United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 83-21: Defective Emergency-Use Respirator

                                                 SSINS No.: 6835           
                                                 IN 83-21

                                 UNITED STATES
                         NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                            WASHINGTON, D.C.  20555

                                April 15, 1983



All nuclear power reactor facilities holding an operating license (OL) or 
construction permit (CP), research and test reactors, fuel cycle licensees, 
and Priority I material licensees.


This Information Notice is provided to inform licensees of a defective part 
found in some BioPak 60P respirators manufactured by Rexnord, Inc. The 
defective part was found at an operating nuclear reactor facility. The nature 
of this deficiency could cause immediate, harmful effects to the user's upper 
respiratory tract. The BioPak 60P is a 60-minute closed circuit,
recirculating  mode, positive pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus-
rebreather  (SCBA-R). Its National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health (NIOSH)  test and certification (TC) number is TC-13F-85. It is
expected that licensees  will review the information for applicability to
their facilities. Further NRC  action may result from feedback from the
ongoing NIOSH review effort.

Description of Circumstances:

During the week of January 17, 1983, Southern California Edison Company 
employees at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) conducted a 
routine, semi-annual overhaul of 71 BioPak 60P respirators. Seven carbon-
dioxide (CO(2)) absorber's "scrubber pads" had disintegrated, allowing the 
C0(2) chemical absorber (sodasorb) to escape outside the canister area. The 
"scrubber pad" acts to retain the sodasorb within the canister. The sodasorb 
canisters (batch numbers AM07-B-720-22 and AL04-B-720-3) were received from 
Rexnord in November 1981 and installed in the respirators in June 1982. 
Approximately 1200 defective pads were produced and, of these, approximately 
200 were distributed to various customers before the error was discovered and 
corrected. These defective pads can be distinguished by their charcoal, 
blackish color. The manufacturer has told the NRC that essentially all 
recipients of these defective parts have been notified.

NIOSH considers the use of defective parts to invalidate the TC approval of 
respiratory equipment. NRC regulations (10 CFR 20.103) prohibit the use of 
emergency respiratory equipment unless specifically certified by NIOSH.

The seven SONGS defective respirators had been designated for emergency use 
only and stored in emergency equipment cabinets. The licensee reported that 
this equipment had not been issued to or used by any individual.


                                                 IN 83-21
                                                 April 15, 1983            
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Loss of integrity of the sodasorb canister could reduce the effectiveness of 
C0(2) removal from the user's closed-circuit, recirculating air supply. Of 
more potential immediate importance, however, is the possible carryover of
the  chemical absorber from the canister area into the breathing chamber. 
Inhalation of the BioPak 60P's sodasorb could cause pulmonary irritation to 
the respiratory tract. Contact with the skin and eyes also could cause local 

Since the BioPaK 60P is authorized for use in atmospheres that are
immediately  dangerous to life and health, deficiencies as noted above could
have  significant impact on respirator-user safety. The NRC has notified
NIOSH of  the SONGS event and has kept NIOSH apprised of the manufacturer's
actions to  resolve the problem.

If you need additional information about this matter, please contact the 
Regional Administrator of the appropriate NRC Regional office or this office. 

Edward L. Jordan, Director
Division of Emergency Preparedness
and Engineering Response
Office of Inspection and Enforcement

Technical Contacts: L. Hendricks, RES
                    (301) 443-5970

                    J. Wigginton, IE
                    (301) 492-4967

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