United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-03-220 - Precision Testing and Inspection

February 25, 2004

EA 03-220

Mr. Julio C. Venegas,
Radiation Safety Officer
Precision Testing and Inspection
14053 Willard Road
Chantilly, VA 20151

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY - $3,000
(NRC Inspection Report 45-25475-01/2003-01 and NRC Office of Investigations Report No. 2-2003-054)

Dear Mr. Venegas:

The enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty is being issued to Precision Testing and Inspection (PTI) based on deliberate misconduct by PTI employees resulting in violations of NRC requirements. The deliberate violations involve the failure to post radiation areas during radiography operations and providing inaccurate information to the NRC.

These violations were identified during an NRC inspection conducted on August 25, 2003, and during a subsequent investigation by the NRC Region II Office of Investigations (OI). After the OI investigation was completed, the inspection report and factual summary of the OI investigation were forwarded to you on January 6, 2004, and the findings were discussed with you during a predecisional enforcement conference held on January 20, 2004. The discussion included the violations, their causes, and your corrective actions. At the conference, you acknowledged that the violations had occurred and you described the corrective actions you have implemented to prevent recurrence.

Based on the information from our inspection and investigation, as well as the information you presented at the conference, the NRC has determined that two deliberate violations of NRC requirements occurred. The first violation occurred when a radiographer deliberately failed to post a work area during radiography operations in Reston, Virginia on August 21, 2003. In reaching the conclusion that this violation was deliberate, the NRC considered the facts that: (1) the radiographer was trained and knowledgeable regarding the NRC requirements for posting areas during radiography; and (2) the radiographer admitted during an OI interview on September 30, 2003, that he knew there were requirements to post areas during radiography, but he did not post the work area on August 21, 2003, because he was in a hurry to finish the radiography work. The second violation occurred when the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) failed to provide accurate information to the NRC when he told two NRC inspectors on August 25, 2003, that he was not the RSO for PTI. In making the conclusion that this violation was deliberate, the NRC considered that the RSO, when interviewed by an OI investigator on September 30, 2003, admitted that he told the inspectors that he was not the RSO so they would leave and return to perform the inspection on another date.

Deliberate violations are a very serious concern to the NRC because the NRC regulatory program relies, in part, on the honesty and integrity of NRC licensees and their employees. As such, deliberate violations cannot be tolerated.

Therefore, because of the deliberate nature of the violations, the violations are each classified 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 current version of the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $3,000 is considered for a Severity Level III violation or problem. Because the violations were willful in nature, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Credit for identification is not warranted for the first violation because the violation was identified by the NRC during an inspection of your facility and your staff did not identify the problem to the NRC despite prior opportunities to do so. Credit for identification is warranted for the second violation because the violation was identified by the RSO when he notified the NRC inspectors, after about 15 minutes after the initial denial, that he was, in fact, the RSO. Credit for corrective actions is warranted for both violations because your corrective actions subsequent to the inspection, and at the time of the enforcement conference, were considered comprehensive. These actions included, but were not limited to: (1) reviewing the incident with the radiographer involved in the incident and emphasizing the requirements for posting work areas during radiography; (2) discussing areas for improvement in work methods; (3) considering the addition of an extra person to assist during certain radiography operations; (4) providing further instruction to personnel regarding NRC requirements related to radiation safety and compliance; and (5) providing assurances that inaccurate information will not be provided to the NRC in the future.

Therefore, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the base amount of $3,000 for the first Severity Level III violation involving the deliberate failure of the radiographer to post the work area during radiography operations, and to refrain from issuing a civil penalty for the second violation involving the inaccurate information deliberately provided to the NRC by the RSO. In addition, issuance of this Notice constitutes escalated enforcement action that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

You are required to respond to this letter and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. In your response, you may reference any previous docketed correspondence that is applicable to this case to avoid repetitive submissions. The NRC will use your response, in part, to determine whether further enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosures, and 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).

Questions concerning this Notice may be addressed to George Pangburn, Director, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety, Region I. Mr. Pangburn can be reached at telephone number (610) 337-5281.

  Sincerely,

   /RA/ James T. Wiggins Acting For/

   Hubert J. Miller
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-35107
License No. 45-25475-01

Enclosures:
1. Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty
2. NUREG/BR-0254 Payment Methods (Licensee only)



cc w/encl.:
Commonwealth of Virginia
District of Columbia


ENCLOSURE

NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY

Precision Testing and Inspection
Chantilly, VA
  License No. 45-25475-01
Docket No. 030-35107
EA 03-220

During an NRC inspection conducted at Precision Testing and Inspection (PTI) on August 25, 2003, and a subsequent investigation by the NRC Office of Investigations (OI), the report of which was issued on November 4, 2003, 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 NRC proposes to impose a civil penalty pursuant to Section 234 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (Act), 42 U.S.C. 2282 and 10 CFR 2.205. The violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

I.   VIOLATION ASSESSED A CIVIL PENALTY

10 CFR 34.53 requires, in part, that all areas in which industrial radiography is being performed must be conspicuously posted as required by 10 CFR 20.1902(a).

10 CFR 1902(a) requires that the licensee post each radiation area with a conspicuous sign or signs bearing the radiation symbol and the words "CAUTION, RADIATION AREA."

Contrary to the above, on August 21, 2003, the licensee performed field radiography at a temporary job site in Reston, Virginia, and did not post the work area in which the industrial radiography was being performed with conspicuous warning signs.This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement IV).

Civil Penalty - $3,000

II.   VIOLATION NOT ASSESSED A CIVIL PENALTY

10 CFR 30.9(a) requires, in part, that information provided to the Commission by a licensee shall be complete and accurate in all material respects.

Contrary to the above, during an inspection conducted at the licensee's office on August 25, 2003, the licensee provided information to the NRC that was known to be inaccurate in some respect material to the NRC. Specifically, the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) provided inaccurate information to the NRC inspectors when he initially told the inspectors, when questioned by them, that he was not the RSO, when in fact, he was the RSO. This inaccurate statement was material in that it delayed the initiation of an NRC inspection of the facility.

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Precision Testing and Inspection is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, within 30 days of the date of this Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation, EA 03-220" and should include for each alleged violation: (1) admission or denial of the alleged violation, (2) the reasons for the violation if admitted, and if denied, the reasons why, (3) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (4) the corrective steps that will be taken to avoid further violations, and (5) the date when full compliance will be achieved. Your response may reference or include previous docketed correspondence, if the correspondence adequately addresses the required response. If an adequate reply is not received within the time specified in this Notice, an Order or a Demand for Information may be issued as why the license should not be modified, suspended, or revoked or why such other action as may be proper should not be taken. Consideration may be given to extending the response time for good cause shown.

Within the same time as provided for the response required above under 10 CFR 2.201, the Licensee may pay the civil penalty proposed above, or the cumulative amount of the civil penalties if more than one civil penalty is proposed, in accordance with NUREG/BR-0254 and by submitting to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a statement indicating when and by what method payment was made, or may protest imposition of the civil penalty in whole or in part, by a written answer addressed to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Should the Licensee fail to answer within 30 days of the date of this Notice, an order imposing the civil penalty will be issued. Should the Licensee elect to file an answer in accordance with 10 CFR 2.205 protesting the civil penalty, in whole or in part, such answer should be clearly marked as an "Answer to a Notice of Violation, EA 03-220" and may: (1) deny the violations listed in this Notice, in whole or in part, (2) demonstrate extenuating circumstances, (3) show error in this Notice, or (4) show other reasons why the penalty should not be imposed. In addition to protesting the civil penalty in whole or in part, such answer may request remission or mitigation of the penalty.

In requesting mitigation of the proposed penalty, the factors addressed in Section VI.C.2 of the Enforcement Policy should be addressed. Any written answer in accordance with 10 CFR 2.205 should be set forth separately from the statement or explanation in reply pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201, but may incorporate parts of the 10 CFR 2.201 reply by specific reference (e.g., citing page and paragraph numbers) to avoid repetition. The attention of the Licensee is directed to the other provisions of 10 CFR 2.205, regarding the procedure for imposing a civil penalty.

Upon failure to pay any civil penalty due which subsequently has been determined in accordance with the applicable provisions of 10 CFR 2.205, this matter may be referred to the Attorney General, and the penalty, unless compromised, remitted, or mitigated, may be collected by civil action pursuant to Section 234c of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2282c.

The response noted above (Reply to Notice of Violation, statement as to payment of civil penalty, and Answer to a Notice of Violation) should be addressed to: F. J. Congel, Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-2738, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region I.

Because 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), to the extent possible, it should not include any personal privacy or proprietary information so that it can be made available to the public without redaction. ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html (the Public Reading Room). If personal privacy or proprietary information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, then please provide a bracketed copy of your response that identifies the information that should be protected and a redacted copy of your response that deletes such information. If you request withholding of such material, you must specifically identify the portions of your response that you seek to have withheld and provide in detail the bases for your claim of withholding (e.g., explain why the disclosure of information will create an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy or provide the information required by 10 CFR 2.790(b) to support a request for withholding confidential commercial or financial information).

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

Dated this 25th day of February 2004.

 

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