Information Notice No. 97-23: Evaluation and Reporting of Fires and Unplanned Chemical Reaction Events at Fuel Cycle Facilities

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

                                  May 7, 1997

                               UNPLANNED CHEMICAL REACTION EVENTS AT           
                               FUEL CYCLE FACILITIES


All fuel cycle conversion, enrichment, and fabrication facilities.


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is issuing this information notice to
alert addressees to 10 CFR Parts 20, 40, 70, and 76 requirements for
notification and/or reporting of fires and unplanned chemical reaction (e.g.,
explosions) events at their facilities.  It is expected that recipients will
review this information for applicability to their facilities and consider
actions, as appropriate.  However, suggestions contained in this information
notice are not NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written
response is required.

Description of Circumstances

Several fires and/or unplanned chemical reactions have recently occurred
during the processing of licensed material at fuel cycle facilities.  These
events involved off-normal processing conditions that had the potential to
cause significant degradation to facility safety or safeguards features and/or
endanger the safety of site personnel.  

Additionally, other potentially significant fires or unplanned chemical
reactions may have occurred at these and other facilities during the
processing of licensed material.  The Commission is concerned that such
events, particularly those involving unplanned chemical reactions, are not
being adequately reported to NRC.


Fires and/or unplanned chemical reactions may directly, or through system
interactions, cause or increase the likelihood of the release of hazardous
chemicals or nuclear materials that could quickly exceed the thresholds and/or
reporting requirements discussed in 10 CFR.

Title 10 CFR 20.2202, 40.60, 70.50, and 76.120 contain requirements for
notifying the Commission of certain events that reach discussed thresholds. 
Specifically, 10 CFR 20.2202 states that an immediate or 24-hour notification
is required for any event involving nuclear 

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                                                              May 7, 1997
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material that might have caused or threatens to cause certain exposures. 
These exposures could be from the nuclear material or from an inadvertent
criticality that may result from the event.  Also, 10 CFR 40.60, 70.50, and
76.120 require a 24-hour notification of any unplanned fire or explosion
damaging licensed material or damaging any device, container, or equipment
containing licensed material in quantities greater than 5 times the lowest
annual limit on intake specified for the material in Appendix B of 10 CFR

The reported information is necessary for NRC to independently determine that
regulatees took appropriate actions to prevent and/or mitigate hazardous
releases.  Also, this information allows NRC to adequately assess these events
to determine their safety/safeguards significance and to evaluate if any
industry-wide implications exist.  Specifically, NRC needs to evaluate these
events to determine if any potential or actual degradation or failure of
safety features relied on for the prevention or mitigation of hazardous
releases has occurred.
Related Generic Communications

NRC Information Notice 93-60, "Reporting Fuel Cycle and Materials Events
to the NRC Operations Center," provides further guidance for licensee
consideration when notifying and/or reporting events to NRC.

This information notice requires no specific action or written response.  If
you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact
the technical contact listed below or the appropriate regional office.

                                Elizabeth Q. Ten Eyck, Director
                                Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards
                                Office of Nuclear Material Safety
                                  and Safeguards

Technical contact:  Garrett Smith, NMSS
                    (301) 415-8118

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