United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-01-030 - Weatherford International, Inc.

February 5, 2001

EA-01-030

Gary Warren, President
Weatherford Drilling and Intervention Services
Weatherford International, Inc.
515 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 600
Houston, Texas 77027

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC INSPECTION REPORT 150-00017/00-13 AND NRC INVESTIGATION REPORT 4-2000-065)

Dear Mr. Warren:

This refers to the inspection conducted by this office and the investigation conducted by the NRC's Office of Investigations (OI) involving NRC regulated activities conducted from your Broussard and Houma, Louisiana, offices. The inspection and investigation were conducted on December 11-12, 2000, at the Broussard, Louisiana, facility. The investigation included interviews with the Broussard site and corporate radiation safety officers. The inspection was also conducted at the Houma, Louisiana, facility on December 13, 2000. The enclosed report presents the results of the inspection.

The inspection was an examination of activities conducted under your Louisiana Agreement State license as they relate to safety and compliance with the Commission's rules and regulations and with the conditions of your general license. Within these areas, the inspection consisted of selected examination of procedures and representative records, observations of well logging activities, and interviews with personnel. A preliminary exit briefing was held with Wendell Marcantel, Safety Coordinator/Radiation Safety Officer, on December 12, 2000. A final exit briefing was telephonically held with John Nicholson, Senior Vice President, other members of your staff, and Ms. Linda Howell, Acting Division Director, of this office on January 30, 2001.

The purpose of the inspection and investigation was to examine compliance with NRC requirements related to well logging activities conducted within the NRC's jurisdiction, specifically to review activities conducted in offshore Federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, an area of exclusive Federal jurisdiction. Although you hold Louisiana license No. LA-4466-L01, activities conducted in offshore Federal waters are under the regulatory oversight of the NRC. During this inspection, Mr. Marcantel was informed of this jurisdictional issue.

During the telephonic exit briefing, your staff was informed that the NRC was considering escalated enforcement action for an apparent violation involving Weatherford International's failure to apply for and obtain reciprocity from the NRC prior to conducting generally licensed activities at offshore locations in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, your staff was informed that NRC believed it had sufficient information regarding the apparent violation and your corrective actions to make an enforcement decision without the need for a predecisional enforcement conference or a written response from you. Further, your staff indicated that Weatherford International did not believe that a predecisional enforcement conference or written response was necessary.

Therefore, based on the information developed during the inspection and investigation, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation is described in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and involves your failure to file copies of NRC Form 241, "Report of Proposed Activities in Non-Agreement States, Areas of Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction, or Offshore Waters," to the appropriate NRC regional office prior to conducting licensed activities in areas of exclusive Federal jurisdiction. The inspection and investigation determined that Weatherford International, Inc. had conducted well logging operations in offshore Federal waters, in areas of exclusive Federal jurisdiction, during calender years 1999 and 2000 without notifying the NRC of these activities. While the investigation did not conclude that there was any willfulness on the part of Weatherford International personnel, the NRC still considers this type of violation important because it prevents the NRC from conducting inspections at temporary jobsites to assure that licensed material is being used safely and in accordance with NRC rules and regulations. Therefore, this violation has been categorized in accordance with the General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, dated 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 a Severity Level III violation. Because your facilities had not been the subject of escalated enforcement action, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for corrective action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process provided in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Based on Weatherford International's action to restore compliance within days of being notified by an NRC inspector of the need to apply for reciprocity, the NRC has determined that your corrective actions warrant credit. Weatherford International restored compliance by filing a Form 241 that was accepted by the NRC on December 12, 2000. This results in no civil penalty being assessed.

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, you are on notice that significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty. In addition, issuance of this Severity Level III violation constitutes escalated enforcement action that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in this report and the Form 241 that Weatherford International, Inc. filed on November 14, 2000. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter 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 any response you choose to submit will be 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). To the extent possible, your response (if any) should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be made available to the Public without redaction.

If you have any questions about this inspection, please contact Mr. Mark Shaffer at (817) 860-8287 or Mr. Robert Evans at (817) 860-8234.

Sincerely,

/RA/

Ellis W. Merschoff
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 150-00017
License No. General License of 10 CFR 150.20

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/enclosure:
Wendell Marcantel, Radiation Safety Officer
Weatherford Wireline Group
Weatherford International, Inc.
120 Fred Road
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70615

Louisiana Radiation Control Program Director


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Weatherford International, Inc.
Houston, Texas
Docket No. 150-00017
License No. 10 CFR 150.20
  (General License)
EA-01-030

During an NRC inspection and investigation conducted on December 11-13, 2000, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violation is listed below:

10 CFR 150.20(a) provides, in part, that any person who holds a specific license from an Agreement State is granted an NRC general license to conduct the same activity in offshore waters, provided that the provisions of 10 CFR 150.20(b) have been met.
10 CFR 150.20(b)(1) requires, in part, that any person engaging in activities in offshore waters, shall, at least 3 days before engaging in each such activity, file four copies of NRC Form 241, "Report of Proposed Activities in Non-Agreement States, Areas of Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction, or Offshore Waters," with the Regional Administrator of the appropriate NRC regional office.
Contrary to the above, on several occasions during calendar years 1999 and 2000, Weatherford International, Inc., a State of Louisiana licensee, conducted well logging operations using americium-241/beryllium sealed sources in offshore waters without filing a Form 241 with the NRC.
This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement VI).

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in this report and the NRC Form 241, "Report of Proposed Activities in Non-Agreement States, Areas of Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction, or Offshore Waters," from Weatherford International, Inc. dated November 14, 2000. 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 IV, 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 you choose to submit shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

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.

Dated this 5th day of February 2001

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