Information Notice No. 89-45: Metalclad, Low-Voltage Power Circuit Breakers Refurbished with Substandard Parts

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

                                   May 8, 1989

                                   BREAKERS REFURBISHED WITH SUBSTANDARD PARTS


All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power 


This information notice is being provided to alert addressees to the discovery 
of defects in metalclad, low-voltage power circuit breakers, including missing, 
nonstandard, and substandard parts, and improper assembly and misadjustment.
It is expected that recipients will review this information for applicability 
to their facilities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar 
problems.  However, suggestions contained in this notice do not constitute 
NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written response is required.

Description of Circumstances:

The NRC has learned of the discovery of defects in metalclad, low-voltage, 
power circuit breakers which had been installed at the Quad Cities nuclear 
power plant.  The breakers had missing, nonstandard, and substandard parts 
that were identified during maintenance at the General Electric (GE) switch-
gear service shop in Hammond, Indiana.  The breakers were GE type AKF-2-25, 
DC field discharge breakers used as anticipated transient without scram (ATWS) 
breakers for the reactor coolant recirculation pump motor-generators.

Commonwealth Edison Company (CECo) purchased the AKF-2-25s for Quad Cities 
from the Satin American Corporation.  In a recent inspection at Satin American, 
the NRC reviewed the records pertain-ing to these breakers.  The Quad Cities 
purchase order and the Satin American invoice and shipping documents indicated 
that the breakers were purchased as commercial grade equipment.  The shipping 
documents contained no certifications and described the breakers only by model 
number and serial number.  Satin American's inspection and testing records for 
the breakers indicated that they had been taken from the vendor's stock of 
reportedly new breakers and only inspection and testing was documented before 
they were shipped to Quad Cities.  Satin American's catalog defines "new" as 

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never used and obtained from the manufacturer.  The catalog classifies as 
"unused" those breakers that have never been used, but were obtained from 
sources other than the manufacturer.  However, the vendor's stock is obtained 
from various sources, and consists predominantly of ostensibly never-used 
surplus switchgear.  The information available at the time of the inspection 
did not establish clear traceability to the source of these breakers, nor 
could the circumstances under which they were purchased be confirmed.

Records at Quad Cities reviewed thus far indicate that only routine mainte-
nance had been performed on the breakers at the plant.  The deviations were 
discovered by the GE Hammond Switchgear Service Shop during the course of 
their overhaul of the breakers for Quad Cities.  The NRC has not determined 
who was responsible for the condition of the AKF-2-25s at Quad Cities or why 
these conditions remained undetected during intervening maintenance activities.


Some of the deviations found by the GE Hammond service shop in one of the 
AKF-2-25s from Quad Cities were apparently the result of either substandard 
or improper materials, poor quality workmanship and/or substitution of non-
standard parts and misrepresentation of condition and/or quality.

Deviations in one of the breakers' nameplates were reported to have initially 
alerted GE to the possibly refurbished condition of the breaker.  On an AKF-
type breaker, the nameplate should have included an "Inspected by" stamp, a 
"GEK" instruction book number, and the serial number should have included the 
"ATL" designation for the GE facility in Atlanta that modifies AK breakers, 
built in Burlington, Iowa, to the AKF configuration.  The nameplate on this 
AKF breaker was missing the inspection stamp and the instruction book number, 
and its serial number did not have the "ATL" designation.  Also, the nameplate 
was loosely fastened by two improperly installed rivets.

During disassembly and inspection, GE identified the lower stud, the lower 
pivot shims, the moving contact springs, a cam follower, and some moving 
contact arms as nonstandard, non-GE parts.  The paint was reported as being 
a glossy nonstandard type, of excessive thickness, and had been applied in 
locations where a potential to jam the mechanism existed, particularly the 
closing coil plunger assembly and the E-frame.  Several layers of hand-cut 
black electrical insulation paper were found under the center stationary 
contact mounting block where one thickness of insulation paper and machined 
steel lower pivot shims would normally be installed.  The mounting block is 
fastened to the breaker frame with two machine screws and two dowel pins.  In 
one of the AKF-2-25s, the dowel pins were missing.  The flat or leaf spring 
type contact arm spring laminations are supposed to be machine stamped from 
copper-plated spring steel, whereas the breaker was found to contain springs 
made of untempered copper and mild steel that appeared to have been roughly 
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cut from sheet metal stock by hand with a hacksaw and metal shears.  Also, 
these breakers have boomerang-shaped cam follower arms in the contact 
mechanism cut or stamped from stock about 1/8-inch thick.  The arms con-
tain a machined slot of conforming shape.  In genuine GE parts, the inside 
edge of the slot at the elbow where the angle changes is machined to a point; 
whereas, on the cam followers found in the Quad Cities breaker, this point 
was rounded off to about a 1/4-inch radius.  This could impair the breaker 
function, possibly causing the mechanism to jam.  Additionally, the closing 
coil, which appeared to have been rewound, was cracked, and the leads exited 
the windings in a manner inconsistent with GE standard practice.

During the inspection at Satin American, NRC inspectors examined about 20 of 
the AK-type breakers in the Satin American warehouse that had been obtained 
reportedly as unused surplus material and found only one or two of the name-
plates exhibiting the inspection stamp.  In addition, breakers were found 
with nameplates missing most of the normal data, and one had two serial 
numbers.  The NRC is continuing its inquiry into this matter; however, similar 
to the Quad Cities case, available information did not establish traceability 
to the source of these breakers.

Although it has not been determined what party or parties are responsible for 
the deviations identified on the Quad Cities AKF-2-25 ATWS breaker, it is clear 
that breaker failures or malfunctions could result from the types of deviations 
observed and that users of these and other breakers must exercise appropriate 
controls when procuring commercial grade components.  A properly implemented 
commercial grade dedication program for circuit breakers would include measures 
to ensure that the component design is suitable for the application, that the 
component is traceable to the original manufacturer, and that the component, 
when received, is adequately inspected and tested to verify all critical 
characteristics.  Such a program would identify many of the deficiencies 
described above.

In addition, licensees are responsible for assuring that all maintenance and 
refurbishment and/or modification of equipment is performed properly by quali-
fied personnel (including contractors) using correct parts and materials and 
that all required retests are properly conducted and evaluated.

The NRC is particularly interested in obtaining information on these or other 
types of circuit breakers that have been found with deficiencies similar to 
those described in this notice.  Documentation, in as much detail as practi-
cable, of any such circuit breaker deficiencies discovered, especially in 
cases where a breaker may have been improperly serviced or refurbished is 
important.  Licensees may communicate the availability of information of 
this type by telephone to the NRC technical contact listed below.

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No specific action or written response is required by this information notice.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact the technical 
contact 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 Contact:   S. Alexander, NRR
                     (301) 492-0995

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices

..                                                            Attachment 
                                                            IN 89-45
                                                            May 8, 1989
                                                            Page 1 of 1

                             LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED
                             NRC INFORMATION NOTICES
Information                                  Date of 
Notice No._____Subject_______________________Issuance_______Issued to________

89-44          Hydrogen Storage on the       4/27/89        All holders of OLs
               Roof of the Control Room                     or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors.

88-82,         Torus Shells with Corrosion   5/2/89         All holders of OLs
Supp. 1        and Degraded Coatings in                     or CPs for BWRs.
               BWR Containments

89-43          Permanent Deformation of      5/1/89         All holders of OLs
               Torque Switch Helical                        or CPs for nuclear
               Springs in Limitorque                        power reactors.
               SMA-Type Motor Operators

88-97,         Potentially Substandard       4/28/89        All holders of OLs
Supp. 1        Valve Replacement Parts                      or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors.

89-42          Failure of Rosemount          4/21/89        All holders of OLs
               Models 1153 and 1154                         or CPs for nuclear
               Transmitters                                 power reactors.

89-41          Operator Response to          4/20/89        All holders of OLs
               Pressurization of Low-                       or CPs for nuclear
               Pressure Interfacing                         power reactors.

88-75,         Disabling of Diesel           4/17/89        All holders of OLs
Supplement 1   Generator Output Circuit                     or CPs for nuclear
               Breakers by Anti-Pump                        power reactors.

89-40          Unsatisfactory Operator Test  4/14/89        All holders of OLs
               Results and Their Effect on                  or CPs for nuclear
               the Requalification Program                  power reactors.

89-39          List of Parties Excluded      4/5/89         All holders of OLs
               from Federal Procurement                     or CPs for nuclear
               or Non-Procurement Programs                  power reactors.

89-38          Atmospheric Dump Valve        4/5/89         All holders of OLs
               Failures at Palo Verde                       or CPs for nuclear
               Units 1, 2, and 3                            power reactors.
OL = Operating License
CP = Construction Permit 

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015