Bulletin 75-07: Nuclear Engineering Company, Inc. (NECO)
IE Bulletin No. 75-07 Date: November 26, 1975
DESCRIPTION OF CIRCUMSTANCES:
Nuclear Engineering Company, Inc. (NECO), Louisville, Kentucky notified the
Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corporation and IE:III on, respectively, June 30, 1975,
and July 2, 1975, that they had received a waste shipment at their Beatty,
Nevada burial site from the Cimarron Plutonium facility in a Super Tiger
shipping container (Certificate No. 6400) on June 25, 1975. When the
shipment was opened by NECO on June 26, 1975, they found evidence that an
exothermic reaction had taken place inside a DOT Specification 12B
fiberboard carton containing a 24" x 24" x 12" acid resistant HEPA filter.
The box was thermally hot on receipt and the outside of the box was
scorched. The nylon filament tape used to seal the box had melted, fusing
the box to another box. Less than 450 c/m of alpha contamination was
detected on the box and it was immediately buried.
This filter was identified as one serving a glovebox system in which nitric
acid is used to dissolve scrap oxide materials for purification. Nitrogen
oxide gases and water vapor were released through the filter. The filter had
been bagged out in a 4 mil polyethylene (PE) bag, placed in the original
shipping carton, packaged again in another PE bag before being placed in the
DOT 12B fiberboard carton. On another occasion a similar filter package had
emitted nitrogen oxide fumes while in storage at the Kerr-McGee plutonium
The cause of the reaction is unknown, since most of the constituent
materials in the HEPA filter do not readily react with nitric acid. The
exothermic reaction may have occurred in extraneous materials placed in the
package or in the packaging material itself.
ACTION TO BE TAKEN BY LICENSEES:
The following actions are requested of reprocessing plants, fuel cycle
plants and major laboratory licensees:
1. Review your present or planned operations to determine if there
are processes that emit corrosive gases, particularly nitrogen
oxide, into ventilation systems filtered by HEPA filters.
2. Review your procedures for the handling, packaging, storing, and
shipping of materials, particularly cellulose materials or other
readily oxidizable substances that have been exposed to nitric
acid, nitrogen oxide gases, or other oxidizing agents, to
determine if appropriate precautions are being taken to preclude
an exothermic reaction.
3. Report to this office, in writing within 30 days of the date of
this Bulletin, the results of your review and, if appropriate, the
actions you have taken or planned to correct these problems.
Records of your evaluations should be maintained for examination
during the next routine inspection of your facility.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, September 01, 2015