United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC, GPU to Discuss Apparent Violations at TMI Plant


NRC Seal NRC NEWS

U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, REGION I

475 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, Pa. 19406

CONTACT: Diane Screnci (610)337-5330/ e-mail: dps@nrc.gov
Neil A. Sheehan (610)337-5331/e-mail: nas@nrc.gov

I-97-56

May 19, 1997

NRC, GPU NUCLEAR TO DISCUSS APPARENT VIOLATIONS AT TMI PLANT

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will meet with GPU Nuclear Corporation officials on Thursday, May 22, to discuss apparent violations of agency guidelines at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Middletown, Pa. Seven of the violations pertain to weaknesses in the performance and control of design basis calculations. Four others involve the downgrading of equipment classifications at the plant.

The predecisional enforcement conference will begin at 9 a.m. in the public meeting room at NRC Region 1 offices in King of Prussia. It will be open to the public for observation only.

Regarding the design basis calculation violations, during inspections conducted late last year and earlier this year, the NRC evaluated, among other things, the capability of several key plant systems to perform their required safety functions. The inspectors identified several weaknesses, in particular the use of non-conservative inputs and assumptions in the analysis for a switchover from the borated water storage tank to the reactor building sump under post-accident conditions. Such a switchover, had it been implemented using instrument setpoints and procedures in effect at the time, had the potential to result in the entrapment of air in the emergency core cooling system, which could have rendered the pumps inoperable.

In the course of other inspections performed earlier this year, the NRC found that GPU Nuclear had downgraded the classification of a number of components from safety-related to a lower tier without appropriate safety evaluations. Meanwhile, other component classifications were downgraded without the necessary supporting engineering documentation.

An NRC decision to hold a pre-decisional enforcement conference does not mean the agency has determined a violation has occurred or that enforcement action will be taken. Rather, the purpose is to discuss the apparent violations, their causes and safety significance; to provide the licensee with an opportunity to point any errors that may have been made in NRC inspection reports; and to enable the licensee to outline its proposed corrective actions.

No decision on the apparent violations will be made at this conference. Those decisions will be made by senior NRC officials at a later time.

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