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NRC v. Radiation Technology, Inc.

Citation: 12 ELR 20104
No. No. 80-2187, 519 F. Supp. 1266/(D.N.J., 08/06/1981)

The district court rules that it has jurisdiction to entertain an action brought pursuant to § 234(c) of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), 42 U.S.C. § 2282(c), to collect penalties for violations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) regulations and license conditions and grants in part the NRC's motion for summary judgment as to penalties imposed for the violations. The NRC conducted numerous inspections of defendant's commercial facility and issued notices of violation to defendant for failure to comply with regulatory requirements and the conditions of its byproduct material license. Defendant was subsequently assessed $4,050 in civil penalties and, when defendant failed to pay, plaintiffs instituted a collection action under § 234(c) of the AEA. Initially, the court rules that the district court, not the court of appeals, has jurisdiction over a § 234(c) collection action since the proceeding does not deal with the NRC's exercise of licensing and rulemaking authority. Further support for this determination is found in the legislative history of the AEA and 28 U.S.C. § 1355. In addition, civil penalties imposed by the NRC pursuant to § 234 are subject to judicial review. Although § 234 is silent on the applicable scope of judicial review, the court looks to the section's legislative history, the scope of review employed by the courts in collection actions initiated by other agencies, and concludes that defendant is entitled to a trial de novo. Turning to the merits of the case, the court rules first that the NRC had the requisite reason to believe that violations had been committed. Second, the warrantless administrative inspections of defendant's premises were permissible since the commercial utilization of nuclear materials is a pervasively regulated industry and thus exempt from the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. Third, plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment with respect to their claim of seven violations. In conclusion, the court finds that the imposition of penalties and the amounts of the penalties were within the proper exercise of the NRC's discretion.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (36 pp. $5.00, ELR Order No. C-1263).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Louis J. Bizzari; William W. Robertson, U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 330, Newark NJ 07102
(201) 645-2155

Counsel for Defendant
Gary M. Meyers
35 W. Main St., Denville NJ 07834
(201) 625-0838

Meanor, J.