United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-433 - Palisades (Consumers Energy Company)

December 11, 1998

EA 98-433

Mr. Thomas J. Palmisano
Site Vice President and General Manager
Palisades Nuclear Generating Plant
27780 Blue Star Memorial Highway
Covert, MI 49043-9530

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC INSPECTION REPORT 50-255/98007)

Dear Mr. Palmisano:

This refers to the inspection conducted at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant from April 14 to October 23, 1998. During this inspection, the inspectors reviewed the circumstances surrounding your Engineering Staff's identification that a surveillance procedure had rendered the high pressure safety injection (HPSI) system inoperable. The report documenting our inspection was sent to you by letter dated November 12, 1998. The significance of the issue and the need for lasting and effective corrective actions were discussed with members of your staff at the inspection exit meeting on October 23, 1998. Our November 12, 1998, letter offered you the option to either request a predecisional enforcement conference, respond to the apparent violation, or accept the apparent violation and the description of your corrective actions that are already docketed. Dan Malone of your staff informed Bruce Burgess of my staff on November 19, 1998, that you (1) accepted the apparent violation and the description of your docketed corrective actions, (2) do not request a predecisional enforcement conference, and (3) will not respond to the apparent violation.

The NRC determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. This determination was based on the information (1) developed during the inspection, (2) that your staff provided during the exit meeting, and (3) your staff documented in Licensee Event Report (LER) 255/98-007. The violation is cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding the violation are described in the inspection report.

The violation occurred when the HPSI system was made inoperable for approximately 90 minutes during a surveillance test. The test procedure prescribed a system configuration that would have resulted in a portion of HPSI flow being diverted from the cold leg injection paths to a single hot leg injection path in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA). For a LOCA involving this hot leg injection path, enough flow could be diverted out the break to prevent both trains of HPSI from performing their safety function. Inadequate engineering review and Plant Review Committee oversight of a surveillance procedure revision resulted in incorporating the incorrect system configuration. In addition, prior to implementing the test procedure, operations personnel reviewed the plant configuration that resulted from implementing the procedure. This review included operators preplanning the immediate restoration of the valves to their normal position in the event of a plant transient, and questioning whether Technical Specification Limiting Condition for Operation times should be recorded during performance of the test. However, the response to the operator's question was not adequate to identify that HPSI would be made inoperable during the test. The inadequate surveillance procedure resulted in the violation listed in the Notice because the HPSI system was incapable of providing required flow in this system configuration. This violation was classified in accordance with NUREG-1600, "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions (Enforcement Policy)" as a Severity Level III violation.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 was considered for this Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions1 within the last two years, 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. You were given credit for both identifying this deficiency and for initiating prompt and effective corrective action. Your corrective actions included (1) training for the licensed personnel to improve operational decision making, (2) enhancements to the surveillance procedure preparation process, and (3) enhancements to the job preparation process.

Therefore, to encourage prompt identification and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for this violation; the date when you will achieve full compliance; and the corrective actions taken, planned to correct the violation, and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report 50-255/98007 and LER 255/98-007. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to provide additional information, please follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter and the enclosure will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.

Sincerely,

Original Signed By

James L. Caldwell
Acting Regional Administrator

Docket No. 50-255

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/encl: R. Fenech, Senior Vice President, Nuclear
   Fossil and Hydro Operations
N. Haskell, Director, Licensing
R. Whale, Michigan, Public Service Commission
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Department of Attorney General (MI)
Emergency Management Division, MI Department
of State Police


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
Consumers Energy Company
Palisades Nuclear Plant
Docket No. 50-255
License No. DPR-20
EA 98-433

During an NRC inspection conducted from April 14 through October 23, 1998, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with NUREG-1600, "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," the violation is listed below:

10 CFR Part 50, Appendix B, Criterion V, "Instructions, Procedures, and Drawings," requires, in part, that activities affecting quality be prescribed by documented procedures of a type appropriate to the circumstances.
Contrary to the above, on April 10, 1998, the licensee performed an activity affecting quality, testing of the high pressure safety system, with a surveillance procedure that was not appropriate to the circumstances. Specifically, surveillance procedure RT-71B, "High Pressure Safety Injection Train 1 and 2 and Safety Injection Tank System, Class 2 System Functional/Inservice Test," revision 3, was not appropriate to the circumstances because it established a system configuration that rendered the High Pressure Safety Injection System inoperable due to reduced flow and flow diversion.
This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement I)

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence and the date when full compliance will be achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report 50-255/98007 and Licensee Event Report (LER) 255/98-007. However, you are required to submit a written statement or explanation pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201 if the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to respond, clearly mark your response as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and send it to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, DC 20555, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region III, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice.

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

If you choose to respond, your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR). Therefore, to the extent possible, the response should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be placed in the PDR without redaction.

Dated this 11th day of December 1998


1.   A Severity Level III problem with a $55,000 civil penalty was issued on April 2, 1998, for an October to November 1997 inspection that addressed the licensee's failure to maintain control of the control rod drive system configuration during a maintenance activity (EA 97-567).

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