United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Authority to Penalize Willful False Exposure of Personnel Monitoring Device and Other Hoaxes

HPPOS-176 PDR-9111210268

See the memorandum from J. Lieberman to J. R. Metzger dated August 26, 1980, and the incoming request from J. P. Stohr dated May 7, 1980.

It is an OELD opinion that using licensed materials for malicious purposes or obtaining false dosimeter readings is not authorized by licenses. A person who does so is conducting activities without a license. Depending on the circumstances, such a person could be subject to enforcement sanctions.

Region II pointed out the apparent deliberate exposure of five personnel dosimeter devices (film badges) at Whittaker Memorial Hospital to between 38 and 71 rem as representative of false alarms and hoaxes that have exercised licensees, NRC Regional Offices, and State Agencies with increasing frequency in recent years. This results in the dilution of safety programs and the waste and misdirection of limited resources. The question involves NRC authority to penalize this type of behavior.

It is an OELD opinion that a person conducting activities without a license is in violation of the Atomic Energy Act. A person as used here could mean a licensee, employee, etc. It must not be construed that licensees should always be cited for something an employee does in the way of hoaxes, where the licensee has no control and no regulatory requirement exists. Of course, this should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

One case mentioned by OELD involved two employees damaging some fuel bundles with corrosive material. Some 68 allegations were made and an investigation showed none of them to be valid. An extensive search of the Atomic Energy Act by OELD indicated that the licensee could not be found in violation of the Act because of what the employees had done. In this case, the licensee pressed charges and the employees were found guilty and sentenced to jail terms.

Hoaxes, willful false dosimeter exposures, or other similar events should be brought to the attention of HQ. It may be that the licensee was at fault, such as failure to follow approved security measures. If an employee commits an offense against the licensee, there may be something NRC can do depending on the circumstances, but it is doubtful. The most likely course of action would be for the licensee to dismiss the employee or to ask for local police assistance and press charges if the licensee desires.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 30.3

Subject codes: 3.8

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, June 15, 2015