United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-433 - Law Engineering, Inc.

November 17, 1997

EA 97-433

Mr. Michael H. Homan, Office Manager
Law Engineering, Inc.
1540 North 107th East Avenue
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74116

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC INSPECTION REPORT 030-31876/97-01)

Dear Mr. Homan:

This refers to the October 7, 1997, letter you submitted in response to the apparent violation identified in NRC Inspection Report 030-31876/97-01, issued on September 17, 1997. The NRC inspection was completed on September 11, 1997. As indicated in the letter which transmitted the inspection report, one apparent violation was identified involving a failure to maintain surveillance and control of a portable moisture/density gauge containing NRC-licensed material. 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.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, and the information that you provided in your October 7 response to the inspection report, the NRC has determined that a violation of NRC requirements occurred. The violation is described in the enclosed Notice of Violation, and the circumstances surrounding the violation were described in the NRC's inspection report. Briefly, the violation occurred when a gauge user inadvertently left a portable gauge at a construction site with the source rod still in the extended position. The gauge was out of Law Engineering, Inc.'s control for approximately 5 hours, a violation of NRC requirements to maintain control and surveillance of licensed material.

Fortunately, there were no safety consequences as a result of this lapse in control. A contractor at the construction site picked the gauge up by its carrying handle, which automatically returned the source rod to its shielded position, and transported the gauge to his home where it was picked up by Law Engineering, Inc. Nonetheless, the very purpose of the NRC's security requirements is to prevent licensed material from presenting an undue risk to members of the public. The NRC considers failures of this type a matter of significant regulatory concern because there is a potential for public safety to be compromised. Thus, 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 your October 7 letter, you acknowledged the violation and described the following corrective actions: 1) immediate efforts to recover the gauge when determined to be missing; 2) immediate notification of the NRC; 3) special training sessions for all gauge users to discuss the incident and prevent future incidents and to review relevant requirements; 4) verbal reprimand of the delinquent gauge user; 5) plans to work more closely with the radiation safety officer in the oversight and implementation of licensed activities; and 6) increased frequency of audits and refresher training.

In accordance with the NRC Enforcement Policy, a civil penalty with a base value of $2,750 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your company had 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 (Note: Because you had not received escalated action in the last two inspections, we did not consider the circumstances surrounding the identification of the violation). Given that the corrective actions described above were prompt and sufficiently comprehensive, credit is due for your corrective actions, resulting in no civil penalty being assessed in this case.

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 030-31876/97-01 and your letter dated October 7, 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 response if you choose to submit one, will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                              Sincerely, 


                              Ellis W. Merschoff
                              Regional Administrator

Docket: 030-31876
License: 35-27045-01

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/Enclosure: State of Oklahoma


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
Law Engineerng, Inc.                              Docket:  030-31876
Tulsa, Oklahoma                                   License:  35-27045-01
                                                  EA 97-433

During an NRC inspection completed September 11, 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 20.1801 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, on August 25, 1997, the licensee did not maintain control and constant surveillance of licensed material that was in an unrestricted area and not in storage. Specifically, a Troxler Model 3411B gauge being used at a temporary jobsite was left unattended and with the source rod still extended. The gauge contains a nominal 8.7 millicurie cesium-137 sealed source as well as a 40 millicurie americium-241 sealed source. (01013)

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

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 NRC Inspection Report No. 030-31876/97-01 and the Licensee's letter to the NRC dated October 7, 1997. 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, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

Because your response, if you submit one, 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).

Dated at Arlington, Texas,
this 17th day of November 1997

 

 

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