United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 84-15: Reporting of Radiological

                                                          SSINS No.: 6835  
                                                          IN 84-15         

                               UNITED STATES 
                       NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 
                    OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT 
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 
                                     
                               March 2, 1984 

Information Notice No. 84-15:   REPORTING OF RADIOLOGICAL RELEASES 

Addressees: 

All nuclear power reactor facilities holding and operating license (OL) or 
construction permit (CP). 

Purpose: 

This information notice is issued to alert licensees of two recent events 
involving radioactive gaseous releases. In both events, the offsite 
radiological dose consequences were negligible. However, the incomplete or 
anomalous initial reporting and the lack of aggressive licensee followup for
these events clearly demonstrate that (1) more attention could be given to 
better screening of initial reports to the NRC, and (2) more effort could be
made to actively follow up and provide timely closure for radiological 
events. 

On a somewhat related matter, recent random checks with licensees reveal 
that some facilities do not have the correct backup phone numbers for 
contacting the NRC Operations Center in the event of a failure to the 
Emergency Notification System (ENS). On June 1, 1982, the commercial 
telephone number of the Operations Center was changed to 202-951-0550. The 
new number was disseminated via Information Notice No. 82-16 dated May 
28, 1982. In addition, Attachment 1 to this notice provides three additional 
telephone numbers for use in the event of an ENS failure. As IE Information 
Notice No. 82-15 pointed out, changes to licensee procedures may be 
necessary to accommodate the new numbers. 

No specific licensee action or response is required. 

Description of Circumstances: 

Event 1 

Recently, during a weekend, a pressurized water reactor (PWR) experienced a 
short-duration, unplanned, radioactive gaseous release followed by a 3-hour 
release 1.25 hours later. The second event caused the plant vent stack to 
alarm. These releases were not reported to the NRC Operations Center until 
5.5 hours after the start of the 3-hour release. At that time the licensee 
did not know whether the plant's technical specifications (TS) limit for 
radioactive gaseous release rate had been exceeded. 


8402090009 
.

                                                            IN 84-15       
                                                            March 2, 1984  
                                                            Page 2 of 3    

The NRC Headquarters Operations Officer (HOO) asked the licensee to call 
back when the releases could be quantified. Given the release duration and 
the receipt of the vent stack alarm, the licensee should have initiated 
timely followup action to quantify the releases and to determine if a TS 
violation had occurred. Not until two days later were the releases 
quantified and shown to be approximately 33% of TS instantaneous release 
rate limit. The 3-hour sustained release occurred while condensation was 
being drained from the vent line of the volume control tank (VCT) to the 
waste gas decay tank. The plant's reactor coolant activity was equal to 
about 50% of the TS limit for specific activity. 

Event 2 

Another PWR experienced an unplanned gaseous release lasting 15-20 minutes. 
The licensee notified the NRC HOO about 1 hour later and reported 
radioactive effluent release rates of approximately 6 x 10-4 Ci/s (noble 
gas) and 1.5 x 10-1 Ci/s (iodine). The source of the release was reported to 
originate from the VCT vapor space. In accordance with emergency 
implementing procedures, the licensee had declared a notification of unusual 
event (NOUE) upon receipt of effluent monitor alarm. The NOUE was terminated 
about 40 minutes after the release had stopped. An iodine release of this 
magnitude (180 curies) would have presented a significant offsite dose 
potential, dictating prompt initiation of licensee, state, and local 
actions, as well as NRC emergency response actions. At the time of the 
initial report, neither the licensee nor the NRC HOO recognized the offsite 
dose potential for the reported iodine release. The HOO asked the licensee 
for a callback/update when dose calculations were completed. 

Early the following morning the relieving NRC HOO questioned the improbable 
noble gas-to-iodine release rate ratio, given the source of the release was 
the VCT vapor space. The HOO called the licensee for possible clarification 
and validation of release data. The licensee could not provide further 
clarification, but did suspect (but could not confirm) that the iodine 
release number may have been erroneous. Not until later in the morning did 
the licensee provide closure by reporting that the iodine release rate 
originally reported was incorrect and the actual release consequences were 
negligible. 

Discussion: 

Both events demonstrate the need for licensees to focus more attention on 
the reporting requirements of 10 CFR 50.72. A more thorough technical review 
of initial reporting data, followed by aggressive followup to resolve 
potential anomalous/incomplete data can help provide timely resolution of 
reported events. For example, licensees should normally have sufficient 
information to rapidly bound the magnitude of a gaseous release--noble gas 
effluent monitor reading can be directly related to the TS instantaneous 
release rate. 

The NRC has initiated a program to upgrade and broaden the HOO's level of 
knowledge in the radiological area. The initial training for HOO's covered 
radioactive gaseous and liquid releases, focusing on recognition of release 

.

                                                            IN 84-15       
                                                            March 2, 1984  
                                                            Page 3 of 3    

magnitude, rates, and potential offsite dose consequences. If you have any 
questions regarding 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 Contact:  J. E. Wigginton, IE 
                    (301) 492-4967 

Attachments: 
1.   Backup Phone Numbers to NRC 
2.   List of Recently Issued IE Information Notices 
.

                                                            Attachment 1   
                                                            IN 84-15       
                                                            March 2, 1984  
                                                            Page 1 of 1    

                       BACKUP PHONE NUMBERS FOR NRC 
                            OPERATIONS center 

In the event of Emergency Notification System failure, the NRC Operations 
Center can be contacted at any of the following numbers: 

          (202) 951-0550 
          (301) 427-4056 
          (301) 427-4259 
          (301) 492-8893 
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, November 12, 2013