For more information, contact:
DOE Jeff Sherwood, 202/586-5806
BNL Mona S. Rowe, 516/344-5056
Statement from BNL Director John Marburger
Additional information on this and other enforcement actions is available on the Internet at www.eh.doe.gov/enforce
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a $27,500 civil penalty to Brookhaven Sciences Associates (BSA) of Upton, New York, operator of DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory, for a series of failures to comply with nuclear safety requirements. The violations took place from March through June 1998 at the laboratory's idle High Flux Beam Reactor, the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron used for high energy physics experiments, and the Radiation Therapy Facility used for medical treatments and operated by Stony Brook University Hospital.
While violations had the potential to result in unnecessary exposures to workers, no workers were exposed and none were a safety threat to the public. The department reduced the proposed fines by 50 percent in recognition that the laboratory has made significant progress since the incidents took place and that broad and effective corrective actions have been developed.
The safety significance of violations is ranked on a Severity Level I to Severity Level III scale. Severity Level I violations have the greatest likelihood of impacting worker or public safety; Severity Level III pose lower risks and are not normally accompanied by a fine. The violations at Brookhaven involve the following three sets of events:
The violations are described in a Preliminary Notice of Violation issued to the laboratory on April 15, 1999, by Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health. The Preliminary Notice of Violation becomes final in 30 days unless the violations are denied with sufficient justification.
Brookhaven Sciences Associates is required to respond to the notice and document specific actions taken and planned to prevent recurrence. DOE will review the response to determine if further enforcement actions are necessary.
The DOE Price-Anderson Enforcement Program is now in its third year of operation. This action marks the first civil penalty issued in 1999. Additional information on this and other enforcement actions is available on the Internet at http://www.eh.doe.gov/enforce/eas/
Brookhaven Science Associates accepts responsibility for the incidents cited in the Preliminary Notice of Violation issued by the Department of Energy. We are disappointed that these events occurred at all, and they are certainly below our expectations for the Laboratory.
Last fall I implemented a sweeping review and reorganization of the Laboratory's radiological safety program, and I have personally emphasized to all employees that excellence in radiological performance is a condition of employment at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Since then, many actions have been taken to improve the safety culture of the Laboratory.
Our commitment to safety has been recognized by the Department of Energy, and I will continue to work with DOE to achieve our safety goals.