Information Notice No.80-01 - Fuel Handling Events
SSINS NO.: 6870
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555
January 4, 1980
Information Notice No. 80-01
FUEL HANDLING EVENTS
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
Information Notice No. 80-01 January 4, 1980
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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.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015