Report 2007-114 Recommendations and Responses in 2012-041

Report 2007-114: Low-Level Radioactive Waste: The State Has Limited Information That Hampers Its Ability to Assess the Need for a Disposal Facility and Must Improve Its Oversight to Better Protect the Public

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Department of Public Health 4 9 9 6

Recommendation To: Public Health, Department of

To ensure that the branch uses sufficiently reliable data from its future data system to manage its inspection workload, the department should develop and maintain adequate documentation related to data storage, retrieval, and maintenance.

Response

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) agrees with the Bureau of State Audits; CDPH Radiologic Health Branch (RHB) will make functional system modifications to address data reliability and quality concerns with existing systems. CDPH has continued to take specific quality control steps on the existing data in the Health Application Licensing (HAL) system to identify and subsequently correct any anomalies. The status of RHB's implementation of this recommendation is noted below.

1) a. To assist in decisions on managing data reliability and quality

i. Completed; does not require status update.

ii. Completed; does not require status update.

iii. Completed; does not require status update.

iv. Change Request (CR) in progress include the following:

1. Implementing delinquent billing for licentiates

a. Completed April 2011

2. Implementing delinquent billing for nuclear medicine

a. Completed April 2011

3. Correcting fee cap issue on facility renewals

a. Corrected November 2010

4. Correcting association issues with specific license types

a. RHB has determined that the workload associated with correcting technologist association issues requires a review of approximately 19,000 hard copy files to determine what licensing database updates are needed. Therefore, RHB will submit a request for information to the CDPH Information Technology Services Division to determine a process to administratively inactivate technologists. The estimated date of completion is December 31, 2013.

5. Inactivating expired certificate records

a. RHB has submitted CRs to administratively inactivate certificate records for licentiates and limited permit technicians. The estimated date of completion is December 31, 2012.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: 2013
  • Response Date: September 2012

Recommendation To: Public Health, Department of

To ensure that the branch can sufficiently demonstrate that the fees it assesses are reasonable, the department should evaluate the branch's current fee structure using analyses that consider fiscal and workload factors. These analyses should establish a reasonable link between fees charged and the branch's actual costs for regulating those that pay specific fees. Further, the analyses should demonstrate how the branch calculated specific fees.

Response

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) disagrees with the auditor's determination that this recommendation is not fully implemented. CDPH believes it has fully implemented this recommendation and resubmits its response from last year.

CDPH Radiologic Health Branch (RHB) completed its evaluation of workload and staffing data. To ensure a reasonable link between fees charged and the actual costs associated for administering the program, CDPH-RHB has completed and continues to conduct routine thorough fiscal and workload analysis. Workload standards were developed and implemented that identify responsible classifications, tasks to be accomplished, time and allocated resources (e.g., on an average, one inspector can perform approximately 300 inspections annually). Based on this information, CDPH-RHB developed cost and revenue information for the various program components and demonstrated that the fees assessed are appropriate and have a link to the actual costs associated with administering the programs.

A recent review of CDPH-RHB revenues and expenditures continues to support the program assessment and the established fee schedule.

In addition, to ensure transparency and accountability when submitting future fee proposals for adoption CDPH-RHB initiates a fiscal and workload analysis for the particular fee proposal. For example, CDPH-RHB recently adopted regulations requiring users of certain devices that contain radioactive material to register as possessing the device and to pay an annual registration fee. The adoption of these regulations also pertained to maintaining regulatory compatibility with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as required by California's agreement with NRC and as specified in law. The following supporting documents, from the official rulemaking file can be accessed at: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/services/DPOPP/regs/Pages/DPH07-002GeneralLicenseRequirements.aspx:

1. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

2. Initial Statement of Reasons

3. Proposed Regulation text

The following supporting document is attached to this response:

4. STD-399 including the Cost Estimating Methodology signed by CDPH, Health and Human Services Agency, and the Department of Finance.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Response Date: September 2012

Recommendation To: Public Health, Department of

To make certain that it can identify and address existing work backlogs and comply with all of its federal and state obligations, the department should develop a staffing plan for the branch based on current, reliable data. The plan should involve a reevaluation of the branch's assumptions about workload factors, such as how many inspections an inspector can perform annually. The plan should also include the following components:
An assessment of all backlogged work and the human resources necessary to eliminate that backlog within a reasonable amount of time.
An assessment of all currently required work and the human resources necessary to accomplish it.

Response

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) disagrees with the auditor's determination that this recommendation is not fully implemented. CDPH believes it has fully implemented this recommendation and resubmits its response from last year.

CDPH Radiologic Health Branch (RHB) implemented and continues to use a plan that identifies existing backlogs. The plan ensures that CDPH measures and validates compliance with federal and state inspection frequency and quality requirements. Furthermore, the implementation of an on-line licensing system will provide a timelier, more accurate, and more complete data analysis. CDPH is currently able to review production and staffing information that reflects monthly management program inspection activities.

In September 2009, CDPH completed its data backlog correction plan and continues to resolve backlog associated with the Health Applications Licensing (HAL) system. Both managers and staff continue to conduct data quality checks using independent and computerized data edit checks. Management routinely evaluates error rates and the need for new procedures or quality assurance checks to ensure an error rate of less than five percent. Using information technology tools and procedures, this error rate reduction has been achieved.

In addition, CDPH-RHB has completed a reevaluation of the X-Ray Inspection, Compliance, and Enforcement (ICE) program. As part of this reevaluation, the existing inspection database was modified to allow real time tracking of each inspector's inspection history (HAL does not track inspector workload).

CDPH-RHB has implemented procedures that routinely evaluate workload and staff resources.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Response Date: September 2012

Recommendation To: Public Health, Department of

To inform the Legislature when it is likely to receive the information to evaluate the State's need for its own disposal facility, the department should establish and communicate a timeline describing when the report required by Section 115000.1 of the Health and Safety Code will be available. The department should also see that its executive management and the branch discuss with appropriate members of the Legislature as soon as possible the specific information required by state law that it cannot provide. Further, to the extent that the department cannot provide the information required by law, it should seek legislation to amend the law.

Response

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Radiologic Health Branch (RHB) agrees with the Bureau of State Audits. The 2007 annual report required by Health and Safety (H&S) Code section 115000.1 was completed in Apri1 2010. Pursuant to H&S Code section 115000.1, the report summarized by type of generator and county location of generation within the State, the nature, characteristics, and quantities of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) generated in California. The report for public review is posted on the CDPH-RHB website, while the other confidential report contains specific information about the location of radioactive materials and is available to members of the Legislature upon request. The 2008 LLRW annual report required by H&S Code section 115000.1 was completed in January 2011, and is posted on the CDPH-RHB website. The 2009 LLRW report is currently in the review process. CDPH intends for these reports to be generated annually.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Response Date: September 2012

Recommendation To: Public Health, Department of

To provide greater public transparency and accountability of its decommissioning practices, the department should begin complying with the Executive Order D-62-02 and develop dose-based decommissioning standards formally. If the department believes that doing so is not feasible, it should ask the governor to rescind this 2002 executive order.

Response

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has determined that it will not seek rescission of Executive Order D 62 02. The implementation of the Bureau of State Audits recommendation to develop a dose based decommissioning standard following the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process and the rescinding of Executive Order (EO) D 62 02 will not further enhance or improve current decommissioning standards upheld by the court in the Committee to Bridge the Gap lawsuit. The development of a new dose based standard will likely result in protracted litigation and raise uncertainty as to the effectiveness of the standards currently in place to protect public health. It should be emphasized that following the Court's decision in Committee to Bridge the Gap, CDPH applied a decommissioning process standard under existing law that has consistently provided a more protective public health clean up outcome measure than the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) decommissioning standard of 25 millirem (mrem)/year. None of the clean up levels following the process required by CDPH approach the 25 mrem/year NRC federal decommissioning standard. California has been able to consistently achieve a decommissioning level of radioactive material under 10 mrem/year, with a large majority of the analyses in the nondetectable range. The current process has been proven to be protective of public health and has remained free from legal challenges as to the public health protective outcome of the current standard.

In June 2003, the Department explored the costs of promulgating a dose based decommissioning standard. CDPH explored this option through an interagency agreement with the Department of General Services (DGS) to develop a CEQA compliant decommissioning standard. This feasibility assessment continued through September 2004. Through this collaboration, the Department concluded by February 2005, that it would not move forward with this effort. This decision was informed by:

The costs that DGS estimated for developing and promulgating the dose based standard was approximately $5 million, with the likelihood of additional annual costs. Program funding has remained insufficient to fully support the regulatory development while maintaining CDPH inspection and response operations; and

CDPH's assessment that public and environmental health and safety are rigorously protected through the current decommissioning process and have been shown to be health protective and legally compliant, making pursuit of a CEQA based decommissioning standard unwarranted.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: November 2010

Recommendation To: Public Health, Department of

When the Radiologic Health Branch has an understanding of the disposal needs for generators in California, it should develop an updated low-level waste disposal plan.

Response

CDPH continues to collect data from California's low level radioactive waste (LLRW) producers across the State and make that data available to legislators and interested parties. The Energy Solution disposal facility in Clive, Utah, remains available for California generators of class A LLRW. In August 2011, CDPH performed a survey of California generators of their storage capacity for class B and C LLRW. Based on the responses of these generators, the storage capacity for class B and C LLRW will last for the next 10 to 20 years provided the options for thermal destruction and the Texas LLRW disposal facility remain available. CDPH remains committed to collecting data and working with the regulated community to inform any future updates that may be necessary to the LLRW disposal plan.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: November 2010

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2012-041