United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-158 - H&G Inspection Company, Inc.

July 1, 1997

EA 97-158

Mr. Harry W. Gibson
H&G Inspection Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 721856
Houston, Texas 77272

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION 
          (NRC Inspection Report 030-29319/97-01)

Dear Mr. Gibson:

This refers to your June 6, 1997, letter, which H&G Inspection Company, Inc. (H&G) submitted in response to the apparent violation identified in NRC Inspection Report 030-29319/97-01 issued on May 12, 1997. The NRC's inspection was completed on March 27, 1997. As indicated in the NRC letter transmitting the inspection report, the apparent violation involved H&G's failure to limit the occupational radiation exposure of a radiographer's assistant within NRC limits in 10 CFR 20.1201(a)(1)(i). You were given a choice of requesting a predecisional enforcement conference or submitting a written response to the apparent violation. You chose to submit a written response.

In your June 6 letter, you disputed the apparent violation and stated that H&G did not believe that the exposure recorded on the radiographer assistant's TLD for the month of September 1996 was accurate. You stated that H&G has found ICN Dosimetry (ICN), your TLD vendor, to be unreliable on several occasions and you provided your perspective as to how ICN could have provided erroneous results. Your arguments can be summarized as equipment and staffing problems experienced by ICN.

The NRC reviewed this information during the inspection and through discussions with ICN representatives. As stated in the inspection report, we discussed with ICN its processes and quality controls. We note that: (1) ICN reviewed other customers' badges processed within the same batch and found them to be accurate, indicating that there were no processing problems of the batch; (2) the "malfunction" to which you referred was actually a delay in transferring computer disks from Illinois to California, an item which would not have affected the TLD reading; and (3) although ICN reported an exposure for a separate individual of 192 rem, ICN's report was limited to the exposure the TLD received, and there was a basis in that case to conclude that the individual was not wearing the TLD at the time of the exposure. We also note that, as discussed in the inspection report, the subject individual in this case routinely received monthly exposures higher than other H&G radiography personnel during 1996, even during months in which H&G used another TLD vendor.

Before accepting any licensee's argument that one of its employees was not overexposed, the NRC must critically review all information. Given the lack of conclusive evidence that an H&G radiographer's assistant was not wearing his TLD when it was exposed or that the TLD vendor did not properly process the TLD, the NRC accepts the TLD exposure as a valid indication of the exposure to the individual during the monitoring period in question. It is important to note that this does not mean that H&G's radiation protection program had significant weaknesses. To the contrary, although this exposure indicates a need to assure that all employees are following H&G's radiation safety practices, the inspection found no significant weaknesses in H&G's radiation safety program.

Therefore, based on the information developed during the inspection, and our review of the information that you provided in your June 6 response to the inspection report, the NRC has determined that a violation of 10 CFR 20.1201 occurred. The violation involves a cumulative annual radiation exposure of 5.77 rems to a radiographer's assistant. This violation has been classified at Severity Level III in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600.

In accordance with the NRC 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 action within the last two inspections (prior to the inspection at issue), 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. The NRC has determined that your corrective actions were prompt and sufficiently comprehensive and therefore, credit is warranted. Your corrective actions included: 1) immediately removing the radiographer's assistant from radiography work upon receipt of the exposure report from your vendor in December 1996; 2) performing an investigation of the possible causes of the individual's exposure, including an evaluation of the individual's work practices; and 3) conducting a 40-hour radiation safety class for the radiographer's assistant and other radiography personnel to emphasize ALARA principles.

Accordingly, to encourage prompt and comprehensive correction of violations, and in recognition of the absence of previous escalated enforcement action, I have been authorized not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future, particularly violations of a similar nature, could result in a civil penalty. In addition, issuance of this Severity Level III violation constitutes escalated enforcement action which may subject you to more frequent inspection by NRC.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report 030-29319/97-01 and your letter dated June 6, 1997. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this violation 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, its enclosure, and your June 6 response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.

                             Sincerely, 


                             Ellis W. Merschoff
                             Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-29319
License No. 42-26838-01

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/Enclosure:
State of Wyoming
State of Texas


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
H&G Inspection Company, Inc.                               Docket No. 030-29319
Houston, Texas                                             License No. 42-26838-01
                                                           EA 97-158

During an NRC inspection completed March 27, 1997, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violation is listed below:

10 CFR 20.1201(a)(1)(i) requires, with exceptions not applicable here, that the licensee control the occupational dose to individual adults to an annual dose limit of 5 rems total effective dose equivalent.

Contrary to the above, the licensee did not limit the annual occupational dose to an adult radiographer's assistant to 5 rems, total effective dose equivalent. Specifically, the individual received 5.77 rems, total effective dose equivalent, for calendar year 1996.

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

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence, and the date when full compliance was achieved is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report No. 030-29319/97-01 and a letter from H&G Inspection dated June 6, 1997. Therefore, no response to this violation 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, D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011.

Because any response you choose to submit 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. 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). If safeguards information is necessary to provide an acceptable response, please provide the level of protection described in 10 CFR 73.21.

Dated at Arlington, Texas
this 1st day of July 1997

 

 

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