United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

IE Circular No. 78-01, Loss of Well Logging Source


CR78001 

                               April 5, 1978 

MEMORANDUM FOR:     B. H. Grier, Director, Region I 
                    J. P. O'Reilly, Director, Region II 
                    J. G. Keppler, Director, Region III 
                    Glen L. Madsen, Acting Director, Region IV 
                    R. H. Engelken, Director, Region V 

FROM:               L. B, Higginbotham, Assistant Director, Division of 
                      Fuel Facilities and Material Safety Inspection, IE 

SUBJECT:            IE CIRCULAR 78-01, LOSS OF WELL LOGGING SOURCE 

The subject document is transmitted for issuance on April 14, 1978.  The 
Circular should be issued to all Well Logging Licensees.  Also enclosed is a 
draft copy of the transmittal letter and removable labels of the well 
logging licensees in your Region. 


                                   L. B. Higginbotham, Assistant Director 
                                   Division of Fuel Facilities and 
                                     Materials Safety Inspection 
                                   Office of Inspection and Enforcement 

Enclosures:
1.   Draft Transmittal Letter
2.   Circular No. 78-01
3.   Addressee labels (Removable)

CONTACT:  E. D. Flack, IE 
          49-28188 
.

Transmittal letter for Circular 78-01, to each Well Logging Licensee. 

Addressee: 

The enclosed Circular 78-01, is forwarded to you for information. If there 
are any questions related to your understanding of the suggested actions, 
please contact this office. 


                                        Signature 
                                        (Regional Director) 

Enclosure: 
IE Circular 78-01 
.

                             UNITED STATES 
                      NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 
                   OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT 
                         WASHINGTON, D. C. 20555 
                                     
                              April 5, 1978  

                                                     IE Circular No. 78-01 

LOSS OF WELL LOGGING SOURCE 

On January 31, 1978, a 2.8 curie americium-beryllium well logging source was
discovered missing from its shielded storage container on a well logging 
company's truck. Initially it could not be determined whether the source had
been stolen or lost. Assuming it had been lost during transport, an 
extensive search was initiated. On February 8, 1978, the source in its 
holder was found about 110 miles from the licensee's facilities by a highway 
construction worker about 15 feet from highway I-77 near Canton, Ohio. 

It is believed that the locking mechanism on the shielded storage container 
was not properly locked, and the source (in its holder) worked its way out 
of the storage container and fell to the road through an opening in the 
truck compartment. Also, the storage container itself was insecurely mounted 
to the truck. 

Four persons, including the construction worker who found it, are known to 
have handled the source. The estimated maximum individual radiation dose was
4.5 rem to extremities and 90 millirem whole body. The dose to these 
individuals could have been much larger since the source holder was not 
marked or labeled with the radiation caution symbol or with any warning 
sign. Fortunately, because of extensive press and television coverage of the
incident, the source holder was quickly recognized and no significant doses 
resulted. 

State and Federal agencies and the licensee expended approximately 230 total
man-days of effort in the search for the source, during the period January 
31 to February 8, 1978. 

It is recommended that the following actions be considered by all well 
logging licensees: 

1.   Review the design of the locking mechanism on storage containers to 
     assure that they are adequate to preclude inadvertent opening. 

2.   Examine the method used to secure storage containers to transporting 
     vehicles to assure that road vibrations will not cause the storage 
     containers to work loose. 

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IE Circular No. 78-01                                      April 5, 1978 

3.   Review the procedures for storing and securing sources in storage 
     containers and take action to assure that procedures are implemented. 

4.   Assure that periodic checks are made to verify the proper storage and 
     security of sources when they are not in use, particularly at the 
     beginning and end of trips when sources are being transported. 

5.   For source holders not presently marked, examine the feasibility of 
     tagging or marking the source holders with the radiation caution symbol
     and the instruction: "Danger - Radioactive Material - Do Not Handle -
     Notify Civil Authorities If Found". 

6.   Inform employees involved in the use and transport of well logging 
     sources of the contents of this Circular and recommended actions. 

No written response to this Circular is required. If you require additional 
information regarding this matter, contact the Director of the appropriate 
NRC Regional Office. 

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