United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 84-26: Recent Serious Violations of NRC Requirements by Moisture Density Gauge Licensees

                                                          SSINS No.:  6835 
                                                          IN 84-26         

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

                               April 16, 1984 

Information Notice No. 84-26:   RECENT SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF NRC 
                                   REQUIREMENTS BY MOISTURE DENSITY GAUGE 
                                   LICENSEES 

Addressees: 

All byproduct materials licensees authorized to possess and use byproduct 
materials in moisture density gauges and manufacturers who distribute 
devices that incorporate sealed sources for such use. 

Purpose: 

To bring to the attention of moisture density gauge licensees the large 
number of recent cases involving serious violations of NRC license 
conditions, to point out the common causes of these violations, and to 
describe their consequences. 

Discussion: 

From January 1 to December 1, 1983 there have been 26 cases in which the NRC
has taken escalated enforcement action against byproduct materials 
licensees. Nineteen of these cases involved a civil penalty, six involved 
Orders to suspend the license or to show cause why the license should not be 
revoked, and one involved both a suspension Order and a civil penalty. These 
escalated enforcement actions were taken because various serious violations 
of NRC license requirements occurred. These violations included employees 
being overexposed to radiation and members of the public being unnecessarily
exposed to radiation. In addition, the financial consequences to the 
affected licensees have been significant because of the loss of income from 
the payment of civil penalties and from the suspension or revocation of the 
license. 

An analysis of the causes of these escalated enforcement cases shows that 
there were three common causes for the serious violations and their 
consequences. These causes were: 

(1)  Failure to read and understand the conditions of the license. 

(2)  Failure to train employees in the conditions of the license including 
     the radiation safety procedures that are incorporated into the license.

(3)  Failure to control operations including failure of licensee employees 
     to follow approved radiation safety procedures. 
.

                                                            IN 84-26       
                                                            April 16, 1984 
                                                            Page 2 of 2    

Attached are summaries of moisture density cases. They illustrate the causes
and consequences of the serious violations that the NRC has found during 
inspections of this class of byproduct materials licensees. 

One of the principal causes of violations is the fact that some licensees 
are not cognizant of all the conditions of their license. NRC has found 
during inspections that some licensees have never read the license or have 
little understanding of its conditions. Conditions and commitments in the 
license form the basis for the issuance of the license, and are necessary to
protect the health and safety of the public. NRC therefore expects licensees
to abide with all the conditions and commitments of their license. 

Two other principal causes of violations are the failure to properly train 
the workforce and the failure to control the radiation-safety aspects of the
licensee's operation. Licensee management is responsible for ensuring that 
employees receive proper training, that the proper radiation monitoring 
instrumentation and personnel dosimetry is available and used, and that 
employees comply fully with all the provisions of the license and associated
radiation safety procedures. 

The licensee's responsibility for control of its operations also extends to 
consultants and contractors. In certain circumstances the NRC encourages 
licensees to seek qualified assistance when the licensee does not possess 
the necessary experience, training, equipment, or personnel dosimetry to 
perform particular activities; e.g., to handle problems arising from an 
accident or unusual occurrence. However, the responsibility for the safety 
of the operations and compliance with NRC requirements remains with the 
licensee. 

Licensees should review the conditions of their license to ensure that they 
understand their responsibilities under the license. This should include an 
examination of the details of their radiation safety program to verify that 
the program complies with all requirements. As a result, licensees can avoid
the serious consequences to their employees and the public and the 
significant financial costs that can result from failure to follow NRC 
requirements. 

No response to this information notice is required. If you have any 
questions regarding this matter, please contact the Administrator of the 
appropriate Regional Office or this office. 

                                   J. Nelson Grace, Director 
                                   Division of Quality Assurance, 
                                     Safeguards, and Inspection Programs 
                                   Office of Inspection and Enforcement 

Technical Contacts: J. R. Metzger, IE 
                    (301) 492-4947 

                    E. D. Flack, IE 
                    (301) 492-9823 

Attachments: 
1.   Selected Cases Involving Serious Violations of NRC Requirements 
2.   List of Recently Issued IE Information Notices
.

                                                           Attachment 1    
                                                           IN 84-26        
                                                           April 16, 1984  
                                                           Page 1 of 3     

                                  CASE A 

A company operated illegally for 3 years without an NRC license. After 
notification, the company applied for and received an NRC license. During 
the next two NRC inspections, the licensee made willful material false 
statements to the inspector. These involved statements that the gauges 
containing radioactive material were not being used, when in fact, three 
gauges were being used and the employees using them had not been provided 
with required personnel monitoring devices and transport containers. 

Violations 

1.   Company management willfully disregarded NRC requirements and willfully
     made false statements to the NRC inspector. 

Consequence 

1.   Unknown radiation exposures to employees. 

Enforcement 

NRC revoked the license. 
.

                                                           Attachment 1    
                                                           IN 84-26        
                                                           April 16, 1984  
                                                           Page 2 of 3     

                                  CASE B 

A licensee authorized to use moisture density gauges did not control the use
of the gauges. A gauge was left in several unrestricted areas by an employee
of the licensee, including the employee's personal automobile, bedroom, and 
basement of his residence. The gauge contained 10 millicuries of cesium-137 
and 50 millicuries of americium-241. Of the eight violations found, the most
significant are listed below. 

Violations 

1.   An unsupervised and unqualified employee of the licensee used and 
     stored the gauge at his residence for a period of over four months. 

2.   The licensee employee failed to wear personnel dosimetry while using 
     the gauge. 

3.   Two other employees received radiation doses of 1.74 rems and 1.59 rems
     during a calendar quarter. These doses are in excess of the 1.25 rems 
     for employees without exposure histories. 

4.   The licensee failed to report the technical overexposures in item 3 
     above to the NRC as required. 

5.   The gauges were sometimes transported in improper shipping containers 
     and without required shipping papers. 

Cause 

1.   The licensee did not control the use and storage of the gauges. 

Consequence 

Employees received radiation overexposures. One unbadged employee may have 
received an overexposure. 

Enforcement 

NRC imposed a civil penalty of $2,000 which the licensee paid. 
.

                                                           Attachment 1    
                                                           IN 84-26        
                                                           April 16, 1984  
                                                           Page 3 of 3     

                                  CASE C 

A licensee authorized to use moisture density gauges did not control the 
whereabouts of the gauges. 

Violations 

1.   Moisture density gauges containing 500 millicuries of americium-241 
     each were left in an unrestricted area. 

2.   The licensee found that a gauge containing 500 millicuries of 
     americium-241 was missing from its storage location and not reported to 
     the NRC until 5 months after the loss was determined. The gauge was 
     never found, but believed to have been smelted with scrap steel in a 
     furnace. 

Cause 

1.   The licensee did not control the storage of the gauges. 

Consequence 

1.   A potential existed for exposing workers and members of the general 
     public to unnecessary and possibly hazardous amounts of radiation. 

Enforcement 

NRC proposed a civil penalty of $1,000 which the licensee paid. 
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