DOE Cites Hanford Contractor

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV) to CH2M Hill Hanford Group Inc. (CHG) for nuclear safety violations. CHG is the tank operations contractor for the tank farms located at DOE's Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state.

The PNOV cites a series of violations that occurred on July 27, 2007, when waste being pumped out of tank S-102 spilled in the vicinity of the tank's retrieval pump. During waste transfer operations, a supply line became over-pressurized with tank waste, causing a rupture in the dilution water supply line and resulted in a spill of approximately 85 gallons of radioactive waste. Violations include a technical safety requirement violation; inadequacies in procedures; failure to follow procedures during activities leading up to the spill event; failure to follow procedures in response to the spill event; occupational radiation protection deficiencies; failure to adequately train personnel; failure to incorporate design requirements; failure to detect and correct quality problems; and failure to proactively identify spill event precursors through management assessments.

The proposed civil penalty of $302,500 is based on the significance of the violations, yet reflects substantial mitigation granted by the Department due to corrective actions taken by CHG to address the issues and prevent recurrence, officials said.

The Price-Anderson Amendments Act of 1988 authorizes the Energy Department to undertake regulatory actions against contractors for violations of its nuclear safety requirements. DOE's Enforcement Program encourages Departmental contractors to identify and correct nuclear safety deficiencies at an early stage, before they contribute to or result in more serious events.

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