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DOE Cites Bechtel National Inc. for Price-Anderson Violations

December 3, 2008 - 4:58pm


Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV) to Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI) for nuclear safety violations at DOE's Hanford Site near Richland, Washington. BNI is the contractor responsible for the design and construction of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington State.

The PNOV cites multiple violations of 10 C.F.R. Part 830, Nuclear Safety Management, which occurred during the procurement and fabrication of piping and the development of project specifications. Several thousand feet of piping intended to be used in sections of the WTP "black cell" areas - areas in which no entry is planned over the 40-year life of the facility - were procured and fabricated in a manner that failed to meet the enhanced requirements stated in design documents, and BNI failed to correct known problems in the procurement and fabrication of the piping. BNI was made aware of the problems in 2004, but failed to take effective corrective action until after BNI suspended work on the affected piping in October 2007. Because of recurrent BNI failures to take corrective actions, as evidenced in this and prior DOE enforcement actions in 2006 and 2007, the civil penalty is escalated in this Preliminary Notice of Violation.

The proposed civil penalty of $385,000 is based on the significance of the violations and considers mitigating factors that reflect actions taken by BNI since October 2007 to correct the specific problems in the procurement and fabrication of the piping, and the BNI examination of management practices that contributed to the problems.

The Price-Anderson Amendments Act of 1988 authorizes the Energy Department to impose civil penalties on its 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.

Additional details on this action and other DOE enforcement actions are available from the Office of Enforcement.

Media contact(s):

Kristin Brown, (202) 586-4940