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Enforcement Letter, Safety and Ecology Corporation - NEL-2011-04

October 24, 2011

Enforcement Letter issued to Safety and Ecology Corporation related to Two Radiological Contamination Events at the Separations Process Research Unit at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

The Office of Health, Safety and Security's Office of Enforcement and Oversight conducted an evaluation of the two contamination events at the Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) in Niskayuna, New York.  On August 24, 2010, contaminated sludge leaked from two pumps inside the Building H2 Tank Farm Weather Enclosure after excessive pressure was applied to clear a clogged nozzle.  The sludge contained radioisotopes from nuclear fuel reprocessing and separation testing, including Am-241, Cs-137, Pu-239/240, and Sr-90.  Radiological control technician (RCT) coverage for this work was provided by Safety and Ecology Corporation (SEC) as part of a subcontract with URS Washington Group International, Inc. (URS), the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) prime contractor.  The spill area was subsequently reported by SEC as cleaned up and posted as a Contamination Area; however, on December 20, 2010, areas of high contamination were identified during a routine survey, and the area was reposted as a High Contamination Area.  On February 11, 2011, additional areas of high contamination were identified, with maximum reported levels of 14,000 dpm/100 cm2 alpha contamination and 562,000 dpm/100 cm2 combined beta/gamma contamination.  On February 17, 2011, URS reported an evaluation of this event in the Occurrence Reporting and Processing System (ORPS) report EM---WGIG2H2-2011-0001, Higher Than Expected Contamination Levels Inside H2 Tank Farm Weather Enclosure.