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DOE Cites CH2M Hill Hanford Group for Price-Anderson Violations

November 17, 2006 - 9:25am

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WASHINGTON, DC - The Department of Energy (DOE) today notified CH2M Hill Hanford Group (CHG) that it will fine the company $82,500 for violations of the Department's nuclear safety requirements.  CHG is the prime contractor responsible for managing the storage and retrieval of highly radioactive and hazardous waste at the DOE Hanford Tank Farm site.

The Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV) issued today cited a series of violations associated with two separate events involving the radioactive contamination of multiple CHG employees.  The first event occurred on September 21, 2005, during disassembly and removal of auxiliary equipment used to support the retrieval of highly radioactive waste from a site storage tank.  CHG personnel were contaminated with highly radioactive waste during the disconnecting of a support hose that was both pressurized and internally contaminated.  The second event occurred on March 6, 2006, during operations involving the removal of a camera from a radioactively contaminated catch tank.  Neither event resulted in CHG personnel exceeding DOE regulatory exposure limits.

The proposed civil penalty of $82,500 is based on the overall significance of the violations and reflects mitigation granted by the Department for prompt, corrective actions taken by CHG to prevent recurrence.  The violations cited by DOE focused on failures by CHG to effectively control radiological hazards due to deficiencies in both the physical and administrative controls associated with each of the work activities.  The PNOV also included a violation associated with CHG failures to properly maintain equipment used in responding to radiological contamination events.  CH2M Hill is required to respond to this letter within 30 days and document additional specific actions taken since the investigation concluded.

The Price-Anderson Amendments Act of 1988 authorizes the Energy Department to undertake regulatory actions against contractors for violations of its nuclear safety requirements.  The Price-Anderson Enforcement program in the Department's Office of Health, Safety, and Security encourages DOE 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 and other enforcement actions are available on the Internet at http://www.hss.energy.gov/Enforce/index.cfm.

Media contact(s):

Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940

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