United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-01-081 - Idaho State University

April 5, 2001

EA-01-081

Jonathan Lawson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Idaho State University
919 South 8th Street
Pocatello, Idaho 83209

SUBJECT:   NRC INSPECTION REPORT 030-32322/01-01 AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Dear Dr. Lawson:

This refers to the inspection conducted on March 7-8, 2001, at your facility in Pocatello, Idaho. The inspection was an examination of activities conducted under NRC Byproduct Materials License 11-27380-01 as they relate to radiation safety and to compliance with the Commission's rules and regulations and the conditions of the license. The preliminary inspection findings were discussed with Dr. Alan Egger and other members of your staff on March 8, 2001. A final telephonic exit meeting was conducted with Dr. Egger and members of your staff on March 29, 2001.

During the telephonic exit briefing on March 29, 2001, Idaho State University (ISU) was informed that the NRC was considering escalated enforcement action for an apparent violation involving a failure to control and maintain constant surveillance of licensed material that was in a controlled area. 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. Your staff indicated that ISU did not believe that a predecisional enforcement conference or written response was needed.

Therefore, based on the information developed during the inspection, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation is described in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice), and involved a failure to control and maintain constant surveillance of licensed material that was in a controlled area. The violation is of concern because of the possible adverse health and safety consequences had the licensed material been inappropriately removed from ISU's facility. Specifically, the inspectors observed that approximately 1.5 millicuries of iodine-125 stored in waste containers was left in an unlocked and unattended laboratory in ISU's Department of Biology. Additionally, the violation is a repeat finding from a previous inspection, although not attributed to the same laboratory or researcher. This violation has been categorized in accordance with the General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, at Severity Level III.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a civil penalty with a base value of $3,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has 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 in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Based on ISU's prompt actions to address the violation, the NRC has determined that your corrective actions warrant credit. ISU's immediate corrective actions included emphasizing that responsible users were accountable for the security of licensed material in any form, including waste, and emphasizing that responsible users were to notify the Technical Safety Office promptly when radioactive waste materials are ready to be removed. Additionally, the Technical Safety Office staff will conduct increased random security checks of ISU's laboratories.

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 in your correspondence received by our office on March 9, 2001. 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 and its enclosure 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).

Sincerely,

/RA/ T. P. Gwynn for

Ellis W. Merschoff
Regional Administrator

Docket No.: 030-32322
License No.: 11-27380-01

Enclosure:  Notice of Violation

cc w/enclosure:  Idaho Radiation Control Program Director


ENCLOSURE

NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Idaho State University.
Pocatello, Idaho
    Docket No.: 030-32322
License No.: 11-27380-01
EA-01-081

During an NRC inspection completed on March 8, 2001, one 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 20.1801 requires, in part, that the licensee secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that are stored in controlled areas. 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.
Contrary to the above, on March 8, 2001, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to approximately 1.5 millicuries of Iodine125 in the form of radioactive waste located in the Idaho State University, Department of Biology, Gale Life Sciences Building Laboratory 307, which is a controlled area.
This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement IV).

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 in correspondence received from Idaho State University on March 9, 2001. 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.

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

Dated this 5th day of April 2001

 

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