United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC, American Electric Power Co. Officials to Discuss Apparent Violations at D.C. Cook 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 Greenman (630) 829-9662/e-mail: opa3@nrc.gov

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: RIII-98-31

May 8, 1998

NRC, AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER CO. OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS APPARENT VIOLATIONS AT D.C. COOK PLANT

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will meet May 20 with representatives of American Electric Power Company for a predecisional enforcement conference on apparent violations at the D.C. Cook Nuclear Power Station. The two-unit plant, located near Bridgman, Michigan, has been shut down since September of last year to resolve NRC-identified issues.

The meeting will start at 9 a.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room of the NRC Region III Office, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois, and will be open to public observation at the regional office. The conference can also be observed through video teleconferencing from the NRC Headquarters' Two White Flint North building, 11545 Rockville Pike, Room T2B5, Rockville, Maryland. NRC officials will be available at its conclusion to answer questions from the news media and other interested observers.

Conference participants will discuss numerous apparent violations that were identified during NRC inspections between August of last year and April of this year. These inspections focused on D.C. Cook's design basis, on the operability of the plant's ice condenser, and on fibrous material that was found in the plant's containment.

In August and September, an NRC design inspection found over 30 issues of concern. As a result of a follow-up inspection last month and the other NRC inspections, four main areas of apparent violations were identified: failure to maintain consistency between the plant's present condition and design commitments; inadequate safety evaluations for changes to the facility; inadequate performance testing of safety systems and equipment; and failure to take prompt and adequate corrective actions.

Also last September, another NRC inspection noted fibrous material in containment electrical cable trays. Subsequently, -- as a result of the utility's failure to maintain adequate design control -- additional fibrous insulation and debris was found by plant staff and NRC inspectors.

Because of the volume of material and debris, NRC informed American Electric that it was concerned that the flow of cooling water recirculated to the reactor following an accident could be blocked. The utility has since removed all the fibrous material and debris.

In January and February, an NRC inspection of D.C. Cook's ice condenser found numerous apparent violations encompassing the utility's programs for periodic equipment testing, design control and corrective actions. Some of the inadequacies, such as poor procedures and a lack of contractor oversight, resulted in ice blockage of flow passages and damaged ice baskets.

The ice condenser contains millions of pounds of ice maintained in the containment to reduce the pressure buildup from steam if a loss-of-coolant accident should occur.

American Electric has kept D.C. Cook shut down to evaluate the extent and nature of apparent engineering deficiencies.

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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