Acuren building safe, landlord says

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:42pm
  • News

News that one of his tenants had suspended operations, after a surprise inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, came as a shock to Rick Roeske, executive director of the organization that owns the building where the Kenai branch of Acuren USA has been housed for more than five years.

Staff at the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District has since met with inspectors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, and been assured that other tenants in the building had not been over-exposed to radiation and were safe, Roeske said.

“We didn’t get a notification from Acuren, we got notification from the media and that’s the first we heard of it,” Roeske said. “We were as surprised as everyone else.”

Technically the company was not required to report its encounter with the NRC as it was not spelled out in the terms of its lease with the economic development district, he said.

The company is licensed to use radioactive materials when inspecting pipe welds and on April 10 NRC inspectors on a surprise inspection of the facility, 14896 Kenai Spur Highway, had meter readings that went “off-scale” close to the building, according to a confirmatory action letter issued to the company.

An initial dose estimate suggested that a member of the public standing near the building during testing could have gotten a dose of radiation in excess of mandated annual limits, according to the letter.

Inspectors moved about 40 feet away from the building and their survey meter read about 200 mR/hour during the two minutes that Acuren was conducting testing. 200 mr/hour, or millirems per hour, exceeds the federally mandated guidelines for an annual limit to radiation exposure which is 100 millirems, though, inspector Lara Uselding, public affairs officer for the NRC, told KBBI, the Homer-based public radio station, that annual limit is “very low” and would be lower than what the average person would receive from background sources of radiation.

Inspectors determined that Acuren employees had conducted at least six two-minute exposures that day over the course of about one hour, according to the action letter. The company told the NRC that it had suspended radiographic operations on April 14, according to the letter. However, reports of that suspension were not widespread until the NRC released its notice of confirmatory action letter 11 days later on April 25.

Acuren USA has 80 locations in North America, including offices in Fairbanks, Prudhoe Bay, Anchorage and Kenai. It employs more than 3,500 people according to its website.

The company has a history of violations according to NRC documentation, including a 2007 citation for failing to inspect a Virginia facility for “compliance with dose limits to individual members of the public” and 2010 inspections in Michigan, Wyoming and Texas which found apparent violations of security requirements. One of those violations may have resulted in a radiography device and radioactive material in a pickup truck being stolen near Austin, Texas, according to NRC records.

All calls to Acuren regarding the incident were directed to Rockwood Service Corporation, parent company for Acuren. Calls for comment made in April were not returned, however an attorney with the corporation did leave a message at the Clarion Wednesday indicating that he was available for comment. He did not answer a return call by press time.

Roeske said a team from NRC had been out to the building and had done some testing with Acuren in its facility. The team also met with the other tenants in the building.

The economic development district building houses at least seven business, each with tenants and staff. Roeske estimated that between 15-25 people were in the building at any given time.

“(The NRC) held tenant interviews with everyone in the building and they did go through and do checks. They were very thorough,” he said. “They went through the building, checked everything, talked to all of the tenants, reassured all of the people in the building.”

The NRC will issue a final report on the situation, Roeske said.

“They did find some administrative lapses with Acuren, but they will be dealt with between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission an Acuren and then (NRC) will shoot me a link to their report,” he said.

Roeske said he heard rumors that there was excessive radiation in the building, but was told that those rumors were untrue.

While the NRC was running its follow-up testing with Acuren, measurements remained low, he said.

“(NRC) have what they call a threshold level and (the measurements) didn’t meet that threshold level,” he said.

Once the report is issued, Roeske said economic development district staff would be reviewing its lease with Acuren to add language saying the company needed to communicate with staff if there were issues with its operations.

“We have tenants and we’re a business incubation center and we try to share services and provide services but one of those services (in return) is to not scare other tenants,” he said, with a laugh.

Rashah McChesney can be reached at

More in News

A moose is photographed in Kalifornsky, Alaska, in July 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Illegal moose harvest down from past 5 years

The large majority of moose this year were harvested from North and South Kasilof River areas.

Renee Behymer and Katelyn Behymer (right) of Anchorage win this week’s vaccine lottery college scholarship sweepstakes. (Photo provided)
Dillingham and Anchorage residents win 6th vaccine lottery

“Get it done,” one winner said. “Protect us all, protect our elders and our grandchildren.”

Kenai Vice Mayor and council member Bob Molloy (center), council member Jim Glendening (right), council member Victoria Askin (far right), and council member Henry Knackstedt (far left) participate in a work session discussing the overhaul of Kenai election codes on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska.
Kenai City Council gives sendoffs, certifies election results

Both council members-elect — Deborah Sounart and James Baisden — attended Wednesday.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
COVID is No. 3 underlying cause of death among Alaskans so far this year

The virus accounted for about 7.5% of all underlying causes of death after a review of death certificates.

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives during a floor debate on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, over an appropriations bill during the Legislature’s third special session of the summer. Multiple organizations reported on Wednesday that Eastman is a lifetime member of the far-right organization the Oath Keepers. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Data leak shows state rep is member of far-right organization

Wasilla area lawmaker said he joined when Oath Keepers first started.

Christine Hutchison, who lives in Kenai and also serves on the Kenai Harbor Commission, testifies in support of the use of alternative treatments for COVID-19 during a meeting of the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Medical liberty’ petition brought to Kenai City Council

Some members of the public and Kenai City Council spoke against health mandates and in support of alternative treatments for COVID-19

Amber Kraxberger-Linson, a member of Trout Unlimited and streamwatch coordinator for the Chugach National Forest, works in the field in this undated photo. Kraxberger-Linson will be discussing at the Saturday, Oct. 23 International Fly Fishing Film Festival the organization’s educational programming for next summer. (Photo provided by Trout Unlimited)
Out on the water — and on the screen

Trout Unlimited to host fly fishing film festival Saturday.

This screen capture from surveillance footage released by the Anchorage Police Department shows a masked man vandalizing the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage in May. (Courtesy photo / APD)
Museums statewide condemn antisemitic vandalism

Two incidents, one in May, one in September, have marred the museum this year.

Three speech language pathologists with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District were recognized for excellence during the Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association last month. (Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
Peninsula speech language therapists awarded for excellence

“I was very honored to be recognized by my peers and colleagues,” Evans said in an interview with the Clarion.

Most Read