Department of Energy
Ohio Field Office
Fernald Area Office

P.O. Box 538705
Cincinnati, Ohio 45253-8705
(513) 648-3155

April 01, 1998


Mr. Robert R. Loux,
Executive Director
State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects
Nuclear Waste Project Office
1802 N. Carson Street, Suite 252
Carson City, Nevada 89701

Dear Mr. Loux:


Thank you for your letter of March 13,1998, concerning the Type B Investigation report prepared as a result of the leaking containers in transport at Kingman, Arizona. I would like to provide some clarification on several issues and questions raised within your letter and the subsequent press release. Specifically, l want to assure you that the Type B Investigation Report list of Judgements of Need does not constitute the corrective action plan for this event. The Fernald Environmental Management Project (FEMP), Ohio Field Office, corrective action plan for this investigation was submitted by the Manager, Ohio Field Office, to the Assistant Secretary, Office of Environmental Management, on March 23,1998, for approval. In addition, the Assistant Secretary, Office of Environmental Management, directed that all Department of Energy (DOE)) sites which ship low level wastes take specific actions to ensure that the same conditions identified in this Type B Investigation Report do not exist at their respective sites. DOE sites provided the results of their actions taken to the Assistant Secretary on March 23,1998. The Assistant Secretary further directed that a working group establish design guidance for these low level waste containers that will be applied throughout the Department. This guidance is expected to be issued by April 15,1998.

Specific clarification related to your correspondence is as follows:

  • Your correspondence indicated that a shortcoming of the investigation report was "...a failure to disclose that Dicalite (the sorbent material used in the containers) was never actually marketed or sold to DOE for use as a sorbent material. According to the manufacturer of Dicalite, it is a dewatering filter agent, not an absorbent...". The Investigation report states that one pound of Dicalite can sorb either 2.1 to 2.5 or 2.2 to 2.6 pounds of water; however, the procedure used by Fluor Daniel Fernald (FDF) estimated that a pound of Dicalite could sorb 16 pounds of water. The Investigation Board could not conclude that Dicalite was never marketed or sold as a sorbent material because several sources contacted at the manufacturer provided differing accounts. However, the Board could conclude that Dicalite was not an effective sorbent as identified in the procedure.

  • You had stated "...DOE's formal plans for deploying DOE response teams to accidents involving radioactive waste were nonexistent..." and in the subsequent press release that "...DOE has no formal plans for deploying a radiological hazardous response team to an accident site, nor does the completed report have any direction to do so...". These statements indicate there was some misunderstanding between the specific use of the Fernald Support Team, which was to act as technical consultants to the incident commander, and general DOE emergency response and planning. DOE has well established plans and procedures regarding emergency response as was identified in the report. Specifically, the Investigation Report identified that the Fernald Support Team dispatched to the Kingman, Arizona, site was effective but more formal plans would need to be developed to ensure continued effectiveness of Fernald support teams. Emergency response teams dispatched to the Kingman, Arizona, site included the DOE Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) team, which is established by procedure and process; the DOE RAP team surveyed the scene and the truck and was able to establish there was no evidence of radioactive contamination. This conclusion was accepted by the Incident Commander following consultation with all other support elements at the scene. In addition, DOE requires that all transportation firms have a contract with a certified hazardous material emergency response firm in the event an accident or emergency arises during transportation. In this incident, DOE and FDF directly contracted with a certified hazardous material response firm during recovery actions after it was determined that no emergency existed. It is also significant to note that the report identified the positive response provided by the Kingman Arizona Fire Department that initially responded to the scene; they credited the training they received from DOE as assisting them in evaluating and classifying the condition of the truck. Therefore, although emergency response plans were established and functioned well during this event, additional steps could be taken to improve future response actions requiring the dispatch of a Fernald site support team.

  • You had stated that"...DOE had no formal corrective action program and procedures for resolving reported incidents involving mismanagement of radioactive waste between Nevada Test Site (NTS) and FEMP. In this case, the failure involved multiple DOE organizations and contractors...". The Investigation Report indicated that DOE roles and responsibilities regarding the interface between DOE-FEMP and DOE Nevada Operations Office (DOE-NV) are not clearly defined in the areas of notification and follow up to FEMP issues identified by NTS when shipments are unloaded. Although there were formal corrective action programs in place, they were not appropriately exercised in this situation. The Investigation Report recommended that additional formality and clarification be established for these organizational elements, particularly in clarifying the roles and responsibilities for notification, validation and close out of corrective actions, including root cause analysis.

There are additional comments made in your letter, such as statements concerning State of Nevada oversight of Department operations; however, those comments are outside the scope of the Type B Investigation Report. I appreciate your comments concerning the report and look forward to resolving these issues through the implementation of the detailed corrective actions. An overview of these actions will be presented to the Nevada Citizen's Advisory Board on April 1, 1998.

If you have any questions concerning this, please contact myself at (513) 648-3187.


David R. Koziowsk

David R. Koziowsk
Associate Director,
Office of Safety and Assessment

J. Owendoff, EM-1
J. Fiore, EM-40
J. Turi, EM-30
W. E. Murphie, EM-42

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