The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Thursday, June 01, 2000
Paducah, Kentucky

NRC cites 3 violations; USEC answers all but one

By Joe Walker

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued three notices of violation against USEC Inc. for problems found during a routine three-month inspection of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant ending May 3.

Ken O'Brien, NRC senior resident inspector at the plant, issued the notices Friday, saying the company has adequately responded to two of the violations and has 30 days to answer in writing to the third.

The violations involved improperly changing a safety analysis report, making ineffective corrections to a nuclear criticality safety problem and inappropriately storing classified materials.

O'Brien's report said the safety analysis report violation, to which USEC must respond in writing, is "of particular concern" because a screening process built into the safety analysis is the plant's main way of reviewing procedural changes.

The change that led to the violation occurred last June 15, ending a previous ban on the use of caution tags in certain areas of the plant. O'Brien's notice of violation says the change took place without NRC approval.

USEC also was cited for failing to identify and correct the storage of some uranium hexafluoride cylinders whose walls were thinner than others, posing an increased nuclear safety risk. O'Brien said the plant had the chance to fix the problem when it was first identified in 1996 and as part of corrective actions for a 1997 violation. But the plant has made adequate improvements since then, so a written response to the violation was not required, O'Brien said.

A third violation says that since March 3, 1997, USEC has not ensured that some classified material is appropriately stored and that security patrols are sufficient to prevent unauthorized access to the materials. The plant has a plan to correct the problem by June 30, O'Brien said.