United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Requests by Licensees that Women Inspectors Acknowledge Discriminatory Administrative Dose Limits Imposed on them

HPPOS-252 PDR-9208170137

See the joint memorandum with enclosures issued by F. J. Congel and R. E. Cunningham to W.F. Kane (and others) dated June 28, 1992.

The memorandum reiterates the position that female NRC employees need not and should not sign statements provided by licensees concerning their pregnancy or their capability of becoming pregnant except for voluntary declarations of pregnancy. HPPOS-055 and HPPOS-249 contain related discussions.

NRC has learned that a female inspector was asked to sign a statement acknowledging an administrative radiation dose limit that was discriminatory before being granted site access at a nuclear power plant. The statement appeared near the bottom of the first page of a licensee document, "Female Radiation Exposure Policy," which is included as Enclosure 1 to the memorandum. Since then, the NRC has been informed that other reactor and materials licensees have similar policies.

The first paragraph of the licensee policy from Enclosure 1 reads as follows:

"This policy provides administrative controls on radiation exposure to females with the objective limiting any potential radiation exposure to an unborn fetus to less than 0.5 rem during the entire nine month gestation period. This objective is accomplished by ensuring fertile women are given the opportunity to review the risks of fetal radiation exposure as discussed in NRC Regulatory Guide 8.13 and the opportunity to declare an actual or potential pregnancy before assignment to any task when more than 0.5 rem of radiation exposure may be received during a calendar quarter. This policy is not intended to restrict any access to work areas or limit any career opportunities for females. Extensions of administrative limits may be requested and granted any time to ensure females are provided equal opportunity to gain experience and progress in their careers in the same manner as males."

Notwithstanding the disclaimers in this paragraph, an administrative radiation dose limit for "fertile females" is discriminatory, inappropriate, and inconsistent with the law. The second page of the enclosed policy contains similar statements concerning pregnancy or the ability to become pregnant. NRC employees should be aware that they need not and should not sign agreements to, or acknowledgements of, licensee administrative dose limits for women not declared pregnant as defined in 10 CFR 20.1003 that are different from administrative limits for men. In addition, female NRC employees need not and should not sign statements provided by licensees concerning their pregnancy, or capability of becoming pregnant, except as a voluntary declaration of pregnancy. Licensee denial of site access to NRC inspectors who refuse to sign statements acknowledging or agreeing to a discriminatory dose limit or who refuse to sign statements concerning pregnancy or the capability of becoming pregnant is a violation of federal regulations. The specific regulations involved include 10 CFR 50.70 for reactor licensees and 10 CFR 30.52 (a), 10 CFR 40.62, 10 CFR 70.55 (a), and 10 CFR 70.55 (c) (3) for materials licensees. The NRC Office of the General Counsel concurs with this memorandum.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.1003, 10 CFR 30.52, 10 CFR 40.62, 10 CFR 50.70, 10 CFR 70.55

Subject codes: 8.11, 12.9, 12.18

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, June 30, 2015