United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Source Material Jurisdictional Working Group

The Jurisdictional Working Group reviews and evaluates regulations applicable to materials containing uranium or thorium that could pose a risk to humans and the environment. The group considers possible regulatory approaches, including shared roles among Federal and State agencies, to address concerns about and minimize the associated risks these materials.

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Background

Persons who receive, possess, use, transfer, or deliver source material in any chemical mixture, compound, solution, or alloy in which the source material is by weight less than 0.05 percent of the mixture, compound, solution or alloy are exempt from the regulations in 10 CFR Part 40 and the licensing requirements of section 62 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 by the exemption in 10 CFR 40.13(a).

Estimates of possible doses from uranium and thorium suggest that the concentration limit of 0.05 % (500 ppm) may not be adequately protective of public health and safety and the environment. However, lowering the concentration limit below this level could lead to regulating many activities (including almost all mineral processing and product manufacturing) unrelated to the nuclear fuel cycle. Such an intent was not included in the 1946 and 1954 Atomic Energy Acts.

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Documents

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Date Description
06/24/2002 Letter from Charles Schlittler, Kerr-McGee of June 24, 2002
04/29/2002 Letter from Michael Kletter, DuPont White Pigment and Mineral Products of April 29, 2002
11/01/1999 SECY-99-259, Exemption in 10 CFR Part 40 for Materials Less Than 0.05 Percent Source Material: Options and Other Issues Concerning the Control of Source Material
03/23/2001 SECY-01-0051, Status Report on Interagency Jurisdictional Working Group Evaluating the Regulation of Low Concentrations of Uranium and Thorium
02/27/2001 Charter for the Jurisdictional Working Group
10/06/2000 Letter from Felix Killar, National Energy Institute of October 6, 2000
08/28/2000 August 28, 2000, Federal Register notice about the formation of the Rulemaking and Jurisdictional Working Group for 10 CFR Part 40; Uranium and Thorium

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Meetings

Jurisdictional Working Group for 10 CFR Part 40 Meetings
Date Description
03/06-07/2002 A public meeting of the Part 40 Jurisdictional Working Group. Items discussed include: (1) NUREG-1717, "Systematic Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct Materials" and (2) discussion of options with focus on outcomes.
12/13/2001 A public meeting of the Part 40 Jurisdictional Working Group. Items discussed include: (1) proposed revision to Part N - TENORM, Suggested State Regulation and NRC's comments; (2) NUREG-1717, "Systematic Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct materials";(3) Summary of Options from SECY-99-259; and (4) jurisdictional issues.
09/26/2001 A public meeting of the Part 40 Jurisdictional Working Group. Items discussed include: (1) commonly used terms and acronyms; (2) proposed revision to Part N - TENORM, Suggested State Regulation; (3) NUREG-1717, "Systematic Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct Materials" (4) jurisdictional issues.
08/02/2001

A public meeting of the Part 40 Jurisdictional Working Group to discuss (1) commonly used terms and acronyms; (2) a summary of a National Academy of Sciences Report on Evaluation of EPA's TENORM Guidelines, and EPA's response; (3) materials and jurisdiction

04/11-12/2001

A public meeting of the Part 40 Jurisdictional Working Group. Items discussed include: (1) citations of authorities for the different agencies; (2) NUREG-1717, "Systematic Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct materials"; (3) a presentation by Charles Simmons, representative of the zirconium industry; and (4) general issues related to impact to international treaties and pre-UMTRCA mill tailings.

01/16/2001

A public meeting of the Part 40 Jurisdictional Working Group. Items discussed include: (1) citations of authorities for the different agencies; (2) the status paper due to the Commission March 2001; and (3) discussion of issues/regulatory concerns. The group also reviewed the charter to consider changes recommended during an October 2000 telephone conference.

09/20-21/2000

Initial meeting to discuss objectives, deliverables, and other background material, including current and planned regulations by State and Federal agencies.

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Status of Interagency Jurisdictional Working Group

The Interagency Jurisdictional Working Group has been evaluating the regulation of low-level source material and the exemption in Section 40.13(a), which exempts individuals from the regulations to the extent the concentration of source material is less than 0.05 percent by weight. The staff submitted SECY-03-0068 , "Interagency Jurisdictional Working Group Evaluating the Regulation of Low-level Source Material or Materials Containing less than 0.05 Percent by Weight Concentration Uranium And/or Thorium," dated May 1, 2003, to the Commission.

This SECY paper informs the Commission of the activities of the Interagency Jurisdictional Working Group and the resulting consensus regarding the best approach to delineate the responsibilities of the NRC and other Federal agencies and the States, with regard to low-level source material or materials containing less than 0.05 percent by weight concentration uranium and/or thorium. Based on the Jurisdictional Working Group deliberations, the staff recommended that NRC authority be limited to uranium and thorium that are extracted/purposely concentrated for the use of uranium or thorium. As part of this recommendation, the staff plans to formally solicit comments on the recommendation from other impacted Federal agencies and individual States, including specifically obtaining input from the States where the sites currently regulated under Atomic Energy Act authority that would be affected by the recommendation are currently located.

The Commission provided staff direction in Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM), dated October 9, 2003. The Commission disapproved the staff's proposal to seek, at this time, legislation to limit NRC authority to uranium and thorium that are extracted or purposely concentrated for the use of uranium or thorium. The Commission does agree that the proposed approach is the most efficient way to address the regulation of these materials; however, due to the low probability of obtaining the legislative change the staff believed was needed to implement this recommendation, the Commission did not want to expend the resources on this activity at this time.

In the SRM, the Commission directed the staff to continue to discuss this recommendation with other Federal agencies and the States to gauge the level of support for this recommendation, but said the staff should also further explore other possible approaches to achieving the goal of rationally treating these materials. The resources on this activity should be limited.

At this time, the staff is preparing questions, as resources permit, to submit to other impacted Federal agencies and the individual States to formally solicit comments on the staff's recommendation in SECY-03-0068. The staff also plans to ask for ideas on other possible ways to more efficiently regulate this material, without a legislative change to the Atomic Energy Act.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, April 28, 2014