United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 91-48: False Certificates of Conformance provided by Westinghouse Electric Supply Company for Refurbished Commercial-Grade Circuit Breakers

                                UNITED STATES
                        NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                    OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION
                          WASHINGTON, D. C.  20555

                               August 9, 1991


Information Notice No. 91-48:  FALSE CERTIFICATES OF CONFORMANCE 
                                   PROVIDED BY WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC SUPPLY 
                                   COMPANY FOR REFURBISHED COMMERCIAL-GRADE 
                                   CIRCUIT BREAKERS


Addressees:

All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power 
reactors.

Purpose:

This information notice is intended to alert licensees to problems in the 
dedication for safety-related use of Westinghouse molded-case circuit 
breakers (MCCBs) obtained from the Westinghouse Electric Supply Company 
(WESCO) and supplied to the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (Peach Bottom) 
by Spectrum Technologies USA, Incorporated (Spectrum).  This information 
notice is intended to alert licensees to the possibility that MCCBs 
previously obtained from WESCO or Spectrum may have been unqualified and 
subsequently dedicated for safety-related service without an adequate basis. 

It is expected that recipients will review this 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 requirements; therefore, no specific action or 
written response is required.  

Description of Circumstances:

In April 1988, WESCO of Albany, New York, supplied 250 MCCBs to Spectrum of 
Schenectady, New York.  Spectrum dedicated these commercial-grade items on 
the basis of independent testing and the certificates of conformance (CoCs) 
it received from WESCO.  During receipt inspection testing, Peach Bottom 
determined that the MCCBs were not new and had been refurbished.  The NRC 
conducted an inspection and investigation of Spectrum and WESCO in 1988 and 
1989.  During these efforts, the NRC identified that the MCCBs provided to 
Peach Bottom were reconditioned and not new equipment as specified in the 
purchase order.  Although the purchase order from Spectrum to WESCO 
specifically required new equipment and CoCs, WESCO purchased the MCCBs from 
a subvendor which dealt mainly in reconditioned equipment and provided these 
reconditioned MCCBs to Spectrum with falsified CoCs that certified that they 
were new equipment.  In addition, the investigation identified that WESCO 
ordered Westinghouse labels from the subvendor in order to label the 
shipping boxes that lacked labels. 

9108090066 
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                                                            IN 91-48 
                                                            August 9, 1991 
                                                            Page 2 of 3 


Spectrum performed the dedication inspection and testing to demonstrate the 
adequacy of the MCCBs from WESCO.  However, the validity of this testing 
depended on the MCCBs being new equipment.  Spectrum's failure to verify the 
accuracy or the validity of the CoCs resulted in Spectrum accepting fraudu-
lent CoCs and providing reconditioned (as opposed to new) MCCBs to Peach 
Bottom.  The NRC concluded that the information that Spectrum provided 
during discussions with NRC staff was not accurate or complete.  Spectrum 
has stated it misunderstood the NRC questions and did not intend to mislead 
the NRC.  However, the NRC concluded that the questions were simple and 
clearly stated.  Spectrum has, as part of their corrective actions, now 
stated, under oath, that it will continue to provide accurate and complete 
information to licencees and the Commission concerning the procurement and 
dedication of components for use in nuclear power plants.  

As part of Westinghouse's corrective action, Westinghouse has strengthened 
its corporate policy to require that dedication services be performed under 
the direction and supervision of the Energy Systems Business Unit and to 
require notices on commercial-grade products to ensure that customers are 
not misled in any way by the documentation for commercial-grade products.  
In addition, WESCO will include notices in future proposals and product 
literature stating that these products may not be suitable for use in 
nuclear plants and that published information should not be relied upon as 
the basis for dedicating commercial-grade products for use in nuclear 
safety-related applications.  

Discussion:

In Bulletin 88-10, "Nonconforming Molded-Case Circuit Breakers," the NRC 
dis-cussed its concern that the reliability and capability of refurbished 
MCCBs purchased as commercial-grade items for later upgrading to 
safety-related applications may not meet the minimum commercial-grade 
standards.  In Bulletin 88-10, the NRC concluded that MCCBs that were 
purchased from the circuit breaker manufacturer (CBM), or that can be traced 
to the CBM, are of lesser concern than other MCCBs because circuit breakers 
from the CBM, whether safety-related or commercial-grade, are manufactured 
under controlled conditions to conform to a proven design.  These controls 
provide reasonable assurance that improperly refurbished components have not 
been introduced and passed through the upgrading process.  

In Bulletin 88-10, the NRC also requested that licensees provide reasonable 
assurance that MCCBs purchased for use in safety-related applications 
without verifiable traceability to the CBM will perform their safety 
function.  The bulletin defined verifiable traceability as required 
documented evidence such as a CoC that established the traceability of 
purchased equipment to the CBM.  If the CoC was provided by any party other 
than the CBM, the validity of the certificate was required to be verified by 
the licensee or permit holder through an audit or other appropriate means.  
This example of WESCO's past practice of repurchasing Westinghouse 
components, some of which were used and refurbished, from outside sources 
for resale in the commercial market underscores the importance of verifying 
the traceability of equipment to the CBM.  In addition, this example demon-
strates the importance of taking adequate measures to ensure the validity of 
certifications that licensees and their vendors depend upon from commer-
cial-grade subvendors as a basis for dedicating equipment for safety-related 
use.  
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                                                            IN 91-48 
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The past actions of Westinghouse and Spectrum in this case indicate that the 
previous licensee actions in response to Bulletin 88-10 may have been 
inadequate if the licensee depended upon unverified certifications to 
demonstrate the traceability of its MCCBs to the CBM.  Although both 
Westinghouse and Spectrum have implemented corrective actions to preclude 
the recurrence of these events, licensees may wish to review their previous 
procurements of MCCBs or other components, particularly those involving 
WESCO or Spectrum, to confirm that the equipment is acceptable and that they 
have verifiable traceability of the MCCBs to the CBM.  In addition, 
licensees may wish to examine the adequacy of any applicable audits and 
their specific audit procedures to ensure that their vendors are adequately 
verifying the validity of subvendor certifications.  The NRC requires high 
standards of quality for items supplied to licensees.  To achieve this high 
standard, the licensees and ultimately the NRC must depend to a large degree 
upon the accuracy of the information provided to them by vendors and 
indirectly by subvendors.  Therefore, the NRC expects complete candor and 
cooperation from the vendors that procure or supply safety-related equipment 
for nuclear power plants.  

This information notice requires no specific action or written response.  If 
you have any questions about this matter, please contact the technical 
contact listed below or the appropriate Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation 
(NRR) project manager.  




                                   Charles E. Rossi, Director         
                                   Division of Operational Events Assessment
                                   Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation


Technical Contact:       Randolph N. Moist  
                         (301) 492-0981


Attachment:    List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
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