The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday released an order that details how Areva NP must address problems revealed when a former employee falsified shipping documents in 2009.
The commission and Areva reached a settlement during mediation in October in which the company agreed to take corrective actions and conduct an independent safety culture assessment at its facilities. Areva operates a Richland plant that produces nuclear power plant fuel assemblies.
Bob Link, manager of environmental health, safety and licensing for Areva in Richland, said the company already had voluntarily undertaken many of the actions NRC outlined.
"When the incident was identified, we performed our own intensive assessment and review and a root cause analysis," Link said. "The product ... was a whole series of corrective and preventive measures to ensure to the best of our ability that this will not happen again. The NRC in its independent investigation recognized the thoroughness of our own assessment and review and corrective and preventive actions."
Link said the incident involved a shipment of nuclear fuel pellets that originated in Richland and was destined for an affiliate plant in Germany.
The shipping route included transit through the United Kingdom, which requires a special permit, he said. An Areva employee in Lynchburg, Va., is reported to have falsified three of the transit permits.
"The individual essentially created them through taking existing and actual permits and modifying them in a way that was very, very difficult to identify," Link said.
Link said the employee is the one who identified the false permits, prompting intense scrutiny from internal and external investigators.
The safety and security of the shipment never was in jeopardy, and the shipment arrived at its destination with all required permits and certificates, Link said.
Since the incident came to light, Areva is performing extra documentation checks on all shipments before they leave any Areva site, he said.
"Areva takes this matter very seriously," he said.