United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Further Guidance on Labeling Requirements

HPPOS-028 PDR-9111210150

Title: Further Guidance on Labeling Requirements

See the letter from H. D. Thornburg to D. C. Trimble dated

September 14, 1981, and the incoming request from D. C.

Trimble (Arkansas Power & Light Company) dated June 19,

1981. In general, a container should be labeled when

radioactive material is added to it. However, conditions

may exist when addition of appropriate information to the

label may be delayed. The health physics position was

written in the context of 10 CFR 20.203, but it also

applies to the "new" 10 CFR Part 20, Sections 20.1904 and

20.1905.

An NRC Radiological Assessment Team Appraisal resulted in a

citation for failing to label containers of radioactive

material in accordance with 10 CFR 20.203 (f) (1) and (2)

[or 10 CFR 20.1904 (a)]. While Arkansas Power & Light

Company (AP&L) believed the specific situation cited was a

violation of the 10 CFR 20.203 (f) (1) and (2) [or 10 CFR

20.1904 (a)] guidelines, the Radiological Assessment Team

and the Regional NRC Inspector's interpretation of these 10

CFR 20.203 (f) (1) and (2) [or 10 CFR 20.1904 (a)]

requirements were viewed as impractical and costly if

applied to all radioactive materials on the Arkansas

Nuclear One (ANO) site. In the course of one day, ANO has

generated as many as 2,000 bags of contaminated trash and

tools. Most of these packages contain material with

contamination levels less than 20,000 dpm per 100 square

centimeters or exposure rates less than 1 mR per hour. It

is AP&L's belief that the intent of the regulation was to

prevent severe overexposures (internal or external) and to

ensure minimal personnel exposure when working in areas

containing packages of radioactive material.

Specific problems with the NRC Region IV interpretation of

the regulation involve the following: (1) the labeling of

every package without regard for the radiological contents

of the container or the area in which the package is used,

(2) the type of information required on the label (no

allowance is made for alternative steps such as color

coding to display the potential hazard of the material),

and (3) the point in time or situation where the label must

be affixed to the package. To aid in clarification of 10

CFR 20.203 (f) (1) and 2) [or 10 CFR 20.1904 (a)]

requirements and ensure consistency in radiation protection

practices, AP&L requested an NRR statement regarding the

following: 1) the definition of a container, and (2) the

situation or time when labeling must commence.

Some degree of flexibility with respect to 10 CFR 20.203

(f) (1) and (2) [or 10 CFR 20.1904 (a)] requirements are

allowed through the exceptions provided in 10 CFR 20.203

(f) (3) [or 10 CFR 20.1905]. If these exceptions do not

provide the relief necessary to make a radioactive

materials control program practical to implement,

exemptions may be requested in accordance with 10 CFR

20.501 [or 10 CFR 20.2301]. Since there is no special

definition of "container" in 10 CFR Part 20, the usual

(dictionary) meaning of the term applies (i.e., a container

is "a thing in which material is held or carried"). In

general, a container should be labeled when the radioactive

material is added to it. However, we appreciate that

certain conditions may exist where the addition of

appropriate information to the label may necessitate some

delay. For example, dose rate information may not be added

until the container is filled, or the final dose rate

information may not be added until the container can be

moved to a low-background area for measurement.

In summary, although 10 CFR 20.203 (f) (1) and (2) [or 10

CFR 20.1904 (a)] do not provide the "flexibility" you

desire, we suggest that you consider the following

possibilities for reducing the burden of labeling

containers of dry radioactive waste. First, consider the

possibility of utilizing the exceptions provided in 10 CFR

20.203 (f) (3) [or 10 CFR 20.1905]. Second, consider

applying for an exemption, pursuant to 10 CFR 20.501, from

the requirements of 10 CFR 20.203 (f) [or 10 CFR 20.1904].

In any case, to be acceptable, alternative methods of

control (such as those suggested by you of color coding and

establishing posted local radioactive materials storage

areas) must provide worker protection and material controls

equivalent to those of the labeling described in 10 CFR

20.203 (f) (1) and (2) [or 10 CFR 20.1904 (a)]. These

alternative methods should assure that exposures are ALARA

and should be formally documented in procedures and

included in training. Third, should you find that these

approaches do not provide the desired flexibility, you

might consider submitting a petition for rulemaking,

pursuant to 10 CFR 2.802. Under this provision, interested

persons may petition the NRC to issue, amend, or rescind

any of its regulations.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.203, 10 CFR 20.1904, 10

CFR 20.1905

Subject codes: 4.7

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012