United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC Issues Confirmatory Action Letter to TMI on Emergency Preparedness Issues




475 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, Pa. 19406

CONTACT: Diane Screnci (610)337-5330/ e-mail: dps@nrc.gov
Neil A. Sheehan (610)337-5331/e-mail: nas@nrc.gov


March 13, 1997


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued a letter to GPU Nuclear Corporation to confirm commitments by the company to deal with weaknesses revealed during an emergency exercise held March 5 at the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant in Middletown, Pa.

An NRC team which evaluated the exercise found four exercise weaknesses: 1) during the drill, the emergency response organization did not recognize that conditions at the facility had degraded to the point that it was necessary to declare a "general emergency"; 2) initially, the response organization incorrectly evaluated steam generator tube leakage; 3) the technical analysis of the simulated accident conditions provided to response organization managers by the technical support staff was inadequate; and 4) the response organization staff did not assess the need for protective action recommendations to off-site officials when dose projections appeared to indicate protective action guidelines would be exceeded beyond the 10-mile emergency planning zone.

In a letter to GPU, NRC Region I Administrator Hubert J. Miller said: "We acknowledge that simulator malfunctions, exercise controller actions, and scenario planning issues adversely affected this exercise and raised questions about the validity of the exercise as a performance measure. Those factors also precluded our ability to evaluate your actions to correct a radiation dose assessment weakness from the previous full-participation exercise."

Nevertheless, Mr. Miller added: "Nothstanding the above, the NRC views the identified weaknesses and problems as important findings, requiring prompt corrective action."

Those actions are:

  1. Initiate immediate corrective actions to address the four weaknesses and conduct training for the entire emergency response organization on those actions by April 15.

  2. Perform a root cause analysis of the issues associated with the poor exercise performance by April 15. The analysis will cover the specific weaknesses along with emergency response organization training, scenario development, simulator problems, controller activities, the exercise critique process and recent staffing changes in emergency preparedness and response.

  3. Conduct a remedial on-site exercise by May 15, to test major portions of the emergency plan that will allow GPU and the NRC to assess the effectiveness of the utility's corrective actions regarding the exercise weaknesses and problems.

  4. Discuss your proposed corrective actions and any assessments made to date, in a meeting with NRC staff on March 17. This meeting will be held at the Three Mile Island Training Center at 10:00 a.m. and will be open for public observation.

  5. Provide, at that meeting, and in writing, within 10 days subsequent to that meeting, GPU's views on the significance of the exercise weaknesses and problems identified during the exercise, and why GPU believes that corrective actions taken or planned will be effective.

Issuance of this confirmatory action letter does not preclude the NRC from taking enforcement action for violations of NRC requirements that have prompted the issuance of this letter.

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