Watch for Counterfeit Parts, NRC Reminds Operators, Applicants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a notice Monday reminding reactor license applicants and nuclear power plant operators to prevent counterfeit parts from posing a safety concern. The notice cites two counterfeit valves at the Hatch facility near Baxley, Ga., of which NRC learned in November 2007, and one of these was installed as a cooling water pump discharge stop check valve on Hatch Unit 2. Catawba, a facility in Rock Hill, S.C., removed four circuit breakers from its stock after checking and being unable to confirm their authenticity, according to the notice, which stresses that none of these items was installed in a safety-related application.

"In recent years many vendors, including foreign companies, with little to no experience in the nuclear industry have entered the market to supply parts and components for both safety and non-safety applications to nuclear power plants," the notice states. "It remains the licensee's responsibility to ensure that all suppliers use standards and processes that conform to US standards. Effective oversight of suppliers becomes increasingly more important as the nuclear industry begins construction of new nuclear power plants in the US."

"Nuclear power plants require high-quality components that meet rigorous standards," Bill Borchardt, director of NRC's Office of New Reactors, said in the agency's April 8, 2008, news release. "As the industry prepares for possible new plants, we want both utilities and construction companies to ensure their suppliers are up to the job."

The notice lists three keys to ensure the use of quality nuclear-grade products:

* Involve engineering staff in procuring and accepting products.
* Inspect parts both at the vendor's plant and after receipt, along with testing parts before use.
* Extensively review and test any commercial product before considering its use in safety-related applications.

The notice is available at www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/2008/index.html.

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