United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No.80-22 – Breakdowns in Contamination Control Programs

                                                            SSINS: 6870    
                                                            Accessions No: 
                                                            8005050059     

                                UNITED STATES
                       NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 
                    OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT 
                           WASHINGTON, DC 20555  
                                     
                               May 28, 1980  

                                           Information Notice No. 80-22 

BREAKDOWNS IN CONTAMINATION CONTROL PROGRAMS 

Description of Circumstances 

Recent inspections at power reactors have revealed breakdowns in 
contamination control programs resulting in releases of radioactive 
materials to the unrestricted area and off-site environment by several 
different pathways. 

The first pathway was via disposal of supposedly clean trash in the nearby 
county sanitary landfill. High background radiation levels due to an onsite 
buildup of radioactive waste precluded adequate radiation surveys of clean 
trash prior to removal from the restricted area. In addition, the surveys 
were being conducted by improperly trained personnel. The result was the 
undetected disposal of radioactive material in the local sanitary landfill. 
An NRC inspector observed the practice and confirmed his suspicions when he 
detected levels of radiation 10 to 20 times normal background levels at the 
landfill. Subsequent surveys by the licensee, the State, and the NRC 
revealed several other areas in the landfill with higher than normal dose 
rates. Excavation by the licensee revealed items with contamination levels 
up to 100 mrem/hr contact reading. These items had been delivered with the 
clean trash from the plant and buried at the landfill. 

A second pathway was identified to be through the sale by the licensee of 
scrap materials to salvage dealers in the surrounding area. Several items 
with contamination levels in excess of the licensee's unrestricted area 
release limits were discovered to have been sold to these vendors. Maximum 
dose rates on these items did not exceed 1.0 mrem/hr. This condition 
evidently also resulted from the elevated background radiation levels within
the plant and the practice of permitting unqualified personnel to conduct 
radiation surveys. 

A third pathway was found during a recent NRC inspection. An NRC inspector's
radiation survey revealed soil contamination on site extending beyond the 
protected area fence. Radiation levels as high as 1.5 mrem/hr were measured 
on contact with the soil. The contamination is believed to be atmospheric 
fallout of particulate radioactivity which was exhausted from the plant 
stack during containment purge following explosive plugging of steam 
generator tubes. The steam generator manways were not covered and the purge 
system was not equipped with HEPA filters. The licensee's survey program did 
not include routine, periodic site and perimeter surveys. 
.

Information Notice No. 80-22                              May 28, 1980  
                                                             Page 2 of 2   

This Information Notice No. is provided as an early notification of a 
significant matter that is still under review by the NRC staff. It is 
expected that recipients will review the information for possible 
applicability to their facilities. No specific action or response is 
requested at this time. If NRC evaluations so indicate, further licensee 
actions may be required. 

No written response to this Information Notice No. is required. If you have 
any questions regarding this matter, please contact the Director of the 
appropriate NRC Regional Office. 

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, November 12, 2013