NRC fines Air Force for violations of radioactivity regulations

September 30, 2022, 7:04AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In the wake of inspections conducted about a year ago, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a civil penalty of $96,000 against the U.S. Air Force for 14 apparent violations of NRC regulations on the use of radioactive materials.

The inspections: The NRC conducted a biennial team inspection during October 26–28, 2021, at the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency (AFMRA) facility in Falls Church, Va., in addition to inspections on September 27–30 and October 22, 2021, at the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in Albuquerque, N.M. Inspectors examined activities related to public health and safety and common defense and security, evaluating compliance with NRC rules and regulations and conditions of the Air Force’s master materials license. The inspections included selected examination of procedures and representative records, observation of activities, independent radiation measurements, and interviews with personnel.

The findings: The NRC inspections yielded 14 apparent violations, including four failures related to the implementation of the master materials license, seven failures related to the environmental use of thorium-232 source material at KAFB, and three failures related to NRC security requirements.

In a regulatory conference between NRC and Air Force officials in June, the Air Force was given the chance to provide additional information related to the NRC findings, such as the causes of the violations and the subsequent corrective actions. After a review of the findings and other collected information, the NRC concluded that the $96,000 fine was appropriate.

The penalty: According to the violation notice addressed to Colonel Sanjay Gogate of AFMRA and dated September 22, the Air Force has a period of 30 days to address the penalty with the NRC. Options include paying the fine, disputing the fine, or requesting intervention by a neutral third-party mediator.

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