The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has fined a major plant inspection firm $49,000 for safety and security lapses and has banned one of its former employees from NRC projects for a year.
The actions follow what NRC records call a “poor escalated performance history” by JANX Integrity Inc., of Parma, MI.
|The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said a JANX radiographer deliberately prevented an NRC inspector from completing his inspection.|
The latest violations were identified July 27, 2011, during an NRC inspection at a temporary job site on Spy Island, AK, the commission said. The violations were confirmed in a two-month investigation later that year by NRC’s Office of Investigations.
JANX did not respond to requests for comment.
During the July inspection, the NRC said, a JANX industrial radiographer “deliberately performed radiographic imaging operations without a second qualified person and deliberately avoided and prevented an NRC inspector from completing his inspection.”
A second qualified person is required during such operations to provide assistance to the other individual if needed and to ensure that unauthorized personnel do not enter the area, the NRC noted June 25 in a Notice of Violation to JANX.
The Notice also said that after an NRC inspector asked the radiographer about having a second qualified person, the JANX employee “left the location where the radiographic exposures had occurred.”
“Furthermore,” the Notice said, “when the inspector approached the vehicle where the second radiographer was working, this individual then left the inspector to look for the first radiographer and did not return.”
An NRC Order of June 25 identifies the radiographer as Timothy Goold and bans him for one year “from engaging in activities within NRC jurisdiction.”
According to one NRC document, Goold “admitted to being scared and sitting in the smoke shack during the inspection to avoid the inspector.”
Goold’s location was unavailable, and he could not be reached for comment.
The NRC also found that radiation safety signs were not posted in the area while the work was being performed. Finally, the commission reported various “security violations,” which it did not detail.
The Notice said the radiographer’s disappearance during the inspection “is of concern to the NRC because of the high importance the NRC places on our regulatory responsibility to observe licensed activities and review records to ensure compliance….”
Charles A. Casto, NRC Region III Administrator, said in a statement: “These violations are of significant concern, because the actions reflected inadequate oversight by the company and the individual acted irresponsibly, which could have resulted in significant health and safety consequences.”
“We expect the company to take responsibility, to ensure safety and security are paramount and remain so when dealing with NRC-regulated material.”
NRC’s Notice to JANX noted that the company had been “the subject of escalated enforcement action within the last two years.” A footnote in that Notice said that the commission had also fined JANX $21,000 for security violations in November 2010.
Documentation on those violations is not publicly available. However, in September 2010, NRC records show, JANX was invited to a “Predecisional Enforcement Conference” to discuss “apparent violations” identified on four separate routine inspections that May, June and July.
The new NRC Notice indicates that those violations also related to the “two-man rule” and that JANX’s parent company had provided individuals to oversee the job, to ensure that safety standards were followed.
‘Poor Past Performance’
NRC records also show that JANX reported in 2003 that one of its radiographers, who also worked for two other companies, had exceeded the maximum annual radiation dose in 2002 by the end of November of that year. It could not be determined if that radiographer was Goold.
NRC’s new Notice to JANX said the agency had chosen to escalate the current penalty, “based on JANX’s particularly poor past performance as evidenced by its enforcement history and recent willful violations.”
Although JANX has “taken corrective actions to address this issue,” the NRC said it remained “concerned regarding JANX’s overall performance.”
“Specifically, given your poor escalated performance history over the last three years and the safety culture weaknesses which contributed to the current violations, we are concerned regarding your ability to sustain compliance with NRC requirements.”
About the Company
JANX was founded in 1981 as a pipeline radiographic inspection firm, according to its website.
Since 2000, the company has acquired Consolidated NDE of Woodbridge, NJ; Quality NDE of Joelton, TN; Advanced Testing and Inspection, of Cartersville, GA; and Acton Inspection, of Tulsa, OK.
In 2008, JANX was acquired by Dutch-based Applus RTD, a global provider of NDT, inspection and asset integrity services.
Now with 21 locations nationwide, JANX provides nondestructive testing, corrosion inspection and related inspection and testing services for the pipeline, refinery, automotive, nuclear, offshore, cogeneration, chemical, steam and other industries. Half of its clients are in the oil and gas sector, the company says.