed by William L. Axelson for

Hubert J. Miller
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 50-219
License No. DPR-16

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
GPU Nuclear, Incorporated
Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station
Docket No. 50-219
License No. DPR-16
EA No. 98-220

During an NRC inspection conducted between February 23, 1998, and April 2, 1998, for which exit meetings were held on March 20, 1998 and April 8, 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 penalty are set forth below:

A. 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion III (Design Control), requires, in part, that measures shall be established to assure that applicable regulatory requirements and the design bases, as defined in §50.2 and as specified in the license application, for those structures, systems, and components to which this appendix applies, are correctly translated into specifications, drawings, procedures, and instructions. In addition, it requires in part, that the design control measures shall provide for verifying or checking the adequacy of design, such as by the performance of design reviews, by the use of alternate or simplified calculational methods, or by the performance of a suitable testing program.

Technical Specification 3.4.B.1, Automatic Depressurization System, requires that the five electromatic relief valves of the automatic depressurization system shall be operable when the reactor water temperature is greater than 212 degrees and pressurized above 110 psig.

Contrary to the above, prior to March 4, 1998, the licensee failed to establish adequate design control measures to verify or check the adequacy of design voltage required for the Automatic Depressurization System (ADS) Electromatic Relief Valve (EMRV) solenoids to function under design basis accident conditions. Specifically, the licensee had not established a minimum required operating voltage, nor a minimum available voltage at the solenoid terminals during a design basis accident scenario, and therefore, could not certify that the EMRVs (and the related ADS) would operate in a design basis accident scenario. As a result, only two of the five EMRVs would have been functional to depressurize the reactor on a small break loss of coolant accident (SBLOCA) condition, concurrent with a Loss of Offsite Power and a single failure of emergency diesel generator #2 (specifically, Battery B Charger) contrary to TS 3.4.B.1. (01013)

B. 10 CFR 50.49(f) requires that each item of electrical equipment important to safety shall be qualified. 10 CFR 50.49(k) allows certain electrical equipment to be qualified in accordance with "Guidelines for Evaluating Environmental Qualification of Class 1E Electrical Equipment in Operating Reactors," November 1979 (DOR Guidelines).

DOR Guidelines, Section 5.2, Qualification by Type testing, item 5, requires that operational modes tested should be representative of the actual application requirements (e.g. motor and electrical cable loading during the test should be representative of actual operating conditions). In addition, item 6, requires that the equipment qualification program should include an as-built inspection in the field to verify that equipment was installed as it was tested.

Contrary to the above, from November 1984 to March 1998, the application requirement for the five ADS EMRV solenoids in the EQ documentation (EQ-OC-301 dated August 1, 1989) was not representative of the field installation and actual operating condition. No analysis was performed to validate the established qualification voltage (a minimum of 105 volts dc). (01023)

These violations are classified in the aggregate as a Severity Level III Problem Supplement I). Civil Penalty - $55,000

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, GPU Nuclear, Incorporated (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: J. 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 15th day of June 1998


1. e.g., A Notice of Violation was issued on November 17, 1997 for violations classified in the aggregate at a Severity Level III relating to design control and corrective actions (Reference: EA 97-421).

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012