Review cites issues with CMR fire suppression system

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LASO: Independent Oversight finds flaws during inspection last summer

By The Staff

The Office of Enforcement and Oversight conducted an independent review of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) Facility fire suppression system (FSS) safety system last July.

And the results were just recently released.

“The DOE-HS and NNSA LASO review of the CMR fire suppression system was part of DOE’s normal processes to maintain operational awareness of the status of important safety systems, communicate identified issues, and ensure continuous improvement.  This assessment and improvement process increases DOE, NNSA, and LANS confidence that safety-credited systems will function upon demand in the event of an accident,” said Chuck Keilers, LASO Assistant Manager for Safety Operations.

The purpose of the LASO assessment was to evaluate the functionality and operability of the FSS and to ensure that the system complied with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) orders and standards and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and requirements. The assessment was conducted July 25-August 5, 2011.

Here is a brief summary of the independent review:

• The CMR valve alignment surveillance procedure, which is used to validate that an unobstructed flow path exists from the water Tanks 4 and 4A to the CMR Facility fire loop, does not validate valves in the flow path outside the CMR Facility boundary.

• The Technical Safety Requirement surveillance test acceptance criteria for static gauge pressure at fire suppression system risers may be inadequate because the pressure required to deliver water flow from the riser to the hydraulically most remote sprinkler head is not considered in the analysis.
The LASO report was issued to the contractor identifying 12 findings in the areas of Safety Function Definition, Configuration Management, System Maintenance, and System Surveillance and Testing. LANL was asked to review the report and provide confirmation that the identified issues were entered into the facility’s corrective action program.

Based on the conclusions drawn in the report, Independent Oversight offered the following actions.

• Development of an institutional policy to confirm unobstructed fire water flow paths to the CMR Facility.

• Revision of the analyses that support the safety basis FSS functional requirements related to adequate water supply volume and pressure at the hydraulically most remote design area.

• Institute modifications to correct FSS pipe support attachments and spacing that violate NFPA requirements stating that piping shall be substantially supported from the building structure. Recognizing that the CMR building structure itself does not meet current seismic criteria, supports should be modified to meet standard industry and NFPA good working practices, not necessarily to meet current seismic supporting criteria.

• Assure that longstanding open deficiencies identified in the facility FHA are addressed and closed in a timely fashion.

• Modify the safety basis, control drawings, and other configuration management documentation to reflect the FSS as installed. Specifically-identified system attributes, such as the safety significant pressure pumps and lack of priority drawings for certain risers, should be addressed.