Mistras Group agreed to a confirmatory order with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) after addressing a violation of NRC requirements at the company’s Trainer, Pennsylvania, facility.

Mistras performs activities such as testing heavy lifting equipment at nuclear power plants licensed by the NRC.

What is at issue is a violation of NRC requirements for falsification of calibration records for instruments used to examine the structural integrity of cranes at nuclear power plants. The violation was identified by the NRC’s Office of Investigations.

Before making a final enforcement decision, the NRC provided the company with an opportunity to request a pre-decisional enforcement conference or seek alternative dispute resolution. Mistras requested ADR mediation and met with NRC officials in March to discuss corrective actions.

Settlement Reached
After the mediation, NRC and Mistras reached a settlement including in recognition of the prompt and corrective actions taken in response to the violation, Mistras does not have to provide a written response.

Schneider Bold
  • Corrective actions completed by Mistras prior to the mediation session include:
  • Individuals responsible for the fraudulent records had their employment terminated
  • Acoustic emissions (AE) instruments ended up properly calibrated by Physical Acoustics, the manufacturer of the equipment
  • Developed a web‐based training course for all employees, which included an introduction by the company’s chief executive, to speak about the importance of promoting a culture of ethics, and how any deliberate misconduct has consequences, including loss of employment and imprisonment
  • Local and corporate quality departments reviewed procedures, records, and equipment
  • AE procedures and forms ended up adopted into the corporate document center, as formal quality assurance records
  • AE test equipment ended up added to the measuring and test equipment (M&TE) recall system
  • AE program procedures and work instructions revised to clarify the calibration verification instructions and to identify future calibration requirements
  • Notification letters notified applicable nuclear power plants of the nonconformance associated with their equipment
  • An interim report and a final 10 CFR Part 21 report ended up submitted to the NRC
    Mistras developed or revised the following procedures:
    — Revised procedure 100-QC-006, “Contract Review & Project Planning” to ensure that “Nuclear Projects” are submitted to the Nuclear Projects Division for review
    — Revised procedure 100-QC-007, “Project Execution”
    — Developed procedure 100-QC-007.1, “Nuclear Projects” which defined the Nuclear Projects Division
    — Revised procedure 100-QC-014 “Internal Audits” to require additional oversight of Nuclear Projects by requiring an annual audit by an outside, independent Lead Auditor
    — Planned revision of 100-QC-017 “Control of Nonconforming Items”

The NRC considered the corrective actions and commitments to be prompt and comprehensive to address the causes which resulted in the violation.

Refrain From Issuing a Violation
So, in consideration of the commitments, the NRC agreed to not assess a civil penalty and refrain from issuing a notice of violation for all matters discussed in the NRC’s December letter.

As a result of the case against the company, two former Mistras employees pleaded guilty in federal court to falsifying documents and ended up banned in January from participating in NRC-licensed activities.

Miguel Marcial Amaro, 56, of Newark, Delaware, and Martin Ramos, 52, of Levittown, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to the felony offense of making and using a false document, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

As a result of their guilty plea, each defendant cannot participate in or work in Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)-licensed activities as a condition of their plea agreement: Marcial Amaro for five years and Ramos for two years.

Marcial Amaro and Ramos provided acoustic emissions (AE) testing to nuclear power plants to detect structural defects in the plant’s equipment, including critical components within the nuclear reactors, according to court records.

Between 2010 and 2021, Marcial Amaro was responsible for ensuring the company’s AE testing equipment ended up calibrated annually; Ramos worked under Marcial Amaro as an engineer.

The two men created numerous false calibration certificates for AE testing equipment and 15 of these false certificates ended up sent 29 times to nuclear plant owners as part of final testing reports required by NRC. Officials discovered the falsified calibration certificates in 2021 during an external audit.

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