Information Notice No. 84-26: Recent Serious Violations of NRC Requirements by Moisture Density Gauge Licensees
SSINS No.: 6835
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
E. D. Flack, IE
1. Selected Cases Involving Serious Violations of NRC Requirements
2. List of Recently Issued IE Information Notices
April 16, 1984
Page 1 of 3
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.
1. Company management willfully disregarded NRC requirements and willfully
made false statements to the NRC inspector.
1. Unknown radiation exposures to employees.
NRC revoked the license.
April 16, 1984
Page 2 of 3
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.
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
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.
1. The licensee did not control the use and storage of the gauges.
Employees received radiation overexposures. One unbadged employee may have
received an overexposure.
NRC imposed a civil penalty of $2,000 which the licensee paid.
April 16, 1984
Page 3 of 3
A licensee authorized to use moisture density gauges did not control the
whereabouts of the gauges.
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
1. The licensee did not control the storage of the gauges.
1. A potential existed for exposing workers and members of the general
public to unnecessary and possibly hazardous amounts of radiation.
NRC proposed a civil penalty of $1,000 which the licensee paid.
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