United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20555
Phone 301-415-8200   Fax 301-415-2234
Internet:opa@nrc.gov

  No. 99-16       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
        (Friday, January 29, 1999)



      NRC BARS CALIFORNIA COMPANY AND TWO OF ITS MANAGERS
         FROM NRC LICENSED ACTIVITIES FOR FIVE YEARS


 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has barred a manufacturer of
 storage casks for spent nuclear fuel and two of its managers from
 participating in NRC licensed activities for a period of five years.  The
 restrictions are contained in NRC orders confirming an agreement between
 NRC and the parties involved.

 NRC took the action after determining that the company, March Metalfab,
 Inc., of Hayward, California, and the two managers, provided false and
 misleading information to NRC officials looking into problems with the
 manufacture of casks.  These casks are used to  store spent fuel at the
 Palisades and Arkansas Nuclear One power plants in Michigan and Arkansas,
 respectively.   The casks involved are being used only at these two
 nuclear plants. 

 Problems came to light in March 1995, when workers at the Palisades plant
 noted that when a March Metalfab cask was pressurized with helium gas,
 two leaks were found in the cask wall next to a weld. 

  After learning of the problem, NRC staff conducted a special inspection
  at March Metalfab's facility in Hayward, California.  During that
  inspection, Metalfab's project manager and quality assurance manager
  both denied knowledge of any undocumented or unauthorized welding. NRC
  subsequently learned that these statements were false.

 The NRC has determined that the two managers - Brian K. Rogers and
 Randall W. Allmon  - were knowledgeable about the fabrication process,
 were aware that undocumented welding had been done on the cask shell, and
 deliberately made false statements in March 1997 to the NRC.   The NRC
 believes that the circumstances raise questions as to the company's
 willingness to comply with Commission requirements.

 Although March Metalfab has not admitted that a violation occurred, it
 agreed this past December 7, to terms of an NRC confirmatory order
 barring it from participating in NRC-licensed activities for a period of
 five years.  The two managers involved also agreed to similar orders.  

 The orders are effective immediately.  The company and managers will be
 permitted to complete work on one small existing contract involving
 nuclear work because the cask plug assemblies being manufactured will
 have a limited safety function that can be verified by measurement prior
 to their use.

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