U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Lost or Stolen Radioactive Sources Involved in Transportation
Title: Lost or Stolen Radioactive Sources Involved in
See the Interpretive Guide from the IE Manual entitled as
above and dated April 1, 1980. The guide states that a
licensee should not be cited against 10 CFR 20.402 for
failure to report that licensed material has been delivered
to a common carrier for transport and then has been lost,
stolen, misplaced, misrouted or otherwise unaccounted for.
The health physics position was written in the context of
10 CFR 20.402, but it also applies to "new" 10 CFR 20.2201.
Section 10 CFR 20.402 [or 10 CFR 20.2201] of the
Commission's regulations requires that a licensee make a
report to the Commission immediately after the occurrence
of certain losses and thefts of licensed material becomes
known to the licensee. This regulation could be
interpreted as requiring the licensee-shipper to make the
report upon notice of the loss or theft. The report would
not be required of the licensee-shipper if the transfer to
the licensee-receiver had occurred at place of shipment
(FOB-shipment) but would be required if the transfer to the
licensee-receiver had occurred at place of receipt
(FOB-receipt). On the other hand, this requirement could
be interpreted to mean that the licensee must only make the
required report if the material was in the actual
possession of the licensee when lost or stolen.
The matter is further clouded by the Memorandum of
Understanding between the DOT and NRC dated June 22, 1979.
Under the agreement, NRC will require its licensees to make
reports if the reportable event "occurs prior to delivery
to a carrier for transport or after delivery to a receiver"
(Section V.B.). The DOT will require carriers subject to
its jurisdiction to make reports to DOT if the reportable
event "occurs in transit" (Section V.A.). The term
"reportable event" is clarified in DOT regulations, Section
49 CFR 171.15 and 171.16. These events include "fire,
breakage, spillage, or suspected radioactive contamination"
but do not include lost, stolen, mislaid or waylaid
shipments. Accordingly, in view of the ambiguity in 10 CFR
20.402 [or 10 CFR 20.2201] and the meaning of reportable
event within DOT regulations, a licensee should not be
cited for violating 10 CFR 20.402 [or 10 CFR 20.2201] in
circumstances where licensed material has been delivered to
a carrier and then is lost, stolen, misplaced, misrouted,
or otherwise unaccounted for.
Since carriers are exempt from NRC regulations, there is no
obligation for regional manpower to be used to assist in
locating waylaid shipments, whether lost or stolen, or to
put pressure on carriers to locate such shipments. However,
if it is known that a serious health and safety problem
does exist, one or all of representatives from either IE,
DOT, States, or licensee-shippers should become involved in
the interest of public health and safety. The events of
interest would be those set forth in 49 CFR 171.15 and
171.16 as well as high radiation levels. In addition,
while extremely rare, stolen sources should be followed up
in the interest of public health and safety.
If a report is received of "lost" radioactive material in
transit by common carrier, licensees should be encouraged
to place a tracer on the shipment; IE need not become
Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.402, 10 CFR 20.2201
Subject codes: 2.2, 3.7, 12.17