NRC Orders Payment of $900,000 Fine from Thermal Science for Violations of NRC Requirements

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No. 99-94
May 4, 1999


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff, rejecting a company protest, has issued an order requiring Thermal Science, Inc., (TSI) of St. Louis, to pay a $900,000 fine proposed in 1996 for misrepresentations made to the NRC concerning its Thermo-Lag fire barrier products.

The order is the latest in a series of measures NRC has taken since the agency began considering enforcement action against TSI in 1995 after an investigation determined that the company misrepresented the level of involvement of a test laboratory, Industrial Testing Laboratories, Inc., (ITL), in fire barrier and other tests.

Investigators also found that Thermal Science misrepresented the respective levels of involvement of the company and of test laboratories, including ITL, in the testing of Thermo-Lag products when it provided test reports and other documents, knowing that they contained inaccurate and/or incomplete information.

Results of the NRC investigation were forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice, which presented the matter to a grand jury that indicted TSI and its president on charges of conspiracy and making false statements to the NRC. Both the company and its president were acquitted of all charges following a criminal trial that ended in August 1995.

In 1996, the NRC proceeded with civil action, citing TSI for nine violations of its regulations. Each violation consisted of one or more statements made to the NRC which were either knowingly "inaccurate or incomplete." The NRC staff informed TSI that it intended to impose a fine of $100,000 for each violation, for a total proposed penalty of $900,000. By law, the company had 30 days to pay the fine or protest it.

TSI responded by filing a motion in U.S. District Court challenging the legality of the fine on the grounds that (1) it constituted double jeopardy, and (2) NRC lacks authority to fine non-licensees. The District Court dismissed TSI's suit last year. TSI has appealed, but the appeals court has denied a motion for a stay of NRC's administrative process.

After the District Court ruling, TSI filed an answer to the NRC's enforcement action, denying all of the violations. The NRC staff has reviewed this and found the arguments to be without merit. Accordingly, the staff has issued an order imposing the civil penalty.

Thermal Science has 30 days to pay the fine or request a hearing.

A copy of this enforcement action is available upon request from the NRC's Office of Public Affairs. It also has also been posted on the Internet.

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