United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-00-086 - V.A., Department of, PA

December 14, 2000

EA 00-086

Mr. Michael J. Sullivan, Director
Department of Veterans Affairs
Medical Center
University and Woodland Avenues
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Subject:  Order Imposing Civil Monetary Penalty - $5,500

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

This refers to your letter, dated August 29, 2000, in response to the Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) sent to you by our letter, dated July 20, 2000. Our letter and Notice described a violation involving discrimination against a research nurse who was subjected to intolerable working conditions after contacting the NRC regarding safety concerns. The violation was classified at Severity Level III. A civil penalty in the amount of $5,500 was proposed for the violation to emphasize the importance of continuously assuring a work environment that is free of any harassment, intimidation, or discrimination against those who raise safety concerns.

In your response, you denied the violation and requested withdrawal of the violation and recission of the associated civil penalty. After consideration of your response, we have concluded, for the reasons given in the Appendix attached to the enclosed Order Imposing Civil Monetary Penalty, that you did not provide an adequate basis for the NRC to withdraw the violation or rescind the civil penalty. Therefore, a civil penalty in the amount of $5,500 should be imposed.

Accordingly, we hereby serve the enclosed Order on the Philadelphia Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center imposing a civil monetary penalty in the amount of $5,500. Payment should be made within 30 days of the date of this Order, by check, draft, money order, or electronic transfer, payable to the Treasurer of the United States and mailed to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555.

Although you denied the violation, you described actions taken to ensure a climate at the facility where individuals feel free to raise safety concerns without fear of reprisal. We will review the effectiveness of your corrective actions during a subsequent inspection.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice", a copy of this letter and the enclosures will be made available electronically for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room or from the Publicly Available Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS). ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public NRC Library).

Sincerely,

/RA/

R.W. Borchardt, Director
Office of Enforcement

Docket No. 030-14526
License No. 37-00062-07

Enclosures:  As Stated

cc w/encls:
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


ENCLOSURE

UNITED STATES
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

In the Matter of )
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center ) Docket No. 030-14526
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ) License No. 37-00062-07
) EA No. 00-086

ORDER IMPOSING A CIVIL MONETARY PENALTY

I

Philadelphia Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (PVAMC) (Licensee) is the holder of Byproduct Materials License No. 37-00062-07 (License) issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Commission) on January 16, 1979, and most recently renewed by the NRC on March 31, 1994 (to expire on March 31, 2004). The License authorizes the Licensee to possess and use certain byproduct materials in accordance with the conditions specified therein at its facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

II

On April 16, 1999, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) issued an initial decision (which became a final decision on May 21, 1999) finding that the PVAMC discriminated against a former research nurse at the facility for raising safety concerns. Specifically, the MSPB found, in part, that the former research nurse was subjected to intolerable working conditions for raising safety concerns. Based on this MSPB finding, the NRC concluded that there was a violation of NRC regulations at 10 CFR 30.7. As a result, a written Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the amount of $5,500 was served upon the Licensee by letter dated July 20, 2000. The Notice states the nature of the violation, the provisions of the NRC requirement that the Licensee had violated, and the amount of the civil penalty proposed for the violation.

The Licensee responded to the Notice in a letter, dated August 29, 2000. In its response, the Licensee denied the violation and requested that the NRC withdraw the violation and rescind the associated civil penalty.

III

After consideration of the Licensee's response and the statements of fact, explanation, and argument contained therein, the NRC staff has determined, as set forth in the Appendix to this Order, that the staff does not believe that the Licensee has provided an adequate basis for withdrawal of the violation or for rescission of the associated civil penalty. Therefore, a civil penalty in the amount of $5,500 should be imposed.

IV

In view of the foregoing and pursuant to Section 234 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (Act), 42 U.S.C. 2282, and 10 CFR 2.205, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

The Licensee pay a civil penalty in the amount of $5,500 within 30 days of the date of this Order, in accordance with NUREG/BR-0254. In addition, at the time of making the payment, the Licensee shall submit a statement indicating when and by what method payment was made, to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-2738

V

The Licensee may request a hearing within 30 days of the date of this Order. Where good cause is shown, consideration will be given to extending the time to request a hearing. A request for extension of time must be made in writing to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555, and include a statement of good cause for the extension. A request for a hearing should be clearly marked as a "Request for an Enforcement Hearing" and shall be submitted to the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff, Washington, DC 20555. Copies also shall be sent to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, to the Associate General Counsel for Hearings, Enforcement and Administration at the same address, and to the Regional Administrator, NRC Region I, 475 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, PA 19406.

If a hearing is requested, the Commission will issue an Order designating the time and place of the hearing. If the Licensee fails to request a hearing within 30 days of the date of this Order (or if written approval of an extension of time in which to request a hearing has not been granted), the provisions of this Order shall be effective without further proceedings. If payment has not been made by that time, the matter may be referred to the Attorney General for collection.

In the event the Licensee requests a hearing as provided above, the issues to be considered at such hearing shall be:

(a) whether the Licensee was in violation of the Commission's requirements as set forth in the Notice referenced in Section II above, and

(b) whether, on the basis of such violation, this Order should be sustained.

FOR THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

       
\RA\

R. W. Borchardt, Director
Office of Enforcement

Dated this 14th day of December 2000

 

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