NRC amends regulations on security of radioactive materials

Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is amending its regulations to codify and expand upon recent security measures the agency has imposed for certain sensitive radioactive materials. 

In a final rule to be published soon in the Federal Register, the NRC adds a new Part 37 to its regulations in Title 10 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), and makes conforming changes to other parts of NRC regulations regarding radioactive materials. 

The new regulation, which takes effect one year after publication, establishes security requirements for the most risk-significant radioactive materials (those in Category 1 and Category 2 of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s rankings of radiation sources), as well as for shipments of small amounts of irradiated reactor fuel

The NRC took steps to strengthen the security of risk-significant radioactive materials immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since that time, the agency has issued various orders imposing enhanced controls, implemented requirements for fingerprinting and criminal background checks for people with access to certain radioactive materials, and developed and implemented the National Source Tracking System. The NRC cooperates with the departments of Homeland Security and Energy as well as other federal, state and local agencies on security matters, and chairs the inter-agency Radiation Source Protection and Security Task Force. 

The new Part 37 and changes to other parts of 10 CFR contained in the final rule incorporate NRC’s lessons learned in implementing the post-Sept. 11 security measures, as well as stakeholder input on the proposed rule. Codifying these requirements in NRC’s regulations enhances consistency of implementation as well as transparency and predictability of NRC’s oversight of radioactive material security. 

The NRC published a proposed rule for public comment on June 15, 2010, and received 110 comment letters from licensees, state agencies, industry organizations, individuals and a federal agency. The comments are addressed in the upcoming Federal Register notice accompanying the final rule.

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