United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Task Action Plan for Category A Technical Activity No. A-36, "Control of Heavy Loads Near Spent Fuel" (Generic Letter 78-15)

                                                              GL 78-15
                                UNITED STATES 
                        NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 
                            WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 

                                        May 17, 1978 

All Licensees for Power Reactors
  except those in the Systematic
  Evaluation Program 

In January, 1978, the NRC published NUREG-0410 entitled "NRC Program for the
Resolution of Generic Issues Related to Nuclear Power Plants."  As part of
this program, the Task Action Plan for Category A Technical Activity No. A-36,
"Control of Heavy Loads Near Spent Fuel", was approved. 

As you are aware, overhead handling systems are used to lift heavy objects in
the vicinity of spent-fuel in both PWRs and BWRs. If a heavy object, e.g., a
spent fuel shipping cask or a shielding block, were to fall or tip onto spent
fuel in the storage pool or the reactor core during refueling and damage the
fuel, there could be a release of radioactivity to the environment and a
potential for radiation over-exposures to in plant personnel. If the dropped
object is large, and the damaged fuel contained a large amount of undecayed
fission products, radiation releases to the environment could exceed 10 CFR
Part 100 guidelines. These concerns are currently considered in licensing
reviews. We believe there is a need to systematically review NRC requirements,
facility designs and technical specifications regarding the movement of heavy
loads, to assess safety margins and to improve those margins where warranted. 

The staff efforts currently underway commenced with a detailed evaluation of
current NRC requirements and licensee procedures for the movement of heavy
loads near spent fuel. Based on the results of that evaluation assessments
will be performed of the probabilities and consequences of heavy loads
damaging spent fuel. A determination will then be made of the need for
revising the Standard Review Plan, the Standard Format and Content of Safety
Analysis Reports for Nuclear Power Plants and the Standard Technical

Based on a review of the adequacy of the information currently available in
the docket files regarding licensee procedures and plant systems for the
movement of heavy loads near spent fuel, we have determined that additional
information is necessary.  Accordingly, the enclosure provides a list of
information required by the staff to continue the evaluation of this concern.


                                    - 2 -                 May 17, 1978

Within 45 days of the receipt of this letter, you are requested to provide the
infomation requested in the enclosure.  Some of the information requested may
have previously been provided to the NRC.  If this is correct, a reference
identifying when and where that information was provided will suffice or your
may, at your option, provide another copy with your response.  Any questions
regarding this request should be forwarded to the Task Manager for this
effort, James A Long, (301) 492-8041.  This request had been reviewed by the
General Accounting Office and approved under Clearance No. B-180225 (R0522).
This clearance expires February 28, 1981. 

In the interim, while these efforts are ongoing, you should review your
current procedures for the movement of heavy loads over spent fuel to assure
that the potential for a handling accident which could result in damage for
spent fuel is kept at a minimum.  


                                       Victor Stello, Jr., Director  
                                       Division of Operating Reactors  
                                       Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

Information Request 


                                                          Approved by GAO
                                                          B-180225 (R0522)
                                                          Expires 2/28/81


                            INFORMATION REQUESTED 

1. Provide a diagram which illustrates the physical relation between the
reactor core, the fuel transfer canal, the spent fuel storage pool and the set
down, receiving or storage areas for any heavy loads moved on the refueling

2. Provide a list of all objects that are required to be moved over the
reactor core (during refueling), or the spent fuel storage pool. For each
object listed, provide its approximate weight and size, a diagram of the
movement path utilized (including carrying height) and the frequency of

3. What are the dimensions and weights of the spent fuel casks that are or
will be used at your facility? 

4. Identify any heavy load or cask drop analyses performed to date for your
facility.  Provide a copy of all such analyses not previously submitted to the
NRC staff. 

5. Identify any heavy loads that are carried over equipment required for the
safe shutdown of a plant that is operating at the time the load is moved.
Identify what equipment could be affected in the event of a heavy load
handling accident (piping, cabling, pumps, etc.) and discuss the feasibility
of such an accident affecting this equipment. Describe the basis for your

6. If heavy loads are required to be carried over the spent fuel storage pool
or fuel transfer canal at your facility, discuss the feasibility of an
handling accident which could result in water leakage severe enough to uncover
the spent fuel.  Describe the basis for your conclusions.

7. Describe any design features of your facility which affect the potential
for a heavy load handling accident involving spent fuel, e.g., utilization of
a single failure-proof crane. 

8. Provide copies of all procedures currently in effect at your facility for
the movement of heavy loads over the reactor core during refueling, the spent
fuel storage pool, or equipment required for the safe shut-down of a plant
that is operating at the time the move occurs. 

9. Discuss the degree to which your facility complies with the eight (8)
regulatory positions delineated in Regulatory Guide 1.13 (Revision 1,
December, 1975) regarding Spent Fuel Storage Facility Design Basis. 

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