United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-95-148 - Diamond H Testing Company

October 25, 1995

EA 95-148

Diamond H Testing Company
ATTN: Pete J. Hanges, President
4929 Yellowstone Avenue
Chubbuck, Idaho 83202

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY -$8,000
          (NRC Inspection Report No. 030-32202/95-02)

Dear Mr. Hanges:

This refers to the special inspection conducted June 16 through July 12, 1995, with particular focus on a recent incident involving an inadvertent radiation exposure to a Diamond H Testing Company (DHT) radiographer. The inspection was conducted in response to DHT's telephonic notification to the NRC Operations Center and the NRC Region IV office of an incident which occurred during licensed radiographic operations at the Hawaiian Electric Company Kahe Unit 5 job site during the evening of June 14, 1995. The inspection report was issued on September 11, 1995, and a predecisional enforcement conference to discuss the apparent violations identified during the inspection was held on September 26, 1995, at our office in Arlington, Texas.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that violations of 10 CFR 34.22(a), 10 CFR 34.33(a), and 10 CFR 34.43(b) contributed directly to the occurrence of the incident. The radiographer's failure to meet these requirements resulted in his being inadvertently exposed to a radiographic source while working near and handling a collimator that contained an iridium-192 source. Specifically, the violations that led to this incident included: 1) the radiographer's failure to secure the sealed source in the shielded position following a radiographic exposure; 2) the radiographer's failure to conduct an adequate survey of the source guide tube after a radiographic exposure, exacerbated by his using a survey instrument incorrectly; and 3) the radiographer's failure to wear an alarm ratemeter which could have given the radiographer warning that the source remained outside of the camera in an unshielded position.

Each of these violations was significant in that compliance with any one of these requirements could have prevented or mitigated this incident. In addition, the radiographer's decision not to secure the source in the camera appears to have been a willful violation because he had given the keys to the camera to the assistant radiographer and knew, when the assistant radiographer did not return in time, that he could not secure the source between exposures and continue to conduct radiography (although the lock mechanism could be locked without a key by depressing the lock cylinder, a key would have been required to unlock the exposure device).

Locking of the sealed source in the shielded position following a radiographic exposure, conducting an adequate survey of the source guide tube after a radiographic exposure, and wearing an alarm ratemeter are each intended to serve as safety barriers designed to prevent incidents of this type from occurring and to protect workers and members of the public from inadvertent and potentially significant radiation exposures. The radiographer's failure to assure compliance with these requirements circumvented these separate and distinct safety barriers.

Furthermore, the NRC is particularly concerned because: 1) this incident, had it occurred under other circumstances or in another location, could easily have resulted in an overexposure to the radiographer and in exposures to members of the public; 2) the radiographer apparently willfully committed at least one of the violations; and 3) DHT and its personnel should have been particularly sensitive to the need to wear alarm ratemeters following the NRC's taking enforcement action against DHT in June 1994.

Individually, each of these violations is of significant regulatory concern and could have been classified at Severity Level III. However, in consideration of the relationship of these violations to a single incident, and of the fact that three barriers to preventing events of this type were violated, the violations in the aggregate are of very significant regulatory concern and have been classified as a Severity Level II problem in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy) (NUREG-1600 and 60 FR 34381; June 30, 1995).

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $8,000 is considered for a Severity Level II problem. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement action within the last two years, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. While no prior opportunities existed to identify the problem, the violations were not identified as the result of a licensee self-monitoring effort (i.e., the violations were identified after the event occurred); therefore, considering all of the circumstances, no credit is warranted for identification. The corrective actions which you described during the predecisional enforcement conference were found to be both prompt and comprehensive and deserving of credit. These actions included: 1) promptly responding to the incident and conducting an effective investigation, 2) suspending the involved radiographer based on his actions, revising inspection forms to verify the use of required monitoring equipment, 3) increasing field observations of radiographers, and 4) taking actions to establish accountability with radiographers and others to ensure performance issues are promptly reported.

Therefore, to emphasize your responsibility to ensure that radiographers comply with NRC regulations and your operating procedures so as to ensure not only their safety but that of the public, 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 $8,000 for the Severity Level II problem described above. The NRC is also issuing a letter to the individual whose actions resulted in the violations to emphasize his responsibilities as a radiographer.

The Notice also contains two additional violations (Violations II.A and II.B) identified during the inspection that have been classified at Severity Level IV and are not being assessed civil penalties. These include the radiographer's failure to properly post the high radiation area in which industrial radiography was being performed on June 14 and his failure, after the incident occurred, to properly secure the radiography camera against unauthorized removal or otherwise limit access to the device.

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 should document the specific actions taken and any additional actions you plan to prevent recurrence. After reviewing your response to this Notice, including your proposed corrective actions and the results of future inspections, the NRC will determine whether further NRC enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with NRC regulatory requirements.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, its enclosure, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR). To the extent possible, your response should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be placed in the PDR without redaction.

The responses directed by this letter and the enclosed Notice are not subject to the clearance procedures of the Office of Management and Budget as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-511.

                                  Sincerely,

                                  S.J. Collins for

                                  L. J. Callan
                                  Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-32202
License No. 11-27316-01

Enclosure:
Notice of Violation and Proposed
Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc: w/Enclosure:
Hawaii Radiation Control Program Director
American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc.
ATTN: Technical Services Manager
1711 Arlingate Lane
P.O. Box 28518
Columbus, OH 43228-0518


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
Diamond H Testing Company                                     Docket No. 030-32202
Chubbuck, Idaho                                               License No. 11-27316-01
                                                              EA 95-148

During an NRC inspection conducted June 16 through July 12, 1995, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions," (NUREG-1600 and 60 FR 34381; June 30, 1995), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission 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 particular violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

I. Violations Assessed a Civil Penalty

A. 10 CFR 34.22(a) requires, in part, that, during radiographic operations, the sealed source assembly be secured in the shielded position each time the source is returned to that position.

Contrary to the above, on two occasions on June 14, 1995, during radiographic operations at the Hawaiian Electric Company Kahe Unit 5 Power Plant, a licensee radiographer did not secure the sealed source assembly in the shielded position after returning the source to that position. (01012)

B. 10 CFR 34.33(a) requires that the licensee not permit any individual to act as a radiographer or a radiographer's assistant unless, at all times during radiographic operations, the individual wears a direct-reading pocket dosimeter, an alarm ratemeter, and either a film badge or a thermoluminescent dosimeter.

Contrary to the above, on June 14, 1995, during radiographic operations at the Hawaiian Electric Company Kahe Unit 5 Power Plant, a licensee radiographer did not wear an alarm ratemeter while conducting radiographic operations. (01022)

C. 10 CFR 34.43(b) requires, in part, the licensee to ensure that a survey with a calibrated and operable radiation survey instrument is made after each radiographic exposure to determine that the sealed source has been returned to its shielded position. The survey must include the entire circumference of the radiographic exposure device and any source guide tube.

Contrary to the above, on June 14, 1995, during radiographic operations at the Hawaiian Electric Company Kahe Unit 5 Power Plant, a licensee radiographer did not perform an adequate survey after a radiographic exposure to determine that the sealed source had been returned to its shielded position in that the survey only included a portion of the source guide tube. (01032)

These violations represent a Severity Level II problem (Supplement VI).
Civil Penalty - $8,000

II. Violations Not Assessed a Civil Penalty

A. 10 CFR 34.42 requires, notwithstanding any provisions in 10 CFR 20.1903, that areas in which radiography is being performed be conspicuously posted as required by 10 CFR 20.1902(a) and (b).

10 CFR 20.1902(b) requires that each high radiation area shall be conspicuously posted with a sign or signs bearing the radiation caution symbol and the words "CAUTION, HIGH RADIATION AREA" or "DANGER, HIGH RADIATION AREA."

Contrary to the above, on June 14, 1995, during radiography performed at the Hawaiian Electric Company Kahe Unit 5 Power Plant, the licensee did not post the high radiation area in which industrial radiography was being performed. (02014)

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

B. 10 CFR 20.1801 requires that the licensee secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that are stored in unrestricted areas. 10 CFR 20.1802 requires that the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of licensed material that is in an unrestricted area and that is not in storage. As defined in 10 CFR 20.1003, unrestricted area means an area, access to which is neither limited nor controlled by the licensee.

Contrary to the above, during an 8 to 10 minute period between approximately 9:45 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on June 14, 1995, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to a 48.2 curie iridium-192 sealed source in a Gamma Century exposure device located on the 9th floor of the Hawaiian Electric Company Kahe Unit 5 Power Plant, an unrestricted area, nor did the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of this licensed material. (03014)

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Diamond H Testing Company (Licensee) 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" 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.

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. Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2232, this response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

Within the same time as provided for the response required above under 10 CFR 2.201, the Licensee may pay the civil penalty by letter addressed to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with a check, draft, money order, or electronic transfer payable to the Treasurer of the United States in the amount of the civil penalty proposed above, or the cumulative amount of the civil penalties if more than one civil penalty is proposed, 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 the time specified, 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" and may: (1) deny the violation(s) 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.B.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, letter with payment of civil penalty, and Answer to a Notice of Violation) should be addressed to: James Lieberman, 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 IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011.

Because your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR), to the extent possible, it should not include any personal privacy, proprietary, or safeguards information so that it can be placed in the PDR without redaction. However, if you find it necessary to include such information, you should clearly indicate the specific information that you desire not to be placed in the PDR, and provide the legal basis to support your request for withholding the information from the public.

Dated at Arlington, Texas
this 25th day of October 1995

 

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