United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-00-272 - Global X-Ray & Testing Corporation

March 8, 2001

EA-00-272


Mr. Joel Moreau, President
Global X-Ray & Testing Corporation
P.O. Box 1536
Morgan City, Louisiana 70381-1536

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY -$5,500 (NRC Inspection Report No. 150-00017/00-01 & Investigation Report No. 4-2000-039)

Dear Mr. Moreau:

This refers to the NRC inspection and investigation of Global X-Ray &Testing Corporation's (GXTC) radiography operations conducted in offshore waters within the NRC's jurisdiction. During a final telephonic exit briefing with you and your staff on December 6, 2000, the NRC informed you that five apparent violations had been identified and were being considered for escalated enforcement action. The apparent violations were described in inspection report 150-00017/00-01 issued December 28, 2000. On February 8, 2001, a predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the NRC's Arlington, Texas office with you and other representatives of GXTC to discuss the apparent violations, their significance, their root causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and investigation, and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that four violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice), and include: 1) a failure to use pipeliner radiography devices in the manner described in a November 5, 1999, exemption granted by the NRC; 2) a failure to perform radiation surveys following radiographic exposures using pipeliner radiography devices; 3) a failure to have evaluated radiation exposures to the extremities of radiography personnel using pipeliners; and 4) a failure to have evaluated potential radiation exposures to non-radiation workers on lay barges. It was determined that the apparent violation involving a failure to have two qualified radiography personnel present during radiography operations was not a violation based on the information you provided during the conference. Specifically, GXTC stated at the conference that, based on the way radiography work is conducted on lay barges, two radiographers were always present when actual radiography exposures were being made. Since the requirement applies only during actual radiographic exposures, no violation appears to have occurred.

Of the remaining violations, the failure to perform radiation surveys following radiographic exposures and the failure to use pipeliner radiography devices as required by an NRC exemption, i.e., with the use of remote operating devices, have potential safety significance and have been classified at Severity Level III in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, May 1, 2000. Although no radiation exposure incidents appear to have occurred, each of these requirements is designed to minimize the potential for significant radiation exposures to radiography personnel and others in the area where radiography is being conducted. In this case, the failure to operate in accordance with the requirements of the NRC's exemption for the use of pipeliner devices would be categorized as a Severity Level IV violation. This is based on the fact that GXTC stated that this was done to satisfy industrial safety concerns associated with the hazardous working conditions present on the lay barges, and it appears that NRC may have approved this activity if GXTC had requested an amendment to the exemption. However, NRC is particularly concerned since the failure is considered a willful act, as it was done with the knowledge that it was in violation of these requirements. Therefore, based on this willfulness finding, the NRC has increased the severity level and has categorized the violation in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, May 1, 2000, at Severity Level III.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a civil penalty with a base value of $5,500 is considered for each Severity Level III violation. Because the failure to use remote operating devices with pipeliners was willful, we 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. No credit was warranted for identification, because the violation was identified by the NRC's inspection and investigation. However, credit was warranted for corrective action since GXTC took prompt action to resume the use of remote operating devices and requested a modification to its NRC exemption to seek more flexibility in meeting this requirement. This results in the assessment of a civil penalty at the base value of $5,500. Since the failure to conduct radiation surveys following each radiographic exposure was not considered willful (i.e., GXTC believed that the use of a radiation survey instrument which could be monitored by radiography personnel was sufficient), we considered only your Corrective Action in determining whether a civil penalty should be assessed. Credit for your corrective actions was warranted since GXTC took prompt corrective action by assuring that its radiographers conducted required surveys. GXTC also installed an audio visual alarm system to provide additional warning that radiography was occurring. This results in no civil penalty being assessed for this violation.

The remaining two violations, which involved the failure to evaluate fully radiation exposures to radiography personnel and non-radiation workers on lay barges, have been classified at Severity Level IV and, as such, were not considered for civil penalties. These violations are classified at Severity Level IV since the activities do not involve a substantial potential for radiation exposures in excess of NRC limits.

To emphasize the importance of strict compliance with radiation safety requirements associated with radiography operations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the base amount of $5,500 for the Severity Level III violation involving noncompliance with the terms of the NRC exemption granted GXTC. In addition, issuance of this Notice constitutes escalated enforcement action, that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

You are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. The NRC will use your response, in part, to determine whether further enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosure, and 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).

Sincerely,

/RA/

Ellis W. Merschoff
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 150-00017
General License Pursuant to 10 CFR 150.20

Enclosure:  Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/Enclosure: State of Louisiana


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Global X-Ray & Testing Corporation
Morgan City, Louisiana
Docket No. 150-00017
General License, 10 CFR 150.20
EA-00-272

During an NRC inspection and investigation completed on December 6, 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:

I. Violation Assessed a Civil Penalty

10 CFR 34.20(a)(1) establishes minimum criteria for equipment used in industrial radiographic operations. 10 CFR 34.111 states, in part, that the Commission may grant an exemption from the requirements of the regulations in this part if it determines the exemption is authorized by law and would not endanger life or property or the common defense and security and is otherwise in the public interest.

In letters dated August 25 and December 31, 1998, and in a facsimile dated May 21, 1999, Global X-Ray & Testing Corporation (GXTC) applied to the Commission for an exemption from 10 CFR 34.20 (a)(1) to allow GXTC to use certain pipeliner radiography exposure devices that did not meet the minimum criteria of 10 CFR 34.20 (a)(1).

The NRC granted GXTC an exemption from 10 CFR 34.20 (a)(1) in a letter dated November 5, 1999. The letter stipulated that GXTC must comply with eight commitments provided in GXTC's correspondence during radiographic operations involving the use of pipeliner exposure devices. Commitment number 5 required that extension rods with a minimum length of 3 feet shall be used to minimize personnel exposure while using pipeliner exposure devices.

Contrary to the above, during NRC's inspection of a GXTC temporary jobsite on a lay barge in Federal waters on May 12, 2000, GXTC was conducting radiographic operations with a pipeliner exposure device, and radiography personnel were not using the required 3-foot extension as required under GXTC's written exemption granted November 5, 1999.

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement VI).
Civil Penalty - $5,500.

II.   Violations Not Assessed a Civil Penalty

A.   10 CFR 34.49(b) requires, in part, that the licensee conduct a survey, with a calibrated and operable radiation survey instrument, of the radiographic exposure device and the guide tube after each radiographic exposure to determine that the sealed source has been returned to its shielded position.

Contrary to the above, during NRC's inspection of a GXTC temporary jobsite on a lay barge in Federal waters on May 12, 2000, licensee radiography personnel failed to perform a survey of the device after a radiographic exposure to determine that the sealed source had been returned to its shielded position.

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

B.   10 CFR 20.1501(a) 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.

10 CFR 20.1502(a)(1) requires, in part, that the licensee shall monitor exposures at levels sufficient to demonstrate compliance with occupational dose limits. As a minimum, licensees shall monitor occupational exposures and require the use of monitoring devices by adults likely to receive a dose in excess of 10 percent control of the limits in 10 CFR 20.1201(a).

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, licensee personnel used pipeliner exposure devices with characteristic high dose rates on the surface of the device, and as of May 12, 2000, the licensee had not performed an evaluation of the radiation dose to the extremities of GXTC radiography personnel using pipeliner exposure devices to demonstrate that monitoring of extremity exposures is not required.

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

C.   10 CFR 20.1302 requires, in part, that each licensee make or cause to be made, as appropriate, surveys of radiation levels in unrestricted and controlled areas to demonstrate compliance with the dose limits for individual members of the public cited in 10 CFR 20.1301. 10 CFR 20.1301 specifies that the total effective dose equivalent (TEDE) to individual members of the public from licensed operations must not exceed 1 milliSievert (100 mrem) in a year.

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, as of May 12, 2000, the licensee had not demonstrated that the TEDE to individual members of the public in unrestricted and controlled areas did not exceed 1 milliSievert (100 mrem) in a year. Specifically, although the licensee had performed radiation surveys in unrestricted areas on offshore platforms and lay-barges, the licensee had not used these survey results to perform a dose assessment for individual members of the public.

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Global X-Ray & Testing Corporation (Licensee) is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, within 30 days of the date of this Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and should include for each alleged violation: (1) admission or denial of the alleged violation, (2) the reasons for the violation if admitted, and if denied, the reasons why, (3) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (4) the corrective steps that will be taken to avoid further violations, and (5) the date when full compliance will be achieved. Your response may reference or include previous docketed correspondence, if the correspondence adequately addresses the required response. If an adequate reply is not received within the time specified in this Notice, an order or a Demand for Information may be issued as to why the license should not be modified, suspended, or revoked or why such other action as may be proper should not be taken. Consideration may be given to extending the response time for good cause shown. Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2232, this response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

Within the same time as provided for the response required above under 10 CFR 2.201, 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 violation(s) 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 which 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: 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 IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, TX 76011-8064.

Because 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), to the extent possible, it should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be made available to the public without redaction. ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public NRC Library). If personal privacy or proprietary information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, then please provide a bracketed copy of your response that identifies the information that should be protected and a redacted copy of your response that deletes such information. If you request withholding of such material, you must specifically identify the portions of your response that you seek to have withheld and provide in detail the bases for your claim of withholding (e.g., explain why the disclosure of information will create an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy or provide the information required by 10 CFR 2.790(b) to support a request for withholding confidential commercial or financial information). If safeguards information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, please provide the level of protection described in 10 CFR 73.21.

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

Dated this 8th day of March 2001

 

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