Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
The proposed BTP is included in the
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As a result of the
The NRC's regulations in 10 CFR part 110 (Part 110), “Export and Import of Nuclear Equipment and Material,” establishes the general and specific export and import licensing requirements for special nuclear, source, and byproduct material including radioactive waste. “Radioactive waste” is defined in 10 CFR 110.2 as “[a]ny material that contains or is contaminated with source, byproduct or special nuclear material that by its possession would require a specific radioactive material license in accordance with this Chapter [10 CFR Chapter I] and is imported or exported for the purposes of disposal in a land disposal facility as defined in 10 CFR Part 61, a disposal area as defined in Appendix A of 10 CFR Part 40, or an equivalent facility.”
There are six exclusions in 10 CFR 110.2 to the definition of “radioactive waste.” The sealed source exclusion (exclusion one) is defined as radioactive material that is “[o]f U.S. origin and contained in a sealed source, or device containing a sealed source, that is being returned to a manufacturer, distributor or other entity which is authorized to receive and possess the sealed source or the device containing a sealed source.”
“U.S. origin was added in the first exclusion to the definition of radioactive waste to clarify that the exclusion only applies to sources of U.S. origin. U.S. origin sources may include sources with U.S. origin material and sources or devices manufactured, assembled or distributed by a U.S. company from a licensed domestic facility. Disused sources that originated in a country other than the United States would require a specific license if being exported or imported for disposal.”
The NRC has developed this technical position to provide guidance to source manufacturers, distributors, or other entity on the NRC's application of the sealed source exclusion to imports into the U.S. of non-U.S. origin disused sources.
On July 28, 2010, the NRC published a final rule in the
After the addition of “U.S. origin” to the sealed source exclusion in the 2010 rule, it came to the staff's attention that, while it remains a widespread industry practice to exchange new and disused sources on a “one-for-one” basis, in light of the current global supply market it is not always possible for a supplier to definitively ascertain the origin of a particular disused source that is exchanged for a new one before import and receipt of the disused source. With established customers, the disused sources will generally be of U.S. origin; however, for new customers, some of the sources initially being returned may not be of U.S. origin.
Once a source is imported and received, the manufacturer, distributor, or other entity technically has the ability to determine the source's origin. However, the only way for the supplier to accomplish this is by exposing its personnel to additional radiation doses. Specifically, the supplier must use a glove-box to take the source out of its casing to read the serial numbers and
The NRC has construed the “U.S. origin” provision in the context of the industry's recent clarification of international source exchange practices. The NRC recognizes that in some circumstances it may not be feasible for the importer to determine the country of origin for disused sources it seeks to exchange prior to import. If, after a good faith effort, the U.S. manufacturer, distributor, or other entity cannot determine whether an imported disused source that has been exchanged for a new source is of U.S. origin without exposing personnel to additional doses, the source in question shall be deemed to be of U.S. origin for the purposes of the sealed source exclusion to the definition of “radioactive waste” in 10 CFR 110.2.
The NRC believes that this application of the sealed source exclusion reasonably balances the interests of public health and safety and international policy interests in responsible handling of sources at the end of their useful life. The approach preserves the fundamental policy rationale underlying the original exclusion—to prevent sources from being dispersed in unregulated locations around the world by facilitating a “one-for one” exchange of U.S.-supplied new and disused sources—while achieving occupational doses to workers that are as low as reasonably achievable, as specified in 10 CFR 20.1101(b).
The NRC expects U.S. manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers to inform their customers about U.S. import licensing requirements for disused sources. It is recommended that U.S. importers retain copies of their communications with their foreign customers regarding U.S. import requirements. The U.S. importer at all times must comply with the specific license requirement for disused sources known to be of non-U.S. origin prior to import into the United States. A good faith effort by the importer may include communication of U.S. import requirements with its foreign customers, examination of a photograph of the source the customer seeks to exchange, and other relevant information related to the disused sources' origin.
Consistent with 10 CFR 110.53, the NRC may inspect the licensee's records, premises and activities pertaining to its exports and imports to ensure compliance with the sealed source exclusion to the definition of “radioactive waste” by trying to determine source origin (from user paperwork and communication) before an import occurs.
This position is being distributed to all Agreement States and material licensees.
Additionally, the NRC has coordinated this position with the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Safety Administration's (DOE/NNSA) Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). One of GTRI's programs repatriates sources from around the world that are in unsafe or insecure locations. The NRC does not have import licensing jurisdiction when U.S. companies import disused sources on behalf of NNSA's GTRI program; therefore, the licensing requirements in Part 110 would not apply to such imports.
This technical position reflects the current NRC staff position on acceptable use of the general license for import of disused radioactive sources. Therefore, except in those cases in which the source manufacturer or distributor proposes an acceptable alternative method for complying with the definition of “radioactive waste” in Section 110.2, the guidance described herein will be used in the evaluation of the use of the general import license for disused sources.
For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.