United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-96-042 - A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company

April 4, 1996

EA 96-042

Ed Fain, Plant Manager
A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company
P.O. Box 7977
Lafayette, IN 47903-7977
SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION                                    
         (NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 030-04055/96001(DNMS)) 
Dear Mr. Fain:

This letter refers to the special inspection conducted on January 23, 1996, to review the circumstances surrounding the unauthorized removal of an Ohmart level gauge containing NRC-licensed material (20 millicuries (740 MBq) of cesium-137 in a sealed source) at the A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company (Staley) facility, 3300 Highway 52 South, Lafayette, Indiana. The device was removed from service on January 10, 1996, by individuals who were not trained or authorized to remove the device from service. The device was found in an onsite trash dumpster on January 11, 1996. An open predecisional enforcement conference was held in the NRC Region III office on March 19, 1996. The inspection report was mailed to Staley on February 28, 1996, and a summary of the March 19, 1996, conference was sent to you on March 22, 1996.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information presented at the predecisional enforcement conference, the NRC has determined that significant violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances of the violations are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

The violations are attributed to a contract work crew's unauthorized extension of work scope on January 10, 1996. The removal of the gauge was scheduled for January 11, 1996, when the Staley radiation safety officer (RSO) and the manufacturer's (Ohmart) authorized representative would be present. In this instance, non-licensed activities performed on January 10, 1996, had the potential to adversely affect the health and safety of workers in the plant. The control of contract work crews is of significant regulatory concern because a device containing NRC-licensed material was removed from service by untrained individuals and the gauge was subsequently deposited in a dumpster for ordinary disposal. Also of concern is that the gauge was moved with the shutter open, which could have caused a serious radiation exposure to anyone coming in contact with the beam from the cesium-137 source. Fortuitously, the estimated radiation exposure to anyone involved with this incident was less than 10 millirem (1.0 mSv). Incumbent upon each NRC licensee is the responsibility to protect the public health and safety, and the health and safety of its employees, by ensuring that all NRC requirements are met, and in particular, that NRC-licensed material is controlled so that it is not lost and becomes a hazard to the public. The incident on January 10, 1996, represents the performance of NRC-licensed activities by technically unqualified persons and a significant failure to control licensed material. The matter is categorized as a Severity Level III problem 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 $2,500 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Since your facility has not been the subject of NRC escalated enforcement action, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Credit was warranted for the following corrective actions: assurance that each month the radiation warning signs are posted on and near gauges; ensuring all postings are legible prior to allowing work to begin near a gauge; accelerating the phase out of nuclear gauges to other types of gauging devices; taking the foreman to the work area prior to starting work and identifying to him the location of a nuclear gauge; and, reviewing the safety aspects of radiation devices during contractor orientation.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive corrective actions, I have decided not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty.

Two other potential violations were described in the inspection report. One potential violation concerned the labelling of the gauge that was removed from service on January 10, 1996. Information presented at the predecisional enforcement conference indicated that the label on the gauge and an adjacent radiation warning poster were in place and legible on December 20, 1995, when the device and sign were inspected during a once every six months surveillance. Therefore, this issue is not cited as a violation.

The other potential violation discussed in the inspection report concerned notifying the RSO that work was scheduled to be done in the vicinity of a nuclear gauge. In this case, the work was scheduled for January 11, 1996, and the RSO was provided that information and was prepared to be present on January 11, 1996, along with the manufacturer's (Ohmart) representative. A violation is not cited because the RSO was notified as required.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reasons for the violation, and the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 030-04055/96001(DNMS) and at the open predecisional enforcement conference on March 19, 1996. 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.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter, the enclosed Notice, and your response if you choose to respond, will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.

                                            Sincerely, 




                                            Hubert J. Miller
                                            Regional Administrator
Docket No. 030-04055
License No. 12-01457-01

Enclosure: Notice of Violation


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company                                 Docket No. 030-04055
Lafayette, Indiana                                                 License No. 12-01457-01
                                                                   EA 96-042

During an NRC inspection conducted on January 23, 1996, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

A. Condition No. 15 of NRC Materials License No. 12-01457-01 requires, in part, that removal from service of devices containing sealed sources shall be performed by persons specifically licensed by the Commission or an Agreement State to perform such services.

Contrary to the above, on January 10, 1996, an Ohmart level gauge containing NRC-licensed material (nominally 20 millicuries (740 MBq) of cesium-137 in a sealed source) was removed from service and the removal was not performed by persons specifically licensed by the Commission or an Agreement State to perform such services. (01013)

B. 10 CFR 20.1801 requires that the licensee secure from unauthorized removal 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 an unrestricted area means an area, access to which is neither limited nor controlled by the licensee.

Contrary to the above, on January 10, 1996, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to an Ohmart level gauge containing NRC-licensed material (nominally 20 millicuries (740 MBq) of cesium-137 in a sealed source). Specifically, the gauge was removed from service and transferred to an onsite trash dumpster, an unrestricted area, and the licensee did not control and maintain constant surveillance of this licensed material. (01023)

C. Condition No. 18 of NRC Materials License No. 12-01457-01 requires, in part, that the licensee assure that the shutter mechanism of a gauge containing NRC-licensed material is locked in the closed position during periods when a portion of an individual's body may be subject to the direct radiation beam.

Contrary to the above, on January 10, 1996, an Ohmart level gauge containing NRC-licensed material (nominally 20 millicuries (740 MBq) of cesium-137 in a sealed source) was removed from service and the shutter mechanism of the gauge was not locked in the closed position during a period when a portion of an individual's body may have been subject to the direct radiation beam. (01033)

This is a Severity Level III problem (Supplements IV and VI).

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reasons for the violation, and the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 030-04055/96001(DNMS) and at the March 19, 1996, predecisional enforcement conference. However, you are required to respond to the provisions of 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, D.C. 20555, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region III, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois 60532-4351, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation.

Dated at Lisle, Illinois
this 4th day of April 1996

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012