March 16, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 12

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    Argonne addressing DOE citations on nuclear safety violations

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    The DOE (Department of Energy) has issued a Preliminary Notice of Violation to the University for nuclear safety violations at Argonne National Laboratory, which the DOE identified through several safety reviews and inspections. The University manages and operates Argonne on contract for the DOE.

    The reviews and inspections, the most recent of which occurred in 2005, identified breakdowns in quality improvement, radiation protection, work process, and independent and management assessment programs at Argonne that predate the appointment of Robert Rosner, the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College, as laboratory director last year.

    The identified deficiencies have not caused significant radiation exposures or other nuclear safety incidents. Nevertheless, “it is truly fortuitous that no one has been seriously injured as a result of the deficiencies addressed in prior reviews of ANL activities, for which no adequate corrective actions have been taken until now,” said DOE safety enforcement officer Stephen Sohinki, in the letter officially informing Rosner of the violation notice.

    Sohinki also wrote that, “my staff and I have been extremely impressed and encouraged by the aggressive and proactive actions you have taken to date and plan to take to address the longstanding problems with implementation and safety programs at ANL.”

    According to Thomas Rosenbaum, the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor in Physics and Vice-President for Research and for Argonne National Lab, “the University of Chicago is moving aggressively to address the concerns raised by the DOE, with new Laboratory leadership, increased oversight and accountability, and additional resources.

    Nearly three quarters of the corrective actions have been completed and we are committed to making safety as outstanding as the science at Argonne National Laboratory.”