ERWIN — A facility supervisor at Nuclear Fuel Services recently tested positive for alcohol during a fitness for duty test and the individual’s access to the Erwin facility has been restricted, according to an event report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
According to the event report, posted to the NRC’s website on Tuesday, the unnamed supervisor tested positive for alcohol on a for-cause fitness for duty test. The report states the incident occurred around 8 a.m. on Sept. 20, and the NRC was notified of the event later that day. The event report also stated that NFS has notified the NRC resident inspector onsite.
NRC Senior Public Affairs Officer Roger Hannah said the NRC could not release information on the supervisor who was the subject of the event report or to what degree the supervisor’s facility access has been restricted, adding that the matter would become a personnel issue once NFS has complied with the NRC’s regulations for fitness for duty testing.
“They followed their process for for-cause testing under the fitness for duty regulations and we, at this point, don’t have any indication that there were other issues or this was something other than one individual that was tested for cause,” Hannah said.
Hannah said the supervisor was tested for cause, meaning that the individual was identified to be exhibiting signs of being under the influence of alcohol or another substance. Hannah said these signs could be smell, behavior or other signs to indicate that a person is under the influence.
“Once that person is identified, a co-worker or a supervisor would contact security and then, under the NRC regulations for fitness for duty testing, that person would be removed from the work situation and tested for cause,” Hannah said. “The reason we call it for cause is that all employees in certain jobs that relate to safety are required to undergo random testing, but this would be specific based on observations of that individual.”
According to information provided to the NRC, the individual was removed from the work situation before performing any duties related to radiological material and had just shown up to begin the work day, Hannah said.
“So they were not actually working at the time,” Hannah said.
Hannah said the NRC has strict policies on random and for cause fitness for duty testing. Although he said the situation is now an NFS personnel matter, Hannah said NFS is required to report this type of incident to the NRC.
“Once this individual is identified and dealt with, it’s a personnel matter,” he said. “Once we’re satisfied that this person is not in a position to affect the safety of the facility, we don’t get involved in those other personnel decisions. The only time the NRC would be directly involved is if it were a licensed nuclear power plant operator that held an NRC license as an individual, then there are certain actions that would be taken, but if it’s an employee of a facility like this, they follow whatever their company policies are for dealing with that individual and, at this point, we think they acted appropriately when it was identified.”
Hannah said the NRC has inspections in this area planned for this fall and would follow up on the incident to see that there are no additional issues stemming from it. NFS officials could not be reached Tuesday for comment.