United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC Issues Notice of Violation to Haddam Neck Plant Operator


NRC Seal NRC NEWS

U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, REGION I

475 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, Pa. 19406

 

I-99-26
April 6, 1999

CONTACT: Diane Screnci (610)337-5330/e-mail: dps@nrc.gov
Neil A. Sheehan (610)337-5331/e-mail: nas@nrc.gov

 

NRC ISSUES NOTICE OF VIOLATION TO HADDAM NECK PLANT OPERATOR

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has cited the operator of the Haddam Neck nuclear power plant for several violations stemming from a 1996 radioactivity contamination event at the Haddam, Conn., facility.

Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company is the plant's operator. In December 1996, the company announced it was permanently shutting down the reactor.

During the Nov. 2, 1996, event, two workers -- a plant maintenance supervisor and a contractor refueling manager -- were contaminated with radioactivity while in the reactor cavity and the canal used to transfer nuclear fuel between the reactor and the spent fuel pool. The workers entered the areas to perform inspection and housekeeping activities. However, while there they also handled, collected and transported for removal highly contaminated debris, leading to airborne radioactivity and resulting in both of them receiving an internal dose of contamination.

A follow-up inspection by NRC staff determined the plant did not have adequate controls in place to ensure the workers were sufficiently instructed regarding the radiological conditions in the areas or about precautions needed to minimize exposure. Further, the NRC found that plant staff failed to conduct sufficient radiological surveys to assess the conditions to which the two were exposed.

The NRC is issuing a Severity Level III Notice of Violation for the infractions. (NRC violations range from Levels I to IV, with Level I being the worst.) Although a fine was considered, the NRC has decided to exercise enforcement discretion and not issue one because 1.) the violations occurred prior to the decision to cease operations in 1996; and 2.) Connecticut Yankee was issued a $650,000 civil penalty on May 12, 1997, to address poor performance prior to the shutdown decision.

In addition to that action, the staff has decided to exercise discretion and refrain from issuing a Notice of Violation to the utility for a series of issues identified during a review of the plant's operating history. Following revelations that radioactively contaminated materials had been released from the plant site over the years, the NRC in March 1998 prepared a report on the facility's almost 30-year operating history. As a result, several apparent violations were identified, including inadequate surveys following a 1979 event in which the plant operated with leaking fuel rods; an inadequate procedure for the release, for unrestricted use, of materials from the plant's Radiation Controlled Areas; and insufficient recordkeeping. The staff determined enforcement action was not necessary in this case to achieve remedial action because the company has already initiated corrective actions for these issues, including extensive offsite surveys and remediation of the areas as necessary. In addition, the broad programmatic corrective actions as a result of the 1996 airborne contamination event and the 1998 decontamination events sufficiently address the NRC's concerns.

Also, a Severity Level IV violation related to reactor coolant system decontamination work in 1998 is being treated as a non-cited violation in accordance with NRC enforcement policy.

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