United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-95-280 - Monsanto Chemical Company

March 1, 1996

EA 95-280

Monsanto Chemical Company
ATTN: C. M. McCullough, Plant Manager
P.O. Box 816
Soda Springs, Idaho 83276

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $2,500
          (NRC Inspection Report No. 030-32303/95-01)

Dear Mr. McCullough:

This refers to the inspection conducted on November 8, 1995, at the Soda Springs, Idaho, plant. The inspection included a review of the circumstances surrounding the unauthorized removal of a gauge containing licensed material from your facility. The gauge was discovered by a scrap broker at the broker's Plymouth, Utah, facility on October 26, 1995. The state of Utah notified NRC of the event on October 27, 1995, and you notified NRC on October 30, 1995. The inspection findings were discussed with members of your staff during a telephonic exit briefing on November 29, 1995, and the NRC inspection report documenting this incident was sent to you by letter dated December 26, 1995. You responded to the apparent violation identified in the inspection report by letter dated January 22, 1996, and you did not request a predecisional enforcement conference.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided in your January 22, 1996, response to the inspection report, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation is cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

Specifically, the violation involved a failure to secure a nuclear gauge containing 50 millicuries of cesium-137 from unauthorized removal while the gauge was in storage in a controlled area of your facility. This was discovered only after reaching a scrap broker's facility in Utah on October 26, 1995, where it was detected with the broker's radiation detection monitor. You took immediate corrective actions by dispatching appropriate personnel to retrieve the source and by initiating an investigation into the incident. The NRC's inspection determined that the root cause of this incident appeared to be a failure to recognize the potential consequences of storing licensed material in an area frequented by workers who were not trained in radiation safety and a failure to provide adequate oversight of the gauge while workers were preparing salvage equipment for release to the scrap metal broker.

Fortuitously, the actual safety consequence to workers exposed to the gauge and to the public was minimal in this case. The gauge was found with a maximum radiation level of 10 mrem/hour, wipe tests indicated that the source was not leaking, and the shutter and lock-out tag were still in place. However, this violation is of significant regulatory concern given the potential safety consequence (i.e., uncontrolled licensed material entered the public domain). The NRC entrusts responsibility for radiation safety to the management of the Monsanto Chemical Company. Incumbent upon each NRC licensee is the responsibility to protect the public health and safety by ensuring that all licensed materials are controlled at all times. Therefore, 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 base civil penalty in the amount of $2,500 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two years, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment provision in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Your corrective actions included: (1) investigating the inadvertent removal of the gauge; (2) retrieving, surveying, and securing the gauge; (3) holding safety meetings with plant employees and contractors to discuss the events surrounding the incident; and (4) planning to return the gauge to the manufacturer by April 1, 1996. Although the NRC recognizes that credit for your corrective action is warranted and that application of the civil penalty assessment process would not have resulted in a civil penalty in this case, the NRC is exercising discretion in accordance with Section VII.A.1.(g) of the Enforcement Policy and is proposing a civil penalty of $2,500 to reflect the NRC's added concern regarding the loss of a gauge, which was not identified by your staff, and to emphasize the Commission's concern that licensed material be properly controlled and transferred. But for the radiation detectors installed at the scrapyard, this gauge likely would have been melted down with scrap and resulted in a potentially significant contamination problem.

Therefore, to emphasize the need to strictly control licensed material, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, and the Deputy Executive Director for Nuclear Materials Safety, Safeguards, and Operations Support to issue the enclosed Notice in the base amount of $2,500 for the Severity Level III violation.

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.

                                  Sincerely,

                                  original signed by
                                  Samuel J. Collins

                                  L. J. Callan
                                  Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-32303
License No. 11-27361-01

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and
Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc/enclosure:
NUCOR Steel
ATTN: Mr. Steve Rowlan, P.E.
P.O. Box 100
Plymouth, Utah 84330


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
Monsanto Chemical Company                                    Docket No. 030-32303
Soda Springs, Idaho                                          License No. 11-27361-01
                                                             EA 95-280

During an NRC inspection conducted on November 8, 1995, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, 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 violation and associated civil penalty is set forth 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 an 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.

Contrary to the above, on an unspecified date between July 27, 1995 and October 26, 1995, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to a nuclear gauge containing 50 millicuries of cesium-137 located in a controlled area at its facility in Soda Springs, Idaho, nor did the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of this licensed material. (01013)

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement IV).
Civil Penalty - $2,500.

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Monsanto Chemical Company 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 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: Mr. 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, ATTN: Enforcement Officer, 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

 

 

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