Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Petition To NRC To Incorporate Lessons Of Fukushima: Expand Evacuation Zones, Improve Emergency Planning Around U.S. Nuclear Reactors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Michael Mariotte or Dominique French February 15, 2012 301-270-6477
Thirty-seven clean energy groups today submitted a formal petition for rulemaking to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking adoption of new regulations to expand emergency evacuation zones and improve emergency response planning around U.S. nuclear reactors.
Calling on the NRC to incorporate the real-world lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the proposed rules would expand existing emergency evacuation zones from 10 to 25 miles around nuclear reactors and establish a new zone from 25-50 miles around reactors for which utilities would have to identify and publicize potential evacuation routes. Another improvement would require utilities and state and local governments to practice emergency drills that includes a natural disaster that either initiates or occurs concurrently to a nuclear meltdown. Currently, utilities do not have to show the capability to conduct an evacuation during a natural disaster— even though, as seen at Fukushima, natural disasters can cause nuclear meltdowns. The petition would also expand the “ingestion pathway zone,” which monitors food, milk and water, from 50 miles to 100 miles around reactors.
“80% of the airborne radiation released from Fukushima went directly over the Pacific Ocean,” explained Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which initiated the petition. “Even so, the Fukushima evacuation zone extended more than 25 miles to the northwest of the site, and the NRC and U.S. State Department both recommended that U.S. citizens within 50 miles of Fukushima evacuate. Such evacuations could not be effectively conducted in the U.S. under current emergency planning regulations. We need to be better prepared and we can’t rely on favorable wind patterns to protect the American people.”
Dominique French, who is leading NIRS’ campaign to improve emergency response planning, added, “The NRC has relied primarily on the 1979 Three Mile Island accident and subsequent computerized accident simulations to support its emergency planning rules. But first at Chernobyl in 1986, and now at Fukushima, the real world has trumped any possible simulation.
The fact is that far too many Americans live near nuclear reactors, but outside existing emergency planning zones. Based on real-life experience, these people need better protection.”
“There is no invisible lead curtain surrounding nuclear power plants. We need to incorporate lessons learned from previous nuclear disasters. At the very least, we should stop pretending that emergency evacuation zones of 10 miles are adequate, and expand planning to include residents living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant,” said Eric Epstein of Three Mile Island Alert in Pennsylvania. “On Friday, March 30, 1979--while school was in session--Governor Thornburgh recommended a ‘precautionary evacuation’ for preschool children and pregnant women living within five miles of Three Mile Island. The targeted population was estimated at 5,000, but more than 144,000 central Pennsylvanians from 50 miles away fled the area--further proof that a radiological disaster is not a controlled field trip."
"Indian Point, 24 miles from New York City, sits at the epicenter of the most demographically dense area of any nuclear reactor in the nation. Even under normal conditions, traffic is congested and regional infrastructure is highly stressed. During the severe snow, rain and wind storms of the past few years, large swaths of the region have been brought to a near standstill. And yet the NRC ignores all these realities, preferring to play with its computer models. This is a dangerous game,” said Michel Lee, Steering Committee, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition.
“In lieu of the recent activities around nuclear plants both in the United States and in Japan it had become obvious that a new Emergency Planning Zones be implemented. The Shell Bluff Community is asking that the NRC establish new guidelines that would expand the radius to protect the citizens that are in arms ways of these facilities. After all Japan is still experiencing unfolding occurrences that are taking place outside of their projected protected zone. The United States must move to protect her citizens who are in these dangerous pathways,” said Charles N. Utley, community organizer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.
“Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is seen as a poster child by the nuclear industry: it is in a "low population zone", and not visible from any roads. However, families and businesses downwind from the nuclear plant and waste storage site do not consider themselves expendable, nor does invisibility negate the threat from two reactors and the radioactive wastes accumulated since 1984 that are stored on a site surrounded by 13 earthquake faults,” said Jane Swanson of California’s Mothers for Peace.
“Emergency plans of local and state government advise residents that in the event of a radiological release from Diablo Canyon nuclear plant there are two choices, depending on which way the winds blow: get in our cars in an attempt to evacuate, or "shelter in place". The former leads to congested traffic on the one freeway serving the central coast of California (Highway 101) as well-founded worries of families overload the freeway and bring it to a halt. Sheltering means using masking tape around doors and windows and turning off all air intakes into our homes for an unspecified time, in the hope that the emergency lasts only a few days rather than the many months as at Fukushima. Emergency plans need to be made effective. If this is not possible, then nuclear plants need to be shut down. Human lives cannot be traded for kilowatt hours,” added Swanson.
A third of the population in the U.S., or roughly 120 million people, lives within a 50 mile radius of a nuclear reactor. Current emergency planning rules require utilities to develop and exercise emergency evacuation plans within a 10 mile radius around reactors. The “ingestion pathway” currently consists of an area about 50 miles in radius and focuses on actions appropriate to protect the food ingestion pathway.
At Fukushima, and earlier at Chernobyl, interdiction of contaminated food and liquids has occurred further than 100 miles from the accident sites.
Japan is already acting to improve its emergency response capability, in the event nuclear reactors ever are allowed to operate there again. Prior to the disaster at Fukushima, the emergency planning zones for nuclear emergencies in Japan was between 8-10 kilometers (5-6 miles). The zone is now being expanded to 30 kilometers (18 miles). The actual Fukushima evacuation zone was a 20 kilometer (12 mile) radius around the site, although areas to the northwest, where the heaviest radiation on land was measured, were evacuated more than 25 miles away.
The initial co-petitioners are: Nuclear Information and Resource Service (national and lead author), Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team (TN), Beyond Nuclear (national), Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (Southeast), Citizens Action Coalition (IN), Citizen Power (PA), Citizens Awareness Network (Northeast), Citizens Within a 10-Mile Radius (MA), Citizens Environmental Coalition (NY), Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes (Great Lakes), Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff (GA), Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, Council on Intelligent Energy and Conservation Policy (NY), Don’t Waste Arizona, Don’t Waste Michigan, The Ecology Party of Florida, Empire State Consumer Project Inc. (NY), Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety (GRAMMES) (NJ), Greenpeace (national), Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (NY), Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch (NJ), Missourians for Safe Energy, New England Coalition, Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), NC WARN, (NC), Northwest Environmental Advocates (OR), Not On Our Fault Line (VA), People’s Alliance for Clean Energy (VA), Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE) (NY), Public Citizen Energy Program (national), San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (CA), SEED Coalition (TX), Sierra Club of South Carolina, Three Mile Island Alert (PA), Tri-Valley CARE (CA), Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah), Vermont Public Interest Research Group, We The People Inc. (TN).
The full text of the petition is available here:

Exelon: Generator Inservice Inspection Results (ML120270416)


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TMI: Correction to Summary of Conference Calls (ML120300547)


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TMI: Summary of Conference Calls to Discusses Tube Inspections (ML113550167)


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Funding dispute with nuclear plant owner leads to town layoffs


Disputes over funding of local emergency preparations to deal with a nuclear accident reveal a patchwork of agreements between the Pilgrim nuclear plant’s owner and the five communities closest to the Plymouth facility. Some town officials say the system is working well for them, but others complain they’re getting the short end of the stick.

Under federal law, the Pilgrim plant’s owner, Entergy, is required to provide funding to offset the costs of emergency response preparation to the towns that fall within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone: Carver, Duxbury, Kingston, Marshfield, and Plymouth. But how much funding is a matter the law leaves up to negotiations between the plant owner and the individual towns.

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DEP Orders Radon Contractor to Surrender Certification, Pay $43,750 Penalty

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120

Lynda Rebarchak, Department of Environmental Protection Southeast Regional Office
DEP Orders Radon Contractor to Surrender Certification, Pay $43,750 Penalty

NORRISTOWN -- The Department of Environmental Protection today ordered William Wright, of Springbrook Township, Lackawanna County, to surrender his state radon mitigation certification and pay $43,750 in civil penalties for numerous violations of the Radon Certification Act and Radiation Protection Act.

“Our inspectors noted nearly 40 violations at four radon mitigation systems installed by Mr. Wright and his company, Tru Pro Remediation Services Group,” DEP Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said. “We have a responsibility to make sure that this type of work is done properly.”

DEP first received a complaint from a Montgomery County Tru Pro customer in May 2011. During a June 6 inspection of the system, staff found numerous violations, including improperly sealed radon vent pipe, perimeter drain channel, floor cracks and sump pits.

The agency received additional complaints and inspected the remaining three systems Wright and his company installed in Northampton County, finding similar violations at each residence.

DEP sent an initial notice of violation to Wright and Tru Pro on June 21, 2011, followed by a Sept. 2 violation notice and enforcement meeting request. Despite numerous attempts, Wright failed to meet with agency representatives to discuss the violations.

DEP is seeking surrender of Wright’s and Tru Pro’s radon mitigation certification, issued Dec. 27, 2010.

For more information, visit or call 484-250-5900.

Entergy demands $4.6 million from the state

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Entergy wants the state to pay it "in excess of" $4.62 million.

In a filing submitted to the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, Entergy, which owns and operates Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, stated it is entitled to be reimbursed for the money it spent presenting its case in Entergy v. Shumlin et al.

"(The $4.62 million) amount is likely to increase if the fee petition is extensively litigated and/or Defendants appeal the Judgment," wrote Entergy's attorneys.

On Jan. 20, Federal District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled in favor of Entergy, finding the state Senate had overstepped its bounds when it prohibited the Public Service Board from issuing a certificate of public good for the continued operation of Yankee. Though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Yankee's relicensing, allowing it to operate for another 20 years past its original license expiration date of March 21, 2012, Entergy must still receive a CPG from the state to keep the plant operating. After his ruling, Murtha reaffirmed the PSB's role in deciding whether the plant should receive a certificate.

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High levels of radioactive cesium detected in Yokohama

From Kyodo News:

High levels of radioactive cesium were found in an area that used to be used as a waterway near an elementary school in Yokohama's Seya Ward, Yokohama city officials said Friday.

Local officials detected 6.85 microsieverts per hour of radioactive cesium in the air about 1 centimeter above the ground and found that nearby soil contained 62,900 becquerels of the element per kilogram.

The city government sees the high radiation levels to be likely caused by the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and plans to decontaminate the area, the officials said.

While the area is close to the elementary school, it is closed off by a fence, the officials said. "The radiation dose on the elementary school premises is not high but we will examine the situation in detail," an official said.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on the draft report for the State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses (SOARCA) research study. The SOARCA team will meet in late February with residents near the two plants analyzed in the effort.

SOARCA analyzed the potential consequences of severe accidents at the Surry Power Station near Surry, Va. and the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station near Delta, Pa. The project, which began in 2007, combined up-to-date information about the plants’ layout and operations with local population data and emergency preparedness plans. This information was then analyzed using state-of-the-art computer codes that incorporate decades of research into severe reactor accidents.

SOARCA’s main findings fall into three basic areas: how a reactor accident progresses; how existing systems and emergency measures can affect an accident’s outcome; and how an accident would affect the public’s health. The project’s preliminary findings include:

  • Existing resources and procedures can stop an accident, slow it down or reduce its impact before it can affect the public;

  • Even if accidents proceed uncontrolled, they take much longer to happen and release much less radioactive material than earlier analyses suggested; and

  • The analyzed accidents would cause essentially zero immediate deaths and only a very, very small increase in the risk of long-term cancer deaths.

    The SOARCA team will meet with the public on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Surry County Courthouse, 45 School St. in Surry, Va. The team will also meet with the public on Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Peach Bottom Inn, 6085 Delta Road in Delta, Pa. The team will present the project’s findings, answer questions and take comments on the draft report.

    The main SOARCA report, including an appendix discussing the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, is available in the NRC’s electronic documents database, ADAMS, by entering ML120250406 in the ADAMS search engine. Supporting technical information regarding the Peach Bottom analysis is available by entering ML120260675, and supporting technical information regarding the Surry analysis is available by

entering ML120260681. A brochure that describes the research for a general audience is available by entering ML12026A470.

The NRC will take comments on the draft SOARCA report through March 1. Comments can be submitted using the website, using Docket ID NRC-2012-0022. Comments can also be mailed, referencing the Docket ID, to Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWB-05- B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001. Comments can also be faxed to RADB at 301-492-3446, referencing the Docket ID.

Comments submitted in writing or in electronic form will be posted on the NRC Web site and on The agency will not edit or remove any identifying or contact information; the NRC cautions commenters against including any information they wish to keep private.

The NRC staff will consider the comments in finalizing the SOARCA report for submission to the Commission later this year.


NOTE: Anyone wishing to take photos or use a camera to record any portion of a NRC meeting should contact the Office of Public Affairs beforehand.

News releases are available through a free Listserv subscription or by clicking on the EMAIL UPDATES link on the NRC homepage ( E-mail notifications are sent to subscribers when news releases are posted to NRC's website. For the latest news, follow the NRC on

Susquehanna: Branch Chief Reassignment


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DEP Seeks Information about Antique Medical Kit Containing Radium-226

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120

Deborah Fries, Department of Environmental Protection Southeast Regional Office
DEP Seeks Information about Antique Medical Kit Containing Radium-226

NORRISTOWN -- The Department of Environmental Protection is asking anyone who knows the history of an antique medical kit found in a Chester County trash bin to contact the agency’s Bureau of Radiation Protection.

“The radioactive material may have been contained in the kit for more than 80 years,” Bureau Director David Allard said. “The metal box likely came from a basement, an attic or a collector’s stash. Anyone who tampered with it or stored it for a long time may have been exposed to high levels of radiation.”

The material was found Jan. 19, when a load of construction debris set off radiation alarms at Waste Management Inc.’s Norristown transfer station. The company deployed a health physicist to recover the radioactive material, identified as approximately one curie of radium-226. Exposure to one curie of radium-226 is equivalent to having more than 100 CT scans at once, and it has the potential to create skin burns within a few hours of contact.

DEP health physicists worked with Waste Management to properly evaluate and store the radium, and traced its source to a roll-off container that had come from the Hershey’s Mill retirement community in West Chester.

The radium-226 was contained in four capsules inside a small lead safe marked “Radium Chemical Co., Inc.” The safe and some antique surgical equipment were stored inside a larger, locking metal box, which had been pried open.

“Although the capsules do not appear to be leaking, we believe that someone could have had direct contact with these sources of radium-226,” Allard said. “The radioactive radium they contain is about five times the amount found in modern medical sources, and we are concerned about the health of anyone who may have handled them.”

Anyone with information about the kit is asked to contact Allard at 717-787-2480. All calls are confidential. To view photos of the lead safe and other contents of the box, visit and click on “Bureau of Radiation Protection.”

Revealed: secret evacuation plan for Tokyo after Fukushima

From the Independent:

The Japanese government feared that millions of Tokyoites might have to be evacuated during the worst of last year's nuclear crisis, but kept the scenario secret to avoid panic in some of the world's most crowded urban areas, according to an internal report.

The 15-page report, by the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission, was delivered to the then-Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, two weeks after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami triggered the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

It warned that if the situation spiralled out of control, compulsory or voluntary evacuation orders would have to be issued to residents living within 250 kilometres (155 miles) of the damaged facility, a radius that would have included the Tokyo metropolitan area that is home to around 30 million people.

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Upgraded TMI Emergency Warning Sirens to Be Tested


Contact: Ralph DeSantis Exelon Nuclear — Three Mile Island


Upgraded TMI Emergency Warning Sirens to Be Tested

Exelon continues to invest in state-of-the-art emergency preparedness equipment

LONDONDERRY TWP., PA. (Jan 27. 2012) – Exelon Nuclear will begin testing the new sirens that are being installed in the area around the Three Mile Island Generating Station on Monday, Jan. 30. The new sirens use state- of-the-art technology and are part of a comprehensive emergency preparedness program designed to protect the health and safety of the public during all types of events. .

The tests will be conducted on individual sirens over the next three months. Exelon Nuclear is replacing all 96 emergency sirens in the 10 miles around TMI with sirens that include a redundant back-up power supply (batteries) to ensure they can operate even during a blackout condition. Personnel began installing the new sirens in October, 2011.

This $2.8 million investment around Three Mile Island is part of Exelon Nuclear’s commitment to replace and upgrade the emergency sirens at all of the sites in the mid-Atlantic including Limerick Generating Station, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, and Oyster Creek Generating Station. This project will involve a total investment of more than $9 million and the replacement of 400 sirens.

The typical duration of the siren testing around TMI will be between 30 and 60 seconds and could occur several times in a row at each siren. The siren acoustics will be similar to those of the current emergency sirens.

The testing is being coordinated with county emergency management officials. Residents may contact the counties at the following numbers if they have questions during the testing:

Cumberland County: (717) 238-9676 Dauphin County: (717) 558-6900 Lancaster County: (800) -808-5236 Lebanon County: (717) 272-7621 York County: (800) 427-8347

The new and existing sirens will operate concurrently for a period of time to ensure the new system is operating properly. Completion of the project and removal of the existing sirens is scheduled for 2013.

The upgraded warning sirens are one of several methods used by county emergency management authorities to provide notification of emergencies. The sounding of the sirens is not a signal to evacuate, but to tune to the local Emergency Alert Broadcast Station.

Three Mile Island nuclear plant finds unexpected flaws in new steam generators

From the Patriot News:

After just one operating cycle, inspectors at Three Mile Island nuclear facility have detected unexpected flaws in the facility’s new steam generators.

There’s no indication radiation was released.

Officials say the flaws are well below regulatory thresholds, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a meeting Thursday morning to get more information.

The two 70-foot, 510-ton “once-through” generators sit on either side of the nuclear core, and were installed at TMI in 2009.

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Exelon: Branch Chief Reassignment


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Federal judge: Vermont nuclear plant can remain open

From the Boston Herald:

Vermont’s only nuclear plant can remain open beyond its originally scheduled shutdown date this year, despite the state’s efforts to close the 40-year-old reactor, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha in Brattleboro is a win for the Vermont Yankee plant’s owner, New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., which had argued during a three-day trial in September that the state’s efforts to close the plant were pre-empted by federal law.

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Panel Challenges Japan’s Account of Nuclear Disaster

From the New York Times:
A powerful and independent panel of specialists appointed by Japan’s Parliament is challenging the government’s account of the accident at a Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and will start its own investigation into the disaster — including an inquiry into how much the March earthquake may have damaged the plant’s reactors even before the tsunami. The bipartisan panel with powers of subpoena is part of Japan’s efforts to investigate the nuclear calamity, which has displaced more than 100,000 people, rendered wide swaths of land unusable for decades and spurred public criticism that the government has been more interested in protecting vested industry interests than in discovering how three reactors were allowed to melt down and release huge amounts of radiation. Several investigations — including inquiries by the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power, and the government — have blamed the scale of the tsunami that struck Japan’s northeastern coast in March, knocking out vital cooling systems at the plant. But critics in Japan and overseas have called for a fuller accounting of whether Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, sufficiently considered historically documented tsunami risks, and whether it could have done more to minimize the damage once waves hit the plant.
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DEP Fines Veterinary Hospital, Dentist for X-Ray Violations

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120

Lisa Kasianowitz, Department of Environmental Protection South-central Regional Office
DEP Fines Veterinary Hospital, Dentist for X-Ray Violations

HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection has fined two companies, Avian & Feline Hospital of Camp Hill, Cumberland County, and Bowser Dentistry LLC of York, York County, for violations of the Radiation Protection Act.

“The Radiation Protection Act authorizes DEP to monitor X-ray equipment operation and ensure that correct procedures are followed,” DEP South-central Regional Director Rachel Diamond said. “These regulations exist to protect the safety of Pennsylvania’s residents. Fortunately, there is no indication that these particular violations caused any harm to human or animal health.”

DEP fined Avian & Feline Hospital $10,000 after two inspections revealed a multitude of violations. During a March 2011 inspection, DEP discovered the hospital was using tape to fix the controls that restrict the width of the X-ray beam on a portable unit, using the same settings on the X-ray machine for all small animals and had failed to register an X-ray machine. DEP issued a notice of violation that month. A second inspection last June showed the hospital had still not registered an X-ray machine, and the alignment and settings of the portable X-ray machine were still improperly set.

DEP also fined Bowser Dentistry $12,840 for failure to register X-ray machines that were used to evaluate dental patients from 1992 through 2010. DEP issued a notice of violation to the dentist in September 2011. By not registering the X-ray machines with DEP, the facility remained un-inspected during those eight years.

The hospital and dentist took action to correct the violations and both facilities are now in compliance with DEP regulations.

X-ray machines must be registered with DEP within 30 days of being acquired and the X-ray registration becomes valid upon the payment of a fee, which must be paid to the agency annually. For more information, visit or call 717-705-4700.

DEP Fines Schuylkill Valley Engineering $10,000 for Radiation Protection Act Violations

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120

Lisa Kasianowitz, Department of Environmental Protection South-central Regional Office
DEP Fines Schuylkill Valley Engineering $10,000 for Radiation Protection Act Violations

HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection has received $10,000 from Schuylkill Valley Engineering in Reading, Berks County, as a result of a consent order and agreement for violations of the Radiation Protection Act.

“Companies that use radioactive material for their business practices should always follow DEP regulations and maintain proper records,” DEP South-central Regional Director Rachel Diamond said. “It is important that these procedures be followed for health and safety reasons.”

DEP fined Schuylkill Valley Engineering after three inspections turned up various violations. The first inspection in August 2008 revealed the company changed its radiation safety officer without notifying DEP, did not possess the proper records on site, failed to have current emergency procedures in place, failed to properly secure locks on its portable gauging device and did not maintain records of radiation doses to which workers were exposed. DEP issued a notice of violation in October 2008.

On the second and third inspections, in October 2009 and March 2011, DEP learned the company repeated these violations and was over the limit of how much radioactive material it could possess. It also did not have safety signs posted at the site. DEP issued notices of violation in November 2009 and April 2011.

As part of the consent order, Schuylkill Valley Engineering submitted corrective action plans to DEP after each inspection.

For more information, visit or call 717-705-4700.