February 7, 2007
The Honorable A. J. Eggenberger
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
625 Indiana Avenue, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20004-2901
Dear Mr. Chairman:
In a letter dated September 14, 2005, you requested the Department of Energy (DOE) report on the following issues:
· The adequacy of local DOE and contractor implementation procedures for DOE Order 420.1A, Facility Safety; DOE Order 425.1C, Startup and Restart of Nuclear Facilities, and 10 CFR 830, Subpart B, Nuclear Safety Management, with particular focus on the definition of a “new Hazard Category 1, 2, or 3 nuclear facility,” and “substantial modification.”
· The actions necessary to ensure that any deficient site procedures are corrected and that site contractors appropriately apply design requirements, develop Preliminary Documented Safety Analyses (PDSAs), and perform Operational Readiness Reviews (ORRs) for new Hazard Category 1, 2, and 3 nuclear facilities as required.
· The need for revision or clarification of the definition of a “new Hazard Category 1, 2, or 3 nuclear facility” and/or “substantial modification” within the DOE directives system.
In a letter dated December 13, 2005, DOE reported on these issues and the follow-up actions it intended to take. As part of these follow-up actions in early 2006, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) performed a high-level review of the processes for developing PDSAs and determining the appropriate level of startup reviews for new facilities and significant modifications at its sites and found them to be appropriate. NNSA briefed the Board staff on these results on February 14, 2006. In addition, as committed in a letter dated May 9, 2006, the Office of Environmental Management (EM) conducted a focused review of the processes for developing PDSAs and determining the appropriate level of startup reviews for new facilities and significant modifications at the Savannah River and Hanford sites where your staff had identified concerns. These reviews were performed in May of 2006 and identified several deficiencies with the application of nuclear safety definitions in determining whether to develop PDSAs or to perform ORRs. These sites have taken appropriate action to correct the deficiencies (see Enclosure).
Further, in December 2006, DOE reviewed the Idaho National Laboratory’s startup procedures and the implementation of their procedures for the recent startup of a remote-handled transuranic waste drum operation in response to some new concerns identified by your staff. This review also identified deficiencies with the implementation of DOE Order 425.1C. EM is working with the site to ensure the deficiencies are corrected.
DOE’s evaluation of all of these reviews indicate that there is a need for more rigorous and conservative implementation of the directives related to startup of new and substantially modified facilities. DOE is taking (or has taken) the following actions to improve the implementation of the directives related to startup of new and substantially modified facilities:
· The Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS) is coordinating the development and dissemination of a lessons learned document from the NNSA and EM reviews to promote improved implementation throughout the complex.
· Both the NNSA and EM have added evaluations of the startup process to their periodic headquarters oversight reviews of their field operations.
· EM has issued specific direction to its field managers to strengthen management control of the startup process.
· HSS’s Office of Independent Oversight is including an evaluation of the implementation of the decision-making process for determining the appropriate level of facility startup analysis and review (e.g., whether a PDSA should be developed and an ORR or RA performed) as part of its Environment, Safety and Health site inspections.
· HSS is establishing a DOE-wide working group to examine the facility restart review process to identify improvements and any appropriate revisions to the restart Order. This working group met in Richland, Washington, in late January with participation by your staff.
Although DOE did not identify a need for revision or clarification of the definition of a “new Hazard Category 1, 2, or 3 nuclear facility” and/or “substantial modification” within the DOE directives system, additional detail on what constitutes a “major modification” is being including in the latest draft of DOE Standard 1189, Integration of Safety into the Design Process, and will be considered for inclusion in DOE guidance documents that address “substantial modifications” for consistency.
If you have further questions on our efforts on this issue, please contact me at (301) 903-3777 or have your staff contact Dr. James O’Brien at (301) 903-1408.
Glenn S. Podonsky
Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer
Office of Health, Safety and Security