Information Notice No.80-01 - Fuel Handling Events

                                                             SSINS NO.: 6870 
                                                             Accessions No.:

                                UNITED STATES
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 

                              January 4, 1980 

                                           Information Notice No. 80-01 


Description of Circumstances: 

Two recent fuel handling events at the Pilgrim Nuclear Station have been 
reported to the NRC wherein there were no interlocks to control or limit the
movement of nuclear fuel in the reactor building. 

The first event occurred on December 11, 1979 when a spent fuel assembly was
inadvertently raised high enough in the fuel pool to activate area radiation
alarms. The reactor building overhead crane was being used to move new fuel 
from the inspection rig to the high density storage racks in the fuel pool. 
After the release of a new fuel element, the lifting hook became caught 
between the lifting bail and the assembly channel of a spent fuel assembly. 
The operating personnel were unaware of the fact that the spent fuel 
assembly was being raised until radiation alarms sounded. The operators 
quickly lowered the assembly to clear the radiation alarms and ultimately 
placed it in a storage position. The licensee subsequently increased the 
administrative controls on fuel handling activities by assigning more 
personnel and limiting concurrent duties. 

On December 17, 1979, the second fuel handling event occurred at Pilgrim 
Nuclear Station when a new fuel assembly was dropped while it was being 
transferred to its storage location in the spent fuel pool. The assembly was
being transported with the reactor building overhead crane when it struck 
the top edge of the high density fuel racks and the latching device on the 
auxiliary hook failed to retain the fuel assembly lifting bail in the hook. 
The assembly fell, striking the lifting bails on four spent fuel elements, 
then coming to rest on the top of the fuel racks. It has since been moved to
a spent fuel preparation stand; an inspection of the assembly will be made 
at the site and then it will be returned to the supplier for further 
evaluation. A visual inspection of the four spent assemblies was performed 
and there was no apparent damage. Samples of the fuel pool water were 
analyzed and no change in activity levels was detected. The licensee has 
terminated the use of contract personnel and will use members of the plant 
operating staff for future fuel handling operations; a licensed Nuclear 
Plant Operator (NPO) will be responsible for proper alignment of the crane 
before fuel movement and a Reactor Engineer will supervise all fuel 
movement. All fuel movement will be limited to the minimum speed of the 

The events described above occurred at a boiling water reactor, however, the
potential for raising a spent fuel element with the new fuel elevator may 
also exist at some pressurized water reactors. Movement of spent fuel by 
cranes or 

Information Notice No. 80-01                             January 4, 1980 
                                                            Page 2 of 2 

mechanisms intended for use on new fuel, which are not interlocked to 
prevent withdrawal from the pool, have the potential for producing extremely 
high dose rates or resulting in fuel damage. 

This Information Notice No. is provided as an early notification of a 
possibly significant matter that is still under review by the NRC staff. It 
is expected that recipients will review the information for possible 
applicability to their facilities. No specific action or response is 
requested at this time. If NRC evaluations so indicate, further licensee 
actions may be requested or required. 

No written response to this Information Notice No. is required. If you have 
any questions regarding this matter please contact the Director of the 
appropriate NRC Regional Office. 


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