United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-98-385 - Geotechnical Consultants, Inc.

August 27, 1998

EA 98-385


Mr. Daniel Longo, President/CEO
Geotechnical Consultants, Inc.
720 Greencrest Drive
Westerville, OH 43081-1657

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC Inspection Report 030-31021/98001(DNMS))

Dear Mr. Longo:

This refers to the inspection conducted on July 8 and 9,1998, at Geotechnical Consultants, Inc. (GCI) in Westerville, Ohio. The purpose of the inspection was to determine whether activities authorized by the license were conducted safely and in accordance with NRC requirements. During the inspection five apparent violations of NRC requirements were identified, one of which was considered for escalated enforcement. The apparent violations and the areas examined during the inspection were sent to you by letter dated July 22, 1998. You were given the option of requesting a predecisional enforcement conference or submitting a written response to the apparent violations. You chose to submit a response in a letter dated August 5, 1998.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. The 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 violation in Section I of the Notice involves the failure to control licensed material in an unrestricted area. On July 8, 1998, an NRC inspector approached the rear of GCI's facility from its publicly accessible parking lot and observed that a gauge users vehicle was unlocked with the key in the ignition. Inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle was a moisture density gauge with an unsecured source rod handle containing 10 millicuries (370 MBq) of cesium-137 and 50 millicuries (1850 MBq) of americium-241. The inspector had unfettered access to the nuclear gauge for approximately 5 minutes before being noticed by an authorized user. While the NRC recognizes that no event occurred in this case, the situation represented a significant failure to take basic precautions to prevent loss of licensed material and reduce potential radiation risks to members of the public. Incumbent upon each NRC licensee is the responsibility to protect public health and safety by ensuring that radioactive materials are controlled at all times. Therefore, the violation in Section I of the Notice is classified in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600 as a Severity Level III violation.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $2,750 is considered for a Severity Level III violation. Because your facility has not been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within the last two inspections, 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. We have determined that credit for corrective action is warranted based on the following corrective actions: (1) institution of an audit program to be conducted on a random unannounced basis at least twice during a 12 month period for permanent gauge users; (2) instruction has been provided for all gauge users concerning program safety issues and the audit process; (3) the gauge operator involved was sent to the manufacturer's training course for re-instruction prior to reuse of the gauge; (4) radiation safety guidelines have been developed to be used as a handy reference guide for gauge operators; and (5) the NRC inspection report was circulated as required reading to all gauge users.

Therefore, 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 could result in a civil penalty. In addition, issuance of this Severity Level III violation constitutes escalated enforcement action that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

The violations in Section II of the Notice have been classified as Severity Level IV violations in accordance with the Enforcement Policy. The violations address failures to: (1) lock the gauge when unattended; (2) ensure each package closure device is free of defects and that packaging requirements are met; (3) block and brace; and (4) carry shipping papers in the appropriate location in the vehicle.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations and the corrective actions taken and/or planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed in your letter dated August 5, 1998. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description herein 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 enclosures, and your response, if you choose to send one, will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.

Sincerely,

  Original signed by C. Pederson

for

James L. Caldwell
Acting Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-31021
License No. 34-26022-01

Enclosure: Notice of Violation


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Geotechnical Consultants, Inc.
Westerville, Ohio
  Docket No. 030-31021
License No. 34-26022-01
EA 98-385

During an NRC inspection conducted on July 8 and 9, 1998, violations 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:

I.    Violation Associated with Security of Licensed Material

10 CFR 20.1801 requires that the licensee secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that are stored in controlled or unrestricted areas. 10 CFR 20.1802 requires that the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of licensed material that is in a controlled or unrestricted area and that is not in storage. As defined in
10 CFR 20.1003, controlled area means an area, outside of a restricted area but inside the site boundary, access to which can be limited by the licensee for any reason; and unrestricted area means an area, access to which is neither limited nor controlled by the licensee.
Contrary to the above, on July 8, 1998, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal or limit access to a nuclear gauge containing nominal activities of 10 millicuries (370 MBq) of cesium-137 and 50 millicuries (1850 MBq) of americium-241 while located in an unlocked vehicle in an unrestricted area, nor did the licensee control and maintain constant surveillance of this licensed material. (01013)

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

II.    Violations Associated with Transportation of Licensed Materials

10 CFR 71.5(a) requires that a licensee who transports licensed material outside of the site of usage, as specified in the NRC license, or where transport is on public highways, or who delivers licensed material to a carrier for transport, comply with the applicable requirements of the regulations appropriate to the mode of transport of the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 49 CFR Parts 170 through 189.
A. 49 CFR 177.842 requires, in part, that packages of radioactive materials be so blocked and braced that they cannot change position during conditions normally incident to transportation.

  Contrary to the above, on July 8, 1998, the licensee transported a package containing licensed material, outside the site of usage, as specified on the NRC license, or on a public highway, and the package was not blocked and braced such that it could not change position during conditions normally incident to transportation. Specifically, a nuclear gauge was placed on the floor of the passenger compartment of a vehicle without a means of preventing it from changing position incident to normal transportation. (02014)

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

  B. 49 CFR 173.475 requires, in part, that before each shipment of any Class 7 (radioactive) materials package, the offeror must insure by examination or appropriate tests, that the packaging is proper for the contents to be shipped and that the packaging is in unimpaired physical condition, except for superficial marks. 49 CFR 173.415 lists the packages that are authorized for shipment to contain quantities of Class 7 (radioactive) material not exceeding the A1 or A2 value, as appropriate.

  Contrary to the above, on July 8, 1998, the licensee transported on a public highway 10 millicuries of cesium-137 and 50 millicuries of americium-241, a quantity not exceeding the A1 value, in a package which was not authorized for that material pursuant to 49 CFR 173.415. Specifically, a Campbell Pacific Nuclear Model MC-1DR nuclear gauge containing licensed material was transported without its transport Type A package. Additionally, on other occasions from approximately May 1998 to July 7, 1998, a nuclear gauge was transported in an authorized package pursuant to 49 CFR 173.415, but the licensee failed to ensure that each closure device of the packaging was free of defects. For example, the package used to transport a nuclear gauge had a damaged, inoperable latch. (03014)

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

  C. 49 CFR 177.817(e) requires, in part, that the driver of a motor vehicle containing hazardous material ensure that the shipping paper is readily available to, and recognizable by, authorities in the event of accident or inspection. Specifically,

  (1) When the driver is at the vehicle's controls, the shipping paper shall be:

  (a) within his immediate reach while he is restrained by the lap belt; and

  (b) either readily visible to a person entering the driver's compartment or in a holder which is mounted to the inside of the door on the driver's side of the vehicle;

  (2) When the driver is not at the vehicle's controls, the shipping paper shall be:

  (a) in a holder which is mounted to the side of the door on the driver's side of the vehicle; or

  (b) on the driver's seat in the vehicle.

  Pursuant to 49 CFR 172.101, radioactive material is classified as a hazardous material.

  Contrary to the above, on July 8, 1998, the licensee transported a moisture/density gauge containing cesium-137 and americium-241 outside the site of usage as specified on the NRC license, or on a public highway, and the driver of the vehicle did not ensure that the shipping paper was readily available in the drivers's compartment as required. Specifically, the shipping paper was on the floor of the rear passenger compartment. (04014)

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

  D. Condition 18 of License No. 34-26022-01 requires, in part, that a nuclear gauge or its container be locked when in transport.

  Contrary to the above, on July 8, 1998, a nuclear gauge was transported and neither the nuclear gauge or its container was locked. (05014)

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

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reasons for the violations, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violations and prevent recurrence and the date when full compliance will be achieved is already adequately addressed in a letter from Geotechnical Consultants, Inc. dated August 5, 1998. However, you are required to submit a written statement or explanation pursuant to 10 CFR 2.201 if the description herein 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 III, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois 60532, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice.

If you contest this enforcement action, you should also provide a copy of your response, with the basis for denial, to the Director, Office of Enforcement, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Under the authority of Section 182 of Act 42 U.S.C. 2232, any response shall be submitted under oath or affirmation. If you choose to respond your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR). Therefore, 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.

Dated at Lisle, Illinois
this 27th day of August 1998

 

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