United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC Staff to Meet with Northern States Power Co. on Apparent Violations at Prairie Island Plant



NRC Seal NRC NEWS

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-97-69

July 30, 1997

NRC STAFF TO MEET WITH NORTHERN STATES POWER CO.
ON APPARENT VIOLATIONS AT PRAIRIE ISLAND PLANT

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will meet August 8 with representatives of Northern States Power Company in Lisle, Illinois, for a predecisional enforcement conference on apparent pump testing violations at the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Station. The plant is located near Red Wing, Minnesota.

The meeting, which is open to public observation, will be at 2:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room, NRC Region III Office, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois.

An NRC inspection completed June 13 found that the criteria for measuring the flow of auxiliary feedwater pumps did not accurately reflect the design requirements for the pumps. The four auxiliary feedwater pumps are the backup system to provide cooling water to the plant's steam generators. They would be needed to respond to certain reactor accidents.

The inspectors found that Prairie Island used a minimum criterion of 10 percent below design flow to evaluate the test results. A more accurate criterion would be about 3 percent below design flow, the inspectors determined.

A review of past testing results showed that none of the pumps exceeded the more restrictive 3 percent criterion, and, therefore, would have provided the necessary cooling water flow, if needed. During the inspection, the utility corrected the testing procedure.

The inspection also determined that the plant staff had found a test criteria problem with the testing of other pumps in 1991, but did not expand its review of pump testing to the auxiliary feedwater system. Had the review been expanded, the plant staff would have likely found the auxiliary feedwater pump problem.

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

No decision on the apparent violations or any contemplated enforcement action, such as a fine, will be made at this conference. Those decisions will be made by senior NRC officials at a later date.

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