Acuren’s Kenai location has temporarily ceased radiography operations after a surprise inspection by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission found high levels of radiation.
Lara Uselding with the NRC spoke with us about the inspection.
Uselding: “The inspectors arrived on site and observed that their survey meter went off scale, meaning that it was reading about 200 millirems per hour with no boundaries or physical controls established. Obviously the inspectors were surprised and had to back away about 40 ft before that survey meter was reading lower. They then learned that operators had been conducting radiography operations inside the building, about six, two minute radiography sessions.”
Acuren is licensed through the NRC to use Iridium 192 in order to take images of pipe welds which is much like an x-ray and only active when in use, according to Uselding.
She also said licensee’s are to have physical barriers in place to protect the public even though the inspectors did not see anyone around at the time.
Uselding: “But again the NRC’s concern that had somebody been there they may have been exposed to lower to the annual limit in just a couple of minutes.”
The NRC is sending a team to do a follow-up investigation of Acuren’s Kenai location. They will address occupants in other parts of the building, assess Acuren’s response to the incident, and create a chronology to see if anyone may have been exposed.
Uselding said Acuren has recently been associated with other incidents.
Uselding: “There have recently been cases where there have been some overexposure of employees at Acuren Inspection Inc. which is the sister company of Acuren U.S.A. and that occured in Texas and Ohio.”