NRC Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule on Security of Radioactive Materials

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeks public comment on proposed new regulations that would codify and expand upon recent security measures the agency has imposed for certain sensitive radioactive materials.

A proposed rule, to be published in the Federal Register, would add a new Part 37 to NRC's regulations in Title 10 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), and make conforming changes to other parts of NRC regulations regarding radioactive materials.

The proposed rule will establish 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.

"Radioactive source security is a high priority for the agency, and this new regulation will mark an important milestone in the progress that the agency has made in this area," said NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko. "Through this rulemaking and other interrelated activities, the agency is contributing to an increase in the effectiveness of the nation's security."

Other efforts Chairman Jaczko mentioned include implementation of the National Source Tracking System, the ongoing rulemaking for limiting the quantity of byproduct material in a generally licensed device, and the efforts of the Radiation Source Protection and Security Task Force, an inter-agency group headed by the NRC.z

NRC took steps to strengthen the security of risk-sensitive radioactive materials immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since that time, the NRC 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.

NRC said the new Part 37 and changes to other parts of 10 CFR contained in the proposed rule incorporate lessons learned in implementing those security measures, as well as stakeholder input on proposed language for the new rule. Codifying these requirements in NRC's regulations will enhance consistency of implementation as well as transparency and predictability of NRC’s oversight of radioactive material security.

Comments will be accepted for 120 days following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted over the federal government's rulemakings Website at www.regulations.gov, using docket ID NRC-2008-0120. They may also be sent to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff; or e-mailed to Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov.

NRC will separately publish for public comment in the Federal Register guidance on implementing the new regulations. The agency also plans two public meetings on the implementation guidance; details of those meetings will be announced at a later date.

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