United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-478 - River Bend 1 (Entergy Operations, Inc.)

February 1, 1999

EA 98-478

Randall K. Edington, Vice President - Operations
River Bend Station
Entergy Operations, Inc.
P.O. Box 220
St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY - $55,000
(NRC Inspection Report No. 50-458/98-13)

Dear Mr. Edington:

This refers to the predecisional enforcement conference conducted in the NRC's Region IV office in Arlington, Texas on November 23, 1998, and to a December 17, 1998, letter that Entergy Operations, Inc. (EOI) sent the NRC. The conference and the letter concerned apparent violations related to a design deficiency in the Division I and II emergency diesel generators (EDGs) at the River Bend Station. The design deficiency was also discussed in the following correspondence: (1) August 28, 1998, letter from the vendor of the diesel generators, Cooper Energy Services, to the NRC under the provisions of 10 CFR Part 21; (2) LER 50-458/98-003-01 dated October 5, 1998 from EOI; and (3) NRC Information Notice 98-41, "Spurious Shutdown of Emergency Diesel Generators from Design Oversight," dated November 20, 1998. Four apparent violations were described during a telephonic exit meeting with you and your staff on October 14, 1998, and were documented in the subject inspection report issued on October 27, 1998.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you and your staff provided, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report. The violations are related to the discovery that the design of the pneumatic control logic for Division I and II EDGs would have resulted in an inadvertent diesel engine trip under certain circumstances during emergency operations. Specifically, the EDGs contained a pneumatic control logic system which was supported by nonsafety-related air compressors that were powered by a non-class 1E power supply. The pneumatic control logic system is designed, in part, to trip the diesel engine when certain non-emergency (or nonessential) engine parameters are sensed to exceed their limits. During emergency operations, these nonessential trips are intended to be bypassed to allow continued operation of the diesel generator.

The design deficiency resulted in a situation where, during a loss of offsite power event, the nonessential trips would be reinstated as air pressure slowly decreased below 120 psig through normal system leakage, thus allowing the potential for an inadvertent diesel engine trip, and a situation where the EDG would have tripped as air pressure slowly decreased below about 40 psig. This design deficiency had been present since the original design and installation of the EDGs at the River Bend Station. EOI's position was that the root cause of the deficiency was a failure of the vendor and architect/engineer to recognize that, as installed, the diesel engine control system required a long-term air supply.

Note that the violations included in the attached Notice are modified from the apparent violations identified in the subject inspection report. The apparent violations discussed during the conference were: (1) an apparent failure to ensure design control measures adequately verified or checked that the safety-related diesel generator control air instrument and controls system remained functional during accident conditions; (2) an apparent failure to ensure Division I and II diesel generators were operable during periods of operation in Modes 1, 2, and 3; (3) an apparent failure to ensure that the cause of the condition was determined, and that adequate corrective action was taken, regarding a significant condition adverse to quality affecting the Division I and II diesel generator control air instrument and controls systems; and (4) an apparent failure to ensure that preoperational testing and subsequent testing of the Division I and II EDGs was adequate to assure that the diesel generators, including the control air instrument and controls system, would perform satisfactorily in service. Upon further review of the circumstances, apparent violations 1, 2, and 4 are more appropriately cited as a single violation because they reflect the same failures. Further, we acknowledge your staff's disagreement with the wording of some of the apparent violations during the conference, and have made appropriate modifications to the violations where needed. Therefore, the following violations are being cited in the attached Notice: (1) a failure to ensure design control measures adequately verified that the safety-related diesel generator control air instrument and controls system would remain functional during accident conditions, which resulted in the Division I and II diesel generators being inoperable during certain periods of operation, and (2) a failure to promptly identify and correct a significant condition adverse to quality related to the diesel generator control air instrument and controls system.

EOI's position during the conference was that, although the two EDGs were inoperable based on the technical specifications definition of operability, there was a reasonable likelihood that the EDGs would have performed their safety function because of proceduralized operator actions that have been in effect since 1990. However, the NRC is not convinced of this because of the many assumptions in EOI's assessment. For example, EOI initially estimated that it would take approximately 2 hours to install air bottles; however after NRC inspectors encouraged EOI to actually demonstrate the validity of this time estimate, the task took about 5 hours to complete because of the lack of availability of proper equipment and because plant personnel were not familiar with the process. Uncertainties related to EDG functionality during the period 1990-1998 included: (1) large variances in the actual leak rates; (2) the availability of a sufficient number of air bottles; and (3) the availability of the correct hardware (e.g., fittings, regulators) for air bottle installation. As a result, it is NRC's view that functionality was uncertain under design basis accident conditions, and that the EDGs remained inoperable as defined by technical specifications.

The NRC acknowledges the risk significance of this condition is low, primarily due to the low probability of the initiating event (i.e., a loss of offsite power). However, this situation is significant because it resulted in a condition where there was substantial uncertainty as to the ability of a safety system, designed to mitigate a serious safety event, being capable of performing its intended safety function under certain circumstances since original installation. Further, since 1990, it was known by the EOI staff that the non-emergency trips were reinstated below 120 psig, but the significance of that information was not recognized. As a result, the failure to identify and correct this significant condition adverse to quality continued until June 1998. Therefore, each of the violations in the attached Notice has been individually classified in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600 at Severity Level III.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a civil penalty with a base value 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. For the first violation, involving the inadequate design control measures which originated with the vendor's inadequate design and which resulted in EDG inoperability, the NRC has determined that EOI is deserving of both identification and corrective action credit. This was due to the fact EOI identified the design deficiency, and subsequently took prompt and comprehensive corrective actions to ensure the EDGs were operable. In following the civil penalty assessment process, this violation resulted in no civil penalty.

With regard to the violation involving EOI's failure to identify and promptly correct the condition until 1998, the NRC notes that during the followup teleconference held on December 11, 1998, EOI acknowledged that EOI staff members have been aware since 1990 that nonessential trips would be reinstated below 120 psig, but that the staff members failed to recognize the significance of this condition until 1998. On this basis, the NRC considers that credit for Identification is not warranted for this violation, which involves a failure to identify and correct this significant condition adverse to quality from 1990 to 1998. However, based on the prompt and comprehensive corrective actions taken, the NRC's position is that EOI is deserving of Corrective Action credit. These actions included informal briefings with the operations staff and more formal training to the engineering staff.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of attention to detail and of maintaining a questioning attitude regarding important safety systems, 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 with Enclosure 1, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.


Sincerely,

Org signed by

Ellis W. Merschoff
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 50-458
License No. NPF-47

Enclosure:   Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc (w/o encl 2):
Executive Vice President and
Chief Operating Officer
Entergy Operations, Inc.
P.O. Box 31995
Jackson, Mississippi 39286-1995

Vice President
Operations Support
Entergy Operations, Inc.
P.O. Box 31995
Jackson, Mississippi 39286-1995

General Manager
Plant Operations
River Bend Station
Entergy Operations, Inc.
P.O. Box 220
St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775

Director - Nuclear Safety
River Bend Station
Entergy Operations, Inc.
P.O. Box 220
St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775

Wise, Carter, Child & Caraway
P.O. Box 651
Jackson, Mississippi 39205

Mark J. Wetterhahn, Esq.
Winston & Strawn
1401 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005-3502

Manager - Licensing
River Bend Station
Entergy Operations, Inc.
P.O. Box 220
St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775

The Honorable Richard P. Ieyoub
Attorney General
Department of Justice
State of Louisiana
P.O. Box 94005
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9005

H. Anne Plettinger
3456 Villa Rose Drive
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806

President of West Feliciana
Police Jury
P.O. Box 1921
St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775

Ronald Wascom, Administrator
Louisiana Radiation Protection Division
P.O. Box 82135
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70884-2135




NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Entergy Operations, Inc.
River Bend Station
Docket No. 50-458
License No. NPF-47
EA 98-478

During an NRC inspection conducted on June 8 through October 14, 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:

I.   Violation Not Assessed a Civil Penalty

Criterion III of Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50 states, in part, "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...."

Section 7.1.2.4.2 in the Updated Safety Analysis Report states, in part, "All safety-related instrumentation and control equipment are...designed to...remain functional...during accident conditions." Section 8.3.1.1.3.6.1.1 states, in part, "All necessary auxiliaries directly associated with each standby diesel-generator unit...are powered from their associated standby buses."

Technical Specification 3.8.1b requires that three diesel generators shall be operable while in Modes 1, 2, and 3. Technical Specification 1.1 definition of operable requires, in part, that a system, subsystem, component, or device shall be considered operable or have operability when all necessary auxiliary equipment required for the system, subsystem, component, or device to perform its safety function are also capable of performing their related safety functions.

Contrary to the above, since November 1985, design control measures did not adequately provide for verifying or checking, through the performance of design reviews, use of alternate or simplified calculational methods, or performance of testing, that the safety-related diesel generator control air instrument and controls system remained functional during accident conditions. Specifically, design control measures did not ensure that the system was provided with a long-term supply of safety-related pressurized air, which was necessary for the continued operation of the diesel generators in response to an extended loss of offsite power (i.e., the air compressors were nonsafety-related and were not powered by a safety-related bus). At less than 120 psig, the non-essential diesel generator trips would no longer be bypassed and at less than 45 psig the diesel generators would automatically shutdown. As a result, the Division I and II diesel generators were not operable while in Modes 1, 2, and 3 during this time period because the control air instrument and controls, a subsystem, were not operable. (01013)

This is a severity level III violation (Supplement I).

II. Violation Assessed a Civil Penalty

Criterion XVI of Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50 states, in part, "Measures shall be established to assure that conditions adverse to quality, such as failures, malfunctions, deficiencies, deviations, defective material and equipment, and nonconformances are promptly identified and corrected. In the case of significant conditions adverse to quality, the measures shall assure that the cause of the condition is determined and corrective action taken to preclude repetition. The identification of the significant condition adverse to quality, the cause of the condition, and the corrective action taken shall be documented and reported to appropriate levels of management."

Contrary to the above, from 1985 until about June 1998, a significant condition adverse to quality existed related to the Division I and II diesel generator control air instrument and controls systems, and the cause of the condition was not determined, and adequate corrective action was not taken throughout this time. Since 1990, licensee staff knew that diesel generator control air instrument and controls systems were not provided with a long-term source of safety-related pressurized air to ensure that the nonessential diesel generator trips would remain bypassed during a loss of offsite power. Although procedures were changed in 1990 to require operators to install nonsafety-related air bottles as an alternate air source, the acceptability of relying on this operator action, in lieu of automatic action, was not properly evaluated against the licensee's design-basis description in the safety analysis report and the ability to accomplish the manual actions was not fully demonstrated until 1998. Further, the failure to identify the significant condition adverse to quality continued until 1998 and the cause of the condition and the corrective action taken was not documented and reported to appropriate levels of management. (02013)

This is a severity level III violation (Supplement I).
Civil Penalty - $55,000

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Entergy Operations, Inc. (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 to 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 proposed above or the cumulative amount of the civil penalties if more than one civil penalty is proposed, in accordance with NUREG/BR-0254 and by submitting to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, a statement indicating when and by what method payment was made, 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 234(c) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2282c.

The response noted above (Reply to Notice of Violation, statement as to 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 IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011, 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.

In accordance with 10 CFR 19.11, you may be required to post this Notice within two working days.

Dated this 1 st of February 1999


1.   A Severity Level III violation and a $55,000 civil penalty was issued on December 23, 1997 (EA 97-497) regarding an inadvertent mode change.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012