United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-539 - CTI Alaska, Inc.

January 20, 1998

EA 97-539

Mr. George E. Haugen, President
CTI Alaska, Inc.
4831 Old Seward Highway, Suite 107
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

SUBJECT:  NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL
          PENALTY - $5,500 
          (NRC Inspection Report No. 030-17129/97-02) 

Dear Mr. Haugen:

This refers to the predecisional enforcement conference conducted January 7, 1998, by telephone between representatives of CTI Alaska, Inc. (CTI), and NRC, Region IV. The conference was conducted to discuss two apparent violations of NRC requirements identified during an NRC inspection completed December 3, 1997. The inspection followed CTI's informing NRC of an October 16, 1997, incident in which two CTI radiography personnel approached a radiography device before the radiation source had been returned to its fully shielded position. CTI informed the NRC about this incident by telephone on October 17, 1997.

During the predecisional enforcement conference, CTI did not dispute the violations and described a number of corrective actions taken. Based on the information developed during the inspection, and our consideration of the information that you provided during the conference, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty. The violations involved: 1) approaching a radiographic device (pipe crawler) containing a 192-curie, iridium-192 source without first verifying that the radiation source was in its fully shielded position; and 2) utilizing an inoperable radiation survey instrument when approaching this device.

The first violation appears to have resulted from a breakdown in communications between the radiographer responsible for assuring radiation safety during the job and the equipment operator who was remotely operating this device from a vehicle. Even though these individuals were in radio contact with each other, they failed to communicate regarding the position of the radiation source. The reason for the second violation has not been determined, but is of concern because this is not the first time that CTI personnel have been involved in an incident where survey instruments failed at an inopportune time (1) . The incident was made more serious by the fact they were operating in a high noise environment in which alarm ratemeters were not easily heard. Fortunately, before a significant exposure could occur, one of the radiography personnel heard his ratemeter alarming and both individuals retreated from the vicinity of the exposure device. Nonetheless, these violations had the potential to result in a significant radiation exposure to the involved CTI personnel.

Based on the potential safety significance of the violations related to this incident, they have been categorized in the aggregate 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 civil penalty with a base value of $5,500 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because CTI has been the subject of escalated enforcement action within the last 2 years, (2) the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. The NRC has determined that credit for identification is not warranted because the violations were self-disclosing, i.e., they were made evident by an event. The NRC has determined that credit for corrective action is warranted because your actions, which are described below, were prompt and sufficiently comprehensive to minimize the potential for a similar event. The NRC also recognized the fact that CTI reported this matter to the NRC when not required.

CTI's corrective actions, which were described in a letter to the NRC dated January 5, 1998, and during the conference, include: 1) a commitment made during the conference to assure that radio communication between the operator of this type of device and radiation safety personnel is procedurally required when the source is moved from or to its fully shielded position (CTI stated that this had always been the practice but that it may not have been written into procedures); 2) several steps to assure that survey instruments are operational prior to use, including the addition of desiccant packets in the instruments to absorb any moisture that may accumulate in the housing and affect the operation of the instrument; 3) additional measures to track survey instrument problems and remove faulty instruments from service; 4) the addition of an audible and visual warning device to the radiographic exposure device itself to assist radiography personnel in knowing when the source is not in its fully shielded position; 5) actions to assure that ratemeters meet minimum decibel levels; 6) additional training and disciplinary action for the radiographer who was responsible for controlling the radiation area during the incident; and 7) emphasizing in refresher training the need to assure that survey instruments are working properly.

Therefore, to emphasize the importance of compliance with all radiation safety requirements, the need to prevent similar events from occurring, and in recognition of the previous escalated enforcement action against CTI, I have been authorized to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the base amount of $5,500 for the Severity Level III problem described above.

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, including actions to modify procedures to enhance communication, as discussed above. 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 (PDR).

                              Sincerely, 


                              original signed by 
                              James E. Dyer for 

                              Ellis W. Merschoff
                              Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-17129
License No. 50-19202-01

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc w/Enclosure:
State of Alaska


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY
CTI Alaska, Inc.                                  Docket No. 030-17129
Anchorage, Alaska                                 License No. 50-19202-01
                                                  EA 97-539

During an NRC inspection completed December 3, 1997, violations of NRC requirements were 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 violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

A. License Condition 17.B requires, in part, that the licensee conduct its program in accordance with the statements, representations, and procedures contained in the licensee's letter dated August 31, 1995, including the "Radiation Safety Program."

Part II of the Radiation Safety Program, Operation of the Amersham "Gamma Ray Projector" Model 865, Step 9.5.6 states: "At the conclusion of the exposure time, return the source to the shielded storage position by moving the control switch to the OFF position. Note that the source position indicator retracts the device." Step 9.5.7 states, in part, "Approach the exposure device with the survey meter and survey the device on all sides."

Contrary to the above, on October 16, 1997, at the conclusion of an exposure time, a licensee radiographer and assistant performed Step 9.5.7 out of sequence by approaching the exposure device before the source was returned to the shielded storage position. (01013)

B. 10 CFR 34.49(a) states that the licensee shall conduct surveys using a calibrated and operable radiation survey instrument that meets the requirements of 10 CFR 34.25. 10 CFR 34.49(b) states, in part, that the licensee shall, using a survey instrument meeting the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, conduct a survey of the radiographic exposure device after each exposure when approaching the device.

Contrary to the above, on October 16, 1997, a licensee radiographer did not use an operable radiation survey instrument to conduct a survey of a radiographic exposure device after an exposure. Specifically, a licensee radiographer approached a radiographic device with an inoperable radiation survey instrument and, as a result, did not immediately recognize that the radiation source had not been returned to its shielded position. (01023)

These violations represent a Severity Level III problem. (Supplement VI).
Civil Penalty - $5,500

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, CTI Alaska, Inc., 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(s) 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 copies to the Regional Administrator, Region IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011, and the Walnut Creek Field Office, 1450 Maria Lane, Suite 300, Walnut Creek, California 94596.

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 Arlington, Texas
this 20th day of January 1998


1. On October 31, 1996, the NRC issued a $13,000 civil penalty to CTI Alaska, Inc., for several violations related to a December 1995 radiography incident (EA 96-232). One of the violations involved a radiographer attempting to perform a survey with an inoperable instrument.

2. See Footnote 1.

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