United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-507 - B. P. Chemicals, Inc.

December 16, 1997

EA 97-507

Mr. Hugh Blythe, Manager
Health, Safety And Environment
B. P. Chemicals, Inc.
Lima, OH 45802

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION
          (NRC Inspection Report 040-07604-97002)

Dear Mr. Blythe:

This refers to the inspection conducted September 8-10, 1997 and October 8-10, 1997, at B. P. Chemicals, Inc. (BPCI) in Lima, Ohio. The purpose of the inspection was to examine the implementation of selected portions of the Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) program relating to onsite waste disposal under the Mixed Waste Pond Closure Project, and to follow up on the items discussed in a Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) No. RIII 97-010 issued on August 29, 1997. During the inspection apparent violations of NRC requirements were identified. The report documenting this inspection was sent to you by letter, dated October 31, 1997. A predecisional enforcement conference was conducted in the NRC Region III office on November 19, 1997, with you and members of your staff to discuss apparent violations, their causes, and your corrective actions.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, and the information that BPCI provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

The violations involve failure to fully implement the QA/QC plan as required by BPCI's license conditions and requirements. Based on the CAL, BPCI temporarily halted the Pond Closure Project because of concerns that sludge mixing, sampling, laboratory analyses, and record-keeping were not adequate to ensure that the onsite disposal cell met (and could be proven to meet) NRC radiological criteria. While these items were corrected, other programmatic deficiencies of the QA/QC plan were found by NRC inspectors. Furthermore, the deficiencies represent missed opportunities on the part of BPCI's management and staff to prevent future recurrence of these problems. The root cause of these violations appears to be long-term management inattention to the details of the NRC license and its subordinate documents, which constitute regulatory requirements of the NRC.

Individually, the safety significance of the violations was low because the uranium concentration of the material placed into the disposal cell up to the time of identification of the violations was well within applicable NRC limits and not considered a hazard to public health and safety.

However, the violations do represent a significant regulatory concern because the continuation of violations in the QA/QC area represents a programmatic breakdown, and because management and staff failed to recognize the need to maintain the fidelity of the NRC license and associated documents. Further, documents and records regarding decommissioning are of particular concern to the NRC because they are very important for future knowledge of remediation of the site after all of the individuals involved are no longer available. Therefore, these violations are classified in the aggregate in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, as a Severity Level III problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $5,500 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. 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 process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Credit for Corrective Action was warranted for the following reasons: (1) BPCI added an outside consultant to the staff to review its license and other requirements, and to assist the Radiation Safety Officer in his duties; (2) all applicable personnel will receive training regarding the fundamentals of the QA/QC program; (3) BPCI has reviewed all aspects of the QA/QC program, and is in the process of revising and updating the plan; and (4) BPCI management has increased its oversight of the program through an extensive audit function.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized to not propose a civil penalty in this case. However, similar violations in the future could result in further escalated enforcement action.

During the November 9, 1997 predecisional enforcement conference, you took exception with some of the apparent violations described in the October 31, 1997 inspection report. Specifically, you stated that NRC requirements did not define "critical phases," and that BPCI applied the definition provided by State of Ohio EPA requirements. After careful consideration of your statements and a review of documentation, the NRC has determined that use of the Ohio EPA definition for critical phases did not violate NRC requirements; therefore, this apparent violation has been withdrawn. Further, you indicated that the four apparent violations against portions of Section 2 of your QA/QC Plan should more appropriately be cited against Section 11 of your QA/QC Plan. In addition, your staff maintained that Section 2 was not applicable to sludge sampling. We have reviewed Sections 2 and 11 of the BPCI QA/QC Plan and agree that the apparent violations in question should be cited against Section 11 which indicates that documentation will be in accordance with Section 2. Therefore, we have consolidated the four apparent violations into one as documented in violation H of the enclosed Notice.

You are required to respond to this letter, and should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice when preparing your response. The NRC will use your response, in part, to determine whether further enforcement action is necessary to ensure compliance with 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.

                              Sincerely, 

                              Original signed by 
                              J.  Caldwell for

                              A. Bill Beach
                              Regional Administrator 

Docket No. 040-07604
License No. SUB-0908

Enclosure: Notice of Violation


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
B.  P.  Chemicals, Inc.                                     Docket No.  040-07604        
Lima, OH                                                    License No.  SUB-0908        
                                                            EA 97-507

During an NRC inspection conducted on September 8-10, 1997, and on October 8-10, 1997, 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:

Condition 24 of License No. SUB-0908 requires the licensee to conduct its mixed waste pond closure program in accordance with statements, representations, and procedures contained in an application dated February 7, 1994, and a letter dated May 23, 1997.

Appendix E, Volume III of the referenced application describes the Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Plan to be followed by B. P. Chemicals, Inc.

A. Section 1.2 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Construction Quality Assurance Organization," states that construction quality assurance will be provided by inspection personnel of B.P. Chemicals construction department.

Contrary to the above, since at least 1995, quality assurance was not provided by inspection personnel of B.P. Chemicals' construction department. (01013)

B. Section 9.2.1 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Daily Field Logs," requires daily field logs to be kept by each of the contractor supervisors, as well as the engineer or his designated representative, and the BPCI project inspector. Copies of the contractor daily logs will be submitted to the BPCI project inspector and engineer or his designated representative, on Monday of each week.

Contrary to the above, between January 1996 and September 1997, daily field logs were not kept by one engineer (Dames & Moore) or by one contractor (Bowser-Morner). In addition, on four occasions between December 5, 1996, and August 11, 1997, another contractor (Sevensen Environmental Services) did not keep daily field logs as required. (01023)

C. Section 9.2.2 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Daily Summary Reports," requires daily summary reports to be completed by the engineer, or his designated representative. Section 9.2.2 also specifies a list of information to be included in the reports.

Contrary to the above, neither the engineer (Dames & Moore) nor any designated representative prepared daily summary reports after November 1996, and no reports were prepared throughout the performance of the mixed waste pond closure project in 1997. Further, the daily summary reports prepared by Dames & Moore prior to November 1996 did not contain all of the information required in this section. (01033)

D. Section 9.2.3 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Inspection Data Sheets," requires all observations and/or field and/or laboratory tests conducted by the contractor's approved testing agency or the B.P.C.I. inspector to be recorded on an inspection data sheet. The minimum required information includes a unique identifying sheet number and the signatures of contractor management and the engineer.

Contrary to the above, throughout the performance of the mixed waste pond closure project in 1997, observations and field and/or laboratory tests were not recorded on inspection data sheets. Further, the forms used during the project lacked unique identifying sheet numbers and were not signed by contractor management or the engineer. (01043)

E. Section 9.2.4 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Problem Identification and Corrective Measures Reports," requires that Problem Identification and Corrective Measures Reports be cross-referenced to specific inspection data sheets where the problem was identified and shall be submitted to the engineer, or his designated representative, at the time of observation or inspection. A problem is defined as material or workmanship that does not meet the specified design.

Contrary to the above, throughout performance of the mixed waste pond closure project in 1997, Problem Identification and Corrective Measures Reports were not used for every deficiency in material or workmanship that was identified and corrected. Reports that were prepared did not cross-reference specific inspection data sheets as required, and some reports were sent to the project manager rather than to the engineer as required. In addition, the reports prepared did not contain all of the information or signatures required. (01053)

F. Section 9.5 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Storage of Records," requires that during the mixed waste pond closure project records are to be kept onsite by the contractor, at another location on the plant property by the owner, and at an offsite location by the engineer.

Contrary to the above, throughout performance of the mixed waste pond closure project in 1997, records were not kept at an offsite location by the engineer (Dames & Moore). (01063)

G. Section 10 of the QA/QC Plan describes the laboratory and specified the lab activities to be conducted by NUS staff utilizing NUS reference procedures.

Contrary to the above, throughout performance of the mixed waste pond closure project in 1997, lab activities were not conducted by NUS staff, nor were NUS procedures utilized. (01073)

H. Section 11.4 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Procedure for Verification of Attainment of Option 2 Criterion for Stabilized Sludge Radioactivity Levels," states that all sample collection activities will be documented as outlined in Section 2.0, "Soil Sampling."

Section 2.6.1.1 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Daily Logs," requires, in part, that during the project, information recorded on daily logs and data forms include such information as field observations, weather conditions, levels of personnel protection used, and unusual circumstances or difficulties, and the signature and initials of the person recording the information.

Section 2.6.1.2 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Sample Identification," requires the collection of field duplicate samples, with their own sequential numbering system, not communicated to the laboratory.

Section 2.6.1.3 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Sample Containerization and Labeling," requires each sample to be labeled and the label is to include the sampling date and the name of the collector.

Section 2.6.1.7 of the QA/QC Plan entitled, "Transfer of Custody and Shipment," requires that shipping containers must be sealed with custody seals for shipment to the laboratory.

Contrary to the above, throughout the performance of the mixed waste pond closure project in 1997 and until September 9, 1997, the daily logs and data forms did not contain the required information; field duplicate samples were not collected; labels on recently collected and archived samples randomly examined by the NRC inspector, contained neither the date nor the name of the collector; and shipping containers of samples collected at the pug mill for transport to the laboratory did not have custody seals. (01083)

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, B. P. Chemicals, Inc. (Licensee) is hereby required to submit a written statement or explanation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN: Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region III, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice). This reply should be clearly marked as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation" and should include for each violation: (1) reason for the violation, or, if contested, the basis for disputing the violation, (2) the corrective steps that have been taken and the results achieved, (3) the corrective steps that will be taken to avoid further violations, and (4) the date when full compliance will be achieved. Your response may reference or include previous docketed correspondence, if the correspondence adequately addresses the required response. 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. Where good cause is shown, consideration will be given to extending the response time. Under the authority of Section 182 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2232, this response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation.

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. 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 Lisle, Illinois
this 16th day of December 1997

 

 

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