NFS preps for annual review by NRC

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   ERWIN -- Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will meet with Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., (NFS) on Wednesday to discuss the agency's latest review of the facility's safety performance.
   The NRC review, which covers a period from Feb. 17, 2002 through Jan. 18, 2003, reports that NFS has continued to conduct its activities safely and securely.
   NRC officials said that, based upon the results of the review, procedural compliance continues to present a challenge to the facility and warrants increased NRC oversight. The NRC said company efforts for improving the system used by managers and supervisors to ensure procedural compliance for safety and security activities "have not been completely effective."
   The NRC said five major areas evaluated -- Safety Operations, Nuclear Materials Safeguards, Radiological Controls, Facility Support, and Special Topics -- will be used as a basis for establishing the NRC oversight program for the plant during the next 12 months.
   The agency said procedure implementation has been identified as needing improvement for the past three review periods and that, while the company's performance in self-identifying such problems has improved, corrective actions taken to date have not been fully effective.
   The NRC review reported two violations and four non-cited violations were identified for failure to follow procedures in material control and accounting and security areas at the facility.
   One of the violations and one of the non-cited violations involved the failures of supervisors' inspection reports.
   According to the review, the cited violations occurred when a supervisor failed to implement radiation work permit precautions, resulting in internal dose of about 100 miliRem to two persons. The second cited violation occurred when a supervisor failed to ensure an RWP was reviewed and signed, failed to post RWP at all work area entrances, and failed to ensure RWP requirements were carried out, the NRC review reads.
   The NRC said no specific areas needing improvement were identified for Radiological Controls section of the review beyond the procedural compliance problems associated with radiological protection and decommissioning covered in the Safety Operations area.
   Under the area of special topics, the review reads that NFS needed to include additional information about the license amendment applications for the Uranyl Nitrate Building and the Blended Low-Enriched Uranium Preparation Facility.
   The license amendment applications did not include nuclear criticality safety analyses, fire hazards analysis, adequate demonstrations of compliance with baseline design criteria, and adequate commitments to management measures, according to the review.
   The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 9, at the NFS Training Center in Erwin, located on Jackson Love Highway near Exit 15 on Interstate 181. The meeting is open to observation by the public, and NRC officials will be available prior to its conclusion to answer questions from interested observers.
   Copies of the March 14 letter from NRC to NFS summarizing the review's findings may be obtained from the Region II Office of Public Affairs in Atlanta and will be available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR) in Washington, D.C., or on the NRC's Agencywide Document Access and Management System (ADAMS) Internet web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. Help in using ADAMS is available through the NRC PDR at 301-415-4737 or 1-800-397-4209.