United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-02-178 - Superior Well Services, Ltd.

October 16, 2002

EA 02-178

David E. Wallace
President
Superior Well Services, Ltd.
P.O. Box 458
Black Lick, PA 15716

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC Inspection Report No. 030-34542/2002-001)

Dear Mr. Wallace:

This refers to the NRC inspection conducted on August 6, 2002, at your facility located in Black Lick, Pennsylvania, to review the activities authorized by your NRC license. During the inspection, three apparent violations were identified involving: (1) the failure to secure licensed material (well logging sources including one americium-241 source, approximately 3 curies; and one cesium-137 source, approximately 2 curies) when a logging truck in your parking lot containing the materials was left unlocked with the keys left in the ignition; (2) the failure to maintain a copy of the Operation and Emergency Procedures at a temporary job site for several days during July 2002; and (3) the failure to perform a periodic review of the radiation protection program. The apparent violations were described in the NRC inspection report sent to you on September 12, 2002.

In the letter dated September 12, 2002, transmitting the inspection report, the NRC provided you an opportunity to either request a predecisional enforcement conference to discuss this finding, or explain your position in a written response. In a telephone conversation between Mr. Dan Coffee of your company and Ms. Judith Joustra of NRC, Region I, on August 8, 2002, Mr. Coffee indicated that Superior Well Services, Inc., declined the opportunity to discuss this issue in a predecisional enforcement conference, but would submit a written response to provide further perspective on the circumstances involved with the apparent violations. In your written response, dated September 27, 2002, you stated with respect to the security violation, that you understood the need for security of radioactive materials and that the apparent violation was caused by personnel oversight when the keys were left in the truck. With regard to the second apparent violation, you stated that the engineer who used one particular truck for a few days in July 2002, carried the procedures in his briefcase, rather than in the truck, when he performed work at temporary job sites. Based on this additional information, we have determined that the second apparent violation did not occur.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, and the information provided by you in your September 27, 2002 letter, the NRC has determined that two violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report. The more significant violation involved the failure to maintain control of the logging sources stored inside the truck when your employees left the truck unattended for a time period up to three days with the keys in the ignition of the truck. Although you stated that the truck was located in a fenced area, and a dispatcher/guard had visual access to the gate and the truck, a violation occurred because the dispatcher/guard did not maintain continuous monitoring of the truck during the time it was unattended. While the radioactive sources were in the source holders in the shielded condition and the source holders were locked to the truck, this violation is of concern to the NRC because the potential existed for the truck to be stolen, which in turn, could result in substantial unintended radiation dose to an individual either through removal of the sources from the shielded position or through damage to the sources. Therefore, this violation is categorized at Severity Level III in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $3,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation involving the loss of control of radioactive material with this level of radioactivity. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement action within the last two years or two inspections, 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. Credit for corrective actions is warranted because your corrective actions were considered prompt and comprehensive. These corrective actions included, but were not limited to: (1) immediately securing the radioactive material by removing the keys from the truck; (2) holding a safety meeting with all personnel to inform them that the keys must be removed from the trucks while they are parked in the parking area; and (3) using a sign-in/sign-out log for the truck keys that will be monitored by management.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation for the Severity Level III violation with no civil penalty. However, you should be aware that significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty. Further, since similar violations have been identified during previous inspections of your licensed activities, you should provide appropriate attention to ensure that your corrective actions to prevent recurrence are effective and long lasting. In addition, issuance of this Notice constitutes escalated enforcement action that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

In addition, the violation regarding the failure to perform a periodic review of your radiation protection program was determined to be a Severity Level IV violation and is cited in the attached Notice. Although you stated in your September 27, 2002 letter that you contested the violation based on the fact that you periodically discuss the radiation protection program during monthly meetings between the RSO and the Safety & Health Director, you also stated that you did not document these reviews as required by the NRC regulations. Because these monthly meetings did not constitute a review of the program (i.e., a comparison of the program and its implementation with current regulatory requirements), we have determined that the violation occurred as stated in our September 12, 2002 letter. Your letter also listed the corrective action taken for this violation; specifically, the RSO has subsequently reviewed the radiation protection program, discussed the findings with management, and documented the review in a written report.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding your corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence have been described as documented in this letter. 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. We appreciate your cooperation with us in this matter.

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 you choose to provide one) 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/NRC/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public NRC Library).

Sincerely,

  /RA/ James T. Wiggins Acting For

  Hubert J. Miller
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 03034542
License No. 37-30412-01

Enclosure:  Notice of Violation

cc w/encl:  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


ENCLOSURE

NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Superior Well Services, Ltd.
Mays Landing, New Jersey
  Docket No. 03034542
License No. 37-30412-01
EA 02-178

During an NRC inspection conducted on August 6, 2002, two violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, the violations are set forth below:

A.   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, the licensee failed to secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that were stored in a controlled area. Specifically, the licensee did not maintain control of well logging sources, an americium-241 source (approximately 3 curies) and a cesium-137 source (approximately 2 curies), stored inside a truck when the licensee left the truck unattended for a time period up to three days with the keys in the ignition of the truck. Although the truck was located in a fenced area, and a dispatcher/guard had visual access to the gate and the truck, the dispatcher/guard did not maintain continuous monitoring of the truck during the time it was unattended.

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

B.   10 CFR 20.1101 requires that the licensee shall periodically (at least annually) review the radiation protection program content and implementation.

Contrary to the above, for the period from November 1997 through August 2002, the licensee did not periodically (at least annually) review the radiation protection program content and implementation. Specifically, the licensee did not perform periodic reviews, other than discussions of the radiation protection program at monthly meetings.

This is a Severity Level IV violation (Supplement IV)

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations, and the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence are already adequately addressed on the docket in the NRC letter transmitting this Notice. Therefore, no response to this Notice is required. 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 I, 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.

If you choose to respond, your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR). Therefore, to the extent possible, the response should not include any personal privacy or proprietary information so that it can be placed in the PDR without redaction. ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams/index.html (the Public NRC Library).

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

Dated this 16th day of October 2002

 

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