Information Notice No. 89-45: Metalclad, Low-Voltage Power Circuit Breakers Refurbished with Substandard Parts
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555
May 8, 1989
Information Notice No. 89-45: METALCLAD, LOW-VOLTAGE POWER CIRCUIT
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
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
Charles E. Rossi, Director
Division of Operational Events Assessment
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
Technical Contact: S. Alexander, NRR
Attachment: List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
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
88-82, Torus Shells with Corrosion 5/2/89 All holders of OLs
Supp. 1 and Degraded Coatings in or CPs for BWRs.
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
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