DOE Safety Citation Costs Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC $250,000

The U.S. Department of Energy issued a Preliminary Notice of Violation on March 20 against Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC for safety and health violations at the Idaho National Laboratory, which is located about 40 miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. This is the first enforcement action under DOE’s worker safety and health rule that went into effect last February, the agency said.

The notice cites a series of violations related to two events in 2007 at the lab, for which BAE is managing contractor.  The violations include failing to identify and assess workplace hazards; establish controls to prevent and abate hazards; provide adequate training and information; adhere to procedures; and comply with fire protection and emergency response requirements, said DOE. The agency's Idaho Operations Office reduced BEA’s fee for fiscal year 2007 by $250,000 for the two events in the contractor’s end-of-year performance evaluation.

The first event was a fire in June 2007 inside a fume hood where a worker was pouring powdered red phosphorus from a plastic bag into a metal canister and the red phosphorus ignited.  The chemist sustained minor burns to his hand, and other workers were treated for exposure to smoke from the fire. The second event, in July 2007, occurred when two INL firefighters responding to a wildland fire were shocked by electricity from a sagging overhead power transmission line. "Their emergency response vehicle, which was supplying water to their hoselines, was parked in close proximity to the power line and electrical energy traveled through heavy smoke to their vehicle, shocking the firefighters," DOE said in its news release about the citation. "One firefighter involved in this incident received sufficient energy from the shock to knock the individual to the ground and the other firefighter experienced muscle contractions that prevented him from releasing the fire hose. Both firefighters were cleared to work without medical restrictions following a medical examination."

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