The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a Severity Level II Notice of Violation and a proposed $11,200 civil penalty to Chicago Bridge & Iron’s Lake Charles, La., facility for actions related to the dropping of a prefabricated building section for a new reactor. The NRC has also issued a Severity Level III Notice of Violation to a former company official.
The safety-related building section, for one of the two V.C. Summer new reactors under construction in South Carolina, was dropped and damaged on March 1, 2013, due to improper rigging and lifting practices. The NRC has concluded facility staff took deliberate actions to falsify records regarding the damage and the causes for dropping the section. The NRC concluded a former company official deliberately instructed subordinates to initially provide false statements as to the cause of the drop.
The willful actions described in the NRC’s notices were significant because they appeared to include an understanding of the nuclear safety implications that resulted from mishandling of and damage to the building section. Despite this understanding, the facility’s officials and employees involved in the incident knowingly disregarded quality assurance program requirements designed to promptly identify and correct a deficient condition.
These notices cover events that happened more than two years ago, and reflect facility performance at that time. Recently completed NRC inspections have indicated the Lake Charles facility’s safety culture is improving, and that facility staff better understand the importance of conducting work with integrity. NRC staff will continue inspecting work activities at all Chicago Bridge & Iron facilities to further assess the company’s implementation of corrective actions imposed by the NRC’s September 2014 Confirmatory Order that included actions to address and correct deliberate misconduct at the Lake Charles facility.