Lost nuclear item on Md. base leads to fine

The soil density gauge was out of sight for 10 days

August 09, 2011|By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $3,500 fine on a Virginia company for the temporary loss at the Fort George G. Meade Army Base of a device that contained a small amount of radioactive material.

In late 2010, GeoConcepts Engineering, Inc., headquartered in Ashburn, Va., lost a portable nuclear gauge used to measure soil density at construction sites, the NRC said Tuesday in a statement.

The company suspected that the gauge had been stolen during a theft of construction equipment on the base, where the item was stored on a temporary job site. It was stored in a lock-box and chained to the exterior of a sea-land container.

The NRC, which licenses the use of radioactive materials, was notified of the gauge's loss. About 10 days after the device was last seen, base police found the missing device.

NRC regulations require "use a minimum of two independent physical controls to secure the portable gauge from unauthorized removal, when the device was not under the control and constant surveillance of company personnel," the commission said.

The company, the NRC said, did not comply with these rules. The company disagreed with the NRC but, in the end, the commission decided that the company did not properly secure the device.

The company is required to respond to the commission's decision within 30 days.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

twitter.com/stevekilar

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