Information Notice No. 85-77: Possible Loss of Emergency Notification System Due to Loss of AC Power

                                                            SSINS No.  6835 
                                                            IN 85-77 

                               UNITED STATES 
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 

                            September 20, 1985  

                                   SYSTEM DUE TO LOSS OF AC POWER 

All holders of a nuclear power plant operating license (OL) or a 
construction permit (CP). 


This information notice is provided to alert licensees to the possibility 
that modifications to plant telephone systems may result in a change in the 
vulnerability of the Emergency Notification System (ENS) and other plant 
telephones to losses of ac power, It is expected that recipients will review
the information for applicability to their facilities and consider actions, 
if appropriate, to preclude similar problems occurring at their facilities. 
However, suggestions contained in this information notice do not constitute 
NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written response is 

Description of Circumstances: 

On January 8, 1984, the Palisades Nuclear Plant interrupted its offsite 
power supply for maintenance activities. Subsequently all ac power from the 
emergency diesel generators was lost. (This event is described in detail in 
Information Notice No. 84-42.) As a result of the ac power problems, all 
onsite telephones were rendered inoperable for approximately 3 hours, except 
for two offsite-powered pay telephones. Loss of the ENS and normal 
communications significantly hampered the notification process. 

On May 7, 1985, Quad Cities Unit 1 was operating at 90% power. The Unit 2 
auxiliary transformer was inadvertently shorted while the unit was shut down
with its associated emergency diesel generator out for maintenance. This 
caused the loss of offsite ac power to Unit 2 and a voltage transient in 
Unit 1 that subsequently caused that unit to scram about 15 minutes later. 
Unit 1 retained offsite ac power. One division of Unit 2 was promptly 
powered by autostart of the swing emergency diesel generator, and the other 
division was powered within about 20 minutes by crosstie to a 4kV bus of 
Unit 1. When the licensee attempted to notify the NRC Emergency Operations 
Center over the ENS, the circuit repeatedly disconnected. The Quad Cities 
plant also was unable to receive incoming calls from the NRC over commercial 
telephone lines. 



                                                       IN 85-77 
                                                       September 20, 1985 
                                                       Page 2 of 3 

These incidents indicate that the provisions of IE Bulletin 80-15 were not 
maintained at the affected facilities at the times of the events. The bulle-
tin required verification that all ENS station packages that use onsite ac 
power were connected to a safeguards instrumentation bus backed up by auto-
matic transfer to batteries and an inverter or an equally reliable power 
source. At the time the bulletin was issued, both plants had ENS packages 
that were powered by the local telephone company, making them independent of
ac power sources at the plant sites. 


The installation of the ENS requires a station package ,that operates on 110
Vac. In some cases, the station package is located at the local telephone 
company which supplies the required power for normal operation and emergency
power for operation during abnormal situations. However, in many cases, the 
ENS package is located at the site and is served by ac power provided by the

Earlier incidents involving loss of offsite power led to losses of emergency
notification capabilities at the Davis-Besse facility on October 15, 1979, 
and at the Indian Point Unit 2 on June 3, 1980. These incidents prompted the
issuance of IE Circular 80-09 and IE Bulletin 80-15. The bulletin contained 
a list of those stations with ENS packages powered by the telephone company 
and a list of those stations with ENS packages powered at the plant site. At
that time, both the Palisades plant and the Quad Cities plant had-ENS pack-
ages with power supplies provided by the telephone company. 

Subsequent changes to provide additional circuits in the telephone system at
the Palisades plant resulted in the ENS and commercial telephone system 
packages being powered at the plant site. Power was supplied. from a bus 
supported by an emergency diesel generator. However, the modification was 
not controlled within the licensee's formal modification process and was 
thus completed without formal review. The modified ENS power supply was not 
backed by batteries and an inverter, as previously provided by Bulletin 
80-15, and was not independent of the station's commercial telephone service 
as reflected in the licensee's Emergency Plan. 

During the incident at Palisades on January 8, 1984, the unit was 
intentionally powered from a single emergency diesel generator on the 1C 
2400-V bus to allow isolation of a faulty switchyard breaker. The unit was 
defueled, and the other diesel was inoperable due to maintenance. When the 
running diesel subsequently overheated and tripped, the station was without 
ac power with the exception of preferred ac. Although some other buses were 
repowered by offsite ac within an hour, difficulties in closing the breakers 
to the 1C and 1E 2400-V buses resulted in the extended loss of all 
telephones except for two pay telephones powered by the telephone company. 
The 1E bus was repowered after about 3 hours by successfully closing the 
breaker to the offsite source. This provided partial restoration of the 
telephone service. However, the ENS telephones on the 1C bus were not 
restored for 6 hours, when they were finally jumpered to an energized 


                                                       IN 85-77 
                                                       September 20, 1985 
                                                       Page 3 of 3 

At the Quad Cities plant, the local telephone company abandoned the copper 
wire cables that were in use in 1980 and installed a fiber optics communi-
cations system in its place. Because the fiber optics cable does not provide
for electrical power transmission, the fiber optics package at the plant had
to be provided with an onsite power source. Similarly, the site package for 
the ENS had to be shifted to onsite power. The licensee powered the fiber 
optics package from an instrument bus in Unit 2 and the ENS from an 
instrument bus in Unit 1. These buses are supported by emergency diesel 
generators, but the power supplies to the communications packages are not 
backed up by batteries and an inverter in accordance with Bulletin 80-15. 

During the event on May 7, 1985, when the Unit 2 instrument bus powering the
fiber optics package lost power, both the ENS and normal PBX telephones be-
came inoperable. The Unit 1 bus supporting the ENS package remained powered 
by an offsite ac source through the switchyard, but could not communicate 
through the unpowered fiber optics system. Once power was restored to the 
Unit 2 bus through a crosstie, the ENS circuit repeatedly disconnected as 
the licensee attempted to make emergency notifications. 

These events illustrate the need for careful review of changes to plant 
telephone equipment to ensure that the reliability of the ENS is not com-
promised. In those cases where offsite communications power that is supplied
by the telephone company is replaced by an onsite power source, it is impor-
tant to consider the reliability of the power sources for all segments of 
the ENS transmission path. Those plants that already supply the ENS from an 
onsite safeguards instrumentation bus should be, aware that the introduction 
of a fiber optics connection by the local telephone company still may 
compromise the ENS if the plant-end fiber optics package is not similarly 

No specific action or written response is required by this information 
notice. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact the 
Regional Administrator of the appropriate NRC regional office or this 

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

Technical Contacts:  S. Long, IE 
                     (301) 492-7159 

                     R. Priebe, IE 
                     (301) 492-4333 

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued IE Information Notices 

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015