Environment News Service

AmeriScan: August 24, 1999

TWO NUCLEAR SITE OPERATORS FINED FOR SAFETY VIOLATIONS

The Department of Energy (DOE) has fined the operators of the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology site in Colorado and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) for violating nuclear safety procedures for nuclear waste storage containers. Kaiser-Hill Company was fined $82,500 for the violations in 1997 and 1998 at Rocky Flats. Kaiser-Hill purchased 69 nuclear waste containers without evaluating the supplierís quality controls. After nine nuclear waste containers had been filled, it was discovered that they were defective. Kaiser-Hillís fine was reduced by 25 percent in recognition of the contractor's work to identify other quality problems. At INEEL, a $220,000 penalty to Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Company (LMITCO) covers problems with nuclear waste storage containers and other violations that took place from 1995 to 1998. LMITCO accepted nuclear fuel storage buckets from a vendor with known quality assurance problems. Later inspection revealed that 41of 48 buckets had inadequate welds. LMITCO failed to develop effective administrative controls or implement previous DOE orders, despite repeated warnings from the agency. Since 1998, INEEL has established more rigorous quality assurance controls and will obtain replacement containers which meet DOE requirements for nuclear waste transportation and disposal. At both sites, the containers were to serve as the primary containment for radioactive waste materials stored on site, with eventual disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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