United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Licensing for Crushing of Uranium Oreper 10 CFR 40.4 (k)

HPPOS-184 PDR-9111210289

Title: Licensing for Crushing of Uranium Ore per 10 CFR

40.4 (k)

See the memorandum from G. D. Brown to G. W. Roy dated July

13, 1977, and the informal note from R. L. Fonner to G. W.

Kerr dated March 1, 1977. Crushing of uranium ore is a

form of processing subject to licensing by definition in 10

CFR 40.4 (k).

A licensee possessed an NRC license for the milling of

uranium ore. During an inspection, the licensee was cited

as follows:

10 CFR 20.207 (a) states that licensed materials stored in

an unrestricted area shall be secured from unauthorized

removal from the place of storage. [Note: Similar

requirements can be found in the "new" 10 CFR Part 20,

Section 20.1801.]

Contrary to the above, crushed ore was observed by the

inspector to be outside the fenced restricted area and

unsecured in two areas: the facility parking lot, and the

area adjacent to the ore stockpile along Highway 160.

The licensee contended that the crushed ore (run through a

crusher at the mill) was not licensed material pursuant to

10 CFR 40.13 (b), "Unimportant Quantities of Source

Material," since it was unrefined and unprocessed ore as

defined in 10 CFR 40.4. The licensee contended that

grinding, in the milling industry, is part of the milling

process, whereas, crushing is not. Therefore, their

position was that the citation was not legally valid, and a

legal ruling was needed as to whether or not the crushed

ore was unrefined ore or ore that was licensable.

10 CFR 40.13 (b) exempts for licensing unrefined and

unprocessed ore (excepting export). 10 CFR 40.4 (k)

defines "unrefined and unprocessed ore" as ore in its

natural form prior to any processing, such as grinding,

roasting or beneficiating, or refining. "Processing" in

this definition includes both physical and chemical

procedures that alter the ore from the condition it was in

just after removal from its place of deposit in nature.

It is accepted interpretation of the AEA of 1954, as

amended, that section 52 does not authorize the regulation

of uranium mining by licensing. However, AEA does permit

regulation by licensing at any stage after mining. 10 CFR

40.13 (b), by exempting the transportation and handling of

unprocessed ore, implicitly recognizes this authority to

regulate. Further, by drawing the exemption lines at

unprocessed and unrefined ore (i.e., ore whose gross

appearance and chemical state has not been altered from the

point of mining), there is recognition of underlying health

and safety considerations. The assumption is that any

processing or refining may alter the radiological

environment associated with the source material enough so

that the health and safety of workers and others becomes a

matter of legitimate regulatory concern.

If the handling of the ore (e.g., sorting) exposes workers

to an increase in exposure to radioactive material (i.e.,

radium, radon, etc.), it may be viewed as a licensable

situation. Crushing of ore is obviously a form of

processing subject to licensing by definition in 10 CFR

40.4 (k).

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 40.3, 10 CFR 40.4

Subject codes: 3.8, 11.6, 12.9

Applicability: Fuel Cycle

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012