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Information Notice No. 91-24: Recent Operating Experience Involving Reactor Operation Without a Licensed Reactor Operator or Senior Reactor Operator Present in the Control Room
UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 March 26, 1991 Information Notice No. 91-24: RECENT OPERATING EXPERIENCE INVOLVING REACTOR OPERATION WITHOUT A LICENSED REACTOR OPERATOR OR SENIOR REACTOR OPERATOR PRESENT IN THE CONTROL ROOM Addressees: All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power, test, and research reactors, and all Part 55 licensed operators. Purpose: This information notice is provided to alert addressees to recent operating experience involving reactor operation without a licensed reactor operator or senior reactor operator present in the control room. It is expected that recipients will review the information for applicability to their facilities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar problems. However, suggestions contained in this information notice do not constitute NRC re- quirements; therefore, no specific action or written response is required. Description of Circumstances: On January 22, 1991, the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) 1 MW TRIGA research reactor was operating at 1 MW (rated thermal power). During this operational period, the reactor operator left the control room briefly to provide University personnel access to the reactor bay area through a locked door. The reactor operator was the only person present in the control room and adjoining reactor bay area before the University personnel were admitted. The reactor operator then returned to the control room once the University personnel were admitted. No other operational occurrences were associated with the event. On December 20, 1990, General Public Utilities (GPU), the licensee, was operating the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant at power. The Group Operating Supervisor (GOS) and the Group Shift Supervisor (GSS) were the licensed senior reactor operators present in the control room. During this operational period, the GSS left the control room, leaving the GOS as the only SRO present. While the GSS was absent, the GOS left the control room without realizing that he had been the only SRO present. Both the GSS and the GOS returned when informed that there were no SROs present in the control room. 9103200131 . IN 91-24 March 26, 1991 Page 2 of 2 Discussion: At PSU, the licensee's management learned of this event through the reported observation by another staff member. When the licensed reactor operator was interviewed by the facility director, the operator stated he did not know that leaving the control room unattended (with the reactor unsecured) was a violation of the reactor facility's technical specifications. To prevent reoccurrence, the licensee has implemented a training procedure explaining this event and the importance of adhering to the technical specifications. At the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant, the licensee stated that the reason an SRO was not present in the control room at all times was because the GOS had failed to follow the guidance on shift turnovers in the administrative procedures. This guidance was prepared as a result of a similar event that occurred at Oyster Creek on October 5, 1989. The GOS involved in this event had been in training for his SRO license when the October 1989 event occurred and had not been made aware of the subsequent guidance on the control room staffing requirements. Facility licensees are expected to be familiar with the minimum staffing levels for reactor operation specified in the technical specifications for their respective nuclear facilities or as stated in Section 50.54 (k) and (m) of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as appropriate. These requirements apply to non-power and power nuclear reactor facilities. This information notice requires no specific action or written response. If you have any questions about the information in this notice, please call the technical contact listed below or the appropriate NRR project manager. Charles E. Rossi, Director Division of Operational Events Assessment Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Technical Contact: John Thompson, NRR (301) 492-1171 Attachment: List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices .
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