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Byproduct Material

What is meant by byproduct material?

The Atomic Energy Act, as revised in 1978 and in 2005 by the Energy Policy Act (EPAct), defines byproduct material in Section 11e.(1) as radioactive material (except special nuclear material) yielded in or made radioactive by exposure to the radiation incident to the process of producing or using special nuclear material.

The definition in Section 11e.(2) is the tailings or wastes produced by the extraction or concentration of uranium or thorium from any ore processed primarily for its source material content. See Uranium Recovery for more information on 11e.(2) byproduct material.

The definition in Section 11e.(3) is any discrete source of radium-226 that is produced, extracted, or converted after extraction, before, on, or after the date of enactment of the EPAct for use for a commercial, medical, or research activity; or any material that has been made radioactive by use of a particle accelerator and is produced, extracted, or converted after extraction, before, on, or after the date of enactment of the EPAct for use for a commercial, medical, or research activity.

The definition in Section 11e.(4) is any discrete source of naturally occurring radioactive material, other than source material, that the Commission, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the head of any other appropriate Federal agency, determines would pose a threat similar to the threat posed by a discrete source of radium-226 to the public health and safety or the common defense and security; and is extracted or converted after extraction before, on, or after the date of enactment of the EPAct for use in a commercial, medical, or research activity.

Byproduct Material Regulations

Section 11e.(1), 11e(3), and 11e(4) byproduct material is regulated by the NRC under 10 CFR Part 30. Certain concentrations and quantities are exempt from the regulations. Examples of byproduct material are tritium (hydrogen-3), carbon-14, flourine-18, krypton-87, cobalt-57, and discrete sources of radium-226. Some byproduct material is useful because of self-luminous qualities (e.g., exit signs, watch dials), and other byproduct material is used in medical practices for diagnosis or therapy.

Although the EPAct was effective on August 8, 2005, the NRC did not have regulations in place that would specifically apply to the newly defined byproduct material (hereafter referred to as NARM). The EPAct permitted the NRC to issue waivers to States and other entities while developing final regulations for NARM and develop a transition plan for the implementation of the new NARM regulations. Additional information on the waiver, the NARM Rule, and the Transition plan is available on the NARM Toolbox.

Section 11e.(2) byproduct material is regulated by the NRC under 10 CFR Part 40. In Part 40, the NRC clarified the definition of byproduct material by adding the clause "including discrete surface wastes resulting from uranium solution extraction processes." In simpler terms, it is the waste and tailings generated by the processing of ore for its uranium or thorium content. Most of this material is created by uranium recovery and is primarily mill tailings. Examples of milling wastes are broken pipe from in situ recovery facilities and contaminated mill equipment that is to be discarded. Byproduct material is disposed of in uranium mill tailings impoundments.

States with Agreement State status can maintain authority over byproduct material. However, in States without Agreement State status, the NRC retains authority over byproduct material.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2013