United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-00-201 - Southeast Missouri State University

September 13, 2001

EA-00-201
EA-01-151

Ken Dobbins, Ph.D.
President
Southeast Missouri State University
One University Plaza
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

SUBJECT:   NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY -$11,000 (NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 030-33508/2000-001(DNMS))

Dear Dr. Dobbins:

This refers to the routine inspection conducted on February 16, 2000, and the special inspection conducted June 21, 2000, at Southeast Missouri State University (University), Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The February inspection was a routine examination of activities conducted under your license as they relate to NRC requirements. The June inspection was a special inspection to review the University's June 20, 2000 report, regarding americium-241 (Am-241) contamination identified in Magill Hall. As a result of the inspection, several apparent violations and two unresolved issues were identified. The results of these inspections are included in Inspection Report No. 030-33508/2000-001(DNMS) which was transmitted to you on November 17, 2000. This also refers to the University's written notification on January 9, 2001, regarding a lost strontium-90 sealed source with a nominal activity of 740 Megabecquerel (20 millicurie).

On June 12, 2001, a predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the Region III office with you and members of your staff to discuss the apparent violations, their significance, their root causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that five violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

The violations in Section A of the Notice involve the failure to: (1) control activities such that the sum of the deep-dose equivalent and committed dose equivalent to any individual organ or tissue does not exceed 0.5 sievert (50 rem); (2) make necessary surveys to determine the radiological hazards present; and (3) possess only material authorized on the University's license.

Specifically, for the period from January 1 to June 30, 2000, a contractor received a deep-dose equivalent of less than 0.1 millisieverts (0.01 rem) and, for the period from June 13 to June 16, 2000, received an uptake of Am-241 resulting in a committed dose equivalent of 2.63 sieverts (263 rem) to the bone surface. The individual received the uptake of Am-241 while performing inventory and decontamination activities in the basement of Magill Hall. Contributing to the overexposure were the violations associated with the failure to make necessary surveys and possession of radioactive material that was not authorized by the University's license. The failure to make necessary surveys involved the failure to perform air sampling to evaluate the potential airborne radioactivity present during the inventory and decontamination activities, and not using portable survey instruments capable of detecting alpha activity. As a result of the inventory activities, the University identified that it possessed a cesium-137 sealed source, unsealed cobalt-60, and sealed and unsealed Am-241 that were not authorized on its current license. The possession of Am-241 directly contributed to the individual's overexposure. Therefore, these violations are categorized collectively in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, May 1, 2000, as a Severity Level I problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $5,500 is considered for a Severity Level I problem. The NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Credit is not warranted for identification since the violations were identified either by the NRC or through an event and there was sufficient information available for the University to implement actions that could have prevented the violations from occurring. Credit for corrective actions is warranted. Specifically, as a result of identifying Am-241 contamination, the University agreed to issuance of a Confirmatory Action Letter confirming that the University: would hire an outside contractor qualified and experienced in handling Am-241; had shut down the ventilation system; had established control of contaminated areas to prevent unauthorized access; and would conduct a walk-through of the facility to search for other radioactive materials in the University's possession. Additional corrective actions included assessing individuals who may have been exposed to the Am-241 contamination.

While the NRC recognizes that application of the normal civil penalty assessment process would result in a base civil penalty for the Severity Level I problem, the NRC has decided to exercise discretion in accordance with Section VII.A.1 of the Enforcement Policy to increase the penalty. Specifically, the value of the civil penalty for the Severity Level I problem has been increased by 100 percent due to your particularly poor performance that included: (1) the time frame over which it took to identify the contents of the safe; (2) possession of radioactive material not authorized by your license for approximately 10 years; and (3) the failure to implement an effective radiation protection program, which allowed the problems to persist and contributed to an individual receiving an exposure in excess of five times the regulatory limit.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of compliance with dose limits, the need to make necessary surveys for licensees to comply with the regulations, and an effective radiation protection program, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Commission, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the amount of $11,000 for the Severity Level I problem. In addition, issuance of this Notice constitutes escalated enforcement action that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

The violations in Section B of the Notice involve the failure to: (1) secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials stored in controlled or unrestricted areas; and (2) have a radiation safety officer (RSO). The first violation involved the loss of a strontium-90 sealed source with a nominal activity of 740 Megabecquerel (20 millicurie) identified during the University's inventory and verbally reported to the NRC on December 20, 2000, and followed by a written report dated January 9, 2001. This violation is categorized in accordance with the Enforcement Policy at Severity Level III.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $2750 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement actions 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.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Credit is warranted for corrective action, since the University identified the loss as part of its inventory to identify all radioactive materials possessed. The University also implemented new property control and surplus inventory policies and procedures for the College of Science and Mathematics that included: (1) review and approval for all property transfers of potentially contaminated equipment by the RSO; (2) surveys of surplused equipment for contamination; and (3) training personnel in the correct procedures for surplusing equipment that contains radioactive material. Therefore, to encourage identification and comprehensive correction of violations, I am authorized not to propose a civil penalty for this violation. Note that this violation occurred prior to the February 16, 2001, Enforcement Policy revision, which provides that notwithstanding the outcome of the normal civil penalty assessment process, a civil penalty will normally be issued for violations involving lost sources.

The second violation described in Section B of the Notice addresses the failure to have an RSO in accordance with License Condition No. 11.B. This violation is categorized in accordance with the Enforcement Policy at Severity Level IV.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved, is already adequately addressed in Inspection Report No. 030-33508/2000-001(DNMS) and your June 12, 2001 letter. Therefore, you are not required to respond to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201 unless the description therein does not accurately 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 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/

J. E. Dyer
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-33508
License No. 24-09296-02

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Docket No. 030-33508
License No. 24-09296-02
EA-00-201
EA-01-151

During NRC inspections conducted on February 16 and June 21, 2000, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, May 1, 2000, the NRC proposes to impose a civil penalty pursuant to Section 234 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (Act), 42 U.S.C. 2282, and 10 CFR 2.205. The particular violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

A.   Violations Assessed a Civil Penalty

1.   10 CFR 20.1201(a)(1)(ii) requires, with exceptions not applicable here, that the licensee control the occupational dose to individual adults such that the sum of the deep-dose equivalent and committed dose equivalent to any individual organ or tissue other than the lens of the eye does not exceed an annual dose limit of 50 rem.

Contrary to the above, the licensee did not control the occupational dose to a contract individual such that the sum of the deep-dose equivalent and the committed dose equivalent to any individual organ does not exceed 50 rem. Specifically, from January 1 to June 30, 2000, the individual received a deep-dose equivalent of less than 0.01 rem and, for the period from June 13 to June 16, 2000, the individual received an uptake of Am-241 resulting in a committed dose equivalent of 263 rem to the bone surface, the sum of which exceeds 50 rem.

2.   10 CFR 20.1501 requires that each licensee make or cause to be made surveys that may be necessary for the licensee to comply with the regulations in Part 20 and that are reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate the extent of radiation levels, concentrations or quantities of radioactive materials, and the potential radiological hazards that could be present.

Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.1003, survey means an evaluation of the radiological conditions and potential hazards incident to the production, use, transfer, release, disposal, or presence of radioactive material or other sources of radiation.

Contrary to the above, from June 13 to June 16, 2000, the licensee did not make surveys to assure compliance with 10 CFR 20.1201(a)(1)(ii), which limits the occupational dose to an adult to 50 rem to any organ. Specifically, the licensee failed to make a survey to evaluate for the presence of airborne americium-241contamination on two occasions in the basement of Magill Hall before beginning work in Room 21 of the basement. Also, the licensee failed to use appropriate portable survey meters capable of detecting alpha contamination.

3.   10 CFR 30.3 requires, in part, that except for persons exempted, no person shall possess or use byproduct material except as authorized by a specific or general license issued pursuant to Title 10, Chapter 1, Code of Federal Regulations.

Item 6 of amendment number 01 to License Number 24-09296-02 issued June 19, 1997, authorizes the licensee to possess Phosphorus-32, Sulfur-35, Carbon-14, Hydrogen-3, Iodine-125, Strontium-90 and Phosphorus-33.

Contrary to the above, as of February 16, 2000, the licensee was in possession of unsealed Americium-241, 120 millicuries of Americium-241 in sealed form, 5 millicuries of Cesium-137 in a sealed form, and 5 millicuries of unsealed Cobalt-60.

This is a Severity Level I problem (Supplement IV). (EA-00-201)
Civil Penalty - $11,000

B.   Violations Not Assessed a Civil Penalty

1.   10 CFR 20.1801 requires that the licensee 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; and unrestricted area means an area, access to which is neither limited nor controlled by the licensee.

Contrary to the above, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to a strontium-90 (Sr-90) sealed source with a nominal activity of 20 millicuries in the basement of Magill Hall on the university campus which is an unrestricted area, nor did the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of this licensed material. Specifically, during an inventory in December 2000, the Sr-90 source could not be located.

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement IV). (EA-01-151)

2.   License Condition number 11.B of amendment number 01 to License Number 24-09296-02 issued June 19, 1997 names Michael Delgado, Ph.D., as the Radiation Safety Officer.

Contrary to the above, as of August 1, 1999, Michael Delgado, Ph.D. was no longer the radiation safety officer for the University, and the University did not name a replacement until July 10, 2000.

This is a Severity Level IV violation (Supplement VI).

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved, is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 030-33508/2000-001(DNMS) and your June 12, 2001 letter. 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 choose 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, DC 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region III, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, IL 60532 within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

The Licensee may pay the civil penalty proposed above, in accordance with NUREG/BR-0254 and by submitting to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, a statement indicating when and by what method payment was made, or may protest imposition of the civil penalty in whole or in part, by a written answer addressed to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Should the Licensee fail to answer within the time specified, an order imposing the civil penalty will be issued. Should the Licensee elect to file an answer in accordance with 10 CFR 2.205 protesting the civil penalty, in whole or in part, such answer should be clearly marked as an "Answer to a Notice of Violation" and may: (1) deny the violations listed in this Notice, in whole or in part, (2) demonstrate extenuating circumstances, (3) show error in this Notice, or (4) show other reasons why the penalty should not be imposed. In addition to protesting the civil penalty, in whole or in part, such answer may request remission or mitigation of the penalty.

In requesting mitigation of the proposed penalty, the factors addressed in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy should be addressed. Any written answer in accordance with 10 CFR 2.205 should be set forth separately from the statement or explanation in reply pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201, but may incorporate parts of the 10 CFR 2.201 reply by specific reference (e.g., citing page and paragraph numbers to avoid repetition). The attention of the Licensee is directed to the other provisions of 10 CFR 2.205, regarding the procedure for imposing a civil penalty.

Upon failure to pay any civil penalty due that subsequently has been determined in accordance with the applicable provisions of 10 CFR 2.205, this matter may be referred to the Attorney General, and the penalty, unless compromised, remitted, or mitigated, may be collected by civil action pursuant to Section 234(c) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2282c.

The response noted above (Reply to Notice of Violation, statement as to payment of civil penalty, and Answer to a Notice of Violation) should be addressed to: Frank Congel, Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-2738, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region III.

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

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

Dated this 13th day of September 2001.

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