U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
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March 26, 1998
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a confirmatory order to the Washington Public Power Supply System confirming the utility's commitment to complete Thermo-Lag fire barrier corrective actions at its Washington Nuclear Project No. 2 (WNP-2) power plant near Richland, Washington, by Spring 1999.
In a letter to Supply System officials, Sam Collins, Director of the NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, said the order was issued because of concern "that some licensees may not be making adequate progress toward resolving the plant-specific issues, and that some implementation schedules may either be too tenuous or too protracted."
Thermo-Lag is a fire barrier material manufactured and supplied by Thermal Science, Inc., of St. Louis, Missouri, and has been used to provide fire-resistance to wiring and equipment at nuclear plants. The NRC staff has been concerned that Thermo-Lag 330-1 fire barrier systems installed by some of its licensees may not provide the intended level of fire protection and that licensees using them may not be meeting regulatory requirements. Between 1992 and 1994, the NRC staff issued letters to all nuclear utilities asking licensees to submit plans and schedules for resolving the issue. All licensees with Thermo-Lag fire barriers have implemented around-the-clock "fire watches," using workers to patrol vital plant areas on a regular basis to watch for signs of fire until corrective actions are completed.
In his letter to Supply System officials, Collins noted that NRC staff have been meeting with licensees to review their progress in completing implementation of their fire barrier programs, but have been concerned with slow progress on resolution of the issue at certain plants.
The Washington Public Power Supply System was one of the licensees with which NRC staff has periodically held meetings. At these meetings, the NRC staff reviewed the Supply System's schedule for Thermo-Lag corrective actions--submitted to the NRC in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1997--and concluded they are reasonable. The Supply System on March 12 formally agreed to the terms of the confirmatory order..
Other utilities are expected to receive similar orders in the coming months.