rage I or 3 MEMORANDUM Date: November 17, 1998 To: File, J % O ? ~ 3/ From: Through: , rge, Investigations Section. Re: - Background On 30 September 1998, received a telephone call from -formerly employed b y m a s a Marine Science Technician. a c c u s e d f endaging in a pattern of wrongdoing involving radioactive (1) radioactive waste stored closely to food items; (2) improper documentation of activity levels and disposals; and (3) firing employees who blow the whistle on these activities. will still be involved in the program as a grad student, and wishes to remain anonymous. Archer stated that he did not voluntarily end his employment w i t h l u t s a i d l d him his work was "inadequate." Investigation While in Christchurch, I interviewed separately (on 12 October 1998) two of th employees named by n- his 30 September 1998 telephone allegatio?: Manager of Hazardous and Solid Waste, and Laboratory Science. Radioactive waste stored closely to food items. I1I)stated that o l l o w s International Maritime Dangerous Goods and DOT regulations for transporting and storing radioactive waste on-board ships. Before any waste is loaded on the ship it is noted on the stow plan, The stow plans are reSiewed by ~ E (Safety Hand Environmental Health), I a s t e subcontractor (Philips - ASA I. -loactivity ~llegation.Closeout ~ a g k2 of 3 Environmental), and the captain of the vessel (the captain can impose stricter guidelines than are required by IMDJ or DOT). -mitted that mistakes can occur. ported that waste had been stored closely to food items in a " and determined that the isotope involved did not have to be stored separately and away from food. i t r e p was distributed, ;as was r e p o r t . Improper documentation of activity levels and disposals. escribed the process for accepting and documenting radioactive waste. description was confirmed by When es- waste .from a grantee, - they verify that the amount use an t e amount o waste noted on the logs equal the total material - they do not monitor the amount of radioactive material used, and they do not verify the amount of waste. If the two amounts do not equal the total (many times the amounts do not equal the total because of mathematical or transposition errors), a discrepancy report is generated, the waste is not accepted b n d it is returned to the grantee. At this point, the grantee would probably change the amounts and resubmit to that it is well-known that figures are routinely not supposed to make changes. For a period of held that had to be tleared. made the changes that were required to reconcile the logs. An automated, electronic system is now in place - RadTrack - which will alleviate many errors. - Firing employees who blow the whistle on these activities. hether, in general, there had been any firings over improper waste handling or ocumentation, and she volunteered that a guy, ht been fired around the time the food/waste was stored together, but t at he was not have fired for that reason. She said there had been performance problems with him (he didn't take direction, was "high maintenance," and always made a mountain out of a mole hill). I asked specificially about the woman e w of the incident, and told me the woman's name I contacted Manager of Human Resources. She told me that most of the past 3-1R (6/95- y offered another year's contract but she file and said there is nothing to for reporting incidents involvin radioactive materials to NSF. She remembered discussing the incident with& and said that-ld her she did not feel that she had the proper training io would not go into the rad van. that she remembers that t a memo directly to NSF, and tha as rold th'at there was a Subsequently, spill response procedures are being been provided with guidance for spill report format and distribution. emo to NSF re: the incident did not follow the required format and distribution. Findings I questione~ P Safety and HealthPOfficer) on up via e-mail. e essentially confirmed all I had been told by Based on his response, consider the allegation closed. There transporting, storing and using and waste, and for alerting the appropriate personnel (NSFIOPP are problems. There is no indication that employees have for alerting the appropriate personnel to potential or actual problems. NSF/OPP is aware of the procedures and conducts spot checks on them; when problems are identifie-notified. P This allegation is closed.
Published by the National Science Foundation, Office of Inspector General on 1998-11-17.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)