Page images
PDF
EPUB

1995. A closeout of a noncompliance with or without an Enforcement Letter may only take place after DOE has confirmed that corrective actions have been completed.

lead to such action. The purpose of the enforcement conference is to assure the accuracy of the facts upon which the preliminary determination to consider enforcement action is based, discuss the potential or alleged violations, their significance and causes, and the nature of and sohedule for the DOE contractor's corrective actions, determine whether there are any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and obtain other information which will help determine the appropriate enforcement action.

(b) DOE contractors will be informed prior to a meeting when that meeting is considered to be an enforcement conference. Such conferences are informal mechanisms for candid pre-decisional discussions regarding potential or alleged violations and will not normally be open to the public. In circumstances for which immediate enforcement action is necessary in the interest of public or worker health and safety, such action will be taken prior to the enforcement conference, which may still be held after the necessary DOE action has been taken.

IX. Enforcement Actions a. This section describes the enforcement sanctions available to DOE and specifies the conditions under which each may be used. The basic sanctions are Notices of Violation and civil penalties. In determining whether to impose enforcement sanctions, DOE will consider enforcement actions taken by other Federal or State regulatory bodies having concurrent jurisdiction, e.g., instances which involve NRC licensed entities which are also DOE contractors, and in which the NRC exercises its own enforcement authority.

b. The nature and extent of the enforcement action is intended to reflect the seriousness of the violation involved. For the vast majority of violations for which DOE assigns severity levels as described previously, a Notice of Violation will be issued, requiring a formal response from the recipient describing the nature of and schedule for corrective actions it intends to take regarding the violation. Administrative actions, such as determination of award fees where DOE contracts provide for such determinations, will be considered separately from any civil penalties that may be imposed under this Enforcement Policy. Likewise, imposition of a civil penalty will be based on the circumstances of each case, unaffected by any award fee determination.

VIII. Enforcement Letter a. In cases where DOE has decided not to issue a Preliminary Notice of Violation, DOE may send an Enforcement Letter to the contractor signed by the Director. The Enforcement Letter is intended to communicate the basis of the decision not to pursue further enforcement action for a noncompliance. The Enforcement Letter is intended to direct contractors to the desired level of nuclear safety performance. It may be used when DOE concludes the specific noncompliance at issue is not of the level of significance warranted for issuance of a Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV). Even where a noncompliance may be significant, the Enforcement Letter recognizes that the contractor's actions may have attenuated the need for further enforcement action. The Letter will typically recognize how the contractor han dled the circumstances surrounding the noncompliance and address additional areas requiring the contractor's attention and DOE's expectations for corrective action. The Enforcement Letter notifies the contractor that, when verification is received that corrective actions have been implemented, DOE will close the enforcement action.

b. In many investigations, an Enforcement Letter may not be required. When DOE decides that a contractor has appropriately corrected a noncompliance or that the significance of the noncompliance is sufficiently low, it may close out an investigation simply through an annotation in the DOE Noncompliance Tracking System (NTS). See Guidance for Identifying, Reporting and Tracking Nuclear Safety Noncompliances and Addendum, Noncompliance Tracking System Users Manual, DOE-HDBK-1089–95, July

1. Notice of Violation a. A Notice of Violation (either a Preliminary or Final Notice) is a document setting forth the conclusion of the DOE Office of Nuclear Safety that one or more violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements has occurred. Such a notice normally requires the recipient to provide a written response which may take one of several positions described in Section V of this policy statement. In the event that the recipient concedes the occurrence of the violation, it is required to describe corrective steps which have been taken and the results achieved; remedial actions which will be taken to prevent recurrence; and the date by which full compliance will be achieved.

b. DOE will use the Notice of Violation as the standard method for formalizing the existence of a violation and, in appropriate cases as described in this section, the notice of violation will be issued in conjunction with the proposed imposition of a civil penalty. In certain limited instances, as described in this section, DOE may refrain from the issuance of an otherwise appropriate Notice of Violation. However, a Notice of Violation will virtually always be issued

ment activities performed for the Department. Therefore, in order to serve the purposes of this enforcement policy and to emphasize the importance the Department places on compliance with all of its nuclear safety requirements, DOE intends to issue Notices of Violation to the exempted contractors and non-profit educational institutions when appropriate under this policy statement, notwithstanding the statutory and regulatory exemptions from the imposition of civil penalties.

for willful violations, if past corrective actions for similar violations have not been sufficient to prevent recurrence and there are no other mitigating circumstances, or if the circumstances otherwise warrant increasing Severity Level III violations to a higher severity level.

C. DOE contractors are not ordinarily cited for violations resulting from matters not within their control, such as equipment failures that were not avoidable by reasonable quality assurance measures, proper maintenance, or management controls. With regard to the issue of funding, however, DOE does not consider an asserted lack of funding to be a justification for noncompliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. Should a contractor believe that a shortage of funding precludes it from achieving compliance with one or more DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements, it must pursue one of two alternative courses of action. First, it may request, in writing, an exemption from the requirement(s) in question from the appropriate Secretarial Officer (SO), explicitly addressing the criteria for exemptions set forth in 10 CFR 820.62. A justification for continued operation for the period during which the exemption request is being considered should also be submitted. In such a case, the SO must grant or deny the request in writing, explaining the rationale for the decision. Second, if the criteria for approval of an exemption cannot be demonstrated, the contractor, in conjunction with the so, must take appropriate steps to modify, curtail, suspend or cease the activities which cannot be conducted in compliance with the DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement(s) in question.

d. DOE expects the contractors which operate its facilities to have the proper management and supervisory systems in place to assure that all activities at DOE facilities, regardless of who performs them, are carried out in compliance with all DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. Therefore, contractors are normally held responsible for the acts of their employees and subcontractor employees in the conduct of activities at DOE facilities. Accordingly, this policy should not be construed to excuse personnel errors.

e. Finally, certain contractors are explicitly exempted from the imposition of civil penalties pursuant to the provisions of the PAAA, 42 U.S.C. 2282a(d), for activities conducted at specified facilities. See 10 CFR 820.20(C). In addition, in fairness to non-profit educational institutions, the Department has determined that they should be likewise exempted. See 10 CFR 820.20(d). However, compliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements is no less important for these facilities than for other facilities in the DOE complex which work with, store or dispose of radioactive materials. Indeed, the exempted contractors conduct some of the most impor. tant nuclear-related research and develop

2. Civil Penalty a. A civil penalty is a monetary penalty that may be imposed for violations of applicable DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements, including Compliance Orders. See 10 CFR 820.20(b). Civil penalties are designed to emphasize the need for lasting remedial action, deter future violations, and underscore the importance of DOE contractor self-identification, reporting and correction of violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements.

b. Absent mitigating circumstances as described below, or circumstances otherwise warranting the exercise of enforcement discretion by DOE as described in this section, civil penalties will be proposed for Severity Level I and II violations. Civil penalties will be proposed for Severity Level III violations which are similar to previous violations for which the contractor did not take effective corrective action. “Similar" violations are those which could reasonably have been expected to have been prevented by corrective action for the previous violation. DOE normally considers civil penalties only for similar Severity Level III violations that occur over a reasonable period of time to be determined at the discretion of DOE.

C. DOE will impose different base level civil penalties considering the severity level of the violation(s) by Price-Anderson indemnified contractors. Table 1 shows the daily base civil penalties for the various categories of severity levels. However, as described above in Section IV, the imposition of civil penalties will also take into account the gravity, circumstances, and extent of the violation or violations and, with respect to the violator, any history of prior similar violations and the degree of culpability and knowledge.

d. Regarding the factor of ability of DOE contractors to pay the civil penalties, it is not DOE's intention that the economic impact of a civil penalty be such that it puts a DOE contractor out of business. Contract termination, rather than civil penalties, is used when the intent is to terminate these activities. The deterrent effect of civil penalties is best served when the amount of such penalties takes this factor into account. However, DOE will evaluate the relationship of affiliated entities to the contractor (such as parent corporations) when it asserts that it cannot pay the proposed penalty.

e. DOE will review each case involving a proposed civil penalty on its own merits and adjust the base civil penalty values upward or downward appropriately. As indicated above, Table 1 identifies the daily base civil penalty values for different severity levels. After considering all relevant circumstances, civil penalties may be escalated or mitigated based upon the adjustment factors described below in this section. In no instance will a civil penalty for any one violation exceed the statutory limit. However, it should be emphasized that if the DOE contractor is or should have been aware of a violation and has not reported it to DOE and taken corrective action despite an opportunity to do so, each day the condition existed may be considered as a separate violation and, as such, subject to a separate civil penalty. Further, as described in this section, the duration of a violation will be taken into account in de termining the appropriate severity level of the base civil penalty.

Safety Requirements before, rather than after, DOE has identified such violations. Thus, DOE contractors will almost always be aware of nuclear safety problems before they are discovered by DOE. Obviously, public and worker health and safety is enhanced if deficiencies are discovered (and promptly corrected) by the DOE contractor, rather than by DOE, which may not otherwise become aware of a deficiency until later on, during the course of an inspection, performance assessment, or following an incident at the facility. Early identification of nuclear safetyrelated problems by DOE contractors has the added benefit of allowing information which could prevent such problems at other facilities in the DOE complex to be shared with all appropriate DOE contractors.

b. Pursuant to this enforcement philosophy, DOE will provide substantial incentive for the early self-identification, reporting and prompt correction of problems which constitute, or could lead to, violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. Thus, application of the adjustment factors set forth below may result in no civil penalty being assessed for violations that are identified, reported, and promptly and effectively corrected by the DOE contractor.

c. On the other hand, ineffective programs for problem identification and correction are unacceptable. Thus, for example, where a contractor fails to disclose and promptly correct violations of which it was aware or should have been aware, substantial civil penalties are warranted and may be sought, including the assessment of civil penalties for continuing violations on a per day basis.

d. Further, in cases involving willfulness, flagrant DOE-identified violations, repeated poor performance in an area of concern, or serious breakdown in management controls, DOE intends to apply its full statutory enforcement authority where such action is warranted.

[blocks in formation]

3. Adjustment Factors a. DOE's enforcement program is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve compliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements, and civil penalties are not collected to swell the coffers of the United States Treasury, but to emphasize the importance of compliance and to deter future violations. The single most important goal of the DOE enforcement program is to encourage early identification and reporting of nuclear safety deficiencies and violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements by the DOE contractors themselves rather than by DOE, and the prompt correction of any deficiencies and violations so identified. DOE believes that DOE contractors are in the best position to identify and promptly correct noncompliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. DOE expects that these contractors should have in place internal compliance programs which will ensure the detection, reporting and prompt correction of nuclear safety-related problems that may constitute, or lead to, violations of DOE Nuclear

4. Identification and Reporting Reduction of up to 50% of the base civil penalty shown in Table 1 may be given when a DOE contractor identifies the violation and promptly reports the violation to the DOE. In weighing this factor, consideration will be given to, among other things, the opportunity available to discover the violation, the ease of discovery and the promptness and completeness of any required report. No consideration will be given to a reduction in penalty if the DOE contractor does not take prompt action to report the problem to DOE upon discovery, or if the immediate actions necessary to restore compliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements or place the facility or operation in a safe configuration are not taken.

5. Self-Identification and Tracking Systems

a. DOE strongly encourages contractors to self-identify noncompliances with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements before the noncompliances lead to a string of similar and potentially more significant events or consequences. When a contractor identifies a noncompliance through its own self-monitoring activity, DOE will normally allow a reduction in the amount of civil penalties, regardless of whether prior opportunities existed for contractors to identify the noncompliance. DOE will normally not allow a reduction in civil penalties for self-identification if significant DOE intervention was required to induce the contractor to report a noncompliance.

b. Self-identification of a noncompliance is possibly the single most important factor in considering a reduction in the civil penalty amount. Consideration of self-identification is linked to, among other things, whether prior opportunities existed to discover the violation, and if so, the age and number of such opportunities; the extent to which proper contractor controls should have identified or prevented the violation; whether discovery of the violation resulted from a contractor's self-monitoring activity; the extent of DOE involvement in discovering the viola tion or in prompting the contractor to identify the violation; and the promptness and completeness of any required report. Selfidentification is also considered by DOE in deciding whether to pursue an investigation.

c. DOE has established a voluntary Noncompliance Tracking System (NTS) which allows contractors to elect to report noncompliances. In the guidance document supporting the NTS (DOE-HDBK-1089–95), DOE has established reporting thresholds for reporting items of noncompliance of poten

y greater safety significance into the NTS. Contractors may, however, use their own self-tracking systems to track noncompliances below the reporting threshold. This self-tracking is considered to be acceptable self-reporting as long as DOE has access to the contractor's system and the contractor's system notes the item as a noncompliance with a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement. For noncompliances that are below the reportability thresholds, DOE will credit contractor self-tracking as representing selfreporting. If an item is not reported in NTS but only tracked in the contractor's system and DOE subsequently finds the facts and their safety significance have been significantly mischaracterized, DOE will not credit the internal tracking as representing appropriate self-reporting.

proactively identify noncompliance conditions in their programs and processes. In deciding whether to reduce any civil penalty proposed for violations revealed by the occurrence of a self-disclosing event, DOE will consider the ease with which a contractor could have discovered the noncompliance and the prior opportunities that existed to discover the noncompliance. When the occurrence of an event discloses noncompliances that the contractor could have or should have identified before the event, DOE will not generally allow a reduction in civil penalties for self-identification, even if the underlying noncompliances were reported to DOE. If a contractor simply reacts to events that disclose potentially significant consequences or downplays noncompliances which did not result in significant consequences to workers, the public, and the environment, such contractor actions do not lead to the improvement in nuclear safety contemplated by the Act.

b. The key test is whether the contractor reasonably could have detected any of the underlying noncompliances that contributed to the event. Examples of events that provide opportunities to identify noncompliances include, but are not limited to:

(1) prior notifications of potential problems such as those from DOE operational experience publications or vendor equipment deficiency reports;

(2) normal surveillance, quality assurance assessments, and post-maintenance testing;

(3) readily observable parameter trends; and

(4) contractor employee or DOE observations of potential safety problems. Failure to utilize these types of events and activities to address noncompliances may result in higher civil penalty assessments or a DOE decision not to reduce civil penalty amounts.

c. For example, a critique of the event might find that one of the root causes was a lack of clarity in a Radiation Work Permit (RWP) which led to improper use of anti-contamination clothing and resulting uptake of contamination by the individual. DOE could subsequently conclude that no reduction in civil penalties for self-identification should be allowed since the event itself disclosed the inadequate RWP and the contractor could have, through proper independent assessment or by fostering a questioning attitude by its workers and supervisors, identified the inadequate RWP before the event.

d. Alternatively, if, following a self-disclosing event, DOE found that the contractor's processes and procedures were adequate and the contractor's personnel generally behaved in a manner consistent with the contractor's processes and procedures, DOE could conclude that the contractor could not have been reasonably expected to find the single procedural noncompliance that led to

6. Self-Disclosing Events a. DOE expects contractors to demonstrate acceptance of responsibility for safety of the public, workers, and the environment and to

the event and thus, might allow a reduction in civil penalties.

7. Corrective Action To Prevent Recurrence

The promptness (or lack thereof) and extent to which the DOE contractor takes corrective action, including actions to identify root cause and prevent recurrence, may result in up to a 50% increase or decrease in the base civil penalty shown in Table 1. For example, very extensive corrective action may result in reducing the proposed civil penalty as much as 50% of the base value shown in Table 1. On the other hand, the civil penalty may be increased as much as 50% of the base value if initiation or corrective action is not prompt or if the corrective action is only minimally acceptable. In weighing this factor, consideration will be given to, among other things, the appropriateness, timeliness and degree of initiative associated with the corrective action. The comprehensiveness of the corrective action will also be considered, taking into account factors such as whether the action is focused narrowly to the specific violation or broadly to the general area of concern.

8. DOE's Contribution to a Violation There may be circumstances in which a violation of a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement results, in part or entirely, from a direction given by DOE personnel to a DOE contractor to either take, or forbear from taking an action at a DOE facility. In such cases, DOE may refrain from issuing an NOV, and may mitigate, either partially or entirely, any proposed civil penalty, provided that the direction upon which the DOE contractor relied is documented in writing, contemporaneously with the direction. It should be emphasized, however, that pursuant to 10 CFR 820.50, no interpretation of a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement is binding upon DOE unless issued in writing by the General Counsel. Further, as discussed in this section of this policy statement, lack of funding by itself will not be considered as a mitigating factor in enforcement actions.

9. Exercise of Discretion Because DOE wants to encourage and support DOE contractor initiative for prompt self-identification, reporting and correction of problems. DOE may exercise discretion as follows:

a. In accordance with the previous discussion. I

DOE may refrain from issuing a civil penalty for a violation which meets all of the following criteria:

(1) The violation is promptly identified and reported to DOE before DOE learns of it.

(2) The violation is not willful or a violation that could reasonably be expected to have been prevented by the DOE contractor's corrective action for a previous violation.

(3) The DOE contractor, upon discovery of the violation, has taken or begun to take prompt and appropriate action to correct the violation.

(4) The DOE contractor has taken, or has agreed to take, remedial action satisfactory to DOE to preclude recurrence of the violation and the underlying conditions which caused it.

b. DOE may refrain from proposing a civil penalty for a violation involving a past problem, such as in engineering design or installation, that meets all of the following criteria:

(1) It was identified by a DOE contractor as a result of a formal effort such as a Safety System Functional Inspection, Design Reconstitution program, or other program that has a defined scope and timetable which is being aggressively implemented and reported;

(2) Comprehensive corrective action has been taken or is well underway within a rea. sonable time following identification; and

(3) It was not likely to be identified by routine contractor efforts such as normal surveillance or quality assurance activities.

c. DOE will not issue a Notice of Violation for cases in which the violation discovered by the DOE contractor cannot reasonably be linked to the conduct of that contractor in the design, construction or operation of the DOE facility involved, provided that prompt and appropriate action is taken by the DOE contractor upon identification of the past violation to report to DOE and remedy the problem.

d. DOE may refrain from issuing a Notice of Violation for an item of noncompliance that meets all of the following criteria:

(1) It was promptly identified by the DOE nuclear entity;

(2) It is normally classified at a Severity Level III;

(3) It was promptly reported to DOE;

(4) Prompt and appropriate corrective action will be taken, including measures to prevent recurrence; and

(5) It was not a willful violation or a violation that could reasonably be expected to have been prevented by the DOE contractor's corrective action for a previous violation.

e. DOE may refrain from issuing a Notice of Violation for an item of noncompliance that meets all of the following criteria:

(1) It was an isolated Severity Level III violation identified during a Tiger Team inspection conducted by the Office of Environment, Safety and Health, during an inspection or integrated performance assessment conducted by the Office of Nuclear Safety, or during some other DOE assessment activity.

(2) The identified noncompliance was properly reported by the contractor upon discovery.

« PreviousContinue »