U.S. nuclear watchdog proposes $14K fine against local engineering firm
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing a $14,000 civil penalty against S&R Engineering, S.E. in San Juan for failing to properly transfer a nuclear gauge to an authorized possessor, after its license expired in October 2009.
The agency is further considering fining the company $100 daily if the gauge is not transferred to a licensed company within 30 days.
S&R was issued an NRC license on June 21, 2004, allowing it to possess, use and store radioactive material contained in portable moisture density gauges, which among other things, are used to measure the amount of moisture in soil at construction sites. S&R has a single gauge.
When S&R reportedly failed to pay its licensing fee for fiscal year 2009, NCR issued an order warning that if a payment was not received within 30 days, it would revoke the company’s license and the gauge would have to be transferred to an authorized recipient within 60 days. S&R had to notify the federal agency of its compliance, the NCR said.
However, S&R has not yet paid the required fees or transferred the gauge, which until Oct. 3, 2011 the NRC uncovered the company still had.
“The NRC’s primary interest in this matter is to ensure that the gauge is immediately and appropriately transferred to an authorized recipient since S&R is no longer authorized to possess this licensed material,” NRC Region I Administrator William Dean wrote to S&R regarding the enforcement action.
S&R’s problems with the NCR also include failing to respond to the agency’s communications, “thereby preventing the agency from fully inspecting S&R’s activities and the status of the gauge.”
Furthermore, S&R reportedly failed to “use two independent physical controls to secure the gauge from unauthorized removal, as identified by an NRC inspector on Oct. 3, 2010.”
S&R has a 30-day grace period to transfer the gauge and comply with other NRC requirements, as well as respond in writing to the agency. If the company fails to comply, the NRC intends to consider additional civil penalties of $100 per day. If levied, the daily civil penalty will continue until the gauge is properly transferred.