United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-00-088 - Turabo Corporation

June 12, 2000

EA-00-088

Turabo Corporation
ATTN: Leonidas R. Almonte
President and Radiation Safety Officer
P.O. Box 6705
Caguas, Puerto Rico 00726

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION
(NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 52-25133-01/00-010)

Dear Almonte:

This refers to the special inspection conducted on March 23, 2000, at your Caguas, Puerto Rico facility. The purpose of the inspection was to evaluate the circumstances and probable causes of the March 2, 2000, loss of control of a Boart Longyear model MC-1 "Portaprobe" portable moisture-density gauge that contained 7.12 millicuries of cesium-137 and 49 millicuries of americium-241. The results of the inspection, including two apparent violations, were discussed with Mr. Miguel Román of your staff at the conclusion of the inspection and formally transmitted to you by letter dated April 21, 2000. An open, predecisional enforcement conference was conducted at the Hampton Inn in Carolina, Puerto Rico on May 18, 2000, to discuss the apparent violations, the root causes, and your corrective actions. A listing of conference attendees, the materials you presented at the conference, and the NRC's presentation materials are enclosed.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice), and the circumstances surrounding them were described in detail in the subject inspection report. The violations involve the failure to secure the "Portaprobe" portable moisture-density gauge from unauthorized removal or access and the failure to limit the dose in an unrestricted area to less than 2 millirem in any one hour.

The loss of control of the portable moisture-density gauge resulted in minimal actual consequences. However, the NRC views this event as a significant safety issue. Licensee personnel who are authorized to use devices containing radioactive material are expected to do so in a responsible manner so as to avoid unnecessary or unexpected radiation exposure to the public. In this case, not only was the portable gauge inadequately secured, surveilled, and attended; but it also was placed in close proximity to a private residence and subsequently carried into the home by an occupant. Although radiation overexposure to occupants of the private residence and members of the public did not occur, the risk for radiological exposure under these circumstances was substantial. Therefore, based on the potential safety significance of the event, these violations are classified in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), as a Severity Level III problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $2,750 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement action within the last two inspections, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. At the conference, you stated that your corrective actions included: (1) providing training for staff on security of gauges based on this event and having each employee attest to his understanding of requirements by signature; (2) providing procedures on gauge handling and security in Spanish; (3) replacing hazard labels on portable gauges to ensure legibility; (4) performing confirmation surveys to ensure that radiation dose rates to the public were not exceeded; (5) performing a confirmation leak test on the gauge in question (although not due); and (6) implementing disciplinary action against the individual who left the gauge unattended. You also discussed a statement in your April 14, 2000 Event Report, which stated that the technician "left the gauge momentarily......" After further review of the event and our Inspection Report, you stated that it was evident that the gauge was left unattended for a longer period of time. Upon your recognition of the extent of the technician's failure, you implemented the corrective actions you described at the conference. Based on these actions, the NRC determined that your corrective actions were comprehensive and credit was warranted for the factor of Corrective Action. Please be advised that had it not been for the comprehensive corrective actions implemented once the seriousness and sequence of events leading to the loss of control of the portable gauge were fully understood, the Enforcement Policy would have required consideration of a civil penalty for this event.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive correction of violations and in recognition of the absence of previous escalated enforcement action, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty. In addition, issuance of this Severity Level III problem constitutes escalated enforcement action, that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reasons for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the dates when full compliance was achieved are addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 52-25133-01/00-01, the licensee's April 14, 2000 Event Report, and the materials you presented at the conference. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description therein does not adequately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to provide additional information, you should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosures, and your response, if any, will be made publicly available.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Douglas M. Collins, Director, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety at (404) 562-4700.

Sincerely,

  /RA/

  Luis A. Reyes
Regional Administrator

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

Docket No. 030-32029
License No. 52-25133-01

cc w/encls:
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Turabo Corporation
Caugus, Puerto Rico
    Docket No. 030-32029
License No. 52-25133-01
EA-00-088

During an NRC special inspection conducted on March 23, 2000, violations of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

A.   10 CFR 20.1801 requires the licensee to secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that are stored in controlled or unrestricted areas. 10 CFR 20.1802 requires that the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of licensed material that is in a controlled or unrestricted area and that is not in storage. As defined in 10 CFR 20.1003, controlled area means an area, outside of a restricted area but inside the site boundary, access to which can be limited by the licensee for any reason; an unrestricted area means an area, access to which is neither limited nor controlled by the licensee.

License Condition 19 requires that the licensee shall conduct its program in accordance with the statements, representations, and procedures contained in the documents submitted in the revised license application dated March 8, 1991.

The last paragraph of Item No. 9, page 3 of the revised license application states that the licensee will adopt the normal and emergency operating procedures contained in the Campbell Pacific Nuclear Corporation Owner's Manual included with the application. Section 8.02 "Field Safety Procedures" of the owner's manual states the gauge is to be under the control of a licensed operator at all times.

Contrary to the above, on March 2, 2000, a portable moisture-density gauge containing 7.12 millicuries of cesium-137 and 49 millicuries of americium-241 source was left unsecured at a private residence outside of Ciales, Puerto Rico, an unrestricted area. In addition, the gauge was not under the control or constant surveillance of the operator during the time it was in this unrestricted area. As a result, the gauge was lost and in the possession of members of the general public for approximately 11 hours. (01013)

B.   10 CFR 20.1301(a)(2) requires that the licensee conduct operations so that the dose in any unrestricted area from external sources does not exceed 2 millirem in any one hour.

Contrary to the above, for approximately 11 hours on March 2, 2000, licensee operations resulted in a dose of 2.5 millirem in one hour at a private residence outside of Ciales, Puerto Rico, an unrestricted area. The measured dose rate created by the radioactive material within the portable moisture-density gauge was 2.5 millirem per hour at a distance of one foot from the gauge. (01023)

This is a Severity Level III problem. (Supplement IV)

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reasons for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the dates when full compliance was achieved are addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 52-25133-01/00-01, the licensee's April 14, 2000 Event Report, and the materials you presented at the conference. However, you are required to submit a written statement or explanation pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201 if the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you chose to respond, clearly mark your response as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation," and send it to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region II, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

If you contest this enforcement action, you should also provide a copy of your response, with the basis for your denial, to the Director, Office of Enforcement, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2232, any response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

If you choose to respond, your response will be made publicly available. Therefore, to the extent possible, the response should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be place in the PDR without redaction.

In accordance with 10 CFR 19.11, you may be required to post this Notice within two working days.

Dated this 12th day of June 2000
Atlanta, Georgia

 

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