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Options to Revise Radiation Protection Regulations and Guidance

On December 18, 2008, the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) submitted a Policy Issue Notation Vote Commission Paper, SECY-08-0197, requesting approval to revise the agency's radiation protection regulations and guidance to achieve greater alignment with the 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP Publication 103). [The NRC's Synopsis of ICRP Publication 103, which is available through the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), discusses the broad implications of the new recommendations.] Specifically, the revisions proposed to achieve alignment would affect the regulatory framework provided by Title 10, Part 20, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 20), "Standards for Protection Against Radiation"; 10 CFR Part 50, "Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities"; and Appendix I to 10 CFR Part 50, "Numerical Guides for Design Objectives and Limiting Conditions for Operation to Meet the Criterion 'As Low as is Reasonably Achievable' for Radioactive Material in Light-Water-Cooled Nuclear Power Reactor Effluents."

The Commission subsequently accepted the staff’s recommendation through the related Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM-SECY-08-0197), dated April 2, 2009, instructing the staff to immediately begin engagement with stakeholders and interested parties to initiate development of the technical basis for possible revision of the NRC’s radiation protection regulations, as appropriate and where scientifically justified, to achieve greater alignment with the 2007 ICRP recommendations. In addition, the staff will seek to identify the scope of any warranted conforming changes in other parts of the 10 CFR regulations. Toward that end, the NRC staff will use this dedicated subsite and scheduled public meetings as tools to engage stakeholders and interested parties, in order to identify potential conflicts and gain an understanding of any unintended consequences that may result from drafting and implementing any related changes to the NRC's existing regulations. Written comments on the issues discussed at the workshops may be submitted at (Regulations.gov) under Docket ID NRC-2009-0279.

The NRC staff provided a set of policy and technical recommendations to the Commission on April 25, 2012, SECY-12-0064.

In SRM-SECY-12-0064, "Recommendations for Policy and Technical Direction to Revise Radiation Protection Regulations and Guidance," dated December 17, 2012, the Commission approved in part and disapproved in part the NRC staff's recommendations.  Specifically, the Commission approved the NRC staff's development of a draft regulatory basis for a revision to 10 CFR part 20 to align with the most recent methodology and terminology for dose assessment in ICRP Publication 103 (2007), including consideration of any conforming changes to all NRC regulations.  The Commission directed the NRC staff to develop improvements in the NRC's guidance for those segments of the regulated community that would benefit from more effective implementation of the ALARA strategies and programs to comply with regulatory requirements.  The Commission also directed the NRC staff to continue discussions with stakeholders regarding dose limits for the lens of the eye and the embryo/fetus.  In addition, the Commission directed the NRC staff to continue discussions with stakeholders on alternative approaches to deal with individual protection at or near the current dose limit.  Finally, the Commission directed the NRC staff to improve reporting of occupational exposure by the NRC and Agreement State licensees to the NRC's REIRS database. 

In SRM-SECY-12-0064, the Commission disapproved the NRC staff's recommendations to develop a draft regulatory basis to reduce the occupational total effective dose equivalent to 20 millisievert (mSv) (2 rem) per year.  The Commission also disapproved the elimination of traditional or "English" dose units to measure radiation exposure from the NRC's regulations.  Rather, the Commission directed the continuation of the use of both traditional and International System units in the NRC's regulations. 

In accordance with the Commission's direction provided in SRM-SECY-12-0064, the NRC staff will be preparing a draft regulatory basis to support a possible amendment to 10 CFR part 20, and with conforming changes to other NRC regulations to align more closely with the ICRP Publication 103 (2007) dose assessment methodology and terminology.  The NRC staff will continuing to hold discussions with stakeholders regarding alternative approaches to ensure individual protection at or near the current dose limit are examined, including considerations of whether revised or additional regulatory requirements and guidance may be appropriate to ensure that cumulative occupational exposures are minimized, and whether progressive restrictions should be taken as cumulative exposures increase; whether the dose limits for the lens of the eye should be reduced; whether the dose limits to the embryo/fetus of a declared pregnant occupational worker should be reduced; and whether any undue hardships arise as a result of applying the NRC's metrication policy to any amendment of the 10 CFR part 20 regulations.  The results of these discussions with stakeholders will be reflected in the draft regulatory basis.  Finally, the 10 CFR part 20 draft regulatory basis will consider improvements in the reporting of occupational exposure by the NRC and Agreement State licensees, including those licensees who currently do not currently submit reports to the NRC's Radiation Exposure Information and Reporting System (REIRS) database. 

To assist in the development of the draft regulatory basis, the NRC is issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR).  The ANPR will be used to obtain input from stakeholders.  The ANPR requests stakeholders input on specific questions and issues with respect to a possible revision of the NRC's radiation protection requirements.  Stakeholder comments on the ANPR, including responses to the specific questions, will be considered by the NRC staff when it develops the draft regulatory basis.   The NRC staff identified policy and technical issues to guide the development of a draft regulatory basis for the potential revisions to the NRC's radiation protection regulations and guidance as described in Section III of the ANPR.  In addition the staff has six issue papers that provide a summary of these policy and technical issues.  The issue papers and other references identified in the ANPR are available as follows:

The NRC plans to hold a series of public meetings/Webinars, during the ANPR's comment period, to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to ask clarifying questions to help formulate written comments. Verbal comments will not be recorded during the public meetings. The NRC will update the meeting information in the "Public Involvement" subsite, as it becomes available.

For additional information, see the following pages:

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, July 18, 2014