United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Use of Deadly Force by Licensee Guards to Prevent Theft of Special Nuclear Material (Generic Letter No. 88-19)


                                UNITED STATES
                        NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                               October 28 1988

TO ALL FUEL CYCLE FACILITY LICENSEES WHO POSSESS, USE, IMPORT, EXPORT, OR 
TRANSPORT FORMULA QUANTITIES OF STRATEGIC SPECIAL NUCLEAR MATERIAL 

Gentlemen: 

SUBJECT:  USE OF DEADLY FORCE BY LICENSEE GUARDS TO PREVENT THEFT OF SPECIAL
          NUCLEAR MATERIAL (GENERIC LETTER 88-19) 

This generic letter is being issued: 

     (1)  to advise you of the staff's strengthened position on use of 
          deadly force by licensee guards, and 

     (2)  to provide you with guidance that may be used in your tactical 
          response and safeguards contingency planning deliberations. 

The NRC staff has recently reviewed current requirements on the use of 
deadly force by licensee guards in protecting special nuclear material 
against theft. This review was an outgrowth of the 1986 NRC/DOE study of 
comparability of physical protection applied to weapons-usable special 
nuclear materials. Staff has concluded that it is appropriate at this time 
to issue additional guidance regarding conditions under which deadly force 
may legally be used by licensee guards. 

In general, deadly force is justified in any condition under which a guard 
could reasonably believe that the use of deadly force is necessary to 
counter an immediate threat of death or severe bodily injury to himself, to 
others in the facility, or to members of the public. This is already 
embodied in regulation (10CFR 73.46 (h)(4)). NRC staff believes that there 
are at least five generic conditions under which deadly force would be 
warranted. These five situations are (for activities involving a formula 
quantity of strategic special nuclear material): 

     1.   In defending a facility or transport against a determined violent 
          assault, 

     2.   In intercepting visibly armed intruders who have covertly 
          penetrated the protected area and are attempting to break into 
          areas containing strategic special nuclear material, ignoring 
          challenges and warnings to stop, 

     3.   In intercepting intruders, who may not have firearms, but who are 
          placing explosives near a vault or building containing strategic 
          special nuclear material, if they ignore warnings to stop, 
.

                                    -2-                     October 28 1988

     4.   In intercepting visibly armed intruders who enter into the 
          protected area, ignoring challenges and warnings and, 

     5.   In intercepting visibly armed adversaries who stop or attempt to 
          stop a vehicle transporting strategic special nuclear material, 
          ignoring challenges and warnings. 

Under these and similar conditions facility guards do not have to abandon 
cover and concealment or their defensive positions, or wait for the 
adversaries to fire the first shot. Such actions may expose the guards to 
casualties, and jeopardize their ability to defeat or contain the attacking 
forces. 

Addressees may wish to review their response procedures, guard orders, 
training plans, and tactical defense plans in terms of this guidance. 

No specific actions or written responses are required by this generic 
letter. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact D. J. 
Kasun FTS 492-3379. 

                                   Sincerely, 


                                   Robert F. Burnett, Director 
                                   Division of Safeguards 
                                     and Transportation, NMSS 
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