United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-02-156 - Montana State University

September 26, 2002

EA-02-156

Mr. Erick Lindstrom
Radiation Safety Officer
Montana State University
1160 Research Drive
Bozeman, Montana 59718-6856

SUBJECT: NRC INSPECTION REPORT 030-00871/02-01 AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Dear Mr. Lindstrom:

This refers to the inspection conducted on May 20-22, 2002, at your facilities in Bozeman, Moccasin, and Huntley, Montana. The inspection was an examination of activities conducted under Byproduct Materials License 25-00326-06 as they relate to radiation safety and to compliance with the Commission's rules and regulations, and the conditions of the license. Within these areas, the inspection consisted of selected examination of procedures and representative records, observations of activities, and interviews with personnel. The preliminary inspection findings were discussed with you during a preliminary exit briefing on May 22, 2002. A final telephonic exit meeting was conducted with you and other members of the University staff on August 30, 2002.

During the final telephonic exit briefing on August 30, 2002, Montana State University (MSU) was informed that the NRC was considering escalated enforcement action for an apparent violation involving a failure to secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that were stored in controlled or unrestricted areas. Additionally, you were informed that the NRC believed it had sufficient information regarding the violation and your corrective actions to make an enforcement decision without the need for a predecisional enforcement conference. You indicated that MSU did not believe that a predecisional enforcement conference 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 stored 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 MSU's facility. Specifically, the inspectors observed that a portable gauge containing 50 millicuries of americium-241 was left unlocked and unattended in a shop in MSU's Agricultural Research Center in Huntley, Montana. 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 within the last 2 years, 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 MSU's prompt actions to address the violation, and subsequent actions to train personnel on the proper storage of portable nuclear gauges, the NRC has determined that your corrective actions warrant credit. MSU's immediate corrective actions included locking the portable gauge inside its transport container, and placing the locked transport container in a locked storage cabinet inside the shop.

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 Inspection Report 030-00871/02-01. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description therein does not reflect your corrective actions of your position. If 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).

Should you have any questions concerning this inspection or the enclosed report, please contact Mr. Mark R. Shaffer at (817) 860-8287 or Mr. James Thompson at (817) 276-6538.

Sincerely,

/RA/

Ellis W. Merschoff
Regional Administrator

Docket No.: 030-00871
License No.: 25-00326-06

Enclosure:  
1.  Notice of Violation
2.  NRC Inspection Report 030-00871/02-01
3.  NRC Enforcement Policy, NUREG-1600

cc w/Enclosures 1 & 2:
Montana Radiation Control Program Director


ENCLOSURE 1

NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana
Docket No.: 030-00871
License No.: 25-00326-06

During an NRC inspection conducted on May 20-22, 2002, 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 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, on May 21, 2002, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to a CPN Model 503 DR Hydroprobe, a portable moisture gauging device, Serial No. H39078966, containing licensed material in the quantity of 50 millicuries of americium-241, located in the shop of the University Agricultural Experiment Research Center in Huntley, Montana, which is an unrestricted area, nor did the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of this licensed material.
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 in Inspection Report 030-00871/02-01. 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.

Dated this 26th day of September 2002

 

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