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Information Notice No. 83-21: Defective Emergency-Use Respirator
SSINS No.: 6835 IN 83-21 UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 April 15, 1983 Information Notice No. 83-21: DEFECTIVE EMERGENCY-USE RESPIRATOR Addressees: All nuclear power reactor facilities holding an operating license (OL) or construction permit (CP), research and test reactors, fuel cycle licensees, and Priority I material licensees. Purpose: This Information Notice is provided to inform licensees of a defective part found in some BioPak 60P respirators manufactured by Rexnord, Inc. The defective part was found at an operating nuclear reactor facility. The nature of this deficiency could cause immediate, harmful effects to the user's upper respiratory tract. The BioPak 60P is a 60-minute closed circuit, recirculating mode, positive pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus- rebreather (SCBA-R). Its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) test and certification (TC) number is TC-13F-85. It is expected that licensees will review the information for applicability to their facilities. Further NRC action may result from feedback from the ongoing NIOSH review effort. Description of Circumstances: During the week of January 17, 1983, Southern California Edison Company employees at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) conducted a routine, semi-annual overhaul of 71 BioPak 60P respirators. Seven carbon- dioxide (CO(2)) absorber's "scrubber pads" had disintegrated, allowing the C0(2) chemical absorber (sodasorb) to escape outside the canister area. The "scrubber pad" acts to retain the sodasorb within the canister. The sodasorb canisters (batch numbers AM07-B-720-22 and AL04-B-720-3) were received from Rexnord in November 1981 and installed in the respirators in June 1982. Approximately 1200 defective pads were produced and, of these, approximately 200 were distributed to various customers before the error was discovered and corrected. These defective pads can be distinguished by their charcoal, blackish color. The manufacturer has told the NRC that essentially all recipients of these defective parts have been notified. NIOSH considers the use of defective parts to invalidate the TC approval of respiratory equipment. NRC regulations (10 CFR 20.103) prohibit the use of emergency respiratory equipment unless specifically certified by NIOSH. The seven SONGS defective respirators had been designated for emergency use only and stored in emergency equipment cabinets. The licensee reported that this equipment had not been issued to or used by any individual. . IN 83-21 April 15, 1983 Page 2 of 2 Discussion: Loss of integrity of the sodasorb canister could reduce the effectiveness of C0(2) removal from the user's closed-circuit, recirculating air supply. Of more potential immediate importance, however, is the possible carryover of the chemical absorber from the canister area into the breathing chamber. Inhalation of the BioPak 60P's sodasorb could cause pulmonary irritation to the respiratory tract. Contact with the skin and eyes also could cause local irritation. Since the BioPaK 60P is authorized for use in atmospheres that are immediately dangerous to life and health, deficiencies as noted above could have significant impact on respirator-user safety. The NRC has notified NIOSH of the SONGS event and has kept NIOSH apprised of the manufacturer's actions to resolve the problem. If you need additional information about this matter, please contact the Regional Administrator of the appropriate NRC Regional office or this office. Edward L. Jordan, Director Division of Emergency Preparedness and Engineering Response Office of Inspection and Enforcement Technical Contacts: L. Hendricks, RES (301) 443-5970 J. Wigginton, IE (301) 492-4967 Attachment: List of Recently Issued IE Information Notices .
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