United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-99-107 - Material Testing Consultants, Inc.

June 25, 1999

EA 99-107


Mr. Steven M. Elliot, P.E., President
Material Testing Consultants, Inc.
693 Plymouth NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505

SUBJECT:   NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC Inspection Report 030-13918/99001(DNMS)

Dear Mr. Elliot:

This refers to the special inspection conducted on April 22, 1999, at Materials Testing Consultants, Inc. (MTC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The purpose of the inspection was to review an incident involving the loss of a moisture-density gauge on April 9, 1999. As a result, two apparent violations of NRC requirements were identified and considered for escalated enforcement as discussed in our letter to you dated May 13, 1999. In that letter you were provided an opportunity to either discuss this case and the apparent violations at a predecisional enforcement conference or address the apparent violations in writing. You elected to provide a written response.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information provided in your letter dated June 10, 1999, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding it are described in detail in the subject inspection report.

On April 9, 1999, a moisture density gauge containing a nominal 8 millicuries (0.30 GBq) cesium-137 and 40 millicuries (1.48 GBq) americium-241 sealed sources fell from a MTC truck during transport on a public highway. When the operator discovered that the device was missing, he retraced his route to look for the gauge, however, the device was gone. Neither the police nor your staff have located the lost gauge. The primary cause of the event was the failure of the operator to fully implement the MTC's operating procedures and NRC regulations by not securing the device to the vehicle and by not closing the truck tailgate. Incumbent upon each NRC licensee and its employees is the responsibility to protect public health and safety by ensuring that all NRC requirements are met, and in particular, that NRC licensed material is controlled so that it is not lost or damaged and does not constitute a hazard to the public. Therefore, these violations 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 III problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $2,750 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. 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. In this case, NRC determined that credit was warranted based on the following prompt and comprehensive corrective actions: (1) a safety review meeting was held with all authorized gauge users to discuss the incident and to review security, control and transport procedures; (2) the operator was reprimanded and placed on probationary work status for three months; and (3) management increased its supervision of licensed activities to emphasize the importance of maintaining control of licensed material.

Therefore, to encourage prompt and comprehensive corrective actions, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, 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 NRC has concluded that information regarding the reasons for the violation, and the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence are already adequately addressed in your letter dated June 10, 1999. 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, the enclosed Notice, and your response if you choose to respond, will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room.


  Sincerely,

  Original Signed by James L. Caldwell for

  J.E. Dyer
Regional Administrator

Docket No. 030-13918
License No. 21-15281-02

Enclosure: Notice of Violation




NOTICE OF VIOLATION

 
Material Testing Consultants, Inc.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
  Docket No. 030-13918
License No. 21-15281-02
EA 99-107

During an NRC inspection conducted on April 22, 1999, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

  1. 10 CFR 20.1801 requires, in part, that the licensee secure from unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that are stored in unrestricted areas. 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, unrestricted area means an area, access to which is neither limited nor controlled by the licensee.

    Contrary to the above, on April 9, 1999, the licensee did not secure from unauthorized removal, limit access to, nor control and maintain constant surveillance of licensed material in an unrestricted area. Specifically, during transportation a Troxler moisture density gauge containing a nominal 8 millicuries (0.3 GBq) of cesium-137 and 40 millicuries (1.48 GBq) of americium-241 fell from a MTC vehicle and was lost on a public highway in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (01013)

  2. 10 CFR 71.5(a) requires that a licensee who transports licensed materials 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 Transport (DOT) in 49 CFR Parts 170 through 189.

    49 CFR 177.834(a) requires, in part, that packaging not permanently attached to the motor vehicle and containing radioactive material must be secured against movement within the vehicle on which it is being transported, under conditions normally incident to transportation.

    Contrary to the above, on April 9, 1999, the licensee transported a Troxler moisture density gauge containing 8 millicuries (0.3 GBq) of cesium-137 and 40 millicuries (1.48 GBq) of americium-241, on public highway and the package was not secured against movement within the vehicle. Specifically, the device was not chained and/or braced to withstand conditions normally incident to transportation. (01023)

 

This is a Severity Level III problem (Supplements IV & V).

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reasons for the violation, and the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed in a letter from Material Testing Consultants, Inc. dated June 10, 1999. However, you are required to respond to the provisions of 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 III, 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle, Illinois 60532-4351, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation.

Dated at Lisle, Illinois
this 25th day of June 1999

 

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