United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC Staff Proposes $100,000 Fine Against Commonwealth Edison Company for Violations of NRC Requirements at Zion Station



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U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, REGION III

801 Warrenville Road, Lisle IL 60532

CONTACT:    Jan Strasma (630) 829-9663/e-mail: rjs2@nrc.gov
Angela Dauginas (630) 829-9662/e-mail: opa3@nrc.gov

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: RIII-97-28

March 13, 1997

NRC STAFF PROPOSES $100,000 FINE AGAINST COMMONWEALTH EDISON
COMPANY FOR VIOLATIONS OF NRC REQUIREMENTS AT ZION STATION

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has proposed a $100,000 fine against Commonwealth Edison Company for engineering violations at the Zion Nuclear Power Station.

The two-reactor Zion Station is located at Zion, Illinois. Both units are currently shut down. Prior to restarting either unit, Commonwealth Edison will meet with the NRC to present its findings and corrective actions for a February 21 incident involving improper Unit 1 control rod movements.

An NRC inspection in July and August last year found numerous engineering violations associated with the failure to: conduct safety evaluations; follow procedures; conduct equipment and system testing after modifications were done; and take prompt corrective action on repetitive malfunctions of equipment.

"These violations provide examples where your staff's processes for performing engineering activities on safety-related and non-safety-related structures, systems and components were either weak or were not adequately implemented," said NRC Regional Administrator A. Bill Beach in notifying Commonwealth Edison of the fine. "Of further concern was the fact that internal assessments by your Safety Assessment and Quality Verification organization had documented similar [safety] evaluation and engineering process problems and that corrective actions to the findings were either untimely or not implemented at all."

He added:

"The root cause of these problems was attributed to weak management involvement and oversight, a lack of questioning attitude in both the operations and engineering staffs, and a poor corrective action program associated with engineering problems. Collectively, the NRC considers that these violations represent a significant breakdown in the control of licensed activities involving a number of violations that are related and represent a significant lack of attention by your staff toward engineering activities."

As a result of inadequate documentation by utility staff, NRC inspectors were unable to determine the status of required post-modification testing of 9 safety-related and 19 non-safety-related modifications which had been installed between 1980 and 1996 and placed into operation. Also, before placing the modified systems into service, the utility staff failed to verify that the modified systems were fully tested and complete.

NRC inspectors found several instances of safety-related equipment affected by alterations or plant activities in which the required safety evaluations were inadequate.

One example cited by the NRC occurred in November 1995 when temporary scaffolding was placed inside containment by plant staff. The scaffolding came in contact with safety-related equipment but the utility in its evaluation did not review the effect the scaffolding could have on instrumentation and piping while the plant was operating. Additionally, in violation of plant procedures, plant staff did not perform the required monthly inspections of the scaffolding to ensure the safety equipment was not affected.

In another instance of procedural violations, plant staff failed to issue formal plant Problem Identification Forms for 114 different deficient plant conditions documented by a utility assessment group.

During a review of the utility's engineering corrective action program, NRC inspectors noted repeat failures of both a containment spray system tank instrumentation and a safety-related circuit breaker. The settings for the tank instrumentation had been found to be out of calibration for over two years and the circuit breaker had failed at least five times between 1995 and last year.

Commonwealth Edison has until April 11 to pay the fine or to protest it. If the fine is protested and subsequently imposed by the NRC staff, the utility may request a hearing.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, July 24, 2014