AK Firm Suspends Operations after High Radiation Levels

Friday, May 2, 2014 @ 04:05 PM gHale

Acuren USA’s Kenai, Alaska, branch suspended operations after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) found high radiation readings during a surprise inspection in early April.

The company has a license to use radioactive materials when inspecting pipe welds. According to a confirmatory action letter issued by the NRC to the company, inspectors walking around Acuren’s facility and found high readings in areas where the public could end up exposed to high radiation levels.

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There were no boundaries or controls in place to keep people out of the area during radiography operations and initial dose estimates suggested anyone standing near the building could have suffered exposure to radiation in excess of the NRC’s annual limit, the NRC said.

The company, which specializes in inspections and materials and reliability engineering, is in Kenai’s Economic Development District, or EDD building, where several other companies also operate.

Inspectors also worried that anyone who worked in the nearby offices could end up exposed to excessive radiation, the NRC said.

The company agreed to suspend its radiography operations at the Kenai facility until the NRC approves it for further use, to develop a series of planned actions to keep the public from being exposed to excessively high doses of radiation and provide the regulatory commission with information to determine if the public suffered exposure to the radiation during its past activities.

According to Acuren’s website it has 80 locations in North America and employs more than 3,500 people.

Acuren has a history of violations according to NRC documentation, including a 2007 citation for failing to inspect a Virginia facility for “compliance with dose limits to individual members of the public” and 2010 inspections in Michigan, Wyoming and Texas which found apparent violations of security requirements which may have culminated in a radiography device and radioactive material in a pickup truck being stolen near Austin, Texas.

Acuren has four offices in Alaska including locations in Fairbanks, Prudhoe Bay and Anchorage.

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