EA-03-155 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research Reactor

October 31, 2003


Dr. John A. Bernard, Jr
Director of Reactor Operations
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Reactor
138 Albany Street
Cambridge, MA 02139


Dear Dr. Bernard:

This letter refers to the reactive inspection conducted on July 16-17, 2003, at your MIT Research Reactor facility. The inspection consisted of a review of the circumstances and corrective actions for an occurrence involving an inattentive reactor operator reported to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on June 30, 2003. The enclosed report presents the results of the inspection.

Areas examined during the inspection are identified in the report. Within these areas, the inspection consisted of selective examinations of procedures and representative records, interviews with personnel, and observations of activities in progress. No safety concerns were identified during the inspection.

However, the NRC determined that a violation of NRC requirements was identified during the inspection. The violation is cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report. In a drop-in meeting at MIT on August 28, 2003, and re-confirmed in a phone conversation on October 14, 2003, between yourself and Mr. Patrick Madden of the NRC, MIT declined the opportunity to conduct a pre-decisional enforcement conference on this matter.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $5,500 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has not been the subject of enforcement actions within the last two years, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Due to your self-identification with prompt notification and corrective actions, the NRC determined that Corrective Action credit is warranted. Therefore, to continue to encourage prompt reporting and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty. The NRC also includes Issued Significant Enforcement Actions on its Web site.

You are required to respond within 30 days from the date of this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. The NRC will use your response, in part, to determine whether further enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter and its enclosure will be available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the Publicly Available Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS). ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at the Public NRC Library.

Should you have any questions concerning this inspection, please contact Mr. Thomas Dragoun at 610-337-5373.

    David B. Matthews, Director
Division of Regulatory Improvement Programs
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

Docket No. 50-20
License No. R-37

Notice of Violation
NRC Inspection Report No. 50-20/2003-203

cc w/enclosures:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Docket No. 50-20


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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT Research Reactor
Docket No. 50-20
License No. R-37

During an NRC inspection conducted on July 16-17, 2003, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions", NUREG-1600, the violation is listed below:

Technical Specification 7.2.1(a) states, in part, "When the reactor is not shut down the minimum crew complement ...shall be two licensed operators...one of which shall be in the control room."

10 CFR 50.54(k) requires "An operator or senior operator licensed pursuant to part 55 of this chapter shall be present at the controls at all times during the operation of the facility."

Contrary to the above, on June 29, 2003, from approximately 6:15 am to 6:45 am (30 minutes), the reactor control operator was sleeping and therefore not "present" at the controls when the reactor was not shut down.

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement 1 - Reactor Operations).

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, DC 20555, with a copy to the Research and Test Reactors Section Chief and a copy to the NRC Inspector for the facility that is the subject of this Notice, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation; EA-03-155" and should include for the violation: (1) the reason for the violation, or, if contested, the basis for disputing the violation or severity level, (2) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (3) the corrective steps that will be taken to avoid further violations, and (4) the date when full compliance will be achieved. Your response may reference or include previously docketed correspondence, if the correspondence adequately addresses the required response. If an adequate reply is not received within the time specified in this Notice, an order or a Demand for Information may be issued as to why the license should not be modified, suspended, or revoked, or why such other action as may be proper should not be taken. Where good cause is shown, consideration will be given to extending the response time.

If you contest this enforcement action, you should also provide a copy of your response, with the basis for your denial, to the Director, Office of Enforcement, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Because your response will be made available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the NRC's document system (ADAMS), which is accessible from the NRC Web site at the Public NRC Library. To the extent possible, it should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be made available to the public without redaction. If personal privacy or proprietary information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, then please provide a bracketed copy of your response that identifies the information that should be protected and a redacted copy of your response that deletes such information. If you request withholding of such material, you must specifically identify the portions of your response that you seek to have withheld and provide in detail the bases for your claim of withholding (e.g., explain why the disclosure of information will create an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy or provide the information required by 10 CFR 2.790(b) to support a request for withholding confidential commercial or financial information). If safeguards information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, please provide the level of protection described in 10 CFR 73.21.

Dated this 31st day of October 2003

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