United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-99-083 - Anvil Corporation

June 28, 1999

EA 99-083

Anvil Corporation
ATTENTION: Vern Grenier, Manager
1675 West Bakerview Road
Bellingham, Washington 98226

SUBJECT:   NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND PROPOSED IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTY-$8,800
              (NRC Inspection Report No. 030-32816/98-03 and Investigation Report No. 4-1998-055)

Dear Mr. Grenier:

This refers to the predecisional enforcement conference conducted on May 20, 1999, in the NRC Region IV office in Arlington, Texas. The conference was conducted to review the circumstances surrounding an incident that occurred on November 20, 1998, involving exposures to two Anvil employees that were in excess of NRC limits. You notified the NRC of the event on November 23, 1998, and provided a written report on the event by letter dated December 17, 1998. The results of our investigation and inspection activities were discussed with you and other Anvil employees on April 14, 1999. The inspection report was issued on April 30, 1999.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and investigation, and the information that Anvil 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 circumstances surrounding the violations were described in detail in the subject inspection report. The violations involved failures to: (1) maintain occupational radiation doses to less than 5 rem per year; (2) supervise a radiographer's assistant while performing radiographic operations; (3) survey an exposure device and source guide tube after each exposure; and (4) wear an operating alarm ratemeter during radiographic operations (although the radiographer's assistant was wearing an alarm ratemeter, it was not operating since it was not turned on). These violations were identified following an incident in Montana where a radiographer's assistant did not completely retract the source into the radiography camera. As a result, the source was in a geometry such that it would not have been detected unless a survey instrument was placed in front of the port or near the guide tube, which the assistant did not do. Other problems discussed at the conference included: (1) the setup did not permit the radiographer to directly observe the assistant performing the survey and (2) after cranking in the source, the assistant did not try to push the source back out (to ensure the source was fully retracted and locked inside the camera).

As you know by our letter dated April 30, 1999, the NRC was also concerned that the following violations may have involved willfulness: (1) the radiographer and radiographer's assistant may have willfully failed to maintain constant visual surveillance of radiographic operations, (2) the radiographer's assistant may have willfully failed to check his alarm ratemeter at the start of the shift, and (3) the radiographer may have deliberately failed to supervise the radiographer's assistant during the performance of radiographic operations and surveys. However, based on the information presented at the conference with Anvil and in a separate conference with the radiographer, the NRC has concluded that neither the radiographer nor his assistant willfully violated NRC requirements. However, their conduct constitutes violations of NRC requirements that are of significant concern, and form the basis, in part, for this enforcement action.

The violations are significant because both the radiographer and the radiographer's assistant received doses in excess of the NRC's annual dose limit of 5 rem. The radiographer's assistant received a dose of 11.8 rem which gave him a total annual dose of 12.8 rem. The radiographer received a dose of 3.9 rem which gave him a total annual dose of 5.7 rem. These overexposures were clearly preventable. It is particularly significant that several safety barriers were violated because of the actions of your employees. The barriers included performing complete surveys, properly using alarm ratemeters, and supervising an assistant. Based on the overexposures and these circumstances, the violations identified above are classified in the aggregate in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600 as a Severity Level II problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $8,800 is considered for a Severity Level II problem. In accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy, the NRC considered whether Anvil was deserving of Identification and Corrective Action credit. After reviewing the circumstances, the NRC concluded that Anvil is deserving of Identification credit because Anvil promptly identified the event to the NRC and conducted a thorough investigation. Also, NRC has determined that Anvil is deserving of Corrective Action credit. Anvils's corrective actions included promptly removing the involved individuals from radiographic operations, conducting training for the Billings, Montana radiographic personnel, and establishing an Assistant Radiation Safety Officer position in the Billings, Montana office. Normally, giving a licensee both Identification and Corrective Action credit would result in no civil penalty. However, because of the significance which NRC assigns to radiation doses in excess of NRC limits which were preventable by basic radiation safety practices, the NRC has decided to exercise discretion to impose a civil penalty in accordance with Section VII.A.1 of the Enforcement Policy. Accordingly, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, and the Deputy Executive Director for Regulatory Effectiveness, to issue the enclosed Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty (Notice) in the base amount of $8,800 for the Severity Level II problem. But for your actions in response to this event, the penalty would have been substantially higher. In addition, please note that issuance of this Notice constitutes escalated enforcement action that may subject you to increased inspection effort.

The April 30, 1999, cover letter to the NRC Inspection Report identified two additional apparent violations. These involved failures to: (1) perform surveys to ensure the dose to the unrestricted area is less than 2 millirem in any one hour, and (2) maintain constant visual surveillance of radiographic operations. Since these violations were not associated with the overexposure, they are cited separately in the enclosed Notice of Violation at Severity Level IV.

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, Enclosure 1, and your response will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.


Sincerely,

Org signed by Thomas G. Gwyn

Ellis W. Merschoff
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-32816
License No. 46-23236-03

Enclosure: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty

cc: w/ Enclosure
State of Washington




ENCLOSURE 1 

NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Anvil Corporation
Billings, Montana
Docket No. 030-32816
License No. 46-23236-03
EA 99-083

During an NRC inspection and investigation completed on April 14, 1999, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, Revision 1, the NRC proposes to impose a civil penalty pursuant to Section 234 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (Act), 42 U.S.C. and 10 CFR 2.205. The particular violations and associated civil penalty are set forth below:

I.   Violations Assessed a Civil Penalty

A.   10 CFR 20.1201(a)(1)(i) requires, with exceptions not applicable here, that the licensee control the occupational dose to individual adults to an annual dose limit of 5 rem total effective dose equivalent.

1.   Contrary to the above, the licensee did not limit the annual occupational dose to an adult to an annual dose limit of 5 rem total effective dose equivalent. Specifically, an adult radiographer's assistant received 12.867 rems, total effective dose equivalent for the period January 1 to November 20, 1998. (01012)

2.   Contrary to the above, the licensee did not limit the annual occupational dose to an adult to an annual dose limit of 5 rem total effective dose equivalent. Specifically, an adult radiographer received 5.767 rems total effective dose equivalent for the period January 1 to November 20, 1998. (01022)

B.   10 CFR 34.46 requires that whenever a radiographer's assistant uses radiographic exposure devices, associated equipment or sealed sources or conducts radiation surveys required by 10 CFR 34.49(b) to determine that the sealed source has returned to the shielded position after an exposure, he shall be under the personal supervision of a radiographer. 10 CFR 34.46(c) states that the personal supervision shall include the radiographer's direct observation of the assistant's performance of the operations noted above.

Contrary to the above, on November 20, 1998, an individual acted as a radiographer's assistant, used a radiographic exposure device and conducted radiation surveys of the exposure device without the direct observation by the radiographer. (01032)

C.   10 CFR 34.49(b) requires, in part, that the licensee conduct a survey of the radiographic exposure device and the guide tube with a survey instrument that meets the requirements of 10 CFR 34.25 after each radiographic exposure when approaching the device or guide tube. The survey must determine that the sealed source has returned to its shielded position before exchanging films, repositioning the exposure head, or dismantling equipment.

Contrary to the above, on November 20, 1998, a licensee radiographer's assistant did not perform an adequate survey following a radiographic exposure. Specifically, the survey did not determine that the sealed source had returned to its shielded position prior to exchanging films. (01042)

D.   10 CFR 34.47(a) requires, in part, that the licensee may not permit any individual to act as a radiographer's assistant unless, at all times during radiographic operations, each individual wears an operating alarm ratemeter.

Contrary to the above, on November 20, 1998, a licensee radiographer's assistant performed radiographic operations without wearing an operating alarm ratemeter in that the alarm ratemeter was not turned on. (01052)

These violations represent a Severity Level II Problem (Supplements IV and VI).
Civil Penalty - $8,800

II.   Violations Not Assessed a Civil Penalty

A.   10 CFR 20.1302 requires, in part, that the licensee shall make or cause to made, as appropriate, surveys of the radiation levels in unrestricted and controlled areas to demonstrate compliance with the dose limits for individual members of the public in 10 CFR 20.1301. 10 CFR 20.1302(b)(2) requires, in part, that the licensee show compliance with the annual dose limit in 10 CFR 20.1301 by demonstrating that if an individual were continuously present in an unrestricted area, the dose from external sources would not exceed 0.002 rem in an hour.

Contrary to the above, on November 20, 1998, the licensee failed to demonstrate, by survey, that if an individual were continuously present in an unrestricted area at a temporary jobsite where radiography was performed, the dose from external sources would not exceed 0.002 rem in an hour. Consequently, dose rates in the unrestricted area, outside the established boundary, were later determined to be 0.005 rem in an hour. (02014)

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

B.   10 CFR 34.41 requires that during each radiographic operation, the radiographer or radiographer's assistant maintain direct surveillance of the operation to protect against unauthorized entry into a high radiation area, as defined in 10 CFR Part 20, except where the high radiation area is equipped with a control device or alarm system, or locked.

Contrary to the above, on November 20, 1998, at a field site in Billings, Montana, neither the licensee's radiographer nor the radiographer's assistant maintained direct surveillance over the radiographic operation to protect against entry into the high radiation area, and the high radiation area was not equipped with a control device or alarm system or locked. Specifically, the radiographer and his assistant failed to station themselves during each exposure to maintain direct surveillance of the area behind the temporary structure where radiography was being conducted. (03014)

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

Pursuant to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201, Anvil Corporation (Licensee) 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 to 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 proposed above 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 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 234(c) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 2282c.

The response noted above (Reply to Notice of Violation, statement as to payment of civil penalty(ies), 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 a copy to the Regional Administrator, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Region IV, 611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Texas 76011.

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).

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

Dated this 28th day of June 1999

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