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Information Notice No. 91-77: Shift Staffing at Nuclear Power Plants
UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 November 26, 1991 NRC INFORMATION NOTICE 91-77: SHIFT STAFFING AT NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS Addressees All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power reactors. Purpose The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information notice to alert addressees to problems that could result from inadequate controls to ensure that shift staffing is sufficient to accomplish all necessary functions required by an event. 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 are not NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written response is required. Description of Circumstances On April 29, 1991, the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant experienced a main generator hydrogen fire. Although a senior reactor operator (SRO) and auxiliary operators from another shift were available immediately, the need to provide personnel for the fire brigade and yet perform the many actions required by the event caused a heavy workload for the control room staff. This workload contributed to the licensee's failure to notify some key emergency response personnel as specified in the licensee's procedure. On June 15, 1991, at 11:50 p.m., lightning struck the switchyard at the Yankee-Rowe Nuclear Power Station. The lightning strike caused a fire, a loss of offsite power, a loss of normal telephone communication, and a reactor trip. The staff on duty experienced difficulty in its effort to concurrently classify the event, notify the required people, implement emergency operating procedures, and provide personnel for the fire brigade. The lack of staff contributed to the licensee's failure to make a timely Notification of Unusual Event to the State of Vermont and to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Two auxiliary operators, members of the five man fire brigade, did not respond to the fire because they were needed to start the steam driven emergency boiler feed pump. After the plant was initially stabilized, the shift supervisor sent the shift technical advisor to the central alarm station to report the plant's status to the plant manager via the loss-of-power telephone. This was done because their first attempts to report by the control room phones were unsuccessful. 9111200123 . IN 91-77 November 26, 1991 Page 2 of 2 Discussion The safe operation of a nuclear power plant and the preservation of the health and safety of the public depend on the ability of the on duty staff to respond to an event. The number of staff on each shift is expected to be sufficient to accomplish all necessary actions to ensure a safe shutdown of the reactor following an event. Those actions include implementing emergency operating procedures, performing required notifications, establishing and maintaining communications with the NRC and plant management, and any additional duties assigned by the licensee's administrative controls. Many licensees assign control room staff to be members of the fire brigade. Also, the operations staff is frequently required to support special security responses such as plant searches in response to a bomb threat. Section 50.54(m) of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations addresses only minimum staffing levels for licensed personnel and does not address personnel availability for performing all of the necessary actions specified in the licensee's administrative controls and required by an event. Licensees may wish to carefully review actual staffing needs to ensure that sufficient personnel are available to adequately respond to all events. This is especially relevant to the backshift when staffing levels are usually at a minimum. Related Generic Communications 1. NUREG-0737, "TMI Action Plan," dated October 30, 1980. 2. NRC Generic Letter 82-16, "NUREG 0737 Technical Specifications," dated September 20, 1982. 3. NRC Generic Letter 83-02, "NUREG 0737 Technical Specifications," dated January 10, 1983. This information notice requires no specific action or written response. If you have any questions about the information in this notice, 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: Jesse Arildsen, NRR (301) 492-1026 Attachment: List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices .
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