Tuesday, June 09, 2009

2.206: Illegal start-up of VY in 2007

10 CFR 2.206 PETITION for Vermont Yankee

I am requesting a 2.206 on Vermont Yankee. Would you please pass it on?

NRC reports 1 low-safety issue at VY
HPCI: VY and NRC cult of falsification
The nuclear peanut commission?

June 8, 2008

Executive Director for Operations
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001


I request a 2.206 on Vermont Yankee. Vermont Yankee operated their reactor illegally and unsafely coming out of their start-up after a outage from June 6, 2007 until June 12, 2007. With the cost of a shutdown being $750,000 a day times 7 days, I request Vermont Yankee pay a fine of $5,250,000 for operating the reactor illegally and falsifying paperwork submitted to the NRC.

(Closed) LER 05000271/2007002-00, High Pressure Coolant Injection System Valve Failed to Open (1 sample)

“On June 8, 2007, with the reactor at 81 percent power, Entergy identified that the HPCI pump injection valve (V23-19) did not open on a manual signal from the control room during a surveillance test. Entergy entered the condition into their corrective action program and a root cause evaluation was performed. Entergy determined that one of the motor operated valve (MOV) contacts (72/C) was in the intermediate position, causing electrical and mechanical interlocks that prevented the open contactor (82/O) from energizing. Entergy identified that the 72/C contacts were pitted and worn, causing the contact surfaces to overheat and weld together. Entergy determined that the PM performed on the valve control circuitry was inadequate, in that it did not contain sufficient guidance on how to determine contact wear and when the contacts should be replaced. The inadequate PM activity constituted a performance deficiency.

This finding is more than minor because it is associated with the Equipment Performance attribute of the Mitigating Systems Cornerstone and affects the cornerstone objective of assuring the availability, reliability, and capability of systems that respond to initiating events to prevent undesirable consequences.

The inspector conducted a Phase 2 SDP analysis, using the following assumptions, and the Risk-Informed Inspection Notebook for Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, Revision 2: the exposure time was approximately six days and no operator recovery credit provided.”

2) So the NRC says it is a 6 day exposure from 06/06/07 to 06/12/07...but the violation began on 06/05 when the mode switch was place to start-up.

“05/31/07: Electrical Maintenance inspected the HPCI V23-19 valve starter LOCAL-23-19 cubicle. The contactors were noted to be carbonized and pitted. This was an expected condition due to the load on these contacts during MOV operation. The contacts were cleaned and no unusual indications were observed.” ( Vermont Yankee LER 2007-002-01)

1) Vermont Yankee operated with OP-5210, "MCC Inspections" procedure that didn’t meet 10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion V. Having procedures that didn’t meet the intent of 10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion V illegally gave Vermont Yankee non conservative operational flexibility and this involved a lot of money.
2) “This was an expected condition due to the load on these contacts during MOV operation.” This is evidence that Vermont falsified their paperwork and reporting to the NRC.
3) According to “10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion V” on 5/31/07 (shutdown) HPCI wasn’t capable of performing its intended function with such a damaged relay.

On June 5, 2007 at around 2 am Vermont Yankee illegally and contrary to technical specification began starting up the nuclear reactor knowing they had a inoperable HPCI. Correction, on some unknown time on June 5, 2007 Vermont Yankee contrary to technical specification positioned their mode switch to start-up and began commencing a improper reactor start-up.

In and around June 6, 2007, after they made the reactor system’s pressure exceed 150 psig, Vermont Yankee was required within 24 hours to make the HPCI fully operational or be below shutdown. They were required to do HPCI line-ups, a full flow test and valve operation timing. That is how you make HPCI operational. There was indications that V23-19 was not functional on 60/06...dimming lights and other indications. In the last operation of V23-19 on June 6, 2007 a relay was welded shut, thus making HPCI inoperable. It is at this point that Vermont Yankee didn’t meet their 24 hour tech spec requirement of having HPCI operational upon start-up. They should have begun a immediate shutdown according to tech specs.

“06/08/07: Operations attempted to open V23-19 as part of normally scheduled surveillance activities for the HPCI System. V23-19 failed to open on a manually initiated signal from the Control Room.” ( Vermont Yankee LER 2007-002-01)

1) Vermont Yankee and the NRC intentionally misinterpreted V23-19 failure to open event. They illegally thought making HPCI “failure to become operational” on June 6, 2007 and the valve V23-19 failure to open on June 8 were separate events. By making it a separate event they wrongly assumed HPCI met the tech spec requirement of being operational within 24 hours of exceeding 150 psig.

"The contactors were noted to be carbonized and pitted. This was an expected condition due to the load on these contacts during MOV operation. The contacts were cleaned and no unusual indications were observed.” ( Vermont Yankee LER 2007-002-01)

"Prior to implementing the corrective actions developed by the Root Cause Analysis Team, the contactors were inspected at 6 year intervals and replaced when signs of degradation such as pitting were present." ( Vermont Yankee LER 2007-002-01)

1) I don’t get it, the NRC says VY didn’t have appropriate quantitative or qualitative acceptance criteria, but the root cause says they had a criteria of replacing the relays if “degradations such as pitting were present”. Everyone knows in critical safety systems if carbonization and pitting shows up in any relays you don’t repair it or sand paper over it. These guys are all profession trades and higher educated nuclear professional. This isn’t a back yard mechanical oil monkey operation going on. It is a nuclear power plant. You are talking about pennies here compared to the risk of the safety system is not working in a accident and the risk of $750,000 a day risk of a shutdown. You never repair a nuclear grade safety relay. You reinstall it with band new high quality safety grade relay. You call immediately that god dam machine or circuit INOP when you get any pitting. You make the component a “critical path” for reactor start-up...to energize all your staff to come up with a new relay before it starts costing us big bucks. Yet again, how times do we have to hear of the opportunities that Vermont should not have started up that reactor, or once it was operational the broken relay should have caused them to immediately shutdown?
2) The above italicized sentences are prima facie evidence coming from the horse’s mouth that Vermont Yankee had reason to know that they started up that reactor illegally and unsafely. And it is evidence that the NRC accepted VY secretly violating tech specs because they haven’t called VY on the big sin in this event.

“Revise procedure OP-5210, "MCC Inspections", to provide criteria for determining contact wear and replacement.

See, everything is about this is perspectives. There is fabricated or designed perspective or point of view...then there is the real story. These guys are so deep into lying they can’t keep tract where they lied in the past. Everything written in these procedures is there for a purpose, or what is legally required to be there and is missing is absolutely intentional. These things are so unbelievably scrutinized. The primary function of these procedures is to provide operational flexibility and to conserve corporate cash. There never is a mistake or incompetence in these procedures because a comma misplacement could cost them many millions of dollars. Incompetently written up procedures or invaluable federal regulatory criteria’s missing from them are a sure sign those procedures are designed to improperly enhance operational flexibility, and god knows how risky that is. So the procedure “MCC Inspections” is a generic procedure defining how all breaker inspections are to occur throughout the plant. They got many 100’s of motor operated valves and they got a breaker for each one...they probably got 1000’s of relays.

“Think about all the issues over degraded contracts over the years at VY....the enormous experience the nuclear industry has with electrical contact problems. Does it seem plausible that they wouldn’t have a written criteria for the relay contact wear and replacement...even as it was required in10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion V? Who would a non disclosed or documented criteria benefit? Can Entergy possibly be this incompetent?

If they had a relay wear inspection criteria on 05/31/07 then the electrician’s would have had to follow the directions of the procedures. They would be held accountable for falsification of documents and not following procedures. If the criteria was in the MCC inspection procedure they would had to call HPCI INOP on 05/31. Once it is written down and a known criteria...the paper trail begins...then they known a cover-up is a impossibility. Can’t start up the plant with HPCI inoperable. So the absence of the relay wear criteria was the intentional tool that allowed VY to look incompetent with not having a relay degradation criteria in their procedure. The “we are so unbelievably stupid defense” was their ticket to start up that reactor unsafely and illegally.

The absence of the criteria was an intentional strategy to give them exactly the operational wiggle room that allowed them to start up the reactor. I’ll bet you the operational testing on V23-19 on 6/01 was because they were nervous with the reliability of the relay. It was designed to give the NRC the assurance of due diligence if it failed immediately upon start-up like it did. The managers could say the “pitting and wear” was normal, we, the so called tested that hand grenade with a pulled pin over and over again, knowing the reactor startup was right around the corner, then illegally start the reactor up on 06/06/07. If Vermont Yankee ran into trouble upon start-up, they knew that relay would be cycled over and over again, the chance of failure was high. They want a phony rationale we certainly tested in enough between 5/31 and start-up. They want to drawl the NRC away from the cover-up of 5/31...give the NRC the flimsiest excuse to overlook the broader cover-up. You see what I an getting at, I think it is a industry wide problem, if you give the NRC the flimsiest excuse or rational they will ignore blatant rule breaking. What kind of parent is that if the NRC accepts any stupid excuse from their children?

The smoking gun would be if on 5/31/07 they went through the paper work process of looking for a repair parts relay for HPCI. Hmm, they might see the limitation of that, gin up a reason to inspect the relay at operation weeks later, then put in the paper work starting the search for a repair part replacement. These guys are all into the knowledge of the meaning of the paperwork trail. They are all aware of the paperwork trail game. You can’t accuse us anything if you can’t prove it.”

I broadly question if the NRC are meeting the community’s needs of maintaining a safe Vermont Yankee organization. The NRC inspector’s on the very next inspection associated the June 6, 2007 start-up with should have fully captured in writing the events in detail of the HPCI in their next inspection report. Both violations should have been uncovered because all the information was there. The first mention of a violation was in Dec 07, then the next one occurred in a upcoming inspection report. This is completely unsatisfactory. It is like a cop giving you a speeding ticket and failure to inspect you vehicle a year after the date when it occurred. I get it, if you got the safety inspection after the violation, entered into you known defective corrective action problem, then the year old car safety inspection never happened, and this new information make it inconsequential. You can’t charge or accuse anyone with anything if it is not written down. Why was the first mention of this in a few paragraphs in December 07 inspection report? How could we be talking about a new violation for a 2007 event, and it be the middle of 2009? Why wasn’t the public immediately notified that there was two violations surrounding this event in the first inspection report opportunity. The not meeting10 CFR 50, Appendix B, Criterion and then not have a appropriate safety evaluation saying that the “carbonized and pitting” relay could meet the full intended function of HPCI in any designed accident. I bet you it would have turned into a sited violation or higher if it was fully disclosed in the first inspection opportunity after early June 07?

There is a whole idea here that the NRC doesn’t capture Vermont Yankee operation events that interest the community in their inspection reports. I have in mind the steam tunnel clean up leak and the cleanup problems where they injected air or resin into the primary system causing the evacuation of the reactor building. The NRC is just not meeting the needs of the community through the ROP and the depth of the inspection reports. I believe if the NRC met the communities needs, this would make the nuclear plants a lot more stronger and safer.

“Imagine you are a licensed operator in Vermont Yankee. Some people know that there are degraded relays in HPCI...but nobody in the control room is allowed to know. If you tell a licensed individual that unreliable relays are in the HPCI he is likely to call that machine INOP on his own. He’d be looking up the wiring diagrams on his own and he would make a independent judgment. You see the incentives from keeping degradation information away from the licensed people?

So an accident occurs with the need of HPIC...the relay slowly fails. The crews gets stuck in diagnosing the completely unknown problem that is really known by everyone. They make a easy human error with over focusing on fixing and operating HPCI when they should be trying to cool the core. They get behind the eight ball and they then overreact. Remember the operation’s department doesn’t know about the degradation...but engineers and executives know about this? Can you see the magnitude of the cover-up when the operator's makes a screw-up?

All bets are off if two known safety degradations show up in a emergency on separate equipment in the same accident. You can’t predict the human interaction and it is highly risky. If they get caught taking a short cuts once (such as carbonized and pitted relays” ...you can depend on this was occurring for 5 years or more and everyone was doing it. You got to know there are a lot of secret component degradation, lots of safety equipment that will break down in the stress of a accident, information is being kept from the license operator. Many off control room engineers and executives know about a lot of secretly degraded safety equipment. This is all below documentations...so nobody is able to keep tract of the magnitude of it.

The more right way of dealing with this( not correct) is notifying all the control room employees of the degradation. Everyone does training on the degradation symptoms...everyone is fully trained on the unreliability of HPCI. So the plant has a accident with the necessity of HPCI, the whole control room is thinking many steps ahead that it is a expected condition when HPCI fails. During the startup of the machine they are fully trained on what symptoms that will show up with a failing relay. That machine blinks or burps they will drop that machine like a ugly women. They already have thought ahead in that it will fail ahead of time. They are prepared to immediately continue on with their emergency procedures. It would just be a inconvenient blip...they would use the rest of the equipment to protect the public.

Right, you don’t have that confusion with a unknown safety system failing and the delay time. Fiddling around with dead, but not known dead machine eats up licensing resources and severely eats up control room intellectual resources.

The problem is once you get the control room licenses involved with accommodating the failing relay...then the cover-up of degraded equipment can’t be maintained. There are all sorts of documents and peoples testimony proving that HPCI wasn’t functional and the plant was knowingly gaming the allowable outage time. That is intentional falsification of the condition of nuclear safety equipment and it is provable in a court.

If you play the very profitable roulette betting game of intentionally not having the expensive repair parts on site...then you should be punished with a very expensive reactor shutdown. If you are not competent with maintaining a nuclear power plant’s repair parts warehouse and inventory ...then you need to be severely punished for the good of everyone. That is the only way you are going enforce the integrity of the warehouse repair parts requirements...that is how you limit the number of lying employees and cover-ups.

If you called one plant on this it, it would never happen again. If you let VY get away with it then everyone else will do the exact same thing....and they will keeping taking chances until there is a huge accident. They will compete to the death.”

You see what I am saying, these control room people are so smart. They all have been trained so much, they all have gone over and over tech spec training so often. They had so many quizes and test questions thrown at them in license school and requal training about the tech spec requirements upon startup ....they know these things in and out. They are seeing these things through a professional eyes and we are seeing it through outsiders eyes.

Imagine you are a young fresh licensed operator up in the control room. Nobody admit these things straight out. You’d seen the NRC inspectors come in and out and they have thoroughly questioned everyone including the shift supervisor. You know everyone is aware of what occur. They started that plant up, and the management with the NRC’s knowledge fiddled with the tech specs and the rules. The pulled their punching in publicly reporting this. Management and the NRC colluded to falsify the whole thing. The young licensed operator would say, really what kind of a risk was this to the public. Especially thinking about it after it was all fixed on 06/13. He would say it was absolutely no risk to the public.

But in the astonishing chilling thought in the back of his mind he’s know management and the NRC were colluding together potentially saving the company millions of dollars. If I catch a safety defect that is going to cost Entergy millions of dollars what chance does my career have to prevail if the NRC and management are in cahoots for the big bucks. They could both lie saying I am a incompetent operator with a mental illness...and I would lose my job over reporting safety defects that crosses the NRC and my company. .

So is this isn’t about the isolated risk of core damage associated with the offending relay...could you get to core damage through our risk studies with a welded relay and HPCI not operational.

Or is it about a completely different accident than the simple assumption. What if the site and the licensed operator’s lived with the idea that the nuclear industry was brutally “unjust” and they thought they faced the fear of being fired for raising legitimate safety concerns. There was only “one” way to talk about conditions in the industry and everyone only talks with the nuclear industry’s single voice. The industry and the NRC held absolute and infinite brutal power over these employees with absolutely no human rights.

How much money is human rights worth? How much salary would you need if they told you your US Constitution would “not” apply while working on corporate property? Would you sell your constitutional rights for $100,000 a year and benefits.

Right, the utility and the NRC are saying our story is the absolute facts....our story can’t be contradicted...truth is disconnected from real reality....your story or evidence will never have any standing in our system.

If that isn’t brutal dehumanization nothing is.

The only remaining questions is, what would have happened if Vermont Yankee asked the NRC’s permission to start up with HPCI inop. What would have happened if they couldn’t make the HPCI operational within 24 hours upon start-up, could they asked the NRC permission to keep running until its fixed?


Mike Mulligan
PO Box 161
Hinsdale, NH 03451