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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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