Audit Report: OAI-L-16-15

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September 28, 2016

Followup Audit on Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Programs at Oak Ridge Sites

Department of Energy sites in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, have a long history of beryllium use due to the element’s broad application in nuclear weapons and reactor operations and processes.  Beryllium processing has been an important part of the mission of the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) since the 1950s, and Y-12 continues to conduct beryllium operations.  While the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the East Tennessee Technology Park no longer perform beryllium operations, they continue to maintain buildings in which beryllium contamination has been detected from legacy beryllium activities.  According to the Department, exposure to beryllium can cause beryllium sensitization or chronic beryllium disease, an often debilitating, and sometimes fatal, lung condition.  Further, the Department has recognized the possibility that beryllium remains in buildings, as well as on equipment and other surfaces.  Thus, to help ensure that worker exposure to beryllium is limited, the contractors operating Y-12, ORNL, and the East Tennessee Technology Park are required to implement Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Programs (CBDPPs) that comply with Federal regulations.

We previously conducted audits of beryllium controls at ORNL and Y 12 that concluded that the potential for employee exposure to beryllium was not minimized.  As such, we initiated a followup audit to determine whether our recommendations during our prior audits were successfully implemented and whether the CBDPPs at Oak Ridge sites are managed effectively.

Although we did not identify any material weaknesses with the CBDPPs at Oak Ridge sites, we noted that implementation of some corrective actions from our previous reports were either initially ineffective or incomplete.  Additionally, we noted that two Oak Ridge sites had lapses in required periodic beryllium training.

Topic: Management & Administration