Potential Problems from the Use of Space Heaters
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555
January 17, 1989
Information Notice No. 89-04: POTENTIAL PROBLEMS FROM THE USE OF
All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power
reactors and test and research reactors.
This information notice is being provided to alert addressees to potential
problems from the use of space heaters. It is expected that recipients will
review the information for applicability to their facilities and consider
actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar problems. However, suggestions
contained in this information notice do not constitute NRC requirements;
therefore, no specific action or written response is required.
Description of Circumstances:
On December 7, 1988, with the Fort Calhoun Station in cold shutdown and de--
fueled, an onsite release of toxic chlorine gas occurred. The chlorine gas
leaked from a chlorine gas cylinder when the fusible plug melted because of
the proximity of a space heater.
The licensee stores the chlorine gas cylinders, used in the purification
process of Missouri River water for plant cooling systems, in a ventilated,
enclosed room approximately 4 by 6 feet. To keep the cylinders warm in prepa-
ration for use, a 13-kW heater was placed in the room. It appears, based on
the licensee's initial investigation, that the fusible plug became overheated
because of the close proximity of the heater to the cylinder and melted. The
melting point of the plug is approximately 160�F. The melted fusible plug
initiated the release of the chlorine gas.
The licensee detected the chlorine leak by the odor of chlorine gas in the
area adjacent to the gas bottle storage room. The area was immediately
A total of 22 individuals affected by inhalation of the gas were transported
to a hospital by the rescue squad. The most severe effect on any individual
was minor lung and nasal passage irritation. All individuals have been
released from the hospital.
.. IN 89-04
January 17, 1989
Page 2 of 2
Licensee personnel removed the leaking cylinder from the storage room to a
parking lot that was downwind of the plant. The cylinder was kept in the
parking lot until it completely depressurized. No other problems were re-
ported after the cylinder was placed in the parking lot.
The use of space heaters at plants during the winter months is a common prac-
tice. However, the use of space heaters may not have been fully evaluated.
It is important that licensees consider the following items before placing
a space heater into service:
1. Fire hazards or combustibles in the area of the space heater.
2. Damage to or effect on the operability of equipment by the space heater.
3. Effect of accelerated aging on the environmental qualification of electri-
cal equipment caused by the space heater.
Recipients may wish to review their use of space heaters to preclude problems
that could result from inadequate controls.
No specific action or written response is required by this information notice.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact one of the
technical contacts listed below or the Regional Administrator of the
appropriate regional office.
Charles E. Rossi, Director
Division of Operational Events Assessment
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
Technical Contacts: P. C. Wagner, RIV
John Jankovich, NRR
Attachment: List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
January 17, 1989
Page 1 of 1
LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED
NRC INFORMATION NOTICES
Information Date of
Notice No._____Subject_______________________Issuance_______Issued to________
89-03 Potential Electrical 1/11/89 All fuel cycle and
Equipment Problems major nuclear
89-02 Criminal Prosecution of 1/9/89 All holders of a
Licensee's Former President U.S. NRC specific
for Intentional Safety license.
88-23, Potential for Gas Binding 1/5/89 All holders of OLs
Supp. 1 of High-Pressure Safety or CPs for PWRs.
Injection Pumps During a
89-01 Valve Body Erosion 1/4/89 All holders of OLs
or CPs for nuclear
88-46, Licensee Report of Defective 12/30/88 All holders of OLs
Supp. 2 Refurbished Circuit Breakers or CPs for nuclear
88-101 Shipment of Contaminated 12/28/88 All holders of OLs
Equipment between Nuclear or CPs for nuclear
Power Stations power reactors.
88-100 Memorandum of Understanding 12/23/88 All major nuclear
between NRC and OSHA materials licensees
Relating to NRC-licensed and utilities
Facilities (53 FR 43950, holding CPs and
October 31, 1988) OLs.
88-99 Detection and Monitoring 12/20/88 All holders of OLs
of Sudden and/or Rapidly or CPs for PWRs.
88-98 Electrical Relay Degradation 12/19/88 All holders of OLs
Caused by Oxidation of or CPs for nuclear
Contact Surfaces power reactors.
OL = Operating License
CP = Construction Permit
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