United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Interpretation of 10 CFR 20.201 (b), "Survey Requirements"

HPPOS-138 PDR-9111210373

See the memorandum from J. Lieberman to P. F. McKee dated October 23, 1986.

Surveys are required to comply with 10 CFR 20. Licensees must also make surveys as are reasonable under the circumstances to evaluated radiation hazards that may be present. Citations are permitted against 10 CFR 20.201 (b) when no 10 CFR 20 limit or requirement is violated. This health physics position also applies to "new" 10 CFR 20.1501 (a).

A memorandum dated October 2, 1986, requested the views of OGC on the meaning of subparagraph (2) of 10 CFR 20.201 (b) which states: "Each licensee shall make or cause to be made such surveys as (1) may be necessary for the licensee to comply with the regulations in this part, and (2) are reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate the extent of radiation hazards that may be present." In addressing the issues raised, OGC consulted the Statements of Consideration which accompanied both the proposed rule amending Section 201 (b), 45 FR 45302 (July 3, 1980) and the publication of the final rule which added subparagraph (2), 46 FR 53647 (October 30, 1981).

The matter was also discussed with the Rulemaking Division of OGC. Section 20.201 (b) originally provided: "Each licensee shall make or cause to be made such surveys as may be necessary for him to comply with the regulations in this part." The proposed rule would have amended this section to read: "Each licensee shall make or cause to be made such surveys as are reasonably called for by circumstances surrounding the use of source, byproduct, or special nuclear material." The Statements of Consideration which accompanied the publication of the proposed rule stated that the regulation was redrafted "to clarify the intent of the survey requirement to assure that licensees are on notice that the requirement is to make appropriate surveys and that the requirement may be violated even if compliance with some other requirement of Part 20 does not result from the failure to survey...." In the final rule, the text of revised Section 20.201 (b) differed from that set out in the proposed rule. The existing text of the section was retained, with the addition of subparagraph (2).

As indicated in the Statements of Consideration which accompanied the publication of the final rule, this was done in response to a public comment received on the proposed amendment to the section which questioned whether the proposed language eliminated the goal of preventing overexposures. The commentary explained:

"While there is a significant relationship between the survey and other Part 20 requirements in that information obtained through responsible compliance with 20.201 (b) may well prove essential in determining whether a licensee has or has not satisfied other Part 20 requirements, this is not the primary function of the survey requirement. The principal role of the survey is preventive. Adequate survey procedures provide measurable protection for the health and safety of the worker and the public because they provide the information necessary for the establishment of adequate protective measures. The usefulness of this early warning system may be seriously reduced if licensees are not held responsible for failure to conduct any survey or for failure to conduct an adequate survey when violations of other Part 20 requirements have not occurred.... The clarifying phrase provides that when a violation of other Part 20 requirements has not occurred, the Commission will consider in determining whether the 20.201 survey requirement has met the reasonableness of the actions taken in the light of all circumstances to evaluate the extent of the radiation hazards."

Nowhere in the Statements of Consideration is the view expressed that the surveys required are only those which relate to or are necessary to comply with the regulations of Part 20. Indeed, the commentary emphasizes that the determination of whether a licensee has or has not satisfied other Part 20 requirements is not the primary function of the survey requirement. Based on the above, OGC concluded that the correct interpretation of 10 CFR 20.201 (b) [or 10 CFR 20.1501 (a)] is that surveys are required in accordance with specific Part 20 regulations and also are required as is reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate the extent of radiation hazards that may be present. Consequently, citations are permitted against 10 CFR 20.201 (b) [or 10 CFR 20.1501 (a)] when no other specific Part 20 limit or requirement is violated.

Note: 10 CFR 20.1501 (a) states: "Each licensee shall make or cause to be made, surveys that - (1) may be necessary for the licensee to comply with the regulations in this part; and (2) are reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate - (i) the extent of radiation levels; (ii) concentrations or quantities of radioactive materials; and (iii) the potential radiological hazards that could be present."

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.201, 10 CFR 20.1501

Subject codes: 7.1, 7.2, 7.6

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, June 12, 2015