United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-04-139 - Seabrook (FPL Energy Seabrook, LLC)

December 2, 2004

EA-04-139

Mr. Mark E. Warner
Site Vice President
c/o Mr. James M. Peschel
FPL Energy Seabrook, LLC
Seabrook Station
P.O. Box 300
Seabrook, NH 03874

SUBJECT: EXERCISE OF ENFORCEMENT DISCRETION SEABROOK STATION
(NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05000443/2004003)

Dear Mr. Warner:

The purpose of this letter is to provide you with the NRC's enforcement decision for an apparent violation that was identified during an inspection completed at Seabrook on June 30, 2004. The results of the inspection were discussed with you and other members of your staff during an exit meeting on July 22, 2004, and documented in NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05000443/2004003.

The apparent violation involved a failure to properly implement 10 CFR 50.59, "Changes, Tests, and Experiments." Specifically, a change was made to the Seabrook facility in 1997 when it was discovered that turbine building flood diversion devices (scuppers) had never been installed in the plant as described in the Seabrook Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR). The NRC considered that the 1997 change was a violation of the "old" 10 CFR 50.59 rule because the change involved an increase in the frequency of occurrence and the consequences of an accident previously evaluated in the FSAR. In addition, based on a preliminary risk assessment by the NRC, the NRC concluded that the change involved more than a minimal increase in risk under the "new" 10 CFR 50.59 rule, which became effective on October 4, 1999, as amended on December 14, 2001. Therefore, NRC approval was needed prior to the design change under either the "old" or "new" 10 CFR 50.59 rule.

In our letter dated July 30, 2004, the NRC transmitted the referenced inspection report and informed you that before we made our enforcement decision, we were providing you an opportunity to either respond to the apparent violation or request a predecisional enforcement conference. At your request, a predecisional enforcement conference was held on September 23, 2004, to further discuss your views on this issue. A copy of the handout you provided at the conference has been recorded in ADAMS under accession number ML043230504. During the conference, your staff discussed your root cause evaluation, extent of condition review, risk evaluation and corrective actions. These actions included improved procedural guidance for Turbine Building flooding, enhanced operator training, and additional reviews to ensure other 10 CFR 50.59 evaluations were adequately completed. In addition, you agreed that an error was made in 1997, because under the "old" 10 CFR 50.59 rule in effect at the time, NRC approval to change the turbine building design should have been requested. However, you contended that under the "new" 10 CFR 50.59 rule, the design change could be implemented without prior NRC approval because there was not more than a minimal increase in risk due to the design change. Based on questions by the NRC during the conference, you agreed to provide additional information concerning operator actions and operating experience. You provided the additional information to us in a letter dated October 8, 2004, a copy of which has been recorded in ADAMS under accession number ML043230440.

Based on our evaluation of the inspection findings, including the additional information you provided at the predecisional enforcement conference and the information in your letter dated October 8, 2004, the NRC has concluded that the change to Seabrook's design in 1997 involved an increase in the frequency of occurrence and the consequences of an accident previously evaluated in the FSAR. Therefore, since NRC approval was required but not sought, a potential Severity Level III violation of the "old" 10 CFR 50.59 rule was considered. However, based on our evaluation of its significance, which is described in the enclosure, the NRC now agrees that the change did not result in a more than minimal increase in risk. Therefore, NRC approval would not have been required under the "new" 10 CFR 50.59 rule. Accordingly, even though this issue was clearly a violation of the "old" 10 CFR 50.59 rule, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement and the Region I Administrator, to exercise enforcement discretion in accordance with Section VII.B.6 of the Enforcement Policy and refrain from issuing enforcement action for the violation. In making this determination, the NRC considered the fact that even though this issue was a violation of the "old" 10 CFR 50.59 rule, it would not have been a violation of the "new" 10 CFR 50.59 rule.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.390 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosure, and your response will be made 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. (Note: Public access to ADAMS has been temporarily suspended so that security reviews of publicly available documents may be performed and potentially sensitive information removed. Please check the NRC website for updates on the resumption of ADAMS access.)

    Sincerely,
    /RA/
    A. Randolph Blough, Director
Division of Reactor Projects
Region I

Docket No. 50-443
License No. NPF-86

Enclosure: Significance Evaluation

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