United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-01-095 - Black Warrior Wireline Corporation

May 27, 2001

EA-01-095

Bill Jenkins, President
Black Warrior Wireline Corporation
3748 Highway 45 North
Columbus, Mississippi 39701

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC INSPECTION REPORT 150-00017/00-12 AND NRC INVESTIGATION REPORT 4-2000-064)

Dear Mr. Jenkins:

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 Gray, Louisiana, district office. The inspection and investigation were conducted on December 12-13, 2000, and included an interview with your district office division manager. The enclosed report presents the results of that inspection.

The inspection was an examination of activities conducted in offshore Federal waters under a general license granted to Agreement State licensees in accordance with the terms of 10 CFR 150.20. The inspection reviewed safety and compliance with the Commission's rules and regulations and with the conditions of the general license. Within these areas, the inspection consisted of selected examination of procedures and representative records and interviews with licensee personnel. A preliminary exit briefing was held with Mr. Donald Babin, Division Manager, on December 13, 2000. A final exit briefing was telephonically held with Allan Neel, Executive Vice President, other members of your staff, and Messrs. Mark R. Shaffer and Robert J. Evans of this office on May 1, 2001.

Although Black Warrior Wireline Corporation (BWWC) possesses a State of Louisiana license (LA-10011-L01), activities conducted in offshore Federal waters are under the regulatory oversight of the NRC. During this inspection, Mr. Babin was informed of this jurisdictional issue.

During the May 1, 2001, exit briefing, your staff was informed that the NRC was considering escalated enforcement action for one apparent violation involving BWWC's failure to file NRC Form 241, "Report of Proposed Activities in Non-Agreement States, Areas of Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction, or Offshore Waters," with the NRC prior to conducting licensed activities in Federal waters 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. Your staff indicated that BWWC 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 two violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are described in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and involved your failure to: (1) file NRC Form 241 with the appropriate NRC regional office prior to conducting licensed activities in offshore Federal waters, and (2) obtain a written agreement with the employing well owner or operator prior to conducting well logging operations.

The inspection and investigation determined that BWWC had conducted well logging operations in offshore Federal waters during calendar 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 licensee personnel, the NRC still considers this type of violation significant 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 previously 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 BWWC's action to restore compliance after being notified by an NRC inspector of the need to file for reciprocity, the NRC has determined that your corrective actions warrant credit. BWWC restored compliance by filing an NRC Form 241 that was accepted by the NRC on January 8, 2001.

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.

Your corporate radiation safety officer had taken the position that BWWC of Gray, Louisiana, had conducted well logging operations in offshore Federal waters between December 1999 - November 2000 under NRC License 49-17724-01, Condition 10.B, issued to Boone Wireline Company, which authorizes licensed activities to be performed at temporary jobsites anywhere in the United States where the NRC maintains jurisdiction. Following our review of the Boone Wireline and BWWC merger, we have concluded that BWWC should have filed for reciprocity because the corporation (Boone Wireline) listed on the NRC license between December 1999 and December 2000 was not an active corporation at that time. Therefore, BWWC, under a general license, violated 10 CFR 150.20 by not filing an NRC Form 241 with the NRC prior to conducting work in offshore Federal waters during years 1999 and 2000.

A second violation of the general license was identified involving your failure to obtain a written agreement with the well owners/operators prior to conducting well logging operations in offshore Federal waters, in accordance with 10 CFR 39.15. This violation was categorized by the NRC as a Severity Level IV violation. The inspector confirmed that your staff had developed an owner/operator agreement that was first used during January 2001.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations, 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 that BWWC filed on January 8, 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, 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:
Mr. Frank Beers
Safety Director/Corporate Radiation Safety Officer
Black Warrior Wireline Corp.
2002 Southwest Avenue
Levelland, Texas 79336

Mr. Donald Babin
Division Manager/Area Radiation Safety Officer
Black Warrior Wireline Corp.
325 Service Road, SW
Gray, Louisiana 70359

Louisiana Radiation Control Program Director


ENCLOSURE 1

NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Black Warrior Wireline Corporation
Gray, Louisiana
Docket No. 150-00017
License No. 10 CFR 150.20
    (General License)
EA-01-095

During an NRC inspection and investigation conducted on December 12-13, 2000, two violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

A.   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 an NRC Form 241, "Report of Proposed Activities in Non-Agreement States," with the Regional Administrator of the appropriate NRC regional office.

Contrary to the above, on several occasions during calendar years 1999 and 2000, Black Warrior Wireline Corporation, a State of Louisiana licensee, conducted well logging operations using americium-241/beryllium sealed sources in offshore waters without filing an NRC Form 241 with the NRC.

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

B.   10 CFR 39.15 requires, in part, that a licensee may perform well logging with a sealed source only after the licensee has a written agreement with the employing well owner or operator identifying who will meet the requirements of 10 CFR 39.15(a)1-5.

Contrary to the above, on several occasions during calendar years 1999 and 2000, the licensee conducted well logging operations using americium-241/beryllium sealed sources in offshore waters without first obtaining a written agreement with the employing well owners or operators.

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 this report and the NRC Form 241, "Report of Proposed Activities in Non-Agreement States, Areas of Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction, or Offshore Waters," from Black Warrior Wireline Corporation dated January 8, 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.

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 27th day of May 2001

 

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