10 CFR Appendix A to Part 820, General Statement of Enforcement Policy
(a) This policy statement sets forth the general framework through which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will seek to ensure compliance with its enforceable nuclear safety regulations and orders (hereafter collectively referred to as DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements) and, in particular, exercise the civil penalty authority provided to DOE in the Price Anderson Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. 2282a (PAAA). The policy set forth herein is applicable to violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements by DOE contractors who are indemnified under the Price Anderson Act, 42 U.S.C. 2210(d), and their subcontractors and suppliers (hereafter collectively referred to as DOE contractors). This policy statement is not a regulation and is intended only to provide general guidance to those persons subject to DOE's Nuclear Safety Requirements as specified in the PAAA. It is not intended to establish a “cookbook” approach to the initiation and resolution of situations involving noncompliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. Rather, DOE intends to consider the particular facts of each noncompliance situation in determining whether enforcement sanctions are appropriate and, if so, the appropriate magnitude of those sanctions. DOE may well deviate from this policy statement when appropriate in the circumstances of particular cases. This policy statement is not applicable to activities and facilities covered under E.O. 12344, 42 U.S.C. 7158 note, pertaining to Naval nuclear propulsion.
(b) Both the Department of Energy Organization Act, 42 U.S.C. 7101, and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2011, require DOE to protect the public health and safety, as well as the safety of workers at DOE facilities, in conducting its nuclear activities, and grant DOE broad authority to achieve this goal.
(c) The DOE goal in the compliance arena is to enhance and protect the radiological health and safety of the public and worker at DOE facilities by fostering a culture among both the DOE line organizations and the contractors that activity seeks to attain and sustain compliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. The enforcement program and policy have been developed with the express purpose of achieving safety inquisitiveness and voluntary compliance. DOE will establish effective administrative processes and positive incentives to the contractors for the open and prompt identification and reporting of noncompliances, and the initiation of comprehensive corrective actions to resolve both the noncompliance conditions and the program or process deficiencies that led to noncompliance.
(d) In the development of the DOE enforcement policy, DOE recognizes that the reasonable exercise of its enforcement authority can help to reduce the likelihood of serious incidents. This can be accomplished by providing greater emphasis on a culture of safety in existing DOE operations, and strong incentives for contractors to identify and correct noncompliance conditions and processes in order to protect human health and the environment. DOE wants to facilitate, encourage, and support contractor initiatives for the prompt identification and correction of problems. These initiatives and activities will be duly considered in exercising enforcement discretion.
(e) The PAAA provides DOE with the authority to compromise, modify, or remit civil penalties with or without conditions. In implementing the PAAA, DOE will carefully consider the facts of each case of noncompliance and will exercise appropriate discretion in taking any enforcement action. Part of the function of a sound enforcement program is to assure a proper and continuing level of safety vigilance. The reasonable exercise of enforcement authority will be facilitated by the appropriate application of safety requirements to nuclear facilities and by promoting and coordinating the proper contractor and DOE safety compliance attitude toward those requirements.
The purpose of the DOE enforcement program is to promote and protect the radiological health and safety of the public and workers at DOE facilities by:
a. Ensuring compliance by DOE contractors with applicable DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements.
b. Providing positive incentives for a DOE contractor's:
(1) Timely self-identification of nuclear safety deficiencies,
(2) Prompt and complete reporting of such deficiencies to DOE,
(3) Root cause analyses of nuclear safety deficiencies,
(4) Prompt correction of nuclear safety deficiencies in a manner which precludes recurrence, and
(5) Identification of modifications in practices or facilities that can improve public or worker radiological health and safety.
c. Deterring future violations of DOE requirements by a DOE contractor.
d. Encouraging the continuous overall improvement of operations at DOE nuclear facilities.
Section 17 of the PAAA makes most DOE contractors covered by the DOE Price-Anderson indemnification system, and their subcontractors and suppliers, subject to civil penalties for violations of applicable DOE nuclear safety rules, regulations and orders. 42 U.S.C. 2282a. Furthermore, section 18 of the PAAA makes all employees of DOE contractors, and their subcontractors and suppliers, subject to criminal penalties, including monetary penalties and imprisonment, for knowing and willful violations of applicable DOE nuclear safety rules, regulations and orders. 42 U.S.C. 2273(c). Suspected, or alleged, criminal violations are referred to the Department of Justice for appropriate action. 42 U.S.C. 2271. Therefore, DOE's enforcement authority and policy will apply only to civil penalties since decisions on criminal violations are the responsibility of the Department of Justice. However, referral of a case to the Department of Justice does not preclude DOE from taking civil enforcement action in accordance with this policy statement. Such actions will be coordinated with the Department of Justice to the extent practicable.
(a) The Director, as the principal enforcement officer of DOE, has been delegated the authority to:
(1) Conduct enforcement inspections, investigations, and conferences;
(2) Issue Notices of Violations and proposed civil penalties, Enforcement Letters, Consent Orders, and subpoenas; and
(3) Issue orders to compel attendance and disclosure of information or documents obtained during an investigation or inspection.
(b) The NNSA Administrator, pursuant to section 3212 (b)(9) of Public Law 106-65 (codified at 50 U.S.C. 2402 (b)(9)), as amended, has authority over and responsibility for environment, safety and health operations within NNSA and is authorized to sign, issue and serve the following actions that direct NNSA contractors:
(2) Orders to compel attendance;
(3) Disclosure of information or documents obtained during an investigation or inspection;
(4) Preliminary Notices of Violations; and
(5) Final Notices of Violations.
The NNSA Administrator acts after consideration of the Director's recommendation.
(a) 10 CFR part 820 sets forth the procedures DOE will use in exercising its enforcement authority, including the issuance of Notices of Violation and the resolution of contested enforcement actions in the event a DOE contractor elects to litigate contested issues before an Administrative Law Judge.
(b) Pursuant to 10 CFR 820.22, the Director initiates the civil penalty process by issuing a Preliminary Notice of Violation and Proposed Civil Penalty (PNOV). The DOE contractor is required to respond in writing to the PNOV, either admitting the violation and waiving its right to contest the proposed civil penalty and paying it, admitting the violation but asserting the existence of mitigating circumstances that warrant either the total or partial remission of the civil penalty, or denying that the violation has occurred and providing the basis for its belief that the PNOV is incorrect. After evaluation of the DOE contractor's response, the Director of Enforcement may determine that no violation has occurred, that the violation occurred as alleged in the PNOV but that the proposed civil penalty should be remitted in whole or in part, or that the violation occurred as alleged in the PNOV and that the proposed civil penalty is appropriate notwithstanding the asserted mitigating circumstances. In the latter two instances, the Director will issue a Final Notice of Violation (FNOV) or an FNOV and Proposed Civil Penalty.
(c) An opportunity to challenge a proposed civil penalty either before an Administrative Law Judge or in a United States District Court is provided in the PAAA, 42 U.S.C. 2282a(c), and 10 10 CFR part 820 sets forth the procedures associated with an administrative hearing, should the contractor opt for that method of challenging the proposed civil penalty. A formal administrative enforcement proceeding pursuant to section 554 of the Administrative Procedures Act is not initiated until the DOE contractor against which a civil penalty has been proposed requests an administrative hearing rather than waiving its right to contest the civil penalty and paying it. However, it should be emphasized that DOE encourages the voluntary resolution of a noncompliance situation at any time, either informally prior to the initiation of an administrative proceeding or by consent order after a formal proceeding has begun.
(a) Violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements have varying degrees of safety significance. Therefore, the relative importance of each violation must be identified as the first step in the enforcement process. Violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements are categorized in three levels of severity to identify their relative safety significance, and Notices of Violation are issued for noncompliance which, when appropriate, propose civil penalties commensurate with the severity level of the violation(s) involved.
(b) Severity Level I has been assigned to violations that are the most significant and Severity Level III violations are the least significant. Severity Level I is reserved for violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements which involve actual or high potential for adverse impact on the safety of the public or workers at DOE facilities. Severity level II violations represent a significant lack of attention or carelessness toward responsibilities of DOE contractors for the protection of public or worker safety which could, if uncorrected, potentially lead to an adverse impact on public or worker safety at DOE facilities. Severity Level III violations are less serious but are of more than minor concern: i.e., if left uncorrected, they could lead to a more serious concern. In some cases, violations may be evaluated in the aggregate and a single severity level assigned for a group of violations.
(c) Isolated minor violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements will not be the subject of formal enforcement action through the issuance of a Notice of Violation. However, these minor violations will be identified as noncompliances and tracked to assure that appropriate corrective/remedial action is taken to prevent their recurrence, and evaluated to determine if generic or specific problems exist. If circumstances demonstrate that a number of related minor noncompliances have occurred in the same time frame (e.g. all identified during the same assessment), or that related minor noncompliances have recurred despite prior notice to the DOE contractor and sufficient opportunity to correct the problem, DOE may choose in its discretion to consider the noncompliances in the aggregate as a more serious violation warranting a Severity Level III designation, a Notice of Violation and a possible civil penalty.
(d) The severity level of a violation will be dependent, in part, on the degree of culpability of the DOE contractor with regard to the violation. Thus, inadvertent or negligent violations will be viewed differently than those in which there is gross negligence, deception or wilfulness. In addition to the significance of the underlying violation and level of culpability involved, DOE will also consider the position, training and experience of the person involved in the violation. Thus, for example, a violation may be deemed to be more significant if a senior manager of an organization is involved rather than a foreman or non-supervisory employee. In this regard, while management involvement, direct or indirect, in a violation may lead to an increase in the severity level of a violation and proposed civil penalty, the lack of such involvement will not constitute grounds to reduce the severity level of a violation or mitigate a civil penalty. Allowance of mitigation in such circumstances could encourage lack of management involvement in DOE contractor activities and a decrease in protection of public and worker health and safety.
(e) Other factors which will be considered by DOE in determining the appropriate severity level of a violation are the duration of the violation, the past performance of the DOE contractor in the particular activity area involved, whether the DOE contractor had prior notice of a potential problem, and whether there are multiple examples of the violation in the same time frame rather than an isolated occurrence. The relative weight given to each of these factors in arriving at the appropriate severity level will be dependent on the circumstances of each case.
(f) DOE expects contractors to provide full, complete, timely, and accurate information and reports. Accordingly, the severity level of a violation involving either failure to make a required report or notification to the DOE or an untimely report or notification, will be based upon the significance of, and the circumstances surrounding, the matter that should have been reported. A contractor will not normally be cited for a failure to report a condition or event unless the contractor was actually aware, or should have been aware of the condition or event which it failed to report.
(a) Should DOE determine, after completion of all assessment and investigation activities associated with a potential or alleged violation of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements, that there is a reasonable basis to believe that a violation has actually occurred, and the violation may warrant a civil penalty or issuance of an enforcement order, DOE will normally hold an enforcement conference with the DOE contractor involved prior to taking enforcement action. DOE may also elect to hold an enforcement conference for potential violations which would not ordinarily warrant a civil penalty or enforcement order but which could, if repeated, lead to such action. The purpose of the enforcement conference is to assure the accuracy of the facts upon which the preliminary determination to consider enforcement action is based, discuss the potential or alleged violations, their significance and causes, and the nature of and schedule for the DOE contractor's corrective actions, determine whether there are any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and obtain other information which will help determine the appropriate enforcement action.
(b) DOE contractors will be informed prior to a meeting when that meeting is considered to be an enforcement conference. Such conferences are informal mechanisms for candid pre-decisional discussions regarding potential or alleged violations and will not normally be open to the public. In circumstances for which immediate enforcement action is necessary in the interest of public or worker health and safety, such action will be taken prior to the enforcement conference, which may still be held after the necessary DOE action has been taken.
a. DOE contractors may not retaliate against any employee because the employee has taken any actions listed in 10 CFR 708.5(a) through(c), including disclosing information, participating in proceedings, or refusing to participate in certain activities. DOE contractor employees may seek relief for allegations of retaliation through one of several mechanisms, including filing a complaint with DOE pursuant to 10 CFR part 708 (part 708), the Department of Labor (DOL) under sec. 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act (sec. 211), implemented in 29 CFR part 24, or the DOE Inspector General (IG).
b. An act of retaliation by a DOE contractor, prohibited by 10 CFR 708.43, that results from a DOE contractor employee's involvement in an activity listed in 10 CFR 708.5(a) through (c), may constitute a violation of a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement under 10 CFR part 820 if it concerns nuclear safety. To avoid the potential for inconsistency with one of the mechanisms available to an aggrieved DOE contractor employee alleging retaliation referenced in section XIII.a, the Director will not take any action under this part with respect to an alleged violation of 10 CFR 708.43 until a request for relief under one of these mechanisms, if any, has been fully adjudicated, including appeals. With respect to an alleged retaliation, the Director will generally only take action that is consistent with the findings of a final decision of an agency or court. If a final decision finds that retaliation occurred, the Department will consider whether that retaliation constitutes a violation of § 708.43, and if so, whether to take action under part 820. If a final decision finds that no retaliation occurred, the Director will generally not take any action under part 820 with respect to the alleged retaliation absent significant new information that was not available in the prior proceeding. If a final decision dismisses a complaint on procedural grounds without explicitly finding that retaliation did not occur, the Director may take further action under part 820 that is not inconsistent with the final decision.
c. DOE encourages its contractors to cooperate in resolving whistleblower complaints raised by contractor employees in a prompt and equitable manner. Accordingly, in considering what remedy is appropriate for an act of retaliation concerning nuclear safety, the Director will take into account the extent to which a contractor cooperated in proceedings for remedial relief.
d. In considering what remedy is appropriate for an act of retaliation concerning nuclear safety, the Director will also consider the egregiousness of the particular case including the level of management involved in the alleged retaliation and the specificity of the acts of retaliation.
e. When the Director undertakes an investigation of an allegation of DOE contractor retaliation against an employee under part 820, the Director will apprise persons interviewed and interested parties that the investigative activity is being taken pursuant to the nuclear safety procedures of part 820 and not pursuant to the procedures of part 708.
a. This section describes the enforcement sanctions available to DOE and specifies the conditions under which each may be used. The basic sanctions are Notices of Violation and civil penalties. In determining whether to impose enforcement sanctions, DOE will consider enforcement actions taken by other Federal or State regulatory bodies having concurrent jurisdiction, e.g., instances which involve NRC licensed entities which are also DOE contractors, and in which the NRC exercises its own enforcement authority.
b. The nature and extent of the enforcement action is intended to reflect the seriousness of the violation involved. For the vast majority of violations for which DOE assigns severity levels as described previously, a Notice of Violation will be issued, requiring a formal response from the recipient describing the nature of and schedule for corrective actions it intends to take regarding the violation. Administrative actions, such as determination of award fees where DOE contracts provide for such determinations, will be considered separately from any civil penalties that may be imposed under this Enforcement Policy. Likewise, imposition of a civil penalty will be based on the circumstances of each case, unaffected by any award fee determination.
a. A Notice of Violation (either a Preliminary or Final Notice) is a document setting forth the conclusion of the DOE Office of Nuclear Safety and Environment that one or more violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements has occurred. Such a notice normally requires the recipient to provide a written response which may take one of several positions described in Section V of this policy statement. In the event that the recipient concedes the occurrence of the violation, it is required to describe corrective steps which have been taken and the results achieved; remedial actions which will be taken to prevent recurrence; and the date by which full compliance will be achieved.
b. DOE will use the Notice of Violation as the standard method for formalizing the existence of a violation and, in appropriate cases as described in this section, the notice of violation will be issued in conjunction with the proposed imposition of a civil penalty. In certain limited instances, as described in this section, DOE may refrain from the issuance of an otherwise appropriate Notice of Violation. However, a Notice of Violation will virtually always be issued for willful violations, if past corrective actions for similar violations have not been sufficient to prevent recurrence and there are no other mitigating circumstances, or if the circumstances otherwise warrant increasing Severity Level III violations to a higher severity level.
c. DOE contractors are not ordinarily cited for violations resulting from matters not within their control, such as equipment failures that were not avoidable by reasonable quality assurance measures, proper maintenance, or management controls. With regard to the issue of funding, however, DOE does not consider an asserted lack of funding to be a justification for noncompliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements.
d. DOE expects the contractors which operate its facilities to have the proper management and supervisory systems in place to assure that all activities at DOE facilities, regardless of who performs them, are carried out in compliance with all DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. Therefore, contractors are normally held responsible for the acts of their employees and subcontractor employees in the conduct of activities at DOE facilities. Accordingly, this policy should not be construed to excuse personnel errors.
e. Finally, certain contractors are explicitly exempted from the imposition of civil penalties pursuant to the provisions of the PAAA, 42 U.S.C. 2282a(d), for activities conducted at specified facilities. See 10 CFR 820.20(c). In addition, in fairness to non-profit educational institutions, the Department has determined that they should be likewise exempted. See 10 CFR 820.20(d). However, compliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements is no less important for these facilities than for other facilities in the DOE complex which work with, store or dispose of radioactive materials. Indeed, the exempted contractors conduct some of the most important nuclear-related research and development activities performed for the Department. Therefore, in order to serve the purposes of this enforcement policy and to emphasize the importance the Department places on compliance with all of its nuclear safety requirements, DOE intends to issue Notices of Violation to the exempted contractors and non-profit educational institutions when appropriate under this policy statement, notwithstanding the statutory and regulatory exemptions from the imposition of civil penalties.
a. A civil penalty is a monetary penalty that may be imposed for violations of applicable DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements, including Compliance Orders. See 10 CFR 820.20(b). Civil penalties are designed to emphasize the need for lasting remedial action, deter future violations, and underscore the importance of DOE contractor self-identification, reporting and correction of violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements.
b. Absent mitigating circumstances as described below, or circumstances otherwise warranting the exercise of enforcement discretion by DOE as described in this section, civil penalties will be proposed for Severity Level I and II violations. Civil penalties will be proposed for Severity Level III violations which are similar to previous violations for which the contractor did not take effective corrective action. “Similar” violations are those which could reasonably have been expected to have been prevented by corrective action for the previous violation. DOE normally considers civil penalties only for similar Severity Level III violations that occur over a reasonable period of time to be determined at the discretion of DOE.
c. DOE will impose different base level civil penalties considering the severity level of the violation(s) by Price-Anderson indemnified contractors. Table 1 shows the daily base civil penalties for the various categories of severity levels. However, as described above in Section IV, the imposition of civil penalties will also take into account the gravity, circumstances, and extent of the violation or violations and, with respect to the violator, any history of prior similar violations and the degree of culpability and knowledge.
d. Regarding the factor of ability of DOE contractors to pay the civil penalties, it is not DOE's intention that the economic impact of a civil penalty be such that it puts a DOE contractor out of business. Contract termination, rather than civil penalties, is used when the intent is to terminate these activities. The deterrent effect of civil penalties is best served when the amount of such penalties takes this factor into account. However, DOE will evaluate the relationship of affiliated entities to the contractor (such as parent corporations) when it asserts that it cannot pay the proposed penalty.
e. DOE will review each case involving a proposed civil penalty on its own merits and adjust the base civil penalty values upward or downward appropriately. As indicated above, Table 1 identifies the daily base civil penalty values for different severity levels. After considering all relevant circumstances, civil penalties may be escalated or mitigated based upon the adjustment factors described below in this section. In no instance will a civil penalty for any one violation exceed the statutory limit, as periodically adjusted for inflation as required by law. However, it should be emphasized that if the DOE contractor is or should have been aware of a violation and has not reported it to DOE and taken corrective action despite an opportunity to do so, each day the condition existed may be considered as a separate violation and, as such, subject to a separate civil penalty. Further, as described in this section, the duration of a violation will be taken into account in determining the appropriate severity level of the base civil penalty.
Table 1 - Severity Level Base Civil Penalties
|Severity level||Base civil penalty amount (percentage of maximum civil penalty per violation per day)|
a. DOE's enforcement program is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve compliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements, and civil penalties are not collected to swell the coffers of the United States Treasury, but to emphasize the importance of compliance and to deter future violations. The single most important goal of the DOE enforcement program is to encourage early identification and reporting of nuclear safety deficiencies and violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements by the DOE contractors themselves rather than by DOE, and the prompt correction of any deficiencies and violations so identified. DOE believes that DOE contractors are in the best position to identify and promptly correct noncompliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. DOE expects that these contractors should have in place internal compliance programs which will ensure the detection, reporting and prompt correction of nuclear safety-related problems that may constitute, or lead to, violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements before, rather than after, DOE has identified such violations. Thus, DOE contractors will almost always be aware of nuclear safety problems before they are discovered by DOE. Obviously, public and worker health and safety is enhanced if deficiencies are discovered (and promptly corrected) by the DOE contractor, rather than by DOE, which may not otherwise become aware of a deficiency until later on, during the course of an inspection, performance assessment, or following an incident at the facility. Early identification of nuclear safety-related problems by DOE contractors has the added benefit of allowing information which could prevent such problems at other facilities in the DOE complex to be shared with all appropriate DOE contractors.
b. Pursuant to this enforcement philosophy, DOE will provide substantial incentive for the early self-identification, reporting and prompt correction of problems which constitute, or could lead to, violations of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. Thus, application of the adjustment factors set forth below may result in no civil penalty being assessed for violations that are identified, reported, and promptly and effectively corrected by the DOE contractor.
c. On the other hand, ineffective programs for problem identification and correction are unacceptable. Thus, for example, where a contractor fails to disclose and promptly correct violations of which it was aware or should have been aware, substantial civil penalties are warranted and may be sought, including the assessment of civil penalties for continuing violations on a per day basis.
d. Further, in cases involving willfulness, flagrant DOE-identified violations, repeated poor performance in an area of concern, or serious breakdown in management controls, DOE intends to apply its full statutory enforcement authority where such action is warranted.
Reduction of up to 50% of the base civil penalty shown in Table 1 may be given when a DOE contractor identifies the violation and promptly reports the violation to the DOE. In weighing this factor, consideration will be given to, among other things, the opportunity available to discover the violation, the ease of discovery and the promptness and completeness of any required report. No consideration will be given to a reduction in penalty if the DOE contractor does not take prompt action to report the problem to DOE upon discovery, or if the immediate actions necessary to restore compliance with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements or place the facility or operation in a safe configuration are not taken.
a. DOE strongly encourages contractors to self-identify noncompliances with DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements before the noncompliances lead to a string of similar and potentially more significant events or consequences. When a contractor identifies a noncompliance through its own self-monitoring activity, DOE will normally allow a reduction in the amount of civil penalties, regardless of whether prior opportunities existed for contractors to identify the noncompliance. DOE will normally not allow a reduction in civil penalties for self-identification if significant DOE intervention was required to induce the contractor to report a noncompliance.
b. Self-identification of a noncompliance is possibly the single most important factor in considering a reduction in the civil penalty amount. Consideration of self-identification is linked to, among other things, whether prior opportunities existed to discover the violation, and if so, the age and number of such opportunities; the extent to which proper contractor controls should have identified or prevented the violation; whether discovery of the violation resulted from a contractor's self-monitoring activity; the extent of DOE involvement in discovering the violation or in prompting the contractor to identify the violation; and the promptness and completeness of any required report. Self-identification is also considered by DOE in deciding whether to pursue an investigation.
c. DOE has established a voluntary Noncompliance Tracking System (NTS) which allows contractors to elect to report noncompliances. In the guidance document supporting the NTS (DOE-HDBK-1089-95), DOE has established reporting thresholds for reporting items of noncompliance of potentially greater safety significance into the NTS. Contractors may, however, use their own self-tracking systems to track noncompliances below the reporting threshold. This self-tracking is considered to be acceptable self-reporting as long as DOE has access to the contractor's system and the contractor's system notes the item as a noncompliance with a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement. For noncompliances that are below the reportability thresholds, DOE will credit contractor self-tracking as representing self-reporting. If an item is not reported in NTS but only tracked in the contractor's system and DOE subsequently finds the facts and their safety significance have been significantly mischaracterized, DOE will not credit the internal tracking as representing appropriate self-reporting.
a. DOE expects contractors to demonstrate acceptance of responsibility for safety of the public, workers, and the environment and to proactively identify noncompliance conditions in their programs and processes. In deciding whether to reduce any civil penalty proposed for violations revealed by the occurrence of a self-disclosing event, DOE will consider the ease with which a contractor could have discovered the noncompliance and the prior opportunities that existed to discover the noncompliance. When the occurrence of an event discloses noncompliances that the contractor could have or should have identified before the event, DOE will not generally allow a reduction in civil penalties for self-identification, even if the underlying noncompliances were reported to DOE. If a contractor simply reacts to events that disclose potentially significant consequences or downplays noncompliances which did not result in significant consequences to workers, the public, and the environment, such contractor actions do not lead to the improvement in nuclear safety contemplated by the Act.
b. The key test is whether the contractor reasonably could have detected any of the underlying noncompliances that contributed to the event. Examples of events that provide opportunities to identify noncompliances include, but are not limited to:
(1) prior notifications of potential problems such as those from DOE operational experience publications or vendor equipment deficiency reports;
(2) normal surveillance, quality assurance assessments, and post-maintenance testing;
(3) readily observable parameter trends; and
(4) contractor employee or DOE observations of potential safety problems. Failure to utilize these types of events and activities to address noncompliances may result in higher civil penalty assessments or a DOE decision not to reduce civil penalty amounts.
c. For example, a critique of the event might find that one of the root causes was a lack of clarity in a Radiation Work Permit (RWP) which led to improper use of anti-contamination clothing and resulting uptake of contamination by the individual. DOE could subsequently conclude that no reduction in civil penalties for self-identification should be allowed since the event itself disclosed the inadequate RWP and the contractor could have, through proper independent assessment or by fostering a questioning attitude by its workers and supervisors, identified the inadequate RWP before the event.
d. Alternatively, if, following a self-disclosing event, DOE found that the contractor's processes and procedures were adequate and the contractor's personnel generally behaved in a manner consistent with the contractor's processes and procedures, DOE could conclude that the contractor could not have been reasonably expected to find the single procedural noncompliance that led to the event and thus, might allow a reduction in civil penalties.
The promptness (or lack thereof) and extent to which the DOE contractor takes corrective action, including actions to identify root cause and prevent recurrence, may result in up to a 50% increase or decrease in the base civil penalty shown in Table 1. For example, very extensive corrective action may result in reducing the proposed civil penalty as much as 50% of the base value shown in Table 1. On the other hand, the civil penalty may be increased as much as 50% of the base value if initiation or corrective action is not prompt or if the corrective action is only minimally acceptable. In weighing this factor, consideration will be given to, among other things, the appropriateness, timeliness and degree of initiative associated with the corrective action. The comprehensiveness of the corrective action will also be considered, taking into account factors such as whether the action is focused narrowly to the specific violation or broadly to the general area of concern.
There may be circumstances in which a violation of a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement results, in part or entirely, from a direction given by DOE personnel to a DOE contractor to either take, or forbear from taking an action at a DOE facility. In such cases, DOE may refrain from issuing an NOV, and may mitigate, either partially or entirely, any proposed civil penalty, provided that the direction upon which the DOE contractor relied is documented in writing, contemporaneously with the direction. It should be emphasized, however, that pursuant to 10 CFR 820.50, no interpretation of a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement is binding upon DOE unless issued in writing by the General Counsel. Further, as discussed in this section of this policy statement, lack of funding by itself will not be considered as a mitigating factor in enforcement actions.
Because DOE wants to encourage and support DOE contractor initiative for prompt self-identification, reporting and correction of problems, DOE may exercise discretion as follows:
a. In accordance with the previous discussion, DOE may refrain from issuing a civil penalty for a violation which meets all of the following criteria:
(1) The violation is promptly identified and reported to DOE before DOE learns of it.
(2) The violation is not willful or a violation that could reasonably be expected to have been prevented by the DOE contractor's corrective action for a previous violation.
(3) The DOE contractor, upon discovery of the violation, has taken or begun to take prompt and appropriate action to correct the violation.
(4) The DOE contractor has taken, or has agreed to take, remedial action satisfactory to DOE to preclude recurrence of the violation and the underlying conditions which caused it.
b. DOE may refrain from proposing a civil penalty for a violation involving a past problem, such as in engineering design or installation, that meets all of the following criteria:
(1) It was identified by a DOE contractor as a result of a formal effort such as a Safety System Functional Inspection, Design Reconstitution program, or other program that has a defined scope and timetable which is being aggressively implemented and reported;
(2) Comprehensive corrective action has been taken or is well underway within a reasonable time following identification; and
(3) It was not likely to be identified by routine contractor efforts such as normal surveillance or quality assurance activities.
c. DOE will not issue a Notice of Violation for cases in which the violation discovered by the DOE contractor cannot reasonably be linked to the conduct of that contractor in the design, construction or operation of the DOE facility involved, provided that prompt and appropriate action is taken by the DOE contractor upon identification of the past violation to report to DOE and remedy the problem.
d. DOE may refrain from issuing a Notice of Violation for an item of noncompliance that meets all of the following criteria:
(1) It was promptly identified by the DOE nuclear entity;
(2) It is normally classified at a Severity Level III;
(3) It was promptly reported to DOE;
(4) Prompt and appropriate corrective action will be taken, including measures to prevent recurrence; and
(5) It was not a willful violation or a violation that could reasonably be expected to have been prevented by the DOE contractor's corrective action for a previous violation.
e. DOE may refrain from issuing a Notice of Violation for an item of noncompliance that meets all of the following criteria:
(1) It was an isolated Severity Level III violation identified during a Tiger Team inspection conducted by the Office of Health, Safety and Security during an inspection or integrated performance assessment conducted by the Office of Nuclear Safety and Environment, or during some other DOE assessment activity.
(2) The identified noncompliance was properly reported by the contractor upon discovery.
(3) The contractor initiated or completed appropriate assessment and corrective actions within a reasonable period, usually before the termination of the onsite inspection or integrated performance assessment.
(4) The violation is not willful or one which could reasonably be expected to have been prevented by the DOE contractor's corrective action for a previous violation.
f. In situations where corrective actions have been completed before termination of an inspection or assessment, a formal response from the contractor is not required and the inspection or integrated performance assessment report serves to document the violation and the corrective action. However, in all instances, the contractor is required to report the noncompliance through established reporting mechanisms so the noncompliance issue and any corrective actions can be properly tracked and monitored.
g. If DOE initiates an enforcement action for a violation at a Severity Level II or III and, as part of the corrective action for that violation, the DOE contractor identifies other examples of the violation with the same root cause, DOE may refrain from initiating an additional enforcement action. In determining whether to exercise this discretion, DOE will consider whether the DOE contractor acted reasonably and in a timely manner appropriate to the safety significance of the initial violation, the comprehensiveness of the corrective action, whether the matter was reported, and whether the additional violation(s) substantially change the safety significance or character of the concern arising out of the initial violation.
h. It should be emphasized that the preceding paragraphs are solely intended to be examples indicating when enforcement discretion may be exercised to forego the issuance of a civil penalty or, in some cases, the initiation of any enforcement action at all. However, notwithstanding these examples, a civil penalty may be proposed or Notice of Violation issued when, in DOE's judgment, such action is warranted on the basis of the circumstances of an individual case.
(a) DOE's enforcement policy is also applicable to subcontractors and suppliers to DOE Price-Anderson indemnified contractors. Through procurement contracts with these DOE contractors, subcontractors and suppliers are generally required to have quality assurance programs that meet applicable DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. Suppliers of products or services provided in support of or for use in DOE facilities operated by Price-Anderson indemnified contractors are subject to certain requirements designed to ensure the high quality of the products or services supplied to DOE facilities that could, if deficient, adversely affect public or worker safety. DOE regulations require that DOE be notified whenever a DOE contractor obtains information reasonably indicating that a DOE facility (including its structures, systems and components) which conducts activities subject to the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended or DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements either fails to comply with any provision of the Atomic Energy Act or any applicable DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement, or contains a defect or has been supplied with a product or service which could create or result in a substantial safety hazard.
(b) DOE will conduct audits and assessments of its contractors to determine whether they are ensuring that subcontractors and suppliers are meeting their contractual obligations with regard to quality of products or services that could have an adverse effect on public or worker radiological safety, and ensure that DOE contractors have in place adequate programs to determine whether products or services supplied to them for DOE facilities meet applicable DOE requirements and that substandard products or services are not used by Price-Anderson indemnified contractors at the facilities they operate for DOE. As part of the effort of ensuring that contractual and regulatory requirements are met, DOE may also audit or assess subcontractors and suppliers. These assessments could include examination of the quality assurance programs and their implementation by the subcontractors and suppliers through examination of product quality.
(c) When audits or assessments determine that subcontractors or suppliers have failed to comply with applicable DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements or to fulfill contractual commitments designed to ensure the quality of a safety significant product or service, enforcement action will be taken. Notices of Violations and civil penalties will be issued, as appropriate, for DOE contractor failures to ensure that their subcontractors and suppliers provide products and services that meet applicable DOE requirements. Notices of Violations and civil penalties will also be issued to subcontractors and suppliers of DOE contractors which fail to comply with the reporting requirements set forth in any other applicable DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements.
(a) A violation of DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements for failure to provide complete and accurate information to DOE, 10 CFR 820.11, can result in the full range of enforcement sanctions, depending upon the circumstances of the particular case and consideration of the factors discussed in this section. Violations involving inaccurate or incomplete information or the failure to provide significant information identified by a DOE contractor normally will be categorized based on the guidance in section VI, “Severity of Violations”.
(b) DOE recognizes that oral information may in some situations be inherently less reliable than written submittals because of the absence of an opportunity for reflection and management review. However, DOE must be able to rely on oral communications from officials of DOE contractors concerning significant information. In determining whether to take enforcement action for an oral statement, consideration will be given to such factors as
(1) The degree of knowledge that the communicator should have had regarding the matter in view of his or her position, training, and experience;
(2) The opportunity and time available prior to the communication to assure the accuracy or completeness of the information;
(3) The degree of intent or negligence, if any, involved;
(4) The formality of the communication;
(5) The reasonableness of DOE reliance on the information;
(6) The importance of the information that was wrong or not provided; and
(7) The reasonableness of the explanation for not providing complete and accurate information.
(c) Absent gross negligence or willfulness, an incomplete or inaccurate oral statement normally will not be subject to enforcement action unless it involves significant information provided by an official of a DOE contractor. However, enforcement action may be taken for an unintentionally incomplete or inaccurate oral statement provided to DOE by an official of a DOE contractor or others on behalf of the DOE contractor, if a record was made of the oral information and provided to the DOE contractor thereby permitting an opportunity to correct the oral information, such as if a transcript of the communication or meeting summary containing the error was made available to the DOE contractor and was not subsequently corrected in a timely manner.
(d) When a DOE contractor has corrected inaccurate or incomplete information, the decision to issue a citation for the initial inaccurate or incomplete information normally will be dependent on the circumstances, including the ease of detection of the error, the timeliness of the correction, whether DOE or the DOE contractor identified the problem with the communication, and whether DOE relied on the information prior to the correction. Generally, if the matter was promptly identified and corrected by the DOE contractor prior to reliance by DOE, or before DOE raised a question about the information, no enforcement action will be taken for the initial inaccurate or incomplete information. On the other hand, if the misinformation is identified after DOE relies on it, or after some question is raised regarding the accuracy of the information, then some enforcement action normally will be taken even if it is in fact corrected.
(e) If the initial submission was accurate when made but later turns out to be erroneous because of newly discovered information or advance in technology, a citation normally would not be appropriate if, when the new information became available, the initial submission was corrected.
(f) The failure to correct inaccurate or incomplete information that the DOE contractor does not identify as significant normally will not constitute a separate violation. However, the circumstances surrounding the failure to correct may be considered relevant to the determination of enforcement action for the initial inaccurate or incomplete statement. For example, an unintentionally inaccurate or incomplete submission may be treated as a more severe matter if a DOE contractor later determines that the initial submission was in error and does not correct it or if there were clear opportunities to identify the error.
The Secretary will be provided written notification of all enforcement actions involving proposed civil penalties. The Secretary will be consulted prior to taking action in the following situations:
a. Proposals to impose civil penalties in an amount equal to or greater than the statutory limit, as periodically adjusted for inflation as required by law;
b. Any proposed enforcement action that involves a Severity Level I violation;
c. Any action the Director believes warrants the Secretary's involvement; or
d. Any proposed enforcement action on which the Secretary asks to be consulted.
a. DOE contractors may not retaliate against any employee because the employee has disclosed information, participated in activities or refused to participate in activities listed in 10 CFR 708.5 (a)-(c) as provided by 10 CFR 708.43. DOE contractor employees may seek remedial relief for allegations of retaliation from the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) under 10 CFR part 708 (Part 708) or from the Department of Labor (DOL) under sec. 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act (sec. 211), implemented in 29 CFR part 24.
b. An act of retaliation by a DOE contractor, proscribed under 10 CFR 708.43, that results from a DOE contractor employee's involvement in an activity listed in 10 CFR 708.5(a)-(c) concerning nuclear safety in connection with a DOE nuclear activity, may constitute a violation of a DOE Nuclear Safety Requirement under 10 CFR part 820 (Part 820). The retaliation may be subject to the investigatory and adjudicatory procedures of both Part 820 and Part 708. The same facts that support remedial relief to employees under Part 708 may be used by the Director of the Office of Enforcement (Director) to support issuance of a Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV), a Final Notice of Violation (FNOV), and assessment of civil penalties. 10 CFR 820.24- 820.25.
c. When an employee files a complaint with DOL under sec. 211 and DOL collects information relating to allegations of DOE contractor retaliation against a contractor employee for actions taken concerning nuclear safety, the Director may use this information as a basis for initiating enforcement action by issuing a PNOV. 10 CFR 820.24. DOE may consider information collected in the DOL proceedings to determine whether the retaliation may be related to a contractor employee's action concerning a DOE nuclear activity.
d. The Director may also use DOL information to support the determination that a contractor has violated or is continuing to violate the nuclear safety requirements against contractor retaliation and to issue civil penalties or other appropriate remedy in a FNOV. 10 CFR 820.25.
e. The Director will have discretion to give appropriate weight to information collected in DOL and OHA investigations and proceedings. In deciding whether additional investigation or information is needed, the Director will consider the extent to which the facts in the proceedings have been adjudicated as well as any information presented by the contractor. In general, the Director may initiate an enforcement action without additional investigation or information.
f. Normally, the Director will await the completion of a Part 708 proceeding before OHA or a sec. 211 proceeding at DOL before deciding whether to take any action, including an investigation under Part 820 with respect to alleged retaliation. A Part 708 or sec. 211 proceeding would be considered completed when there is either a final decision or a settlement of the retaliation complaint, or no additional administrative action is available.
g. DOE encourages its contractors to cooperate in resolving whistleblower complaints raised by contractor employees in a prompt and equitable manner. Accordingly, in deciding whether to initiate an enforcement action, the Director will take into account the extent to which a contractor cooperated in a Part 708 or sec. 211 proceeding, and, in particular, whether the contractor resolved the matter promptly without the need for an adjudication hearing.
h. In considering whether to initiate an enforcement action and, if so, what remedy is appropriate, the Director will also consider the egregiousness of the particular case including the level of management involved in the alleged retaliation and the specificity of the acts of retaliation.
i. In egregious cases, the Director has the discretion to proceed with an enforcement action, including an investigation with respect to alleged retaliation irrespective of the completion status of the Part 708 or sec. 211 proceeding. Egregious cases would include: (1) Cases involving credible allegations for willful or intentional violations of DOE rules, regulations, orders or Federal statutes which, if proven, would warrant criminal referrals to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecutorial review; and (2) cases where an alleged retaliation suggests widespread, high-level managerial involvement and raises significant public health and safety concerns.
j. When the Director undertakes an investigation of an allegation of DOE contractor retaliation against an employee under Part 820, the Director will apprise persons interviewed and interested parties that the investigative activity is being taken pursuant to the nuclear safety procedures of Part 820 and not pursuant to the procedures of Part 708.
k. At any time, the Director may begin an investigation of a noncompliance of the substantive nuclear safety rules based on the underlying nuclear safety concerns raised by the employee regardless of the status of completion of any related whistleblower retaliation proceedings. The nuclear safety rules include: 10 CFR part 830 (nuclear safety management); 10 CFR part 835 (occupational radiation protection); and 10 CFR part 820.11 (information accuracy requirements).