United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment


NRC Seal NRC NEWS
U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
Office of Public Affairs Telephone: 301/415-8200
Washington, DC 20555-001 E-mail: opa@nrc.gov

No. 98-181
October 8, 1998

NRC ISSUES NOTICE OF VIOLATION BUT NO CIVIL PENALTY
TO MAINE YANKEE ATOMIC POWER COMPANY

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued a notice of violation - but is not imposing a civil penalty - for violations found at the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant before it shut down permanently last year.

This enforcement action results from several NRC inspections at the Wiscasset, Maine facility, conducted between July 15, 1996, and March 15, 1997, and three investigations conducted by the NRC's Office of Investigations between December 1995 and October 1997. Inspections included an Independent Safety Assessment (ISA), as well as several inspections conducted by resident and Region I inspectors to follow up on the ISA findings.

In a letter to Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co., NRC Region I Administrator Hubert J. Miller said "many of these violations and underlying causes were longstanding and appeared to be caused by ineffective engineering analyses, review and processes which led to inadequate design and configuration control; a corrective action program which was fragmented; a quality assurance function which was not effective at both an individual and organizational level; and ineffective oversight as well as inadequate knowledge of vendor activities. "

Mr. Miller also said, that Maine Yankee "was a facility in which pressure to be a low-cost performer led to practices which over-relied on judgment, discouraged problem reporting and accepted low standards of performance, as well as informality rather than rigorous adherence to program and procedural requirements. Lastly, Maine Yankee had become insular, failing to keep up with industry practice and failing to communicate adequately with the NRC."

Mr. Miller also noted that the NRC staff considered issuing a civil penalty, but did not because:

(1) since the time these violations occurred Maine Yankee essentially replaced the entire management infrastructure, and the new management has been effective in safely managing shutdown and decommissioning operations;

(2) Maine Yankee, which has been shut down since December 6, 1996, was permanently retired on August 6, 1997; and the violations at issue are not reflective of Maine Yankee's post-shutdown and decommissioning performance; and,

(3) unlike the Haddam Neck nuclear plant in Connecticut - where a substantial civil penalty was imposed after declaring permanent retirement of the facility - Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co. does not operate other nuclear facilities.

"Accordingly," Mr. Miller noted, "the NRC considers that civil penalties are not necessary in this case to provide the emphasis for a high standard of compliance in the future."

The Maine Yankee plant was placed on the NRC's Watch List of plants requiring increased regulatory attention in January 1997 and removed from the Watch List in January 1998 after its owners voted in August 1997 to close the facility for economic reasons. The licensee is currently decommissioning the facility.

Among the issues cited as violations are: (1) inadequate testing; (2) inadequate environmental qualification; (3) inadequate safety review; (4) inadequate corrective actions; and (5) inadequate analyses of loss-of-coolant accidents.

Maine Yankee has 30 days to respond to the Notice of Violation.

Editors: A copy of the Notice of Violation and the cover letter sent to Maine Yankee has been posted on the NRC's Internet Homepage at: http://www.nrc.gov/OPA/reports/my100898.htm

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012