Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sounds like they have a "cultural" problem over at ANL

Doug, just read this DOE press release...

March 7, 2006

DOE Cites University of Chicago for Nuclear Safety Violations

WASHINGTON , DC – The Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a Preliminary
Notice of Violation (PNOV) to the University of Chicago (University), the
Management and Operating contractor for DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory
(ANL), for nuclear safety violations identified through several safety
reviews and inspections conducted by DOE.

A series of reviews and inspections, the most recent of which occurred in
2005, identified breakdowns in the contractor’s quality improvement,
radiation protection, work process, and independent and management
assessment programs. Prior to 2005, senior contractor management at ANL
failed to adequately comply with DOE’s nuclear safety regulations that
govern these programs. DOE’s investigation of the safety review findings
found that these issues have existed for a number of years, and the
University’s efforts to correct these problems were largely ineffective.

The identified deficiencies have not caused significant radiation exposures
or other nuclear safety incidents. However, DOE noted in a letter to the
ANL that it was simply fortuitous that no harm had occurred to ANL staff,
given the breadth and duration of the identified violations.

Last year, the University appointed a new management team at ANL and has
given the new lab director the resources and support necessary to upgrade
the nuclear safety program. The new director has already begun to take
corrective actions and initiated others to address other problems, including
the implementation of a new safety program infrastructure.

The PNOV includes a proposed civil penalty of $550,000 for the identified
violations. This penalty, however, is waived by statute for the University.
DOE indicated in its letter to the director of ANL that while the
enforcement action would normally have been much more severe given the
number and duration of the violations, enforcement discretion was being
exercised in recognition of the significant corrective actions already taken
by the director and the new management team.

The Price-Anderson Amendments Act of 1988 authorizes DOE to undertake
regulatory actions against contractors for violations of its nuclear safety
requirements. The enforcement program 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 at:

Linton Brooks, December 2004: "The LANL shutdown was necessary because LANL had more Price-Anderson violations than the rest of the complex put together."
The problem with skewering Brooks is two fold:

1. How could you miss? (large, easy target), and
2. The extreme risk of a grease fire if, once you have him skewered you proceed to put that kabob on the grill.
"Sounds like they have a 'cultural' problem over there at ANL"

No, just ANL-retentive.
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