Faked fire inspection records for 10 months, NRC says
A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) investigation found contractors at Entergy Waterford 3 nuclear power plant in Killona failed to perform fire inspections and falsified records for at least 10 months to show the inspections occurred.
The NRC says it even found documentation showing a contract worker admitted to sleeping instead of performing an inspection, but records showed it had been done.
On Tuesday (Dec. 22), Entergy spokeswoman Leanna Weaver said Entergy Nuclear is acting on these violations.
“Although we cannot discuss specific measures taken with individuals beyond the NRC’s release, we can say all involved have faced disciplinary action,” Weaver said. “It is important to note that Entergy identified these issues, notified regulators, fully investigated the issue and took the appropriate actions.”
The NRC’s Dec. 14 letter to Michael Chisum, site vice president of Entergy Operations in Killona, states its 15-month investigation found Entergy’s contract workers who do the inspections and an Entergy Operations supervisor “deliberately failed to identify and take corrective actions upon being provided with information of suspected wrongdoing by contract fire watch individuals.”
Entergy identified the company that provided the fire watch workers as GCA Contractors.
The NRC has given Entergy the option to meet with the federal agency or seek an alternative dispute resolution to discuss corrective actions before it decides enforcement penalties.
Weaver said Entergy is “not able to respond publicly about our decision on how to address the violations.”
But she added, “Entergy Nuclear does not tolerate this form of behavior among employees or contractors in any way, and we have robust systems and processes in place to prevent and uncover inaccuracies, whether intentional or not, in documentation. Trust, honesty and integrity are among the key platforms to which all our employees must commit and adhere to.”
According to the NRC investigation conducted Feb. 3, 2014 to May 19 with contract and licensee personnel, investigators found a manager with the contracting firm that provided the fire inspection workers had “deliberately provided incomplete and inaccurate information to an access authorization reviewing official regarding the trustworthiness and reliability of a contract fire watch individual.”
Investigators also found instances of seven contract workers who “deliberately failed to conduct compensatory hourly fire watches, as required by site procedure, and falsified fire watch tour logs by initialing that fire watches were performed with knowledge that watches had not been performed.”
A fire watch or inspection requires each area or room be assessed to ensure fire doesn’t occur in parts of the large nuclear plant building housing equipment operating the nuclear reactor. The NRC requires the inspections, a fire watch log and record of any fire hazards, as well as requires record of any adverse condition that have been identified.
The letter also states NRC found “one Entergy Operations Inc. supervisor deliberately failed to identify and take corrective actions upon being provided with information of suspected wrongdoing by contract fire watch individuals.” On Jan. 21, 2014, the NRC says it received information indicating an issue with the fire inspections.
Additional information was received that “a Waterford Steam Electric Station security officer questioned fire watch personnel about the absence of a door alarm that is usually received on a security door when rounds are conducted. The security officer’s concern led to the licensee reviewing card reader information for the rounds, which identified numerous instances of the fire watch tours not being conducted; although the surveillance records indicated that the tours had been completed.”
Seven days later, the Office of Investigations initiated an investigation to determine if fire protection personnel had willfully falsified surveillance records.
The investigation was aimed at determining if personnel – contract and company – had deliberately falsified fire watch records and if management was part of this effort.Completed on May 19, the investigation indicated three employees “acknowledged the standard for falsification and admitted to falsifying the records,” according to the NRC.
Another three inspection individuals denied wrongdoing, but door alarm records verified missed inspections by these same three people.
NRC also maintains Entergy Operations personnel failed to implement fire protection procedures.
“Seven fire watch personnel failed to conduct numerous observations and inspections of various fire areas to assess for indications of fires,” states the NRC letter to Entergy.A company superviser “admitted that the condition was not properly documented and addressed when the concern was brought to his attention.