United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment


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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-98-69

June 12, 1998

NRC PROPOSES $55,000 FINE FOR PECO ENERGY FOR TWO VIOLATIONS INVOLVING PROBLEMS THAT AFFECTED EMERGENCY COOLING PUMP

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $55,000 fine against PECO Energy Company for two violations of agency requirements at its Peach Bottom nuclear power plant. The infractions involve program deficiencies that led to the impaired performance of a Unit 3 emergency cooling pump.

Located in Delta, Pa., Peach Bottom is the site of two boiling-water reactors.

The violations were identified during NRC inspections conducted between February 12 and March 3 and from March 30 to April 24. A predecisional enforcement conference for NRC staff and PECO representatives to discuss the issues was held on May 21 at the agency's Region I office in King of Prussia, Pa.

Specifically, the violations stem from problems that affected a Unit 3 core spray pump. The component is part of the unit's core spray system, which would be used to keep the reactor core covered and cooled during a loss-of-coolant accident.

On March 24, PECO determined that foreign material had entered and was impeding the performance of a core spray pump. Upon further investigation, the utility learned that fibrous material -- apparently from protective padding that had been used on rigging employed to move equipment during modification work -- had become wrapped around parts of the pump's impeller. (The modification work involved the installation of new strainers for the facility's emergency core cooling systems.)

The NRC has found that the failure to maintain the pump in a fully operable condition constitutes a violation, as does the failure to carry out the modification work with instructions and procedures in place to prevent the introduction of foreign material into the core spray system.

In a letter to PECO regarding the enforcement action, NRC Region I Administrator Hubert J. Miller wrote that PECO's failure to exercise appropriate foreign material exclusion controls at Peach Bottom during the October 1997 outage "indicates a significant lack of attention towards licensed responsibilities."

"This failure is particularly disturbing given the findings of your QA (Quality Assurance) department, as well as the fact that the NRC had issued a Severity Level III Notice of Violation to your Limerick facility in October 1996 for the failure to establish adequate controls to exclude foreign material from the Limerick 1 suppression pool," Mr. Miller continued. "That failure resulted in substantial accumulation of debris on a suppression pool suction strainer, causing some cavitation of an RHR (residual heat removal) pump."

PECO has 30 days to pay the fine or request in writing that all or part of the penalty be withdrawn.


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