Morning Report for September 5, 2003

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Additional Uranium Fuel Pellets Found in Scrap Zirconium Tubes Shipped to Recycling Facility in Canada


HEMATITE, Missouri
Dockets: 07000036

License No:

MR Number: 3-2003-0010
Date: 09/04/2003

Corporate Communication


On September 4, 2003, Westinghouse informed the NRC that 63 additional fuel pellets were discovered in scrap zirconium tubes that had been shipped on June 18 and 25, 2003, to the Mississauga Metals and Alloys (MM&A) facility in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, for recycling. The licensee, working with MM&A, was in the process of inspecting 123 shipping boxes containing approximately 30,000 scrap zirconium tubes that had been shipped to MM&A when the 63 pellets containing less than 5 percent enriched uranium-235 (U-235) were discovered. On July 24, 2003, the licensee found 36 fuel pellets in one of the shipping boxes.

MM&A has about 20 boxes of zirconium tubes left to be inspected from among the 123 boxes originally shipped to MM&A. Westinghouse has a representative on site at the MM&A facility to oversee the inspection activities. Inspection of the remaining boxes is expected to be completed by September 11, 2003. Fuel pellets discovered at the MM&A facility are being packaged for shipment to the Westinghouse Columbia facility in Columbia, South Carolina. The situation poses no threat to public health and safety.

Regional Action:

In response to the July 24th event, Region III conducted a special inspection at the Hematite Fuel Manufacturing facility (where the scrap zirconium tube shipment originated) on July 31 and August 1, 2003. This inspection effort was in response to the MM&A's discovery of fuel pellets in the scrap zirconium tube shipment on July 24, 2003 (reported to the NRC on July 28, 2003). The purpose of the special inspection was to review the licensee's material control and accountability program, the segregation of special nuclear material from scrap materials, the licensee's verification method for inspecting shipping containers, the root cause of the event, and the licensee's corrective actions. During the inspection, the NRC identified a number of issues that were impacting the licensee's ability to effectively execute a decommissioning program. These issues included weak management oversight, procedures, quality assurance/quality control, and corrective actions for previously identified problems, as well as poor procedural adherence. The NRC determined that additional actions needed to be taken by Westinghouse to address the issues and concerns identified during the special inspection. As a result, the NRC issued a Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) to Westinghouse on September 4, 2003, that included notifying the NRC if any additional fuel pellets (or significant fractions thereof) were found at the MM&A facility by MM&A while completing the processing of the remaining boxes of zirconium tubes. This notification was in accordance with the September 4, 2003 CAL.

Accession Numbers:

Accession No Accession Date
ML032481285 09/05/2003


Name Office Abbrev Phone No E-Mail
W. SNELL   (630) 829-9871  

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