460th Meeting - March 12, 1999
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
MEETING: 460TH ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON REACTOR SAFEGUARDS
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Conference Room 2B3
Two White Flint North
Friday, March 12, 1999
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 8:30 a.m.
DANA POWERS, Chairman, ACRS
GEORGE APOSTOLAKIS, Member, ACRS
JOHN J. BARTON, Member, ACRS
MARIO H. FONTANA, Member, ACRS
THOMAS KRESS, Member, ACRS
DON W. MILLER, Member, ACRS
ROBERT L. SEALE, Member, ACRS
WILLIAM J. SHACK, Member, ACRS
GRAHAM B. WALLIS, Member, ACRS
ROBERT E. UHRIG, Member, ACRS
MARIO V. BONACA, Member, ACRS. PARTICIPANTS:
DR. JOHN T. LARKINS. P R O C E E D I N G S
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Let's come into session.
This is the third meeting of the third day of the 460th
meeting of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.
During today's meeting the committee will consider the
following: guidance for implementing the revised enforcement policy;
safety evaluation report on the topical report regarding tritium
production core; reconciliation of ACRS comments and recommendations;
report of the Planning and Procedures Subcommittee; future ACRS
activities; proposed ACRS reports.
A portion of today's meeting may be closed to discuss
organizational and personnel matters that relate solely to the internal
personnel rules and practices of this advisory committee and matters the
release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of
The meeting is being conducted in accordance with the
provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Dr. John T. Larkins
is the Designated Federal Official for the initial portion of the
We have received no written statements or requests for time
to make oral statements from members of the public regarding today's
A transcript of portions of the meeting is being kept, and
it is requested that speakers use one of the microphones, identify
themselves, and speak with sufficient clarity and volume so they may be
I will remind members that today at Noon we will have a
showing of the PBS documentary on TMI and its revisionist history --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: I also have a request from Professor Uhrig
to make comments at the beginning of the meeting.
DR. UHRIG: You have a new version of the research report.
I would ask --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Microphone, please.
DR. UHRIG: I would ask that you take a look at the sections
that pertain to you, get back to me with whatever you want to do with it
marked up, total replacement, whatever you feel appropriate, the sooner
the better but I would like to have something by next week.
MR. BARTON: When next week?
DR. UHRIG: Let's say the end of next week but the sooner
DR. FONTANA: Is this the whole report?
DR. UHRIG: That's it.
DR. FONTANA: Okay.
DR. UHRIG: It's down to 120 pages.
DR. SEALE: It's been on a diet.
DR. UHRIG: It's been on a diet. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Our opening session today deals with the
guidance on implementing the revised enforcement policy.
Professor Seale, I believe that you are the cognizant member
on this issue. In fact, it looks like you are the cognizant member for
the rest of the day.
DR. SEALE: Hardly. Okay, well, you'll remember that last
November we had a presentation on the proposed changes in the
enforcement policy. Just to tickle your memory, it had to do with the
change in the level at which a notice of violation would be issued and
you will recall that the estimate was at some 80 percent or so of the
NOVs were in fact in that category.
There has been a considerable amount of Staff activity since
then in interactions with the Commissioners and also then in issuing a
notice in the Federal Register about a month ago. I understand that the
policy came into effect in fact yesterday, the 11th, and prior to that
an implementation guide was issued that -- and you have a copy of a
draft of that or maybe it's the guide that is attached to the Tab Number
12 in your booklet. In general, we did concur.
Today we are going to hear on an update of those
developments and also on some other things perhaps that have occurred as
a result of discussions between the Staff and the NEI on various aspects
of this whole policy. This whole issue is let's say still somewhat
evolving, at least in terms of the perspective that the Committee has,
although I understand that the Staff and NEI may have a set of
recommendations that are at least gelled enough to be the basis for a
six months or so trial period, after which an assessment of the
effectiveness would be done and we have indicated a desire to hear that.
I urge you to try to spot any pitfalls you may see in this
enforcement guidance and the way in which it might evolve in the field,
and with that I guess I will turn it over to Mr. Lieberman.
I should point out that we have until 10 o'clock including
Committee discussion on this, and an NEI has also requested time to make
a short presentation, so Mr. Lieberman, if we could be through by about
9:40 we would appreciate it -- with your presentation.
MR. LIEBERMAN: Okay. Have you framed your questions? My
presentation is relatively brief.
DR. SEALE: Okay.
MR. LIEBERMAN: And then I look forward to questions.
DR. SEALE: Okay.
MR. LIEBERMAN: What I would like to do today -- I guess for
the record I am Jim Lieberman, Director of the Office of Enforcement.
What I would like to do today is to discuss three items that the Staff
is working on. The whole Agency is changing various things and
enforcement is clearly an area where a lot of changes are occurring.
The first change, as was mentioned, was changing the
Treatment Level IV violations, which we provided a briefing on last
year. I will be discussing where we are on that effort.
Second, the Agency is relooking at the reactor oversight
process and that has four aspects to it -- the inspection process, the
assessment process, the enforcement process, and reporting, and we want
to have enforcement integrated in that process and we developed a pilot
enforcement approach subject to Commission consideration that I would
like to talk about, and then finally I would like to talk about our
efforts on risk-informing the enforcement policy.
The new interim enforcement policy dealing with Level IV
violations for power reactors went into effect yesterday. Under that
approach most violations of Level IVs will be described in inspection
reports and treated as non-cited violations. A non-cited violation is a
legal violation but the licensee does not have to respond to the
violation. The licensee has to place it in the corrective action
program and take corrective action in a time period commensurate with
We will close out the item noncompliance for purposes of
enforcement when the licensee places it into the corrective action
program. We will be focusing more of our attention on the overall
corrective action program and efforts of the licensee and not on
individual violations or corrective actions for the individual
violations because by definition the Level IV violations are not that
With four exceptions we would continue having Level IV
violations that result -- the slide says NCV but it should be a Notice
of Violation, an NOV, requiring a response.
The purpose --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: I guess I didn't understand that. With
some exceptions Level IV violations will result in notices of violation?
MR. LIEBERMAN: No. You're right -- the slide was right in
the first place. Appreciate the correction. I am working with almost a
double negative here.
Normally Level IV violations will result in non-cited
violations. There are four situations which I will discuss in a moment
where we will have notices of violation, so the exception is on the
notices of violation, and we are doing this because to a large degree in
the past when the Agency issued a notice of violation it required the
licensee to develop corrective action, implementing the program in a
three-day time period established by 10 CFR 2.201 for responses to
notice of violation.
In some cases the violations that the licensee had
identified through his own corrective action program -- and their
corrective action programs identify many more violations than we
identify -- were more safety significant, and thus we have the licensee
focusing their attention on violations of less significance than the
ones that they may have identified.
With this new policy, licensees will be able to focus their
attention on noncompliances based on the safety significance and not on
what you might even call an artificial schedule based on the fact that
NRC happened to describe the item on the NRC inspection report.
The four exceptions are failure to restore compliance in a
timely manner -- and the issue here is the licensee cannot let a
violation continue. It's almost a willful situation. Action must be
taken to address the circumstances for an ongoing violation. If the
valves are in the wrong position, the licensee has to put the valve in
the right position for the mode of operation. The licensee then has
time to develop action to prevent recurrence commensurate with the
significance of the particular item.
The second item has to do with putting the violation in the
corrective action program, because the whole premise of the program is
the licensee is dealing with the issue as part of its corrective action
program. Our inspectors will be seeking a reference from the licensee
as to where the item is in the licensee's corrective action program, so
if we follow up in the future on that particular item, we will know
where to look for the item.
We recognize that there may be some violations due to their
significance in the circumstances that it doesn't need to be formally
treated into a corrective action program to prevent recurrence. It
might have been an isolated implementation issue. In those cases we
expect the licensee to at least have analyzed that, kept a brief record
of that so that we can have that for any future inspection activities.
The third exception is where the violation reoccurred as a
result of inaccurate corrective action for a previous violation, and the
violation was identified by the NRC. Here we are focusing on the need
to prevent recurrence and the effectiveness of the licensee's corrective
actions including the ability for the licensee to identify deficiencies
We realize that the industry, NEI, does not like this
particular exception, primarily because it has an assessment aspect to
it. They would have us judge the significance of the violation on the
individual violation and not consider the fact that it might have been
MR. BARTON: You say this violation has to be identified by
the NRC? If it was identified by the licensee and put in the corrective
action system but the corrective action was inadequate to preclude it
from recurring, that would not fall underneath this bullet?
MR. LIEBERMAN: In the second time the licensee had
identified it and put it back in the corrective action program, so you
have one aspect of the violation is that the corrective action was
inadequate. They identified that corrective action and put it back in
If we had identified it, rather than the licensee, then we
would issue a notice of violation.
MR. BARTON: Is this who can document the failure of
corrective action quicker?
MR. LIEBERMAN: We are aware of that issue and the guidance
we have placed on that is to give the licensee a reasonable opportunity
to identify the issue.
For example, if at a morning meeting the licensee is
describing its activities for the day and the events of, say, the
previous evening and there was an issue that may be a noncompliance and
the licensee said we are going to get there later on this morning and
the inspector immediately walks over to that particular area, does an
inspection, finds a recurring violation, issues a citation -- that would
We want to give the licensee an opportunity to have its
system work. It is not a who can get there first issue.
MR. BARTON: And this will be made clear to the resident
MR. LIEBERMAN: We have done that through our training and
in our guidance. In addition, any violation that we do issue under this
program has to be concurred in by my office for the first several months
and thereafter a Division Director has to concur on it to provide the
oversight to make sure that when we do issue a violation those are the
violations that we want to issue.
DR. SEALE: John -- and I would ask all the members of the
Committee -- to take a look at the guidance that is included under "12"
here. I read through it. It's got that stultifying governmentese
writing style with it, but it does appear to be a good faith effort to
present the spirit that Mr. Lieberman has indicated here and in
particular it includes the examples that we asked the Staff to include
in their guidance.
I would be very interested to get your response to those
situations to see whether or not -- you know, it is a good faith attempt
but how good is it? -- and I am sure Mr. Lieberman would like to know if
you have any suggestions on that.
MR. LIEBERMAN: I would. You know, there's hundreds and
hundreds of different types of violations. There's many different
circumstances. Nothing -- we can never have a system that can be a
cookbook that will avoid the need to exercise judgment, and this is a
particular area -- how inadequate was the corrective action? How do you
decide when corrective action is inadequate? What is the time period
the licensee should have to develop the corrective action since he can't
develop corrective action instantaneously? Those are judgment calls and
we have tried to put out some guidance there.
As to this particular exception, this exception does have an
assessment aspect and, as you will see in a few moments, as part of the
revisions to the policy to address the new assessment program we don't
intend to continue with this particular exception.
Now the fourth exception has to do with willful violations.
Currently the policy provides in Section 7(b)(1)(d) of the policy that
if the licensee identifies a willful violation by one of its employees
and if the employee involved is not a supervisor, is not a "licensee
official" -- that is the term we use in the policy, and the matter has
to do with a low safety significant issue, then we can issue a noncited
On the other hand, if a supervisor is involved and a
licensee official is involved in the violation, regardless of the
significance of the underlying violation then we would issue a notice of
violation and this is what this exception addresses.
Inspection reports that are issued after yesterday will be
implementing this policy. I think it's going to reduce unnecessary
regulatory burden. At the same time it is going to enhance our
efficiency because we can be focusing on the more significant of
violations. It will still focus on the need for corrective action and
our agency will focus more on the overall program and not on the
individual low level violations.
Now let me turn to the -- if you have any questions on the
Level IVs maybe this is a good time to raise those.
MR. LIEBERMAN: Okay. Let me go to the new approach. I
have to say this is a proposed approach because the Commission has not
been briefed on this, nor have they approved this approach.
In looking at what we are doing, we feel the existing
enforcement approach has been a good policy. It has focused attention
on issues of noncompliance and it has served to provide regulatory
messages to improve performance and there's been a number of positive
aspects about it.
At the same time, there have been cases where the messages
that were given through the escalated enforcement process has been
inconsistent with the messages we have given though the SALP process in
that there have been cases where licensees have received SALP 1s and we
have had civil penalties and at the same time there's been cases where
we haven't had many civil penalties and licensees have been SALP 3.
The performance of licensees have substantially improved
over the years. The enforcement program that we have been using have
essentially been unchanged since before TMI in basic philosophy of using
civil penalties to provide deterrents.
So in developing the new assessment process there was an
opportunity to relook at what we have been doing and the first step of
relooking at what we were doing was to compare assessment and
enforcement and see similarities and differences.
Both of these programs serve to formally -- the first serves
to determine what is the significance of the individual violation or the
finding to serve as a basis of Agency action. The enforcement process
uses four levels of severity -- severity levels 1, 2, 3, 4. The
assessment uses colors -- green, white, yellow, red. So both programs
assess the significance of violations.
Both of these programs serve to develop Agency action. In
the enforcement area we develop sanctions, notice of violations, civil
penalties. The assessment action matrix under the new assessment
process will be developing, resulting in management meetings or
regulatory conferences, demands for information, 50.54(f) letters,
orders -- and these are the same type of things we get through the
Both provide incentives to improve performance and emphasize
the importance of compliance. Licensees will have the desire to avoid
being in white space and yellow space and red space because of the
increased inspection activity and the increased Agency attention, some
of the deterrent effects we have with the enforcement program with civil
penalties. The licensees want to avoid civil penalties not because of
the huge monetary amount, because our penalties are relatively small
compared to the size of reactors, but because of the adverse publicity,
the attention the Agency places on licensees who have civil penalties.
Both processes provide public notice of what the Agency
thinks of the licensee's performance, so given the similarities of both
of these programs we thought we could do a better job in integrating the
enforcement and assessment and we think that rather than have the
enforcement program drive the assessment process the way it may have
occurred in the past, the assessment process should be the driver of
Agency action and enforcement should complement it, not direct the
We want enforcement to be focused on safety. We want it to
be consistent with the philosophy of the assessment process because the
assessment process is going to characterize the risk and safety
significance of each finding to develop these color bands and the agency
response, which we are using the same system, so we won't have a
situation where enforcement thinks something is significant and
assessment doesn't or vice versa.
So to achieve that we want to do the assessment once and use
the assessment process to determine significance.
We will still be considering compliance because the Agency
is a regulatory agency and so we need to continue to emphasize the
importance of compliance. The assessment process will be considering
compliance issues as well as other issues that may have risk to safety
that may not necessarily be a specific requirement as we focus on
performance as well as root causes.
We want the enforcement process to be predictable, to be
more effective and more efficient to implement. We want to design the
program in a way that doesn't create unnecessary regulatory burdens but
there is some regulatory burden in any regulatory program but it is the
appropriate burden, and obviously we want to have public confidence that
we think a clearer enforcement program that is more systematic, more
predictable, more integrated with the assessment process should serve to
go a long way in building public confidence.
DR. SEALE: Let me make sure I understand or clarify one
point. Now you are talking about all aspects of enforcement not just
MR. LIEBERMAN: That's right. That's a good point. I'm
talking about the totality of enforcement for power reactors -- the
cases that may get civil penalties, the cases that may get orders, and
DR. SEALE: But in general, these will go through the
assessment process rather than short-circuiting the assessment process.
MR. LIEBERMAN: Right. That gets to my next point. Our
planned approach is to divide violations into two categories.
Category 1 or Group 1 are those violations that will be
evaluated under the assessment process. Those are the violations that
go to the safety of the reactor, how the reactor is designed and
operated and maintained, emergency planning, radiation protection and
There are another group of violations which are outside the
assessment process. Those are the violations associated with
willfulness, discrimination, things which impact the Agency's ability to
oversee licensees, things like reporting, reports, inaccurate
information, not giving us -- providing amendments for us to review such
as on the 50.59 or updates of quality assurance plans, things that
affect the ability of the Agency to oversee the reactor.
That doesn't go to direct safety, as to whether there is
risk at the facility but it goes to our ability to have reasonable
assurance in carrying out our activities. That is not covered by the
DR. SEALE: Let me try to draw a line. Maybe it is
inappropriate but I will try anyway.
If it is an NRC safety violation, it will go through the
assessment process -- is that what you are saying?
MR. LIEBERMAN: Correct.
DR. SEALE: If it is an OSHA safety violation, personnel
safety not reactor safety, where does that go?
MR. LIEBERMAN: Radiation protection for worker personal
DR. SEALE: Yes.
MR. LIEBERMAN: -- as to radiation, that's NRC jurisdiction
and not OSHA.
DR. SEALE: I understand but what about --
MR. LIEBERMAN: If it is trip and fall railing type issue,
that is an OSHA issue, that would be covered by the OSHA process.
NRA -- the traditional enforcement doesn't cover that either.
DR. SEALE: Okay, fine. Thank you.
MR. LIEBERMAN: As to the first group, we plan to utilize
the assessment process to categorize the significance of violations
covered by the assessment process so this way we will have a one-to-one
relationship. The Agency will have one view on the significance of a
Then the assessment process will place that individual
violation into a color band, a green, white, yellow, red. If it is a
significant violation in safety, a risk significant violation, that
would be the white, yellow and red, that will be going into the NRC
response band where we will have additional inspection and oversight.
For those cases we would use notice of violation and the licensee would
be required to provide a response to us and that response will help us
as we do our oversight.
If the licensee has already given us a response, because for
example an LER was submitted, they wouldn't have to give us the same
information twice but assuming we didn't have the information that we
required in an NOV we would get an NOV for that category.
For the ones which are considered licensee response band,
the green, we would have the noncited violation and we would preserve
the interim enforcement policy which I discussed earlier with three of
the four exceptions. We would continue the exception of not restoring
compliance, not putting it in the licensee's corrective action program
and the willful issue, but deleting the exception associated with the
repetitive corrective action issue because that should be part of the
assessment process and those type violations would be evaluated for the
risk significance and even if the violation is repetitive, if it is
still not a risk significant issue then it would be considered the green
type of categorization and would result in a noncited violation.
We will be utilizing the Agency action matrix to determine
the Agency's response to the violation. We won't need to have severity
levels because there are basically only two types of violation, the NCV
and the notice of violation. We won't need to use civil penalties to
provide incentives for licensees to improve their program because the
color bands will provide that incentive by the process in the Agency
action matrix, and I presume you are familiar with the Agency action
matrix from previous briefings.
A red performance result in a shutdown, a yellow performance
I believe will result in meetings with the Commission, probably a demand
for information, possibly an order, and the Agency response is a
function of the number of hits in the various color bands based on
performance indicators and individual findings, and that process we feel
should provide the incentives for licensees to maintain themselves in
green space, which is a solid acceptable performance, and thus we don't
need the negative aspects of a civil penalty to achieve a better
Now we would --
DR. SEALE: Let me raise a question. What you are saying in
essence is that everything goes into the assessment process if it is
white, yellow or red, but the response to a yellow or red in particular
is an accelerated assessment response. That is, you don't wait until
the next assessment, normal, you know, calendar roll, you would actually
ask someone to come in for a meeting with the Commissioners or whatever
if that were a violation which was at that level of severity.
MR. LIEBERMAN: I am not sure of that exactly.
DR. SEALE: Do you see what I am driving at?
MR. LIEBERMAN: Right. If we have a -- I also misspoke when
I said yellow -- meeting with the Commission. There's five columns on
the action matrix. The fourth column is where the Commission would be
informed and I guess that is multiple yellow inputs, but if there is a
violation which is considered red or yellow that is going to be a risk
significant violation and we would begin dialoging with the licensee
I am not sure exactly when the Commission would meet or the
EDO would meet with the licensee. Some of these details are still being
developed and we are going to learn an awful lot with a pilot program.
DR. SEALE: Our impression of the assessment process is that
there is a sort of calendar roll, and that seems at least in my personal
opinion, a little cavalier if you have a violation that would be a
multiple yellow or a red, and so while it is part of the assessment
process it is maybe not the assessment process as we quite know it right
now. It is some accelerated assessment response.
MR. LIEBERMAN: I think the answer to that has to be yes.
DR. SEALE: Okay.
MR. LIEBERMAN: And I can get back to you on that. I just
don't know -- we don't have anyone from NRR here so I don't know the
specific answer, but I can't imagine that we are going to wait --
DR. SEALE: Well, I can't either.
MR. LIEBERMAN: -- so we have to deal with that as part of
MR. BORCHARDT: This is Bill Borchardt from the Staff.
I think we need to make it clear also that no enforcement
actions are going to wait for the annual assessment period.
DR. SEALE: Yes.
MR. BORCHARDT: That they are done in a more timely issue by
issue manner, so when we talk about an assessment of the safety or risk
significance of a particular violation, that will be done in a timely
manner and not wait for an annual rollup --
DR. SEALE: Okay.
MR. BORCHARDT: -- and the enforcement actions whether there
be a notice of violation or not will happen on a schedule independent of
the annual assessment.
MR. LIEBERMAN: Right, so we will be getting the corrective
action in the interim but your question was the additional actions and
some of those I think just have to occur in real-time --
DR. SEALE: Sure -- in a timely manner.
MR. LIEBERMAN: -- and not waiting for the annual rollup of
Okay. Now as to the violations not covered by the
assessment process, we would use traditional enforcement. We would also
use traditional enforcement if we had actual consequences, and by actual
consequences I mean overexposures to workers or the public, substantial
releases of material, things which we call now Level I, II and III under
Supplement IV of the enforcement policy, because when you have
overexposures and releases of materials, the barriers have failed.
We would also use traditional enforcement for the willful
violations or the deliberate or careless disregard, for cases involving
discrimination and for cases where the NRC's ability for oversight is
impacted. In these type situations I think the traditional enforcement
approach may be a good vehicle for providing deterrence because it's not
going to be evaluated as part of the assessment process.
I am pretty excited about this process. Given that the
changes of performance of the industry and given resource issues that we
face, and given an assessment process that should be viable, that will
patrol the Agency's response to issues, this new enforcement process --
I think it makes a lot of sense.
It will still maintain a focus on safety because
compliance -- I mean on compliance because each issue will be still
addressed either through noncited violations or through notices of
violations and licensees won't be able to disregard violations. If they
do, that raises issues of willfulness and we can deal with that still.
The type of enforcement will be based on risk and their performances
where the Agency wants to head more.
It will result in escalating our responses again based on
risk and performance, using the Agency action matrix.
I think it should still deter noncompliances by increasing
the licensee's cost and direct their attention for declining performance
such that we don't really need civil penalties with the negative aspects
and the regulatory burden associated with that. We might spend too much
time arguing over whether a civil penalty is appropriate. Within the
agency we spend a lot of time focusing on severity levels, at the right
severity level, is the right amount in the civil penalty, the potential
litigative issues associated with civil penalties and enforcement. We
will be able to avoid those and focus more attention on the particular
safety significance and the corrective action for the particular issue,
which I think is good.
It will assure that we will have consistency between the
assessment process and enforcement. It will be a public process and I
think it should improve public confidence, but at the same time there
will be those members of the public who will be concerned that the
Agency may be taking the wrong approach by doing away with civil
We think that, as we explained, the rationale for this and
the focus on safety and risk, and they're still getting corrective
action, and we are still getting -- we'll be able to monitor performance
through the PIs and inspections to determine if there's declining
performance and we have a relatively structured way to deal with
declining performance and if we follow that in a consistent way I think
that should build public confidence.
Enforcement will complement assessment, which I think is
important. I have already said I think it will make it more efficient
for NRC to implement and finally and I think importantly I think it is
going to remove some of the adversary relationship between the industry
and the Staff and we'll be able to focus on problems that we need to
focus on without this issue of litigation over our heads.
That's all I wanted to say about the new process.
MR. BARTON: I have a question. Maybe I missed it. On your
Slide 7 you talk about violations which impact NRC's ability to
oversight. An example of that?
MR. LIEBERMAN: That would be a 50.9 violation, inaccurate
information -- 50.59 issue where we should have had a license amendment
to review and that we didn't review; interference with an inspection --
that doesn't happen very often -- things like that.
MR. BARTON: Okay.
DR. SEALE: You mentioned that several of the questions here
are still not completely resolved or so on and you haven't taken this to
the Commissioners as yet. When do you plan to do that?
MR. LIEBERMAN: I believe the Commission paper is due to the
EDO this Monday. We are going through drafts of this paper pretty
rapidly. We have a briefing before the Commission I believe on March
26th. I believe the Commission paper is probably due at the end of next
DR. SEALE: So if we want any input to the Commissioners on
this proposal we need to include it in the letter we might write as a
result of this briefing?
MR. LIEBERMAN: That's right. I am going to emphasize that
this is a pilot approach. I believe it is being applied to nine plants
and I expect to learn a lot, we all expect to learn a lot during this
pilot process to help improve the assessment process and the enforcement
MR. BARTON: For how long, the pilot program?
MR. LIEBERMAN: It's a six month pilot program.
DR. UHRIG: Then the plants will continue on the normal,
MR. LIEBERMAN: Correct -- so we will have two different
groups of enforcement actions, those with the pilot and then the vast
majority will be subject to traditional enforcement.
DR. UHRIG: And we will still have the SALP evaluations?
MR. LIEBERMAN: The SALP I think has been postponed
indefinitely but I am not an expert on that. I am not exactly sure of
all the details there.
DR. SEALE: I saw a list. I thought it was eight but two
plants in each region, is that --
MR. BARTON: These will be the same plants as in the
assessment process --
MR. LIEBERMAN: Oh, exactly, yes.
DR. SEALE: Two in each region.
MR. BORCHARDT: In fact, this effort is a subset of that
MR. BARTON: The assessment pilot?
MR. BORCHARDT: Yes.
DR. SEALE: Okay.
MR. LIEBERMAN: That's right, because the first step of this
is assessing the significance which the assessment process is going to
Now we have another action item from the Commission and that
is to clarify the policy to make it more risk informed, specifically to
change the supplements of the enforcement policy to provide better
examples of risk significant violations and we have been working with
stakeholders in trying to develop different approaches to do that and we
have considered things like tying the examples to high-risk systems
based on the maintenance rule, some of the changes to 50.72 and what
systems are more important than others, and we are developing that
At the same time we are looking at the new enforcement
approach for the assessment process and we decided it is probably
inappropriate from a resource point of view to go down both tracks at
the same time and if this assessment process works, we won't need to get
into the severity levels.
We will be using a risk-informed approach and thus we won't
need the examples and the supplements, so we intend to propose to the
Commission that we not continue with the effort to risk-inform the
supplements but rather use the concepts we have been using -- that is,
looking at the safety significance of the particular systems, using
guidance from the maintenance rule implementation and other efforts the
Agency has done to determine which items are more risk significant than
others as a short term until we make the final decision on where we are
going with the assessment and enforcement process, and that would be
towards the end of 1999.
But we do think that we should clarify the policy to make it
clear that we can both increase and decrease a severity level example
based on risk. We have been doing that. You can read the policy as
suggesting we only use risk to increase the severity level. We want to
make it clear that we can both decrease and increase the severity level.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: When you encounter violations of the fire
protection, how do you go about assessing the severity of the risk?
MR. LIEBERMAN: With a lot of discussion. The guidance we
have in the enforcement manual provides that when we look at fire
protection or Appendix R type violations, we look at the ability of the
plant to reach a hot shutdown. If the plant cannot reach hot shutdown
with the equipment described in the fire protection plan, and the
procedures people have been trained on the fire protection plan, that
would be considered Level III.
Now more recently as we have been focusing more on risk, we
started asking ourselves questions like, well, what other systems are
available, what other procedures are available people been trained on
which may not be specifically described in the fire protection plan. If
we feel that, notwithstanding the wording in the fire protection plan,
the systems are there and the people prepared to use those procedures
and thus you can get to hot shutdown notwithstanding the violation and
then that would be considered a Level IV and under the interim
enforcement policy a noncited violation.
Any other questions?
MR. LIEBERMAN: That concludes what I was going to say.
DR. SEALE: Any burning questions at the moment?
DR. SEALE: Well, what I am going to do then is, if you
would, Mr. Lieberman, I would like to ask you to stick around, and we
are going to hear now from Ms. Ginsberg from NEI, and after she has made
her comments, then I would like to ask both of you to be available not
only to respond to our questions but to comment, if appropriate, on each
other's comments, so Ms. Ginsberg?
MS. GINSBERG: Thank you very much for the opportunity to
provide you with some industry perspectives on what Mr. Lieberman has
just described. In the nature of trying to make this as expedient a
process as possible I am not going to go though what Jim just did in
terms of each and every feature of the proposed enforcement process that
has just been issued in terms of Level IV and also as part of the pilot
What I would like to do is just give you our views about
both the process generally as well as some of our perspectives about
specific features of what the NRC has proposed and is about to propose
to the Commission.
Jim described to you both the interim policy that has been
issued and became effective on March 11th as well as the proposal for
the new oversight program. We have worked very closely in the
stakeholder process to both understand and provide our views on these
reforms to the enforcement process and basically are very encouraged by
what the NRC has proposed.
We believe that most of the revisions will be very effective
in reaching the goals the NRC and other stakeholders had set out. In
terms of reform, we think there are very good public policy bases for
developing the kind of framework that Jim just described and I would add
that licensees fully understand that these processes don't alleviate
them from the requirements of the regulations, that nothing in the
changes to the enforcement process have changed any of the regulatory
requirements. Rather we view this as a different way of handling
violations that is more appropriate based on the maturity of the
industry and also with the infusion or risk significance.
With respect to some of the remaining concerns, there were
actually fewer remaining concerns as a result of some of what Jim has
told you this morning. In particular, the elimination of the third
exception on the interim policy we believe is a very positive step.
Obviously, never being happy with what is, we would encourage you to
eliminate it entirely as opposed to just from the pilot program, but
nonetheless we think that is a considerable step forward and appreciate
the NRC's willingness to listen to our views.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: You'll have to excuse me. I don't
remember the exceptions by number.
MS. GINSBERG: Sure. The third exception related to
repetitive violations found by the NRC.
One of the things that I thought was important to highlight
is the process that the NRC undertook to develop the enforcement policy
reforms. We think -- well, in my experience and it's been more than a
decade now, I have not seen the process work this well in terms of
interaction with the Agency, responses from the Agency and from
stakeholders, all of whom have made a very good faith effort to try and
develop a process that resulted in meeting the objectives that everyone
The objectives didn't always coincide, but for the most part
the stakeholder objectives and the NRC objectives were coincident, and
we think that is extremely -- that was an extremely positive step
Clearly this was an arms-length process. We did not always
agree with the NRC and certainly the NRC did not always agree with the
industry perspective, but by airing the varying views we think that they
have reached some very strong bases for making some of the changes that
In fact, I guess it is an opportunity to compliment the
Staff's willingness to take criticism and act on that criticism and we
think that is both a very productive way to conduct Agency business even
though at moments perhaps not the most pleasant.
These processes have been implemented in a very short period
of time when you think about typical Agency action. The NRC's
process -- the enforcement process has more or less been in place for
about 30 years and this is a rather fundamental change and we think that
the fact that the Agency is considering these changes over the period of
just months, eight or so months, is a very positive indication.
The interim policy -- let me spend a second or two
discussing our views about it. We believe it correctly recognizes the
industry's sustained good performance. When industry officials began
complaining, their complaints related to the numbers that were,
statistics for 1997 where you had approximately 1400 or so Level IV
violations out of a total of about 1500 violations, all of which -- the
1400 of which were Level IVs, and we believe that the industry
performance did not -- or actually the enforcement process did not
support the industry performance and we thought a change needed to be
In doing so the NRC has appropriately credited licensee
corrective action programs with the capability to assign priority to and
to track the disposition of violations and other issues. Again, we
think this is very appropriate and can be supported.
Finally, and Jim mentioned this, one of the problems that we
identified with the high number of Level IVs was the diversion of both
NRC but primarily licensee resources to items that were not safety
significant, and by doing so our concern was that it took away valuable
resources from items that were far more safety significant.
As I mentioned, the exception for repetitive violations was
an issue that we submitted in our comments I believe that went in
yesterday. Jim has already focused on this and as I said before we
would encourage the NRC to consider deleting this in its entirety as
opposed to just for the pilot programs.
DR. KRESS: Do you have a reason for that? I mean it seems
to me like repetitive violations is an indication of something -- I
don't know what. Is it not risk significant or --
MS. GINSBERG: Well, let's start with the fact that these
are non-safety significant violations.
DR. KRESS: One at a time they may not be, but if you have a
lot of them --
MS. GINSBERG: That's right but --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: I guess I just don't understand that,
because the definition is that if these are allowed to continue on, they
will constitute a bigger hazard.
DR. KRESS: Yes.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: And repetitive violations would suggest
they are being allowed to continue on.
MS. GINSBERG: I think the industry's position is that the
analysis of the larger number of violations is an assessment function
and that in allowing the assessment process to look at these if
necessary, that is a more systematic approach. It is a broader
perspective and it skews the process to just look at these violations
even if there are several Level IVs.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: You just lost me totally. I have got a
violation. I committed it on October. I turned around and did it in
November and I did it in December.
DR. SEALE: A non-cited violation.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: It is a non-cited violation.
DR. SEALE: Right.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Okay, now why shouldn't I get cited at
some point here?
MS. GINSBERG: You will be cited but for each individual
violation. An NCV will be issued for each violation not for the
culmination of three violations.
The issue of what is repetitive, what is sufficient
corrective action -- there are a whole host of subjective issues that we
think can be eliminated here, and that are not left unreviewed by the
Agency, but rather should be reviewed through the different process of
assessment and further inspection if necessary.
On the issue of the PIM, one of the concerns that the
industry has identified is that by using the PIM as a basis for further
analysis what you are really doing is using enforcement violations,
enforcement actions as an input to assessment, and we think that that is
both unnecessary anc contrary to the principles that have been
established for the assessment process.
The appeal process is not one to which we object. In fact,
by contrast we thoroughly support the opportunity for further discussion
if there is a dispute regarding a NCV. The only concern that we have is
what is that process, how will it function, and that was not described
in the Federal Register notice, so we are encouraging the NRC to clarify
MR. BARTON: Do you want to explain the second bullet again?
MS. GINSBERG: Sure. The proposal is to use the PIM, the
plant issues matrix, as the basis for tracking Level IV NCV type
violations and our position is that there is no need to do that, that by
doing so what you are doing is eseentially using violations as an input
to the assessmentn process rather than letting the assessment process be
driven as opposed allowing enforcement to drive it.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: What input am I going to put into the
assessment process? It sounds like you would restrict me from doing any
MS. GINSBERG: No. There are a whole host of performance
indicators that are going to be looked at --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: But you could have the same objection to
those. I mean if I follow this logic, I would have no input at all.
You would say I was double-counting everything.
MS. GINSBERG: No, no, no, no, no. I think there is a
systematic approach that the Agency together with some of the
stakeholders is trying to establish that does take a broad look at a
variety of things in the plants, and to the extent that these issues
were part of the inspection process they would be processed through
inspection as well as enforcement if they involve a violation.
DR. SEALE: But the inspection force is the NRC's presence
in the plant on a day to day basis and save those violations which do
result in a notice of violation there needs to be some -- or it would
appear appropriate that the assessment process have access to the
knowledge, to the integrated results of that day to day presence when
the assessment takes place and that is what I think we are talking about
here -- the input to the assessment process from the day to day presence
in the plant.
MS. GINSBERG: I think we would return again to the fact
that these are non-safety significant and taht by accumulating them you
don't necessarily get a safety significant issue, and that if there is
some safety significant issue it will show up in other ways, not related
to specifically necessarily to the combination of let's say these
violations which may be described as repetitive depending on whose image
of repetitive you use.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: I'm thoroughly lost.
MR. BARTON: Let me try it. Maybe the concern goes
something like this. I have got a component in the plant that I've got
a problem with and I end up with violations against it for some reason,
repetitive becuase I can't correct it properly or timely, and that gets
counted as a hit against me and at the same time I can report this issue
under maybe the maintenance rule reporting or something. I don't know.
I am trying to figure out what the issue is here. That's the best I can
come up with about whate the industry's concern may be here.
DR. MILLER: I don't understand the word double-counting as
to what that really means.
MR. BARTON: You count it in the violation column and you
may count it somewheres else in the assessment process.
MS. GINSBERG: That's exactly -- is it an input to the
assessment process, and if so, for what purpose? If they are non-safety
significant -- we also are going back and forth -- pardon me?
DR. MILLER: Seems like it's a bookkeeping problem. It
either comes here or comes there and you are worried about it is going
to come both places.
MS. GINSBERG: That's one, and the other thing is how is it
MR. BARTON: And how does it impact the assessment, plant
assessment I think is what they are worried about.
DR. FONTANA: I think you are going to have a real public
percpetion problem unless this is expliained very clearely.
MS. GINSBERG: We think the whole process needs to be
explained very clearly, so we agree with that.
Jim has described the proposed approach for the Reactor
Oversight Program and basically the industry supports this as well. We
think that it will effectively complement but not duplicate the
inspection and assessment processes.
DR. MILLER: Is that assuming that the things you brought up
on the previous overhead are changed, so to speak?
MS. GINSBERG: No. It's irrespective of that. We think
that further changes could be made to the interim policy, which is what
we were talking about before, but we think that this is a very solid
framework irrespective of that.
We endorse -- we encouraged the NRC to focus on the as-found
condition and endorse the process that does that. We think that that is
appropriate, not to take a retrospective look in the context of
enforcement but evaluate the issue based on it is what it is.
This process even without civil penalties continues to
ensure that licensees will restore compliance and take the corrective
action because with the notice of violation you are still required to do
Finally, we think that this appropriately takes credit for
and allows the enforcement process to work with the other Agency actions
that are going to be implemented through the overall oversight process.
In addition, as Jim also identified, we think that this new
process will avoid the diversion of resources that is typically
associated with disputing enforcement actions where there is a civil
penalty involved. You end up with a situation where licensees feel
compelled because of the attendant publicity and other features of the
issuance of enforcement action with civil penalties to argue about that
and most of the time it draws the issue out, and what you end up with is
not much for all the dispute, so we are encouraged to see that this will
have the impact we believe of avoiding a lot of that action and force
licensees and the Agency to focus on fixing the item.
Finally, with respect to this new approach we think that the
imposition of civil penalties will be focused on those violations where
the issuance of civil penalty is most likely to have a deterrent effect.
The industry has had a long-standing concern about issuing civil
penalties with the idea of deterrence for items that are based on a
mistake in judgment, for example, where someone would have no input or
the civil penalty would have no input into the decision in the future as
it didn't at the time it occurred.
DR. SEALE: Could I ask you or Lieberman, either one --
MS. GINSBERG: Sure.
DR. SEALE: -- has anyone gone through the record of civil
penalties over the last 24 months, let's say, and tried to decide or
assess whether or not or what the change would be if this policy had
been in place at the time?
We have already heard that we are talking about 85 percent
reduction in NOVs with the Level IV change. That is one burden
Clearly this is another. Has anyone looked at that?
MR. LIEBERMAN: Yes. We have, and about -- only 17 percent
of the escalated cases, Levels I, II and III, in the last two years
would be covered under the traditional approach. We didn't look at how
many of those were civil penalty cases and not civil penalty cases. So
about 80 percent of escalated cases would be covered by this new process
and about, say, 20 percent would be covered by the traditional process
based on the last two years.
DR. SEALE: I'm sorry. Go ahead.
MS. GINSBERG: Okay. Thank you. Overall, as I said at the
outset of this presentation, the industry does strongly support the
proposed changes to the enforcement policy, both the interim policy and
that which will go to the Commission some time later this month.
We are going to be very interested in the policy's
implementation throughout the pilot program. We think that will give us
a tremendous amount of information upon which a firm judgment can be
made with real data and so we will be monitoring that very closely.
Finally, and this ia a point that has been made more than
once this morning, we think that it is extremely important and Jim
Lieberman mentioned this in his presentation, that the Agency
communicate the bases for these changes in terms that the public will
both understand and that will support the changes that the Agency is
We think there are very strong public policy bases for
making these changes and that the Agency just has to explain what it has
done and why, that this is not a rollback of regulation. It is a
fine-tuning or a honing of the enforcement focus and that that does not
alleviate licensees' responsibility from complying with the regulations
as they currently exist.
I would be happy to take other questions if there are any.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Let me ask you a question about this
business of using risk to either increase or decrease the severity of
the violation. What do you think?
MS. GINSBERG: Well, actually, that is already built into
the process that the assessment folks are developing. Put aside for a
moment the changes to the policy. We believe that risk must be
considered, should be and must be considered in the process of defining
the significance of an event, whether for enforcement purposes or for
other assessment purposes.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: My question really is I am a plant. You
have caught me. It is my risk or is it some generalized notion of risk
that used against me?
MS. GINSBERG: Actually it is both. What the performance
assessment folks have developed in the -- or the oversight folks have
developed in the context of the inspection, what I believe are called
inspection matrices, what is the formal name for IFC? IFC PZ?
MR. BORCHARDT: I think that is close enough.
MS. GINSBERG: Right. What they have developed is a process
by which you take the event, look at its likelihood, look at the item it
is intended to mitigate or the event it is intended to mitigate, look at
the redundancy, do a whole host of things and you come out with what
amounts to a generic risk significance. On top of that --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: What I am asking is who does the looking
and with what tool?
MS. GINSBERG: The NRC will do the looking in the context of
processing it through the matrix. My understanding is that licensees
will similarly be engaging in that process to take a look at what the
NRC is going to come out with.
What is described as Phase 3 is an opportunity for licensees
to come in and if they have plant-specific information, risk
information, that would change the generic result, if you will,
licensees are going to be afforded that opportunity to customize the
risk analysis and we support that.
DR. KRESS: Is this CDF core damage frequency you are
talking about or is it a set of attributes that relate to that?
MS. GINSBERG: Actually I don't know the answer to that
specifically. What you are going to end up with is, as a result of the
generic analysis, you'll end up with a color, if you will, so it is
roughly equated to CDF 6, 5, 4 and 3, but it is not risk-based as much
as it is risk-informed is my understanding.
Jim, I don't know if you want to add to that?
MR. LIEBERMAN: Yes. We are focusing on the Delta core
damage frequency, whether risk-informed or risk-based. We are going to
try to put risk numbers to each finding. It first begins with a
relatively coarse screening as Phase I and Phase II is a little more
sophisticated, and then if we feel comfortable that it is a
risk-significant violation, I believe 10 to the minus 6 or less, then we
would dialogue with the licensee to get into more specifics, and then
use that information to convert into the white, yellow, red bands.
MS. GINSBERG: Dr. Powers, it is important --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Let me ask you more about this.
If this is all true except when it comes to fire, and then
it is a yes/no -- it's either white or red?
MR. LIEBERMAN: I believe that in certain areas we are not
using all the PRA or using PRA. For those things that PRA fits, we are
using PRA but things like emergency planning, safeguards, health
physics, aspects of fire protection, and I am sure there are some other
areas too where the analysis doesn't lend itself to it, there is going
to be a system closer to the severity levels, examples of the severity
levels in the enforcement policy to help guide us to the color bands.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: I guess I don't understand when you say
fire doesn't lend itself to risk assessment. I have had interminable
hours of people discussing fire risk assessment in front of me.
MR. LIEBERMAN: Okay. Appreciate that I am now talking in
an area that I don't have a lot of expertise and --
MR. BARTON: That is dangerous for a lawyer.
MR. LIEBERMAN: Almost anything a lawyer talks about may be
dangerous, but seriously the existing PRAs that the Agency has, I am not
sure how well they model the fire protection issues and probably I am
saying more than I know but I do know that there are challenges in the
fire protection area and I am not exactly sure how the Agency has worked
that out in the assessment model.
DR. KRESS: I would like to return to Dana's earlier
question. You say you will use the PRA where it is applicable. What
PRA is that? Plant-specific or just some generic PRA you have or which
PRA are we talking about?
MR. LIEBERMAN: I think again I have exhausted the knowledge
I have in this area because I am relying on NRR to get me the inputs as
to the significance of the violations and we are not -- the Office of
Enforcement is not developing the significant levels.
MR. BONACA: I have a question on the repetitive violations.
It seems to me that if you have a violation, noncited, on a given issue
now and then you allow for this to go into the corrective action program
and now you have a repetition of that violation, now the second one --
that would be changing the focus, right? That would be a violation of
the corrective action program. I mean you have ineffective corrective
action program. Is it, or how will it be focused in that?
MR. LIEBERMAN: Okay. Under the -- can I come to the table
so I don't talk to the back of people's heads?
DR. SEALE: Certainly.
MR. BONACA: I am trying to understand the --
DR. SEALE: Why don't you stay there too?
MR. BONACA: Isn't it true that at this point you wouldn't
worry anymore about what the violation was. You would worry about the
fact that the corrective action program didn't take care of it.
MR. LIEBERMAN: You are correct. There's two focuses -- the
individual violation itself, whichever that violation is, and then the
lack of taking effective corrective action.
The lack of taking effective corrective action on a
particular violation doesn't necessarily mean the corrective action
program is broken. It may be, you know, on that particular thing, you
know, it is an indication that there is an issue that needs to be
In the enforcement policy and how we have implemented it, as
violations repeat, at some point the significance of an ineffective
corrective action becomes the issue and that can become escalated action
and under the existing program we would continue to do that.
With this interim program we are focusing on not just that
the violation reoccurred.
You have to ask did it reoccur because of inadequate
corrective action. That is a judgment call. The violation occurred,
say, November 1st and on November 10th it repeated.
Well, was that enough time to develop the program and take
the corrective action and given the safety significance should they have
done it the next day or that day or did they have more time to deal with
that issue? You have to make those judgments.
Then if the licensee did identify that particular issue,
that is the strength of the licensee. They are looking for problems.
They found the issue and they put it back in their
corrective action program.
We are planning to beef up, strengthen I think it is Manual
Chapter 4500, which is the overview of the corrective action program to
do a greater sampling of not only the licensee's identified issues but
issues we have identified which are NCVs and violations to look how the
licensee is treating those issues and through the assessment process
then it becomes an issue.
With the new assessment process, which is focusing on a
performance-based -- performance and risk-informed, we will tolerate
what I will call noise or low level violations recurring. The issue is
is there any potential risk consequence to those violations.
Ellen mentioned the PIM. I think there is some
misunderstanding here. The question is how do we use the PIM. What is
the PIM? The PIM is a document that has a one line description of
inspection findings, who identified it, and that we use as a tool to
look at the inspection reports. You know, we may have a stack of
inspection reports several feet high over the time period we are looking
at, and this PIM summarizes the issues and in the past we have used it
to see trends. Are the same type violations repeating over time or is
it a procedural violation in safeguards and a procedural violation here
maybe in maintenance and someplace in the control room. There's no
connection there. That is different than if there's seven violations in
the control room all dealing with failing to monitor the control boards
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Then you are double counting, right?
MR. LIEBERMAN: No. The counting -- this is just getting us
information to help make an assessment. The PIM doesn't drive the
Agency action as a separate vehicle. It is getting, it is analyzing
Now the results of that information is used on the old
system for SALP and in the new system -- of course, how will we use it
in the new system?
The way we are going to use it in the new system is we are
basically keeping score. The NCVs and NOVs and other inspection
findings we placed in the PIM. Okay --
MR. BONACA: I really believe that this is good, the fact
that you have repeat violations I don't have a problem in having them
saying okay, then this should be an NOV because -- okay. I am just
concerned about the word "end" -- "end" was NRC-identified. You said
the intent of eliminating a penalty for Level IV was to allow for the
corrective action program to take care of it. Well, this will create a
new category in all the licensees' corrective action program, which are
the one identified by the NRC because the end puts a specific weight on
that and I am only saying maybe it might be the right thing to do, but I
am saying that you are not really completely depending on the corrective
action program. There is a special category now, these animals which
come in and they are identified by the NRC --
MR. LIEBERMAN: Exactly, exactly.
MS. GINSBERG: The industry made that comment.
MR. LIEBERMAN: And the reason for that, and I think this is
important, because we want the licensee's corrective action program to
not only fix problems but to identify problems, so we don't -- we have
so few inspectors compared to the number of employees licensees have
that we shouldn't be identifying issues, so this gives another incentive
for licensees to identify the issues themselves and if they do, they
avoid the impact of enforcement, and if they do identify it themselves
that means their corrective action program is working, which is a plus.
MR. BONACA: I agree. Just again, I think it is absolutely
appropriate that you are giving the corrective action program the time
to resolve an issue based on safety significance. Now the point I am
making is that so what is the time the licensee has got to fix that
problem? A month? Two months?
The reason I am asking the question is that if you don't put
a reasonable time for the corrective action to take place, then you are
back to square one. Then they are going to put it as Level I and fix it
in a day and take priority over anything else. Do you see where I am
I know the verbiage here is very reasonable. The question
is how is it going to be --
DR. SEALE: -- implemented.
MR. BONACA: -- implemented.
MS. GINSBERG: And the question is what is repetitive? Is
it one -- is it one and the same functional area? Is it several of not
following procedures in different areas?
MR. LIEBERMAN: That aspect, Ellen, I think is pretty well
covered. It is where -- it is where -- both the corrective action that
was developed for the first violation should have addressed the second
violation. Now if the first violation is in safeguards and there is a
procedural violation in health physics, that is apples and oranges and
clearly that wouldn't be a repetitive, but it is a judgment call because
what is commensurate with safety for the particular issue is a function
of a lot of things.
We know we have to monitor that very carefully because
they're subject to abuse --
MR. BONACA: Just the question I have is the time that you
will allow for the corrective action program to take effect. That is
the only question.
MR. LIEBERMAN: I don't have a specific number. It's a rule
MR. BARTON: It is based on safety significance of the item.
MR. BORCHARDT: What we expect is the licensee to enter the
deficiency into their action program and to prioritize it based upon its
MR. BARTON: Okay.
MR. BORCHARDT: That may warrant an immediate correction or
it may be six weeks or six months is appropriate. The inspection staff
will look at that determination and have to make a judgment. I mean it
is going to come down to some value judgments being made and accept that
six months is okay.
If that deficiency is repeated before that six month period
is completed and before the licensee had completed the corrective
actions for it, we would not cite that, even if we identified it.
MR. BONACA: See, this discussion is totally reasonable, but
I didn't see it -- I mean I saw a lot of words that implied that but I
think that is the central point.
MR. BARTON: Provide the guidance to the inspection --
MR. BONACA: Yes -- I think insofar as the guidance it would
be appropriate to specify that you are depending on the corrective
action program and the judgment you are making in the second violation
is really on the effectiveness of the corrective action program to act,
otherwise my concern is that it won't make any change. I mean the
licensees will just keep anything which the NRC identifies as a Level I
and try to fix it in a day because they are afraid that -- that kind of
MR. BORCHARDT: I think it would be helpful if we perhaps
sent Mr. Dudley a copy of the enforcement guidance memorandum which
discusses this is a lot more detail than a one-line slide.
DR. SEALE: I think we have it.
MR. BORCHARDT: And we have it --
DR. SEALE: It is in the back of your folder. I take it the
industry does not have access to that?
MR. LIEBERMAN: It's on the web and we gave a copy to Ellen
DR. SEALE: Oh, okay, but you haven't had a chance --
MS. GINSBERG: I haven't had a chance to digest it.
DR. SEALE: You commented with regard to the appeals
MS. GINSBERG: Yes.
DR. SEALE: And I think that is discussed in rather great
detail in there, so that might obviate your earlier concern.
MR. LIEBERMAN: I think we have covered the basics on the
We are using the same appeal process that we have for
notices of violations, with non-cited violations. Our instructions to
inspectors that if at the exit the licensee disputes the violation
whether it is NCV or not, that is an issue that requires a Division
Director to get involved with, to provide that oversight, and the issue
with the PIM, I don't really see that as a negotiating issue with the
new process, with the pilot process.
Our action will be driven by the risk of the violations and
the PIMs and then if we get into white space where we have to go back
and increase our inspection effort or get more diagnostic, then we will
be looking at what we found in the past in our inspection reports to
help us focus our effort, and the PIM is a tool we use to see what we
have found in the past and the concern about repetition we have talked
DR. SEALE: Any further comments or questions?
DR. SEALE: Well, gentlemen, we have managed to fill the
time that's been allocated.
Any other comments that either of our presenters would like
DR. SEALE: I want to thank both of you. This era of
unanimity or near-unanimity and cooperation I think is more real than
apparent even in the sense that it does appear that a product is coming
forward and there is a conscientious effort to evaluate it from both
sides before our irrevocable actions are taken and so on, and I want to
compliment I think the good start.
We will probably have a letter. I would like to hear from
my colleagues at some point about what you would like to have appear in
At this point I will turn it back to you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. LIEBERMAN: I would just like to note that we have been
working with NEI as well as UCS and it really has been constructive.
Our ideas have changed through this discussion process and both NEI as
well as the UCS is generally supportive of where we are heading.
MS. GINSBERG: I would concur with that.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Thank you. I think the Staff at the NRC
and with the help of the industry needs to be complimented for the speed
with which they have brought a major revolution to this enforcement
process and I certainly have enjoyed their presentations. They are
always very educational and spirited.
I will recess until 10:15.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Let's come back into session.
DR. SEALE: We don't have a quorum yet.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: We have to sit here quietly --
DR. SEALE: Oh, I don't know. We can hear your teeth
DR. KRESS: We only need a quorum when we make decisions.
We don't need a quorum to start.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Yes, but we'll use the discussions as a
basis for those decisions so I think I better have a quorum here.
DR. KRESS: That's at your discretion but we don't really
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Because I am going to promptly recuse
myself from that and wound us slightly -- if we have a quorum to start
the meeting --
Our next subject is safety evaluation report on the topical
report regarding tritium production core.
My understanding is that some work on this has been done at
the laboratory where I am employed. I have no idea what was done but
nevertheless that forces me to recuse myself and I am going to do so
rather thoroughly and ask Dr. Kress if he will take over chairing the
session and pass it on.
MR. SOHINKI: I thought it was Dr. Seale.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: Hang on. He'll do it in just a second.
DR. KRESS: I will promptly take that gavel that just got
handed to me and turn it over to Dr. Seale for this session.
DR. SEALE: Okay. This morning we have with us some
representatives of the Department of Energy and of the NRC Staff that's
been evaluating the proposal on reactor production of tritium for
Department of Energy requirements.
It is my understanding that this is an information only
briefing and that a letter is not requested at this time. The Staff I
understand will be sending a letter to the Commissioners essentially as
I understand it providing the status in the context of a safety
evaluation report with a negative consent flavor. That is, if the
Commissioners have any concerns they are asked to intervene or to make
them known but there is no action as such expected at this time.
Eventually an application will be required to modify any NRC
license for a facility that would accept burnable poison rods for
tritium production, and it is my understanding that that is exactly the
contention under which most of this process is being done, namely that
we have a kind of kind of burnable poison rod and that is basically what
it amounts to.
I understand that all of the safety issues that are believed
to be germane to the NRC's side of the process are already being
covered. The dividing lines as to where the fence is that you throw the
product over in order to move it from NRC to DOE or other jurisdictions
have already been defined and so we should be seeing in essence a
complete picture of what the safety concerns are as far as NRC is
With that, I will introduce our guests from DOE. I will ask
you to introduce yourselves and we expect to be through by 11:45 and I
guess you have about 40 minutes to make your case.
MR. CLAUSEN: Good morning. I am Max Clausen from the
Department of Energy and it is my pleasure to say thanks again for the
opportunity to come in and share with you the work that we have been
doing over the last few years in preparing to satisfy a national
security need for tritium with the use of a burnable poison rod that
makes tritium for us in commercial lightwater reactors.
The rod was developed over a period of years by us -- by the
Department with the support of some of the contractors who you will be
hearing from today, specifically Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,
Westinghouse, and a little background from Savannah River in the old
days but they are sort of out of it today.
Today what we intend to so is to break the presentation up
as it's structured here. I am going to turn this over in a second to my
boss, who is the Program director, Steve Sohinki, and then we are going
to -- I will come back and talk just a moment more about the scope of
the report after Steve those of you a quick overview of the total
program and then we will turn it over to the technical folks to share
with you the real contents of what you find in a topical report of which
an unclassified version has been made available to you and access to a
classified version for those folks who just couldn't stand it without
going further into some of the details to find out.
I will acknowledge that we have some help in the back -- a
couple or three of our folks are classification folks and if we start
venturing into an area where we might say something that is classified,
they are going to sort of wave, shout and scream at us to prevent us
from revealing secrets here in the public domain, and so we will sort of
once in awhile be looking over in that corner to see if our classifiers
will let us continue to talk.
I presume that the format here is wide open. You can ask
questions when you have them. We will try to cover them. If we don't
understand exactly what we need to tell you at the time, we will take a
note and get the answer back to you.
CHAIRMAN POWERS: May I ask you in your outline where we
would find the information on the compatibility of the burnable poison
rod under accident conditions?
MR. CLAUSEN: The discussions of the accidents are here. We
talk about it both in the core design --
CHAIRMAN POWERS: You can't leave your microphone.
When I look in that, for instance, in the core design and
things like that, I don't see discussions of compatibility of materials.
MR. CLAUSEN: Okay, well, I am going to defer that question
to the folks who are actually going to actually do the discussion on the
CHAIRMAN POWERS: I can be patient.
MR. CLAUSEN: In the end we are going to turn this over to
the NRC Staff to give you some closings on their safety evaluation
Okay -- I am going to turn it over to Steve Sohinki, who is
the Program Director at the NRC for this project.
MR. SOHINKI: Okay. I know you want to get to the technical
issues, but I thought it might be useful to spend about five minutes or
so just bringing you up to speed on where we are as a programmatic
After 10 years of looking at alternatives for tritium
production through a course of several Secretaries at the Department of
Energy, Secretary Richardson finally made a decision on December 22nd to
use commercial reactors for tritium production. The alternative was a
linear accelerator, which he designated as the backup technology.
He said in his announcement that TVA's existing reactors at
Watts Bar and Sequoyah were the preferred facilities for tritium
production. The reason he used the term "preferred" at this point was
that we are still completing a National Environmental Policy Act process
that will be complete by April 12th, which is when we are scheduling --
we are currently scheduling a record of decision that we'll make a final
decision on on reactors, but he designated the Watts Bar and Sequoyah
reactors as the preferred technology for the reasons that are on this
slide -- commercial reactor technology for making tritium has been
demonstrated over the past several years in a number of ways that I
won't go into right now, unless you have questions.
Obviously the use of existing reactors is going to be the
least expensive way to produce tritium. It avoids the commitment to a
major new weapons facility and that has some benefits as was pointed out
to us by a number of non-Governmental organizations with respect to arms
reduction goals because we need not commit to a major new facility at
the same time as we are preaching that further arms reductions are
DR. WALLIS: Is the price set in order to compete with this
facility that you are saving, or is it a much lower price?
MR. SOHINKI: The investment cost --
DR. WALLIS: The amount you pay the utilities for this
MR. SOHINKI: We have just completed a letter agreement with
the Tennessee Valley Authority for the irradiation services and what we
have agreed is -- part of this depends on whether we are talking about
meeting START I requirements or START II requirements if we have a
further arms reduction, but under current requirements it will cost us
in the neighborhood of about $20 million a year to irradiate these rods
in TVA reactors.
DR. WALLIS: Which is a lot cheaper than building your own
facility, by orders of magnitude.
MR. SOHINKI: Oh, yes.
DR. FONTANA: I understand you are getting them at cost.
MR. SOHINKI: Yes. The arrangement with TVA is being done
under the Economy Act of 1932 which is a statute which governs that the
transfer of goods and services between Federal agencies, and you are
right. Under the Economy Act the term "actual cost" is used, which is
sometimes misunderstood. It includes both direct and indirect costs, so
that what we are paying TVA includes their out-of-pocket costs plus
indirect costs associated with our use of the capital asset.
Obviously the use of existing reactors has a great deal of
flexibility with regard to meeting future tritium needs. We pay only
for the tritium we need and we don't pay for it when we don't need it,
unlike of course the commitment to a new facility.
The other that the Secretary emphasized in his statement was
that TVA has a national security mission in its charter and has provided
national security assistance over the course of the past several decades
in a number of ways.
MR. SOHINKI: With respect to the need for tritium, the
president signed the document called the nuclear weapons stockpile plan
each year, and in that document tells both the Department of Defense and
Department of Energy how many weapons and what types of weapons will be
in the stockpile for the coming year and for a number of years out.
The current requirements have not changed since the last
time we spoke to you about a year and a half ago. The latest stockpile
plan tells the Department that we need to have a supply of tritium by
Now, if the Russians should ratify the Start 2 agreement,
that date would be pushed out to about 2011, but the Russians, who were
reported to be close to ratifying Start 2, it now appears are not going
to be ratifying Start 2 any time soon. So for the time being, we're
stuck with Start 1 requirements. If we have to irradiate in about -- or
have tritium in about 2005, we need to start irradiating rods in about
So that's what the first bullet says. We will begin
delivering tritium -- actually, the current schedule is slightly later
than 2005, and the reasons are somewhat complex, but it comes down to
the Congress restricting the Department from implementing the tritium
decision, and by implementing, they meant conduct any
So we had a delay in the new extraction facility that we're
designing down at Savannah River, and while we've pulled back some of
that lost time, that facility will not be up and running, at least on
the current schedule, until February of 2006.
This is just our -- and I think I may have shown this the
last time we appeared before this group, but just to refresh your
recollection, this was our attempt at depicting the entire system for
producing tritium in commercial reactors, starting at the upper left
with the manufacture of the tritium producing burnable absorber rods.
We will be going out with a request for proposals within
about the next month or so for a commercial fuel fabricator to fabricate
-- assemble first and then later on fabricate these rods for us.
Once the rods are fabricated, they will be inserted into
fuel assemblies in the same places as a standard burnable absorber rod
would be inserted. I think we've been through this and some more
discussion will be had about it, but they look the same as burnable
absorber rods. They are attached to the baseplate the same way as
burnable absorber rod, and they're -- they are placed in the same
They will be irradiated for the standard operating cycle at
Watts Bar and/or Sequoyah, and then, following the irradiation cycle and
after the utility completes its refueling outage, they will be
consolidated from off the --taken off the baseplates, consolidated, and
then shipped to Savannah River, where we're designing a new extraction
facility. We've been now through the preliminary design of that
facility. The cost of that facility is about $400 million.
DR. POWERS: When you say consolidated, tell us exactly what
you mean by that.
MR. SOHINKI: Yes. They'll be taken -- there's up to 24 of
these things on the baseplate. They'll be either cut off the baseplate
or the bolts will be tightened down and taken off that way. But we
haven't come to a conclusion about exactly how we're going to take them
off the baseplate yet. But there will be 300 of them placed in a
container and then placed in the --
DR. POWERS: You're not anticipating crushing, squeezing or
otherwise damaging these --
MR. SOHINKI: No, no, no.
DR. POWERS: -- on site.
MR. SOHINKI: No.
DR. POWERS: Okay.
MR. SOHINKI: No. And they'll be -- the rods will not be
breached until they're in the extraction facility in the preparation
After extraction, they will -- the tritium will be sent to
the adjacent tritium recycle facility or replacement tritium facility as
we call it down at Savannah River, where the tritium will be bottled and
sent out to the weapons.
DR. POWERS: Is that a new facility or is that the existing
MR. SOHINKI: That's an existing facility that's been
operating for about six years or five, six, years.
DR. POWERS: It's the one that's based on the inter-metallic
and things like that.
MR. SOHINKI: Correct.
DR. POWERS: Okay.
MR. SOHINKI: I won't spend any real time on the next couple
of slides. I just wanted to put it in your packet. This is a project
schedule based upon our work breakdown schedule for the project. The
diamonds that are on the schedule, numbered diamonds, are milestones for
the project which we report against and which appear in a document
called that stockpile stewardship and management plan that goes to our
customer, the Pentagon and the Congress, each year. It's updated on an
annual basis. I just wanted to have that in your packet so you could
refer to it. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them,
but basically, all our major project milestones.
DR. SEALE: Okay. As I see here, the preparation of the
request for the license amendment I guess is beginning --
MR. SOHINKI: This year.
DR. SEALE: Yes.
MR. SOHINKI: Right.
DR. SEALE: And about the middle of 2000 is when you would
be ready for that particular issue?
MR. SOHINKI: Yes. We're hoping that in the 12 to 14 month,
at the outside, 16 months from now, we'll be submitting or TVA will
actually be submitting the license amendment request.
DR. POWERS: Are they going to use the Reg Guide 1.1744
formalism for doing a risk informed amendment process?
MR. CLAUSEN: The answer is that TVA hasn't made a
commitment yet to that particular process, but they are evaluating the
way they intend to do it.
We will be working with them on building the approach to the
licensing, and I believe the risk informed approach will be considered
for some significant portion of it.
MR. SOHINKI: Do you want to add anything?
FROM THE AUDIENCE: No. That's fine.
MR. SOHINKI: Okay.
In any case, that's the end of the remarks that I had, and
I'll turn it back over to Max to just tell you about the scope of the
report that you're going to hear about in more detail.
MR. CLAUSEN: When we came to the point where it was time to
figure out what to do to get some sort of NRC endorsement of where we
were in a production core use of the burnable absorber rods, we elected
to go to the folks who had done this before, i.e. Westinghouse, and ask
them to prepare a topical report in the same manner that they would have
prepared a topical report if this were a commercial product to replace
another burnable absorber rod.
They used the same systematic approach to preparing it and
they've used the standard review plan as the ladder against which they
did the majority of the evaluation. They've brought to the table a
reasonable -- well, we believe a very thorough review of the technical
and regulatory issues that are facing us in the use of this burnable
absorber as opposed to any other burnable absorber in that place,
recognizing that this absorber brings to the party the fact that over
tim, it produces tritium and the tritium has some interesting
characteristics to it, i.e., it also decays to helium 3, which has got a
cross section of some interest. We've covered all of that kind of
information very thoroughly.
We did this using a representative plant which was selected
because it was probably the plant with the least margin that we could
find that Westinghouse was familiar with, and therefore we felt it was
safe to use this plant in order to fully bound any other plant that
might be used.
We wanted to do it in that way because at the time that we
started this process, we had not selected or entered into any sort of an
agreement whatsoever with any reactor vendor, and so that's where we
The topical report that was provided will be used as a guide
for the folks at TVA to move forward and prepare their license amendment
on the -- and the plant-specific issues, and that's currently our plan
in moving from where we are now to the submittal in next fall.
DR. SEALE: When you said least margin, --
MR. CLAUSEN: Yes.
DR. SEALE: -- what were you measuring?
MR. CLAUSEN: We're measuring the fact that this is the
highest power plant in the -- plant and was running with the -- I guess
it's a containment issue that's a limiting issue. They're going to
discuss that in detail as we go through the discussion.
DR. SEALE: Okay. So we're going to make it as hard as we
MR. CLAUSEN: Right. We want to show that this thing's
safe, and the plant that --
DR. SEALE: Okay.
MR. CLAUSEN: The technical report addresses again, as I
said, the applicable portions of the standard review plan. We looked at
all portions of the standard review plan, did not -- went through and
made a decision about each and every item on the whole standard review
plan list, and either told the staff that -- how it -- why it didn't
apply or if it did apply, why it wasn't of concern.
We've used standard licensing criteria. The issues from
looking at the lead test assembly have been addressed in this topical
report. We looked at the potential for FSAR and tech spec changes as
they would have to be addressed in this report, in a licensing
amendment, and we also did a significant hazardous evaluation and have
come up with our impression that there is a no significant hazards
It does not address fabrication or post-irradiation handling
in the spent fuel pool because at the time that we started it, we did
not know which spent fuel pool. They're all plant specific. And it
doesn't address the processes of consolidation and preparing them for
shipping. That'll have to be done in the license amendment for the
Having survived that discussion, I guess I'm going to
introduce Rick Ankney, who is going to give us the technical stuff, and
he's going to actually demonstrate that he's technically competent using
MR. ANKNEY: Don't say that. Now you put pressure on me.
DR. SEALE: There's a button you've got to --
MR. ANKNEY: There are multiple buttons.
DR. SEALE: Yes. Bring your own piano player up there to
hit the keys for you.
MR. ANKNEY: Can you hear me now? Is it okay?
Okay. Can I have the pointer.
As Max mentioned, my name is Rick Ankney. I'm from
Westinghouse core engineering. I developed the core designs, the two
core designs that are documented in the topical report.
I think it was Max or maybe Steve who mentioned, you know,
one of the first choices that we had to make was what reference plant
are we going to choose for this work?
Our objective here was to really maximize tritium
production, to do a core design where we were producing the maximum
amount of tritium that we could. So it made sense to pick a
Westinghouse four-loop plant, four loop being the biggest plant that we
manufacture. And we picked the 17-by-17 fuel lattice because that give
us the maximum number of locations for TPBARs. In fact, in a four-loop
plant with 17 by 17 fuel, you'll have 33, 144 locations for TPBARs. In
fact, one of the core designs that is documented in the report used that
number of TPBARs in it.
Now, we also chose a high power level, high temperature
plant because that's going to be most limiting from a safety analysis
perspective. The highest power level, four-loop 17 by 17 plant that we
have is 35, 65 megawatts thermal, and that comes out to a 5.66 kilowatts
per foot linear heat rate.
These are the coolant temperatures that I've given here, 593
T average and 625 T out. Again, these are at the highest level of the
plants of this type that we have.
So these factors combined represented a kind of limiting
bounding approach with respect to both tritium production and evaluation
of the core with respect to key safety parameters.
Would you put up the next slide, please?
Now, we often use burnable absorber rods in our cores. The
conventional burnable absorber rod that Westinghouse uses operates using
Boron 10, okay. Boron 10 absorbs a neutron, you get an alpha particle
TPBARs, of course, have a different set of reactions. The
primary reaction is this Lithium 6 reaction, it absorbs the neutron and
you get the tritium and the alpha particle.
DR. WALLIS: What's the energy of these neutrons?
MR. ANKNEY: Oh, all over the place.
DR. WALLIS: All over.
MR. ANKNEY: This is -- the primary reaction is the thermal
DR. WALLIS: Thermal. Okay.
MR. ANKNEY: But you do get some fast absorptions too, and
we account for that.
DR. MILLER: What's the cross section of Lithium 6?
MR. ANKNEY: It's on the order of a few hundred bars, okay?
It's lower than boron. Boron 10 is on the order of a few thousand bars.
DR. KRESS: And what chemical form is lithium put into
MR. ANKNEY: Lithium illuminate.
DR. KRESS: Illuminate.
MR. ANKNEY: Lithium illuminate.
So this is the primary reaction, but the tritium, of course,
has a half-life of 12.33 years, and so you get a decay of tritium into
Helium 3. Helium 3 as it turns out is also a pretty potent neutron
absorber, again on the order of Boron 10, so you need to account for
that, and this is the important reaction there. It's -- you get an
absorption reaction where you get the tritium back, and you get a
DR. MILLER: What's the cross section of Helium 3?
MR. ANKNEY: It's on the order of a few thousand bars, too.
DR. MILLER: Oh, it's higher than lithium.
MR. ANKNEY: It's higher than lithium, and if I remember
right, it's also a little higher than boron.
DR. SEALE: They're sort of jazzy detectors you use.
MR. ANKNEY: So this -- while you don't make a lot of helium
because this half-life is 12 years, you do make some, and it can become
Now, we've modified our codes, specifically the Phoenix code
and the ANC code -- these are our two work horses for modelling the core
-- we've modified these codes to explicitly account for these reactions,
so that I'm keeping track of the lithium 6, the tritium, and the helium
3 number densities in every part of the core.
Now, at the beginning of life, if you look at a TPBAR at a
conventional Westinghouse burnable absorber, in terms of their
reactivity worth, they're fairly comparable. TPBAR is maybe worth a
little bit less, but roughly the same.
But there is a difference. Because the conventional
burnable absorber, what we call a wet annular burnable absorber at
Westinghouse, because it operates on boron 10 and boron 10 has a pretty
high cross section, by the end of a cycle, it's just about all gone,
okay? It's essentially gone.
The TPBARs on the other hand, because lithium 6 cross
section is a lot lower than boron 10, and also because the loading of
lithium 6 in the TPBAR is pretty high, it doesn't deplete nearly as
completely. In fact, if you look by the end of the cycle, you still
have, you know, roughly half of it there.
DR. KRESS: You don't have to enrich the core to compensate
for that difference?
MR. ANKNEY: That's my next slide.
DR. KRESS: Oh, okay. Sorry.
MR. ANKNEY: That difference in depletion is really what
drives the differences in the fuel management between a conventional
core and a tritium production core. Because that lithium 6 is still
there at the end of the cycle, that's a pretty big reactivity penalty,
and so if you want to get the same energy out of the cycle, you have to
do something to compensate for this, and the way you compensate for it
is you add more feed assemblies in or you use higher enrichments or
both, and that's really what this slide talks about.
If you look at a conventional core -- and these are actually
numbers from an actual operating core design -- the typical number of
feed assemblies might be between like 84 and 92, something like that.
This particular core had 89 feeds. In a tritium production core, in one
of the designs that I documented, we used 140 feed assemblies in an
equilibrium cycle, okay?
So in a core, there's 193 fuel assemblies, so you see this
is a little less than half, and that's considerably more than half.
These are the feed fuel enrichments, 52 assemblies at 4.01,
37 assemblies at 4.2. We often split the enrichments to help shape the
power distribution. And you can see the enrichments that we used for
the tritium production core. Again, they're higher.
The reason for this is that we need more excess reactivity
in the core initially because at the end of the cycle, those TPBARs are
still going to be there to a large extent, and that's a big reactivity
So using this kind of fuel management, we're loading enough
reactivity into the core to get the cycle energy out that we normally
want to get.
We use two different kinds of burnable absorbers at
Westinghouse. One is called an integral burnable absorber where we wrap
boron on the fuel pellet itself. In this particular core design, we
used 800 -- 700 fuel rods worth of integral burnable absorber. See, we
used a lot more in the tritium production core. That's to control the
excess reactivity at beginning of life.
Discrete burnable absorbers. In this particular core
design, there weren't any, but of course we had the TPBARs in the
tritium production core, 3344.
Cycle energy. This is in roughly an 18-month cycle. We get
an 18-month cycle out of this particular core design for the tritium
production, and I put on this slide also the number of grams of tritium
that we produced, a little over 2800.
A TPBAR in the center of the core will produce roughly one
gram of tritium, but we also loaded TPBARs around the edge of the core,
and because they're in low neutron importance regions, they don't
produce a gram. So that's why the average here is a little less than
Now, when we do safety assessments reloaded cores at
Westinghouse, we use a bounding parameter approach where we calculate
for the core really a long list of key safety parameters and compare
those key safety parameters to the parameters that were assumed in the
reference safety analysis, and if they're within the ranges that are
normally assumed in the reference safety analysis, then we can say that
the safety analysis is valid.
We went through the same process with these tritium
production cores and found that despite the differences in fuel
management, that these cores really operate within the ranges of the key
safety parameters that we normally see. There's one exception that I'll
talk about in a minute, but it's really very minor.
If you looked at the power distributions and the power
peaking factors between the conventional core and these cores, you
wouldn't really see much of a difference. They look very much the same,
same kinds of peaking factors, same sorts of radial power distributions.
There's really nothing remarkable that's different.
Reactivity coefficients, things like moderator coefficients,
boron worth, these sorts of things are all very, very comparable to what
we normally see within the ranges that we normally assume.
We did see one exception to this particular plant's key
safety parameters, and that had to do with the Doppler defect, and it
was just slightly out of the range that we normally assume, and it was
accommodated within the safety analysis that we performed.
DR. MILLER: What kind of changes do you actually see in
those, what percent or --
MR. ANKNEY: In things like moderator coefficients?
DR. MILLER: Yes.
MR. ANKNEY: It kind of depends on when you look at the
cycle. If you look at beginning of life, you might see a fairly big
change in the moderator coefficients. The moderator coefficients is --
at beginning of life, it might be at minus 9 PCM per degree F. For
these cores, it might be in the range of like minus 12, minus 15,
something like that, the reason being that the boron is worth less in
these cores because of the extra burnable absorber that you have, and
the boron is really what drives the moderator coefficient at beginning
of life. So beginning of life, you'll see a slightly more negative
moderator coefficient. At end of life, when all the boron is gone, you
can't distinguish between the moderator coefficient for these cores and
a conventional core. They look very much alike.
Things like boron worths, boron worths are little more
negative -- a little less negative for these cores because there's so
much other burnable absorber in these tritium production cores that the
soluble boron has a tougher time competing for neutrons. So you see
slightly lower boron worths, you know, maybe one or two PCM per PPM,
something like that.
If you look at the topical report, there's very long
comparisons of various reactivity coefficients.
We looked at other key safety parameters, things like
shutdown margins, ejected rod worths throughout peaking factors. Again,
these were all pretty much within the normally ranges that we see and we
accommodate within the safety analysis.
So in the end, we were able to satisfy all of the same
nuclear design bases for these cores that we do for conventional cores.
Now, these components are a little different, though, than a
regular burnable absorber. A regular burnable absorber, the worth of it
always goes down because you're always depleting boron 10. For a TPBAR,
though, because of decay of tritium, okay, you can actually have a
burnable absorber whose reactivity worth goes up, okay, if you have a
long shutdown, and we modelled that, and it's discussed in the report.
We took one of the designs that we did at near end of life,
went through a six-month shutdown, okay, that being the longest
conceivable shutdown that you would have probably end of life without
actually going into a refueling. Actually, this is probably double what
you would normally see. But anyway, we modelled a six-month shutdown,
let the tritium decay into helium 3, and then looked to see what effect
it would have on the core.
What we noticed was that when we started the core back up
and went to full power, we saw an 80 PPM decrease in the critical boron
concentration. So that's pretty significant, okay, and this is the
delta due to the -- now the increase in the helium 3 that you have due
to the tritium decay. Very small changes in radial power distribution,
though. I mean, these TPBARs are all over the core, okay, so if you're
raising up the helium 3, you're basically doing it everywhere, so you
don't see much of a shift in the power distribution, a little bit of a
tilt, but not really very much.
The core peaking factors changed hardly at all, very little,
less than about a percent. But you do see a decrease in the cycle
energy because you're adding absorber to those TPBARs, and it doesn't
burn up immediately, it burns out gradually. So you wind up losing
energy from the cycle to the tune of about ten effective full power
So this is an effect that's certainly different than a
conventional burnable absorber and that really does need to be accounted
for if you have a long shutdown. Shutdowns of a few days or even a few
weeks are probably insignificant, but if you get into multiple months,
when you start that core up, you would see something. You would see
something that's different.
DR. POWERS: The shutdown, I mean, when you're having an
unanticipated shutdown and a restart for a brief period of time,
neutronically, they can be fairly insignificant. Are they also
MR. ANKNEY: What do you mean?
DR. POWERS: I'll tell you a classic case. C reactor goes
down, they start restart at the buildup of the helium, changes all of
the reactivity margins the operator has to work with.
MR. ANKNEY: I wouldn't -- for a short shutdown, I don't
think that's an issue, okay, because this is 80 PPM difference after six
months. If you talk about a few days or even a few weeks, this number
is going to go down almost proportionally. I mean, it's only going to
be, you know, very, very small amount.
So it's something that if you had a lengthy shutdown, you'd
certainly want to account for. A few days or even a few weeks, I don't
think it would be necessary to do really much.
Our core design codes do model this, though, so that when
the reactor would go back up to power, those models could be used to
essentially estimate what's the critical boron concentration going to be
at restart that would account for this?
There are other things, of course, that happen when you
shutdown, you have neptunium decay, you have other things that are going
on too that change the isotopics of the fuel, xenon, samarium, you know,
all those things go on.
So, you know, these sorts of things can be calculated. I don't think
it's going to get significant, though, until you get into the multiple
weeks kind of scenario.
DR. KRESS: You'd think the xenon would overwhelm it.
MR. ANKNEY: Well, certainly in the short term, xenon --
xenon is a very big reactivity effect, on the order of hundreds of PPM,
okay? But xenon goes away after a few days.
DR. KRESS: It goes away pretty fast, yes.
MR. ANKNEY: After a few days, it's gone. But again, that's
the kind of thing you have to account for.
DR. KRESS: I was thinking about the operational --
DR. POWERS: Well, I mean, the experience we've had is that
they calculate these reactivities versus control rod so tightly that
small errors cause them to be off, and when they're off, they have to
stop and start over again. I mean, operational difficulties is what I
was worried about.
MR. ANKNEY: Well, that's why you have to have a good model
that can predict it. You know, if you can predict it, then you can --
you know where to put your control rods, you know where to put the
critical boron concentration when you go back to power.
You know, so I guess the bottom line is that we've developed
these core designs, we looked at the kinds of key safety parameters that
we normally look at for these reload cores. We didn't really find
anything remarkable in terms of how they would operate. We expect them
to operate within the normal bounds that we see for conventional cores.
We expect to meet all the typical nuclear design bases that we normally
The fuel management will necessarily change, though, and
higher enrichments will be needed and likely more feed assemblies
depending on how aggressive you want to be with tritium production.
DR. MILLER: From an operational viewpoint, down the line,
when you get serious about putting these in, in 2003, I guess, are you
going to change the simulator so the operator is going to be operating
the plant with the --
MR. ANKNEY: I think --
DR. MILLER: At least get operational experience with a
plant some of the new dynamics?
MR. ANKNEY: I think probably what you would do is you would
dial into the simulator the kinds of reactivity coefficients --
DR. MILLER: Right. That's what I mean.
MR. ANKNEY: -- and sorts of things that you would expect to
see in this kind of a core, and there are -- I didn't mean to say there
aren't any changes. I mean, there are small changes in the reactivity
coefficients that could be put into the simulator to, you know, reflect
the kind of plant behavior that you would expect to see.
DR. MILLER: Because I would think with that change in
moderator temperature feedback, that the operator will see some
MR. ANKNEY: And in fact, it kind of goes in the right
direction. I mean, operators --
DR. MILLER: It stabilizes --
MR. ANKNEY: -- tend to like negative --
DR. MILLER: Oh, yeah.
MR. ANKNEY: -- moderator coefficients, obviously. And this
tends to make the moderator coefficients at beginning of life more
DR. MILLER: It stabilizes a number of --
MR. ANKNEY: It stabilizes the core, right.
DR. POWERS: Did I understand that you've done the rod
MR. ANKNEY: I didn't personally, but yes, we -- what I did
was I calculated the key safety parameters that go into the rod
injection accident, that's right.
DR. POWERS: I looked and couldn't find it in the topical
MR. ANKNEY: Well, it's probably -- I don't remember if
there was a discussion in the transient analysis section. If there
wasn't, it was because the key safety parameters are within the bounds
that we normally see.
DR. POWERS: Right.
MR. ANKNEY: So there was no reason to redo it.
DR. POWERS: Okay.
MR. ANKNEY: That's all I have. I think the next speaker is
Cheryl Thornhill from PNNL.
MS. THORNHILL: My name is Cheryl Thornhill, I'm with
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. I'm going to give you a brief
overview of our lead test assembly program and a refresher reminder
about how the TPBAR itself works, and summarize the design changes that
we have made between the lead test assembly design and the design
described in the production topical report.
PNNL designed and fabricated 32 of these first-of-a-kind
full-length tritium-producing burnable absorber rods. We shipped them
to the Westinghouse Columbia facility, where they were installed on
baseplate in groups of eight and installed in four fuel assemblies that
were then shipped with the balance of the fuel assemblies that
Westinghouse was providing to Watts Bar for their fall of 1997 outage.
We received a license amendment for the lead test assembly
program in mid-September, and about a week later, the assemblies with
TPBAR actually went into the core, went critical in mid-October, and we
achieved full power by the end of October of that year.
The cycle ended last month. We had an exposure of 471.5
effective full power days, and this compares with a design maximum of
550. We had a cycle burnup of 18,000, and we took reactor coolant
system samples for tritium routinely throughout the cycle.
Next viewgraph, please.
DR. KRESS: What are these clad with? Excuse me.
MS. THORNHILL: I have a full description of that in just a
few minutes. And we will also be passing a figure around.
What we learned from our sampling of the coolant chemistry
-- and, by the way, we began sampling in mid-February the spent fuel
storage pool water as well for evidences of tritium -- is that actually
the data was very consistent with cycle one data. So our conclusions to
date are -- with the initial analysis is that our TPBARs essentially
have performed just as expected.
DR. WALLIS: Excuse me. I think in your written material
you supplied to us, it was mentioned it would have ten system volumes of
tritiated effluent per year? Is that what you actually have in this
MS. THORNHILL: Ten? I'm sorry? Oh, that's for the
DR. WALLIS: Yes, the production core.
MS. THORNHILL: Right. No.
DR. WALLIS: So this is just a small sample.
MS. THORNHILL: Yes.
DR. WALLIS: I'm way ahead of you.
MS. THORNHILL: Yes. Right.
DR. WALLIS: I'm sorry.
MS. THORNHILL: And they will be talking about those impacts
in subsequent presentations.
DR. WALLIS: We'll hear about that later.
MS. THORNHILL: But we didn't have to worry about that.
DR. WALLIS: Right.
MS. THORNHILL: And the LTAs haven't been removed from the
core or the fuel assemblies have been removed from the core, and
actually now it's next Saturday, they will be removed from the host fuel
assemblies. We'll have representatives from the Department of Energy,
Tennessee Valley Authority and PNNL present to do what limited visual
exams can be accomplished in that environment before the LTAs are
inserted in storage arrays to be shipped off-site.
DR. KRESS: Please, before you leave that, could you go back
and tell me what that first bullet means.
MS. THORNHILL: What it means is that we didn't see any
unusual trends with the cycle 2 data compared with cycle 1 data.
Obviously there were differences because they had different chemistry
that was going on, so there --
DR. KRESS: Cycle 2 was one with the --
MS. THORNHILL: With the TPBARs, yes.
DR. KRESS: Yes. And the cycle 1 had one.
MS. THORNHILL: Had none, that's correct.
DR. KRESS: And you're saying trends were the same in terms
of the quantity of tritium in the coolant?
MS. THORNHILL: Right, in the fluctuations that occurred
throughout the cycle. But again, you know, the chemistry isn't the
same, so they're not a direct one-for-one comparison.
DR. WALLIS: So you didn't get a measure of the effect of
using these bars on the tritium in the coolant which could them be
extrapolated in order to answer the question I was prematurely asking?
Didn't get data on how much extra tritium you would get in the coolant
water, which --
MS. THORNHILL: Right, but we never expected to get that
with the lead test assembly program because --
DR. WALLIS: Because you didn't have enough.
MS. THORNHILL: Just not enough rods, and even with our
design maximum permeation rate, we would not have been able to make
those conclusions. We would have only been able to make a conclusion if
we had something that exceeded significantly the design permeation
DR. WALLIS: So it didn't help you to verify a prediction?
MS. THORNHILL: Not to exact numbers, that is true.
DR. KRESS: Do you have a model that predicts the permeation
MS. THORNHILL: Yes, we do. That is a very important
component of our TPBAR design model.
DR. KRESS: Does that come out of the old tritium production
data at Savannah River? I mean the validation of that model.
MS. THORNHILL: We're venturing into that touchy-feely area
here on -- those models are classified.
DR. KRESS: Oh, I'm sorry.
MS. THORNHILL: -- and the data that supports the models are
This program obviously is based on the previous work. We're
allowed to say that. But we also have work going on in the current
program that gives us the database that we use.
DR. SEALE: Are there discussions of that in the classified
report that's available?
MS. THORNHILL: I -- do we get into the permeation models in
the classified part, the actual design models?
MR. CLAUSEN: Yes.
MS. THORNHILL: Okay.
MR. CLAUSEN: Yes, we do.
MS. THORNHILL: Okay. Yes.
DR. SEALE: Tom, we may want to take a look at that at your
MS. THORNHILL: Okay.
In early July, the first of the shipments will be made from
Watts Bar. We're going to put one array at a time in a cask for
shipments to Idaho where we're going to -- we're planning to do some
confirmatory tests. We want to do some non-destructive evaluations. As
indicated here, we're going to ask the folks at Argonne to section a
couple of rods and send some of those pieces back to PNNL for some
confirmatory destructive examinations.
Next slide, please, Max.
DR. WALLIS: I think you just sniffed for tritium. Did you
sniff for helium 3 or something like that, anything else you could have
MS. THORNHILL: No. We've only been monitoring for tritium,
and then, of course, whatever data they routinely get.
DR. POWERS: When you say visual and photography on your
PTA, are you going to do metallography?
MS. THORNHILL: We do metallography on the destructive side.
That is a capability that we have at PNNL.
Okay. While we're talking a little bit more specific about
the TPBAR, I want to pass around our -- this is actually an UCNE version
of the rod. There are some components within the rod that themselves
are classified. We didn't bring those today. But this is the 3-D
model, then we have a photograph or a viewgraph presentation as well.
But our primary design principles, as you have already been
told two or three times today, is to mimic to the extent practicable the
standard Westinghouse burnable absorber rods. We have the same exterior
dimensions as the standard burnable absorber rods. We have neutronic
characteristics that are similar. It's just that we use the lithium
illuminate for absorber instead of the boron 10.
We also want to minimize the impact on reactor operations.
We used an upper end plug that had standard Westinghouse threads, so
that they made it readily to their standard end plugs for insertion into
the fuel assemblies.
Then obviously our goal is to produce and retain tritium,
and we accomplish that through the unique design features of the TPBAR.
The TPBAR is a series of concentric circles, for lack of a better
description, and our second innermost circle is our lithium illuminate
pellets. They're solid -- they're annular pellets. And as the tritium
is production according to the reactions that Rick showed you a few
viewgraphs back, it diffuses out of the lithium illuminate and as it is
released in an oxide form, we have a nice hot metal surface here with
what we call our liners, zircaloy liner, for cracking that form of the
tritium so that we have molecular tritium. And then the liner also
provides structural support and prevents shifting of materials during
radiation and handling.
The molecular tritium diffuses through the nickel plating.
The nickel plating is on our getter only to prevent with surface from
getting oxidized and inhibiting continued gettering --
DR. WALLIS: So the tritium oxidizes, it steals oxygen from
the illuminate; is that --
MS. THORNHILL: That is the primary release mechanism.
DR. WALLIS: There's quite a lot of potential chemistry.
DR. SEALE: Yes, sir.
MS. THORNHILL: The primary release that we've seen is
either T2O or THO, okay? And so this surface gets oxidized to give us
the molecular tritium, diffuses through the nickel plating and then is
captured as a solid metal tritide on the zircaloy material that's under
the nickel plating.
Then in order to preclude any tritium leaking into the
coolant, we use a 316 stainless steel cladding that has a barrier on the
inside diameter, an aluminide barrier, and the combination of
maintaining a very low tritium partial pressure by the very effective
action of this getter and this aluminide coating prevents permeation of
the tritium into the coolant. The barrier also performs the secondary
function of preventing hydrogen from diffusing, permeating through the
stainless steel and competing with the tritium for the available
gettering capacity of our getter.
DR. POWERS: When you say an aluminide coat, is that a
nickel aluminide or --
MS. THORNHILL: It's aluminide.
DR. POWERS: It's aluminide. Aluminide means there's got to
be something else there.
MS. THORNHILL: That's our classified component.
MS. THORNHILL: That is our classified component, this is
our classified component. We can tell you a lot about the pellets.
DR. POWERS: Unfortunately, that's not where the
compatibility problem lies.
MS. THORNHILL: I know.
Final viewgraph next, please.
I know many of you were introduced to the TPBAR during the
LTA process. We did make a few design changes.
To facilitate core design with a full complement of TPBARs,
our current designer friends at Westinghouse asked us to come up with a
partial length absorber column.
We have -- our components, the getter, the pellet, the
liner, are fabricated as what we call pencils in basically twelve-inch
lengths, and then they're stacked inside of the cladding.
For the LTA, we had twelve of those pencils. For the
production design and the production topical report, we took one of
those pencils and made it essentially a spacer pencil so that we could
accommodate the partial length. But our goals for tritium production
didn't change. We still had a design maximum goal. And that, for
several other reasons, we increased the lithium enrichment slightly to
achieve production objectives.
Then finally, we modified the end plug weld merely based on
our lessons learned from fabricating the LTA to facilitate future
automated welding of TPBARs.
Now Mike Travis is going to introduce us to some of the key
DR. POWERS: Can you tell me some about the microstructure
on the lithium illuminate?
MS. THORNHILL: Microstructure on lithium illuminate?
MR. TRAVIS: What are you looking for? It's a ceramic -- my
name is Michael Travis. I'm a manager of the program at Westinghouse
DR. POWERS: Grain size, inner-granular porosity, things
MR. TRAVIS: Bruce, why don't you --
MR. REED: Hello. My name is Bruce Reed, target design at
We have a -- the theoretical density is greater than 94
percent in the lithium illuminate, so there really is very little open
porosity in the pellet material. It's closed porosity.
DR. KRESS: Is it centered?
MR. REED: Yes.
DR. POWERS: What kind of grain sizes do you achieve?
MR. REED: I guess I'd have to get back to you with a
response on that. I don't recall off the top of my head.
DR. POWERS: Thank you.
MR. TRAVIS: Okay. You asked about the -- before I begin --
about the rod injection accident, whether it was analyzed. It is
analyzed, it's in the report, section -- on page 2-330. In the
unclassified version, there's a lengthy --
DR. POWERS: I just didn't find it. That was not to say it
wasn't there; I just -- I'm probably running out of gas around --
MR. TRAVIS: Okay. As I mentioned before, I'm manager of
the program at Westinghouse Electric to generate the topical report, and
I'm presenting work that was done by others, so bear with me here.
The first discussion is the loss of coolant accident
analyses. It was performed with a code that was called LOCTAJR. It was
a modification of a code to add a one-dimensional model to analyze the
heat transfer in and out of the TPBAR which sit in the guide thimbles.
The assumptions that were made was that there were
negligible flow during a LOCA accident through the thimble -- guide
thimble, too, that there was a zirc water reaction on EOD of the surface
but none on the inside. And we were looking for maximizing the
temperatures of the TPBARs to see what would happen there.
We used post-LOCA heat transfer, heat generation in the
TPBARs, and we used the regular LOCA temperatures, either the
small-break LOCA or the large-break LOCA, as input to LOCTAJR in order
to get those temperatures.
The small break LOCA was our standard analysis of record, is
the input, and I think you will recognize some of these codes, the
NOTRUMP and SBLOCA codes. The large-break LOCA was the same way. It
uses the SATAN/BASH/LOCBART code input. And the methodology could be
adapted to our Westinghouse best-estimate LOCA analysis methodology that
we have available.
We find that the TPBAR cladding tracked the adjacent fuel
rod cladding. It lagged a little bit behind the adjacent fuel. For the
small-break LOCA, we did not predict that cladding would burst in the
TPBAR. The temperatures were sufficiently low.
We considered the effects of blockage and swelling of the
TPBARs, but we determined that the presence of the TPBARs had no effect
on adjacent fuel for the small-break LOCA.
DR. POWERS: Did you get an inner-metallic reaction between
the nickel getter and the zirconium?
MR. TRAVIS: The temperatures during the small-break LOCA
were too low to get there, but the large-break LOCA temperatures were
We did get -- again, we found for the large-break LOCA that
TPBAR tracked the adjacent fuel rod cladding temperature. The potential
burst effects were negligible because we did predict the TPBAR would
fail. But we also were predicting that the adjacent fuel would also
have failed during this event prior to the failure of the TPBARs.
You asked about inner-metallic reactions. We generated a
fairly significant report on that issue that is classified and I can't
talk about here. We summarized it in the classified version of the
topical report. It's on section 3.7, 3.8. But basically, we found in
summary that the energetics from the inner-metallic reactions were
sufficiently small that they did not need to be considered in the loss
of coolant accident.
A summary here was that the presence of the TPBARs had an
insignificant effect on the adjacent fuel.
I'm going to move on to the vessel integrity. Again, this
was done by others, analysis of the vessel integrity was done at the
Energy Center. We found a one percent increase in the vessel fluence
due to the fact that we had a higher leakage core. Rick described the
core design, he was trying to maximize the tritium production.
Consequently to get those -- the power in the periphery of the core to
make some tritium out there, he had to increase the fluence out there.
For the plant, the reference plant, we found all to be well
with the vessel fluence. There was no impact. But the second bullet up
here is cautionary, that there may be an impact if you pick a plant with
a -- it's close to their screening criteria, the PTS screening criteria,
if it's operating with little margin during heat up and cool down, if
the plant's on the border of upper shelf energy or if there's high
nickel cooper content in the beltline materials.
DR. KRESS: Watts Bar has none of them.
MR. TRAVIS: Watts bar has cooper. Pardon me?
DR. KRESS: But it's not near the screening criteria for
upper shelf or -- it hasn't operated very long.
MR. TRAVIS: But you have to project out to its design
lifetime, and that's an issue that will need to be addressed in the
license amendment for Watts Bar.
DR. KRESS: Oh, so you're projecting these all the way to
the end of life.
MR. TRAVIS: Right. Oh, yes. Yes. Currently, today,
there's not an issue, but what we're saying is to get to the, you know,
40-year lifetime of the plants, you're going to have to address these
along the way.
MR. ANKNEY: There are ways to design the core to reduce
leakage so that this isn't an issue.
MR. TRAVIS: Yes.
DR. MILLER: That would be the same way we've done it in the
MR. ANKNEY: Low leakage loading patterns.
MR. TRAVIS: Right.
DR. UHRIG: You say there's cooper in the Watts Bar vessel?
MR. TRAVIS: Yes, there is some concern with the cooper in
the welds, the beltline material in Watts Bar. And that will have to be
addressed in the license amendment.
I'm going to -- the next presenter is Jim Sejvar.
MR. SEJVAR: Okay. I was involved in the -- looking at the
radiological consequences and impacts on the reference plant with use of
TPBARs. We looked at it from both the standpoint of normal plant
operation as well as accident scenarios.
As was mentioned earlier, the purpose or the things are
designed to maintain -- retain the tritium, but to be prudent, we did
assume this design permeation release of one curie per year for average
DR. WALLIS: Now, is that -- that's an assumption. It must
be based on something.
MR. SEJVAR: It was provided to us by PNNL.
DR. WALLIS: It's based on some evidence, some data or
DR. SEALE: I think that was the model I was asking about
and it's classified.
MR. SEJVAR: That's exactly right, and --
DR. WALLIS: So it was not just picked out of the air.
MR. SEJVAR: No, no. It was supplied to us by people that
know. I frankly don't know the permeation rate.
DR. WALLIS: So it's a best estimate rather than an
assumption, you're saying?
MR. TRAVIS: Excuse me. The model that predicts the tritium
permeation leakage is classified and the number is classified.
DR. WALLIS: I just want to know it's got a good pedigree
and it's not just picked out of the air.
MR. TRAVIS: No. No. It's been very, very well
investigated in much depth.
DR. WALLIS: It's not classified because it's wrong; it's
classified for other reasons.
MR. TRAVIS: No. No.
DR. KRESS: His other question was, this one curie per year,
is that a best estimate or is it a conservative value that's well above
the model prediction?
MR. TRAVIS: No comment.
MR. SEJVAR: The other assumption that we made was failure
of two TPBARs with that inventory release fuel coolant as sort of a
DR. KRESS: Let me ask you about the first bullet. The only
change you calculate would be the effect on the inventory of the
different enrichment. That's the only effect these bars have?
MR. SEJVAR: Yes. We evaluated all the source terms, our
design basis source terms of fission products and coolants, so it's a --
there are some changes in the enrichments and burnups, so that affects
the source terms that we would normally design to, but the changes are
The other --
DR. KRESS: The title of this is normal plant operations.
This doesn't count accidents; this is just normal operations.
MR. SEJVAR: The last slide addresses accident scenarios.
So we did, in fact, calculate -- recalculate the accident
source terms through the fission products based on the differences in
the core designs as well as the additional tritium load, and that's what
we're talking about here. As far as the additional tritium load,
because there is tritium generated in the plants today, we took these
two sets of assumptions, this one as being sort of a design basis, as we
do with one percent defective fuel, and the other is as an abnormal
DR. FONTANA: You picked two bars as failure because if you
fail one, you'll probably shut the plant down?
MR. SEJVAR: No.
DR. FONTANA: No. You just picked it.
MR. SEJVAR: Again, that was an input to me, and I think it
was based on --
MR. TRAVIS: Excuse me, Jim. We picked two failures and
it's documented in the topical report in section 2 -- I'm sorry -- 3.7.
But we looked at the statistics for failures of the Westinghouse
burnable absorber assemblies, burnable absorber pins, and we concluded
that the most likely prediction was one, but we decided that wasn't
fair, so we used 2 in the report in order to cover it. But the number
of failures in burnable absorber rods is extremely low.
DR. KRESS: This is failures under normal operation.
MR. TRAVIS: Any -- yes, mostly normal operation, but, yes,
any plant operation.
DR. KRESS: When the tritium gets into the water, it pretty
much stays there, doesn't it?
MR. SEJVAR: Right.
MR. TRAVIS: Well, yes, except Jim will tell you what he's
going to do with that here in a minute.
DR. KRESS: Oh, okay.
MR. SEJVAR: Okay. So based on these assumptions, we looked
at various waste management aspects of this additional load with the
premise that we have tritium in our current reactors to the tune of
about 900 curies per year. Experience has shown, especially with Maine
Yankee, they had stainless cladding, that this can build up and impact
your plant operation because of an increased exposure due to the tritium
to the plant workers, and the practice has been is dilution and
discharge. You have to dilute to reduce the boron anyhow, so there is
an enhanced discharge and dilution. So long as you're well below the
limiting concentrations, that that's a reasonable and practical way of
managing the problem.
In terms of the impact, we'll talk about that in a minute.
There's additional surveillance required. There is an additional solid
waste inventory of about one resin bed that estimated could impact the
plant in that regard.
DR. KRESS: Did you evaluate a potential steam generator
tube rupture accident with that 20,000 curies?
MR. SEJVAR: That's addressed in chapter 15 or the accident
analysis stuff, right.
DR. POWERS: If we have two TPBAR failures per core, that
represents, what, six times ten to the minus four, the error
probability? Am I right on that? Human error rates are -- it must be a
very good quality control process associated with these.
MR. SEJVAR: Again, the error probability -- you're talking
about basically a basis for the two --
DR. POWERS: Yes.
MR. SEJVAR: -- ruptured rods, and I think it's based on --
DR. POWERS: I mean, you've used as a comparison existing
burnable rods, which I presume there's a great deal of experience in
manufacturing. This is a new thing, and so you're counting on an
equivalent failure rate -- seems to me that's not quite reasonable.
MR. TRAVIS: I would like to disagree. We went -- the
failure rate for our commercial burnable absorber rods is based on
infant mortality from the very early days, and we only saw two burnable
absorber rods fail out of all the ones we built. So it's not -- it's
consistent with the Westinghouse experience with burnable absorbers.
DR. POWERS: Yes, but what I'm asking is that you have a
brand new manufacturing process that we were told just minutes ago was
-- you're putting out a request for proposal. A new manufacturer is
going to do this thing. You really think that his rate is going to be
the same as the error rate that we have with something that we've built
literally thousands of?
MR. TRAVIS: Well, I can't speak for other manufacturers. I
can speak for Westinghouse. If we built them, we believe that they'll
have that failure rate.
MR. CLAUSEN: At this point, our request for proposal
process is still immature, but we are requiring that the folks who
qualify to bid already have in place experience in fabricating similar
components and a 10 CFR Appendix B program. So we're not anticipating
that anybody would be qualified for an award who would not already have
that kind of experience, and I suspect that in their advertising, they
would come along with the same story that Mr. Travis just gave us.
DR. POWERS: I'm sure that they will be enthusiastic about
their capabilities. I'm a little more interested in what the reality
will turn out to be.
MR. SEJVAR: Okay. So with dilution and discharge is a
method of control for the buildup of the tritium. There's going to be
some increased number of batch releases because each release is
monitored before it's released, so there's an increase sample frequency.
Those are basically the major impacts on the plant
operation. There's facilities in place and the labs have to monitor
tritium -- for tritium currently, so this is -- there's more of an
additional load on that operation, operational aspect.
Experience has shown, as I mentioned earlier, that if you
run around two to four microcuries per gram in the coolant, you
generally get into controls of the concentration just to avoid worker
over-exposure or additional exposure and reduce worker efficiency
because of additional protective measures that you must impose on the
workers, like plastics and respirators and SCBA gear.
So given that, we looked at the impact of reducing or of
discharging with additional tritium via the plant effluent pathways, and
even with this failure of two TPBAR, which amounts to about 20,000
curies, we see that it's a relatively small increase in the off-site
doses. In fact, less than ten percent of the off-site dose calculation
manual and plant tech spec limits, which are about three millirem per
year for liquid pathways.
In fact, with the one curie per year design value, this went
from a nominal one percent of the total off-site dose to about two
percent, so it's a small contributor basically to the off-site dose
In terms of airborne limits, the tritium ties up with -- as
tritiated water, so there's a relatively small impact or much, much less
of an impact on the airborne effluent pathway.
DR. POWERS: Explain that to me just a little bit. The
tritium ties up with water which makes it more hazardous, and that
reduces its airborne, or is it because the tritium ties up with water,
there's just less of it in the atmosphere?
MR. SEJVAR: Yes. What I was -- since tritium exists
primarily as tritiated water, the only airborne effluence as opposed to
a noble gas release would be --
DR. POWERS: So you're saying that it's just lower
concentration, so it contributes less.
MR. SEJVAR: That's right. And even though it's a
twelve-year half-life, it has a twelve-day biological half-life, and so
it's probably one of the more less hazardous isotopes that we have in
DR. FONTANA: Going back to your previous slide, would
failure of one of the rods exceed that two to four microcuries per gram
tritium concentration? The second bullet, first sub-bullet. Right
MR. SEJVAR: If you had a failure, instantaneous failure --
if you had a failure of two rods, and we address this in the report, if
you had this burst or influx of 20,000 curies into the reactor coolant
system, yes, indeed, it would go up to like 90 microcuries per gram.
On the other hand, you could -- if you had the capacity and
the ability to dilute and discharge that, you could dilute and discharge
it in a couple of days without exceeding the limit.
DR. WALLIS: You would need quite a lot of water to dilute,
MR. SEJVAR: Well, the coolant volume is about 60-, 70,000
gallons, so -- and you need a feed process to do that.
DR. WALLIS: And this would have to be treated water and all
that, so it wouldn't just be any old water.
MR. SEJVAR: Just non-tritiated water, basically.
DR. WALLIS: It would also be treated so it could go through
the primary circuit.
MR. SEJVAR: Right.
In terms of accident scenarios that we're analyzing, and
this includes basically all the accidents in chapter 15, the only
accident having a substantial release of tritium to the environment was
a large-break LOCA. There is no significant off-site thyroid or
whole-body dose impact.
The only major concern we came up with this particular
reference in this case that the discussion on bounding applies I guess
because that particular plant had a high leak rate of recirculating sump
water going through our auxiliary building to the tune of like one GMP
versus -- or actually it's two GPM versus most plants, which are about a
gallon per hour. So consequently, this gave us a high dose in the
control room from the tritium from a thyroid dose.
In terms of other impacts on accident situations, the
equipment qualification dose, in that case, it's mostly a small impact
because of the lower burnups.
We looked at the hydrogen buildup inside of containment
after an accident and we took into account the zirc water reaction from
the zirc that's included in TPBAR design, and as well as assuming that
all of the inventory in all the TPBARs existed as hydrogen gas, which is
very conservative, and that gave us about 600 standard cubic feet of
additional hydrogen inventory in the containment atmosphere after an
accident, and if you look at the Reg Guide 1.7 limit of four percent,
four volume percent, that amounts to about .6 percent of the total
hydrogen volume that equates to that concentration.
So I guess my conclusions are that the increased discharges
allow the exposure and ALARA goals to be met in the current plants. The
current plants currently discharge tritium and maintain it at about one
or two microcuries per gram. Continuation of this practice can exist
without a major impact on the operation, primarily in the sampling and
discharge frequency, and the accident dose impact is primarily impact on
the control room dose, and this is -- this is primarily due to the
assumption that this particular reference plant has in the high number
of -- the high number associated with the sump leakage into the primary
DR. WALLIS: It doesn't say anything about the increase in
the spent fuel pool temperature. Is someone going to address that?
MR. SEJVAR: I haven't addressed that myself, and --
MR. TRAVIS: We hadn't planned to talk about that, but if
you want, if you have a specific question, we'll try to answer it.
DR. WALLIS: It just seems to be fairly large, and so I made
a note of it and thought I would ask the question about it.
MR. TRAVIS: Yes. Well, the reason it went up was because
there was -- we were discharging a lot of fuel during each cycle. It
wasn't the TPBARs because they're --
DR. WALLIS: Right. It was just the cycle was shorter.
MR. TRAVIS: Right. It wasn't a shorter cycle; it was just
so many more fuel assemblies.
MR. SEJVAR: We're feeding 140 assemblies, so -- every
cycle, so you're discharging --
DR. WALLIS: Right.
MR. SEJVAR: -- that many.
DR. WALLIS: So you were putting a larger load on the fuel
coolant system and so on and so forth, and presumably the consequences
of that were examined?
MR. TRAVIS: Right. Yes. And the temperatures were
whatever they worked out to be with the heat load.
MR. SEJVAR: Okay. I guess it's -- Sandra Andre is going to
talk about the conclusions here.
DR. SEALE: Ms. Andre, I'm not going to criticize the
speakers because I think we've all been very interested and so on, but I
will point out to everyone that we're beginning to chew into our time
and I think we should all bear that in mind.
MS. ANDRE: Okay. Just a point on the spent fuel pool,
we're not really talking about it here because it's a very
Is this on? Okay.
The spent fuel pool is so very plant-specific that it's
really being left for the LAR and it'll have to be addressed there, and
in the interest of time, we're going to kind of skip over the FMEA
discussion. Suffice it to say that we did do a fairly detailed failure
modes and effects analysis to support our conclusions here, and Max, you
can just skip to the significant hazards.
Two major things in our conclusions section -- one was our
significant hazards consideration, and the second was table 4.1, which
was sort of a road map for the plant-specific LARs.
The first question in the significant hazards was the
probability of a previously evaluated accident and in all the safety
analysis and evaluations in the report support our conclusion that there
is nothing that is going to increase the probability of any initiators
to any of the accidents.
DR. POWERS: I haven't looked at the particular FSAR for
this representative plant that you've selected or bounding plant that
you've selected, but FSARs typically don't have elaborate analyses of
the probability --
MS. ANDRE: That's right.
DR. POWERS: -- of accidents. And so now, you've gone
through and evaluated the probabilities of those accidents?
MS. ANDRE: We did not do a quantitative probability
DR. POWERS: And so how is it you know that it's no
significant increase in the probability?
MS. ANDRE: We've looked at the various systems and
components which could -- which are initiators for the accidents, and we
-- the evaluations in the report show that there -- none of these
components and systems are really impacted by the presence of the TPBAR
bars; therefore, we made this qualitative conclusion on probability.
DR. WALLIS: You have increased security? It would seem to
me if there's publicity about this plant and its function, it might be
more attractive to certain --
DR. POWERS: Or that would decrease the amount of
maintenance because it's more difficult to do.
DR. WALLIS: There are a few other consequences besides the
MS. ANDRE: Yes. We were --
DR. WALLIS: And presumably that's been looked as well?
MS. ANDRE: We didn't address security in this report. I
presume that will be done elsewhere on a plant-specific basis.
DR. WALLIS: It might involve greater cost or greater
MS. ANDRE: Uh-huh.
On the second part of that question, on the consequences, as
Jim explained, we did look at the radiological consequences of the
accidents. We found no adverse impact on the off-site thyroid, a slight
increase on the off-site whole body doses due to the core loading
patterns, and the control room dose increases, which we think can be
maintained with a more typical recirculation leakage.
Okay. And does it create the possibility of a new or
different kind of accident? We looked at what are the differences from
our normal burnable poison rods to the TPBAR. The first is that the
TPBAR obviously contain some materials which aren't in the burnable
We developed a matrix of materials and their potential
interactions, which is in the classified topical report and is
supported, as Mike indicated, by a GRBE report, which is also
Another different is the helium 3 buildup during shutdown,
and as Rick discussed, we evaluated that scenario and found it to be
benign as far as safety analysis goes.
Another different is the TPBAR have to be removed from the
assembly, packaged and shipped, but that activity is outside of the
scope of this report, so it's not addressed here.
In those first few slides that we skipped over, we did the
failure modes and effects analysis and we did find five potential
failure modes which could impact the ability of the TPBAR to perform
their safety function. All of those basically involve multiple failures
of misloading assemblies or misloading pencils, and they're all
mitigated by administrative controls and they are detectable by our
normal tech spec surveillances.
We concluded that the TPBARs don't alter any of the sequence
of any of the accidents that we look at.
DR. SEALE: You made the comment earlier that you don't
consider the things associated with the disassembly of the --
MS. ANDRE: Right.
DR. SEALE: -- elements or something, but I would have to
say, until you get out of site, if you will, or remote, that at some
point, you're going to have to talk about the interaction of that
process with the emergency planning process at least --
MS. ANDRE: Right.
DR. SEALE: -- for the plant site, and I recognize that's
probably down the road.
MS. ANDRE: Right.
MR. CLAUSEN: I believe that that's clearly in the plan for
what we intend to look at when we do the license amendment preparation.
DR. SEALE: I understand.
MS. ANDRE: And finally, doesn't involve a significant
reduction in margin of safety. And based on Rick's presentation that
most of the key safety analysis parameters are within the normal bounds
with the exception of the negative Doppler, which he talked about, and
the safety analysis results in the report have shown that those -- that
they are virtually unaffected.
As I said, table 4.1 provides a road map for a
plant-specific license application, and we determined that most of the
items or many of the items can -- will only require a confirming check
to show that the input assumptions haven't changed design -- or input
parameters haven't really changed.
There are some identified as requiring a plant-specific
analysis. Obviously the core design spent fuel pool, some of those type
things are identified in there.
With that, we'll turn it over to Jim Wilson.
MR. WILSON: It's quite obvious from the preparation -- the
presentations we've had this morning that our colleagues at DOE and
National Lab have been very busy over the past few years. NRC staff has
been looking at this tritium production proposal since late 1995. We
entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Energy
in the spring of 1996, and we committed to provide review and
consultation with respect to DOE's program for the commercial lightwater
production of tritium.
We acknowledged in the MOU that there were issues associated
with the civilian commercial reactors for purposes associated with the
weapons program, and we clearly demarcated a line between our
responsibilities to do a safety review to make sure that this could be
done safely and the policy issues were left to DOE to pound through the
legislative wickets and to get approval for the program.
In October of '96, staff laid out its proposed process for
reviewing DOE's program. We anticipated, indeed they did submit a
topical report which we then reviewed, evaluated, and issued as a NUREG,
NUREG 1607, in May of '97. DOE this last August submitted a production
topical report as prepared by Westinghouse. Now the staff has been
reviewing that submittal and has prepared a safety evaluation that we're
going to be transmitting to the Commission next week.
We provided an early copy. In fact, it was so preliminary
it had not been sent through the technical editor, hadn't received OGC
review. We stamped "draft" at the top and bottom of every page to make
sure that you realized this was not the staff's normal finished product.
So that's what you had before you.
Yesterday, I met with the subcommittee chairman and provided
him with a more up to date copy that was current as of about noon
yesterday, and we expect to have a final version ready early next week,
and then it will go up to the Commission as a negative consent, which
means that we expect to issue it by about the end of the month.
In the December 10th SRM, the staff received approval from
the Commission to implement its proposed review program that I have just
outlined. It additionally provided for a series of public meetings to
allow the public to become informed and to provide comments.
We've had two of those series, a first one back in February
of '97. It was a programmatic public meeting. The second meeting was
at Watts Bar in the summer of '97 immediately preceding the insertion of
the LTAs into the core at Watts Bar.
A third series of meetings is going to be held at any
particular host facility -- in this case, Watts Bar and Sequoyah --
prior to putting those -- the TPC into the core and beginning
irradiation. We expect that would happen sometime in 2002, maybe early
Westinghouse has -- and the National Lab have described the
topical report to you in some detail. This briefly runs through the
staff's interaction with the topical report. As you can see, it was
submitted last summer, we reviewed it this fall and submitted RAIs,
which DOE responded to.
Fairly recently, about a month ago, DOE submitted Rev 1 to
the topical report. It revised the topical report to respond to the
staff's RAIs and produce additional information the staff needed in its
review. Copies were provided to the ACRS in mid February. And the
staff has been reviewing the topical report since you said the reactor
-- Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards a preliminary draft which
you've been reviewing.
As I said before, the SER is in final NRR and OGC
concurrence. We expect it to go to EDO later today and to the
Commission next Monday.
We're not requesting that ACRS issue a letter on this. You
all will get an opportunity to look at this, the actual implementation
of the tritium program at the reactor facilities when they come in for
their license amendments.
We plan to issue the SER at the end of the month as a NUREG,
NUREG 1640. Section 5 of that NUREG summarizes the staff's conclusions.
The staff was able to conclude that many technical issues related to the
use of TPBARs and commercial lightwater reactors have been
satisfactorily addressed in the topical report, and it was a document
that was suitable for referencing by individual plant licensees.
The staff identified several -- this is on the order of
about 16 -- plant-specific interface issues for which a licensee will
have to provide additional information and analyses in support of a
plant-specific amendment to the facility operating license for
authorization to operate a TPC.
We also identified or confirmed the areas that Westinghouse
identified where we would need a handful -- on the order of four -- tech
spec changes to support the license amendment.
DR. MILLER: A question on your second bullet. If indeed
this goes to either Sequoyah or Watts Bar, are those issues virtually
the same, then, the issues you point out that are plant-specific?
MR. WILSON: The issues are very plant-specific. Some of
them have to do with containment design, which is the same for both
plants. They're small ice condenser plants. Others are plant-specific
with regard to EP procedures and the spent fuel handling area.
I'm not very familiar with the extent to which the two
plants would require different analyses for the different auxiliary
systems that were identified as interface issues. Maybe one of the TVA
representatives could address that. We would expect to see it as part
of the license amendment package. It would have to be complete for each
plant, and to the extent that the staff could take advantage of the
design similarities, I suppose they would achieve some efficiency that
way. But individual packages will have to stand on their own outside of
the topical report.
The last two pages are just summarizing key dates, and
they've been alluded to before. I don't have any further -- anything
DR. SEALE: Any questions?
DR. SEALE: I want to express our appreciation to both the
DOE and NRC and Westinghouse -- yes, sir?
MR. SOHINKI: Yes, Dr. Seale. There was one point I thought
might be worth making because I think we may have left some people with
a misimpression with respect to the number of assemblies --
DR. SEALE: Yes.
MR. SOHINK: -- in the core.
Obviously Westinghouse analyzed a conservative case in which
you would have a substantial --
DR. SEALE: Sure.
MR. SOHINK: -- number of additional assemblies in a reload
beyond what you would usually have. Our normal mode of operation,
tentative mode of operation given the requirements for tritium at the
current time, and even projected future requirements, would be that you
would never have to have additional fuel assemblies in a reload beyond
what you would normally see. That's dictated by the number of rods you
use in a core, and if you fully pack the core, you would have a
substantial amount of additional assemblies. But we don't intend to
ever have to do that.
DR. SEALE: Those are questions certainly that we'll
probably want to look into in more detail when we talk about a specific
The other comment I would make is that the Commission and
its staff as a whole are in the midst of a migratory process toward
risk-informed regulation, and we've never gone through an application
for a license modification of this magnitude in the environment of a
more risk-informed regulatory process.
Whether or not that will require a difference in approach is
something we ought to be sensitive to. It may be that the Commissioners
may want to make some overall judgment on whether or not that's
necessary. We don't know. But I think it's important that the
applicant -- there you go -- and the staff continue to negotiate and to
try to flesh that issue out so that there are no unpleasant surprises
for anyone as we get closer to the time when an actual application will
Just a personal warning of where I might see a bump in the
road or two.
Does any one of my colleagues have any further comments to
DR. SEALE: Hearing none, Mr. Chairman, I'll turn it back to
DR. POWERS: Thank you again. It's always very informative
presentations that both the staff and DOE have put together here, and
documentation is voluminous. Now we learn we have to plow through the
classified report as well, and we probably will.
With that, I will recess until one o'clock.
[Whereupon, the reported session of the meeting was
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