United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-99-034 - Allegheny Wireline Services

February 8, 2000

EA 99-034
EA 00-005

Allegheny Wireline Services
ATTN: Mr. Peter Valenti
              President
P. O. Box 506
Weston, West Virginia 26542

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES - $5,500 (NRC INVESTIGATION REPORT NO. 2-1998-018)

Dear Mr. Valenti:

This refers to the investigation of Allegheny Wireline Services, Inc. (AWS), initiated August 13, 1998, and the inspection conducted at the AWS Elderton, Pennsylvania, facility on July 15, 1998. The purpose of the Office of Investigations (OI) investigation was to determine whether an AWS well logger failed to conduct a radiation safety survey and whether a radiation safety survey record was falsified by the employee. The synopsis to the OI report, discussion of each apparent violation, and a summary of the OI investigation were transmitted to you by letter dated October 18, 1999. Based on the results of the inspection and investigation, a closed, transcribed, predecisional enforcement conference was conducted with you at the NRC Region II office in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 5, 2000, to discuss the apparent violations, the root causes, and your corrective actions to preclude recurrence. Enclosure 2 provides a listing of attendees at the predecisional enforcement conference. Enclosures 3 and 4 contain copies of the materials presented by AWS (redacted) and the NRC, respectively.

Based on the information developed during the inspection, the OI investigation, and the information 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 Penalties (Notice), and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in our letter dated October 18, 1999. The violations in the Notice involve non-compliances with regulatory and license requirements, and include: (1) the failure to conduct radiation surveys at well sites; (2) the failure to maintain complete and accurate records of these surveys, as required by License Condition 21 and 10 CFR 30.9; and, (3) the failure of the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) to provide adequate oversight concerning the completion of radiation surveys and radiation survey records as required by License Condition 21. Specifically, during the inspection, the NRC identified an example where the required site survey records had been completed while logging operations were ongoing in the field. Subsequently, OI identified that the failure to perform well site radiation surveys and the documentation of survey results as if they had been conducted, was not isolated. In addition, OI determined that the RSO was aware of the activities.

At the predecisional enforcement conference, an apparent violation of 10 CFR 39.67(c) was discussed. A Notice of Violation (NOV) was previously issued to AWS on June 1, 1998, as a result of a May 19-21,1998, inspection. The NOV cited a failure to survey the logging tool for contamination after logging and prior to departing from a temporary jobsite, as required by 10 CFR 39.67(c). In the NOV response, dated June 30, 1998, AWS committed to initiating corrective actions to achieve full compliance for the violation by June 22, 1998. However, during the predecisional enforcement conference, you indicated that you did not have adequate time to implement corrective actions at the Elderton facility prior to the NRC's July 15, 1998 inspection. Based on the circumstances you described, we accept the explanation that corrective actions regarding this violation were still ongoing and accordingly, we are not citing you for failure to survey as required by 10 CFR 39.67(c). However, as discussed at the conference and determined through the investigation, surveys of the well site were also not routinely performed, as required by your license. Therefore, the violation, cited as Violation A.(1). in the enclosed Notice, has been recharacterized as a violation of Condition 21 of your license.

Although no significant radiological event occurred during the time in which AWS employees failed to perform required surveys, the failure to perform surveys is a significant safety issue. The consequences of failing to perform surveys include the potential failure to identify a leaking or dislodged source, which could cause the unnecessary spread of contamination and exposure of members of the public and employees of AWS.

These violations are principally indicative of performance deficiencies of the RSO and the well logging staff; however, corporate AWS management contributed significantly to the violations by failing to provide adequate training to the staff with respect to proper survey technique, proper procedural guidance in the conduct of proper surveys, and assuring that personnel understood the purpose and significance of performing surveys. AWS management had not established a proper standard of regulatory compliance with respect to radiation surveys and thus, personnel became complacent with respect to adherence to requirements. In addition, following the May 1998 inspection, it was apparent to AWS management that survey records were being falsified by its staff, yet AWS failed to recognize the pervasiveness and significance of the issue.

The NRC concluded that all three violations described in the Notice were deliberate. Deliberate violations of regulatory requirements are of significant concern to the NRC because the success of our regulatory programs are based in no small part on the honesty and integrity of licensees and their employees. The records required by NRC regulations and the license are essential elements to providing NRC with the required assurance that activities are being conducted safely and in accordance with regulatory and license requirements. Violations A.(1). and A.(2). reflect performance of individuals at a well site conducting radiation surveys; therefore, these two violations have been considered as one problem. In addition, deliberate misconduct on the part of the RSO is of particular significance in that this individual is specifically tasked with assuring that activities at your facility are conducted safely on a daily basis. Therefore, in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600, the problem described in Section A of the Notice and Violation B have been categorized separately at Severity Level III.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $2,750 is considered for each Severity Level III problem or violation. Because the violations involve deliberate actions on the part of AWS employees, the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process described in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. Credit for Identification was not warranted for any of the violations because they were identified by the NRC during the inspection and investigation. AWS' corrective actions for the violations included issuing memoranda informing the staff of NRC inspection findings and AWS' expectations regarding compliance. Additional corrective actions included: establishing increased frequencies for field audits of logging supervisors; taking disciplinary actions against the individuals involved; removing Elderton's RSO from duties pending the outcome of the NRC predecisional enforcement conference; conducting training on required surveys; and revising the AWS Radiation Safety Manual to include improved procedures for conducting required surveys. Based on these facts, the NRC determined that the corrective actions for the violations were prompt and comprehensive, and that credit was warranted for the Corrective Action factor. This assessment results in the base civil penalty for each problem and a cumulative civil penalty of $5,500.

Therefore, to emphasize the need for effective management oversight of licensed activities and in recognition of the seriousness of violations involving deliberate misconduct, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, to issue the enclosed Notice in the total amount of $5,500 for the Severity Level IIl violations. In addition, issuance of this Notice constitutes escalated enforcement action that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation and the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed on the docket and in the information you presented at the predecisional enforcement conference. Therefore, you are not required to respond to the enclosed Notice with respect to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201 unless the description therein does not accurately reflect your corrective action or your position. In that case, or if your choose to provide additional information, you should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice. You are, however, required to remit the civil penalty or provide a response pursuant to 10 CFR 2.205, as described 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 any, will be placed in the Public Document Room.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Douglas M. Collins, Director, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety at (404) 562-4700.

Sincerely,

/RA/

Luis A. Reyes
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-00697
License No. 47-11976-01

Enclosures:
Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalties
Conference Attendees

cc:
State of West Virginia
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


NOTICE OF VIOLATION
AND
PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES

Allegheny Wireline Services, Inc
Weston, Virginia
Docket No. 030-00697
License No. 47-11976-01
EAs 99-034, 00-005

During an NRC inspection on July 15, 1998, and an NRC Office of Investigations investigation initiated on August 13, 1998, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedures for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the NRC proposes to impose civil penalties 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 penalties are set forth below:

A.   1.   Condition 21 of NRC License No. 47-11976-01 requires, in part, that except as specifically provided otherwise in this license, the licensee shall conduct its program in accordance with the statements, representations, and procedures contained in the application dated February 23, 1995.

Item 10, Section 6. G of the application under Allegheny Wireline Services Radiation Program, states, "Surveys will be conducted by monitoring a well bore at the surface prior to use of any radioactive materials and remonitoring the well bore upon completion of the work. These numbers will be recorded. The serial numbers of an acceptable survey meter or tool will be recorded. Records of these numbers and survey performed on each job will be maintained in a file".

Section 8. D. 2 of the application under Allegheny Wireline Services Radiation Program states, "Arrival at well site - Using low level survey meter, monitor the area before commencing job, and record. After job is finished, remonitor area to determine there is no contamination around well site. Record on WELL SITE RADIATION MONITORING FORM".

Contrary to the above, as of July 15, 1998, the licensee deliberately failed to conduct monitoring, using a low level survey meter, of the area or well bores at the surface prior to use of any radioactive materials and remonitoring of the area or the well bore upon completion of work. (01013)

2.   (2) 10 CFR 30.9(a) requires, in part, that information provided to the Commission by a licensee, or information required by the Commission's regulations to be maintained by the licensee, shall be complete and accurate in all material respects.

Item 10, Section 6. G of the application under Allegheny Wireline Services Radiation Program, states, "Surveys will be conducted by monitoring a well bore at the surface prior to use of any radioactive materials and remonitoring the well bore upon completion of the work. These numbers will be recorded. The serial numbers of an acceptable survey meter or tool will be recorded. Records of these numbers and survey performed on each job will be maintained in a file".

Section 8. D. 2 of the application under Allegheny Wireline Services Radiation Program states, "Arrival at well site - Using low level survey meter, monitor the area before commencing job, and record. After job is finished, remonitor area to determine there is no contamination around well site. Record on WELL SITE RADIATION MONITORING FORM".

Contrary to the above, as of July 15, 1998, the licensee deliberately failed to maintain information required by the Commission's regulations accurate in all material respects. Specifically, records of well site surveys, including the survey results and serial numbers of the survey instrument used to obtain the surveys, were recorded on the Well Site Radiation Monitoring Form when the surveys were not actually performed. Records of these surveys were required to be maintained, and the accuracy of these records is material because they provide the required assurance that activities are being conducted safely and in accordance with regulatory requirements. (01023)

This is a Severity Level III problem (Supplements IV and VII).
Civil Penalty - $2,750

B.   1.   Condition 21 of NRC License No. 47-11976-01 requires, in part, that except as specifically provided otherwise in this license, the licensee shall conduct its program in accordance with the statements, representations, and procedures contained in the application dated February 23, 1995.

Item 10, Section 2 of the application under Allegheny Wireline Service Radiation Program, provides for delegation of authority from the Radiation Protection Officer to the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO), and requires the RSO to conduct or cause to be conducted the programs and responsibility delegated by the Radiation Protection Officer. The duties delegated to the RSO include ensuring the performance of site surveys, the completion and maintenance of survey records, the compilation of personnel monitoring and vehicle surveys records, the training and qualifying of personnel, and the conducting of periodic safety checks to assure the effectiveness of the radiation protection program.

Contrary to the above, as of July 15, 1998, the RSO at the Elderton, Pennsylvania site, deliberately failed to conduct or cause to be conducted certain aspects of the radiation protection program in that on numerous occasions the RSO failed to assure that required surveys were performed and that records documenting conduct of these surveys were accurate. Specifically, the RSO knew that required surveys were not performed and that records were completed to reflect that surveys were being performed when they were not. (02013)

This is a Severity Level III violation (Supplement VII).
Civil Penalty - $2,750

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violations and the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed on docket and in the information you presented at the predecisional enforcement conference. 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 action or your position. In that case, or if your 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, DC 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region II, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation.

You may pay the civil penalty proposed above or the cumulative amount of the civil penalty if more than one civil penalty is proposed, in accordance with NUREG/BR-0254 and by submitting to the Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, a statement indicating when and by what method payment was made, 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 you fail to answer within the time specified, an order imposing the civil penalty will be issued. Should you 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 violations 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 penalties.

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. Your attention 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 have 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, statement as to payment of civil penalty, and Answer to a Notice of Violation) should be addressed to: Mr. Richard W. Borchardt, Director, Office of Enforcement, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-2738, with a copy to the Regional Administrator, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region II.

If you choose to respond your response will be place 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.

In accordance with 10 CFR 19.11, you may be required to post this Notice within two working days after receipt.

Dated at Atlanta, Georgia
this 8th day of February 2000


LIST OF ATTENDEES



Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

L. Reyes, Regional Administrator
D. Collins, Director, Division of Nuclear Materials Safety (DNMS)
M. Lesser, Branch Chief, Materials Licensing/Inspection, Branch 2, DNMS
R. Gibson, Health Physicist, DNMS
R. W. Borchardt, Director, Office of Enforcement
A. Boland, Enforcement Officer, Enforcement and Investigations Coordination Staff (EICS)
A. Jones, Enforcement Specialist, EICS
C. Evans, Regional Counsel
D. Dambly, Assistant General Counsel for Materials Litigation and Enforcement, Office of General Counsel
J. Euchner, Attorney, Office of General Counsel
B. Smith, Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards
W. McNulty, Office of Investigations, Field Director



Allegheny Wireline Services, Inc.: (AWS)

P. Valenti, General Manager/President
J. Sherrell, Radiaiton Safety Officer
L. Frye, Plant Manager
A. Domby, Attorney for AWS
W. Briggs, Attorney for L. Frye

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012