United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-060 - NTH Consultants, Ltd.

March 16, 1998

EA 98-060

Mr. Maurice Masucci
Office Manager
NTH Consultants, Ltd.
860 Springdale Drive
Suite 500
Whiteland Business Park
Exton, Pennsylvania 19402-2847

Dear Mr. Masucci:

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION
(NRC Inspection Report No. 030-19402/98-001)

This letter refers to the NRC inspection conducted on January 12 and 13, 1998, at a temporary job site, in Exton, Pennsylvania. The purpose of this inspection was to determine whether activities authorized by the license were conducted safely and in accordance with NRC requirements, and to review the circumstances surrounding an incident involving damage to a soil moisture/density gauge containing licensed radioactive material. The incident was reported to the NRC by the your Radiation Safety Officer on January 12, 1998. During the inspection, one apparent violation of NRC requirements was identified, as described in the NRC inspection report, a copy of which was sent to you on February 18, 1998. In the February 18, 1998 letter, the NRC provided you an opportunity to either respond in writing to the apparent violation addressed in the inspection report or request a predecisional enforcement conference. You responded to the apparent violation in a letter to the NRC dated March 11, 1998.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, and information provided in your March 11, 1998 letter, one violation of NRC requirements is being cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice), and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report. The violation involves the failure to maintain control of licensed material not in storage at the temporary jobsite.

On January 12, 1998, you informed the NRC Region I staff that a portable soil moisture/density gauge containing licensed materials (sealed sources of 8 millicuries of cesium-137 and 40 millicuries of americium-241) had been destroyed when a bulldozer ran over it at the temporary job site. At the time the gauge was run over, the gauge was being used to make a measurement with its source rod extended, resulting in the handle of the gauge being separated from the gauge and the source rod being bent such that the source could not be retracted into its shielded position. The incident occurred because, at the time, the gauge user was, at a minimum, 50 feet away from the gauge with his back to the gauge, and the bulldozer operator, who saw the gauge operator away from the area where the gauge actually was located, assumed that the gauge was located near the operator. The bulldozer operator did not see the gauge when he backed over a mound of dirt and then the gauge. The NRC recognizes that the gauge operator subsequently took appropriate action in cordoning off the area, and notifying the RSO, who took appropriate action to package and transport the damaged gauge back to your Exton facility. Nonetheless, the failure to maintain security or constant surveillance of licensed material while it was being used, represents a significant failure to meet those responsibilities, and constitutes a significant regulatory concern. This failure takes on even greater significance because it resulted in damage to the gauge. Therefore, the violation is categorized at Severity Level III 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 violation. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement in the past 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 was warranted because your corrective actions were considered both prompt and comprehensive in response to the discovery of the damaged gauge. Your corrective actions, which were described in the inspection report and in your March 11, 1998 response, included:  (1) suspension of the gauge operator for two days; (2) retraining of all gauge users; (3) plans to increase the frequency of periodic training and audits; and (4) plans to include an article in your employee newsletter restating your policy regarding the control of gauges.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive correction of violations, and in recognition of the absence of previous escalated enforcement action at your facility, I have been authorized not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, any similar violations in the future could result in more significant escalated enforcement action, including issuance of a civil penalty.

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 your letter dated March 11, 1998. 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, its enclosure, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR). To the extent possible, your response should not include any personal privacy or proprietary information so that it can be placed in the PDR without redaction.

The responses directed by this letter and the enclosed Notice are not subject to the clearance procedures of the Office of Management and Budget as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-511.

Sincerely,



Hubert J. Miller
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-19402
License No. 37-20550-01

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/encl:
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

NTH Consultants
Exton, Pennsylvania
Docket No. 030-19402
License No. 37-20550-01
EA 98-060


During an NRC inspection conducted on January 12 and 13, 1998, 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, in part, that the licensee secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that are stored in an unrestricted area. 10 CFR 20.1802 requires, in part, 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, an unrestricted area means an area access to which is neither limited nor controlled by the licensee.
Contrary to the above, on January 12, 1998, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to a Troxler moisture/density gauge containing an 8 millicurie cesium-137 sealed source and a 40 millicurie americium-241 sealed source located at a temporary jobsite in Exton, Pennsylvania, an unrestricted area. The licensee did not control and maintain constant surveillance of this licensed material in that the gauge was left unattended at the jobsite for approximately one minute during which the gauge was destroyed when it was run over by a bulldozer. (01013)

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 a letter from the Licensee, dated March 11, 1998. 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 I, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

Dated at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
this 16th of March 1998

 

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