United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No.80-32 – Clarification of Certain Requirements for Exclusive-Use Shipments of Radioactive Materials

                                                            SSINS:  6370 
                                                            Accession No.: 
                                                            8006190044  
                                                            IN 80-32  

                               UNITED STATES  
                       NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION  
                   OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT  
                          WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555  
                                     
                              August 29, 1980 

Information Notice No. 80-32:   CLARIFICATION OF CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS FOR 
                                   EXCLUSIVE-USE SHIPMENTS OF RADIOACTIVE 
                                   MATERIALS  

Background 

In mid-1979,the NRC initiated an enhanced program for inspection of 
shipments of radioactive materials, including, in particular, low level 
wastes. In conjunction with this effort, civil penalties have been assessed 
for violation of associated regulatory requirements. IE Bulletins 79-19 and 
79-20, "Packaging of Low Level Radioactive Waste for Transport and Burial," 
issued August 8, 1979 and Information Notice No. 79-21, "Transportation and 
Commercial Burial of Radioactive Material," issued September 7, 1979, 
provide background in this regard. 

During the past year, this augmented inspection/enforcement program has 
prompted a number of questions on the proper application of certain 
regulatory requirements. These questions involve mainly the problems and 
deficiencies associated with exclusive use highway shipments of low-level 
radioactive wastes. The purpose of this Notice is to discuss the questions 
and clarify the applicability of certain requirements. 

Application of 49 CFR 173.393(i) and (j) 

Numerous questions involve the application of the limits of radiation levels
of exclusive use shipments as prescribed in 49 CFR 173.393(j). As stated 
therein, the regulation reads 

     (j)  Packages for which the radiation dose rate exceeds the limits 
          specified in paragraph (i) of this section, but does not exceed at
          any time during transportation any of the limits specified in 
          paragraphs (j)(l) through (4) of this section may be transported 
          in a transport vehicle which has been consigned as exclusive use 
          (except aircraft). Specific instructions for maintenance of the 
          exclusive use (sole use) shipment controls must be provided by the
          shipper to the carrier. Such instructions must be included with 
          the shipping paper information: 

          (1)  1,000 millirem per hour at 3 feet from the external surface 
               of  the package (closed transport vehicle only); 

          (2)  200 millirem per hour at any point on the external surface of
               the car or vehicle (closed transport vehicle only);   
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          (3)  Ten millirem per hour at any point 2 meters (six feet) from 
               the  vertical planes projected by the outer lateral surface 
               of the car or vehicle; or if the load is transported in an 
               open transport vehicle, at any point 2 meters (six feet) from
               the vertical planes projected from the outer edges of the 
               vehicle. 

          (4)  2 millirem per hour in any normally occupied position in the 
               car or vehicle, except that this provision does not apply to 
               private motor carriers.  

The following questions and answers are intended to delineate the proper 
application of the limits cited above. The illustrations in Appendix A and B 
are intended to assist in clarifying the application of these limits. 

Package Definition - Radiation Levels 

1.   Q.   What limits would apply to packages being transported on an open, 
          exclusive use transport vehicle? 

     A.   If a shipment is being transported on an open transport vehicle 
          (i.e., a vehicle not meeting the definition of 173.389(q)), no 
          package on the vehicle may exceed the limits of 173.393(i). This 
          limit applies whether or not the vehicle is restricted to 
          exclusive use. 

2.   Q.   What constitutes a closed transport vehicle? 

     A.   A "closed transport vehicle" includes not only closed trailers and
          vans, but also arrangements where personnel barriers are 
          fabricated around large packages carried on flat bed trailers. In 
          meeting the requirements of a "closed transport vehicle," as 
          defined in 173.389(q), if a flat-bed trailer is used and the 
          radiation levels on the packages exceed the limits of 173.393(i), 
          the vehicle must be equipped with a personnel barrier which 
          restricts access to the cargo (packages). In such an instance, the 
          radiation level limit of 173.393(j)(2) is to be applied at the 
          exterior surface of the barrier (This barrier need not be solid, 
          but may be a "see-through" screen, fence, cage, etc. which limits 
          access from sides, top, and ends.) In practice, so-called 
          "rag-top" trailers are sometimes used (e.g., a flat-bed with 
          temporary sides or an open-top, which is equipped with a securely 
          attached tarpaulin-type cover). When such covers are intact and 
          secure all openings, they are generally acceptable as the closure 
          of a "closed transport vehicle". A simple canvas covering wrapped 
          about the packages on an open-top vehicle would not, however, be 
          considered sufficient. 

3.   Q.   In the situation described above, is such a "personnel barrier" 
          considered to be the "package" or a component of the package? 

     A.   The personnel barrier essentially becomes an integral part of the 
          transport vehicle in such a case and may not be considered to be 
          a component of the package. In such a case, the exterior of the 
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          barrier would be placarded as required for the transport vehicle, 
          and the packages inside marked as required for packages. Normally 
          the package and vehicle are not considered to be the same, except 
          in the case of unpackaged (bulk) shipment of Low Specific Activity
          (LSA) materials, as in a highway tank truck or rail tank car (see 
          173.392(d)(2)) or in certain specific, approved packaging systems 
          (see 10 CFR 73.24(b)). 

4.   Q.   In the above situation, then, what are the limits for radiation 
          levels on the packages within such a personnel barrier. 

     A.   1000 mrem/hr at 3 ft, e.g., the limits for packages within a 
          closed transport vehicle, as prescribed in 173.393(j)(1). 

5.   Q.   If "packages" such as drums, for instance, are enclosed within an 
          outer cask "shield" (as opposed to a personnel barrier or closed 
          vehicle) wherein the outer cask shield is necessary to achieve 
          compliance with the limit of either 173.393(i) or 173.393(j), may 
          the inner drum(s) be considered to be the "package"? 

     A.   No.  In applying the definition of packaging as prescribed in 49 
          CFR 171.8, one must consider "... the assembly of one or more 
          containers and any other components necessary to achieve 
          compliance with the minimum packaging requirements...". Therefore, 
          since the outer cask shield is necessary to achieve compliance 
          with the radiation level limits, it is then considered as a 
          necessary component of the packaging and the entire assembly, 
          e.g., the inner drums and outer shield comprise the "package." It 
          is also subject to the applicable package marking and labeling 
          requirements, as well as the specification/certification 
          requirements relative to its specific design. 

6.   Q.   In the situation described above, would the levels of radiation on
          the inner drums be limited to the levels of 173.393(j)(1) e.g., 
          1000 mrem/hr at 3 ft. 

     A.   No, since the inner drums are not the "package," only the 
          radiation levels outside of the outer cask shield must meet the 
          limits of 173.393(i) or (j), as applicable. 

7.   Q.   In monitoring the radiation levels at the external surface of the 
          transport vehicle, as prescribed in 173.393(j)(2), do the limits 
          apply at the bottom and top of the vehicle, as well as at the 
          sides? 

     A.   Yes. 173.393(j)(2) states the limit in terms of ".. .200 millirem 
          per hour at any point on the external surface of the car or 
          vehicle...", therefore, the limit applies on the sides, top, and 
          bottom of the transport vehicle. Some confusion has arisen on this
          rule in the past, in that some shippers-have considered the 
          underside of a highway trailer as an inaccessible location on the 
          vehicle. This is not the case. The radiation levels on all 
          surfaces of the vehicle must meet the requirements specified 
          above. 
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8.   Q.   In the above situation, does this mean that in applying the limit 
          of 173.393(j)(3) (e.g., 10 mrem/hr at 6 ft from the sides of the 
          vehicle) the limit also applies at the top and bottom of the 
          vehicle? 

     A.   No, 173.393(j)(3) imposes limits at 6 ft from the vertical planes 
          projected at the outer lateral surface or outer edges of the 
          vehicle, thus requiring measurements at the sides, front, and ends
          only. 

9.   Q.   In 173.393(j)(3) the radiation level limit is prescribed at 10 
          mrem/hr at 2 m (6 ft) from the outer lateral surfaces of an 
          exclusive use vehicle. Since 2 m is 6.6 ft, which limit would 
          apply. 6 ft or 6.6 ft? 

     A.   6.6 ft would apply. 

Exclusive Use Shipment Requirements 

10.  Q.   What is an "exclusive use" shipment? 

     A.   As defined in the DOT regulations, in 49 CFR 173.389(o) 

               (o)  "Exclusive Use" (also referred to as "sole use" or "Full
                    Load" as used in IAEA regulations) means any shipment: 
                    
                    (1)  From a single consignor having the exclusive use of
                         a transport vehicle or of an aircraft, or of a hold
                         or compartment of an inland watercraft, or of a 
                         hold, compartment, or defined deck area of a 
                         seagoing vessel; and  

                    (2)  For which all initial, intermediate, and final 
                         loading and unloading is carried out by or under 
                         the direction of the consignor, consignee, or his 
                         designated agent. 

          It should be noted that the 173.389(o) definition is applicable to
          radioactive materials. DOT has stated its intent of the term 
          "exclusive use" as generally meaning that a single consignor has 
          complete use of the transport vehicle. This does not limit the 
          consignor to shipping a single material, unless specifically 
          restricted by a section of the regulations or some specific 
          prohibition from loading and shipping certain materials in the 
          same vehicle. 

 11. Q.   Frequently shipments of radioactive waste are made as "exclusive 
          use" shipments under arrangements whereby the original generator 
          of the waste utilizes the services of a waste collector (i.e., 
          "broker,") who in turn usually engages a common or contract 
          carrier to transport the shipment or transports the material in 
          his own-vehicle as a private carrier. On occasion this "broker" 
          may also be the consignee, e.g., a waste burial site operator. 
          Because of this complex arrangement, confusion often arises as to 
          which party is responsible for performing the regulatory 
          requirements of the "shipper" or "consignor." Can you clarify 
          this?    
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     A.   This is often a confusing situation that needs clarification, 
          principally because the regulations do not specifically define a 
          "shipper" or "consignor" and yet specify regulatory requirements 
          that apply to a "shipper" or person who "offers materials for 
          transportation" by a carrier. In the nuclear waste transportation 
          business, more than one party (e.g., the original "generator" and 
          the "broker") can therefore be responsible for functions 
          attributable to a "shipper." 

          In specific enforcement cases, the NRC Office of Inspection and 
          Enforcement will make determinations based on which party actually 
          performs a shipper function. For instance, if a party is the 
          original "generator" who prepared the package for transport, this 
          generator will be held responsible for the proper performance of 
          the following shipper functions: selecting and preparing the 
          package; filling and closing the package; measuring the radiation 
          from the package; marking and labelling the package; preparing the
          shipping papers; loading the packages on the transport vehicle and
          measuring the radiation from the loaded transport vehicle. From 
          that point on (i.e., after the loading of the vehicle and the 
          "transfer" of the material from the generator to the 
          broker/collector has taken place), the broker/collector will 
          generally be held responsible for any ensuing shipper functions, 
          such as those discussed in question 12. 

12.  Q.   In the above situation, assume that a "broker" arranges for pickup
          or, himself picks up, radioactive waste from more than one 
          generator's facility for transport as a single shipment by a 
          common carrier or by himself as a private carrier. Is it not 
          required that an exclusive use shipment be from a "single 
          consignor"? 

     A.   Yes.  For that reason it is imperative that the parties involved 
          (the generators, broker and carrier) very thoroughly understand 
          their respective roles and responsibilities. The single consignor 
          for the exclusive use shipment has definite responsibilities. If 
          the broker arranges for the pickup of radioactive waste from the 
          facilities of more than one generator for transport as a single 
          shipment by a common or contract carrier, or if the broker picks 
          the material up and transports it in his own vehicle as a private 
          carrier, the broker in effect becomes the "single consignor," 
          having the exclusive use of the transport vehicle. It is important
          that the broker establish himself in the shipping paper 
          documentation as the "single consignor." This must include the 
          provision of appropriate instructions to the carrier for 
          maintenance of exclusive use shipment controls. The broker is also
          responsible for providing appropriate supervision of the loading 
          and storage of the multiple consignments  to assure that the 
          regulatory requirements are in fact met. 

13.  Q.   In an exclusive use shipment of LSA materials, the shipper is 
          required by 173.392(c)(9) to provide specific instructions to the 
          carrier for maintenance of exclusive use shipment controls. What 
          should such specific instructions include? 
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     A.   The details of the specific instructions will vary, but the key 
          word is "maintenance" of the controls. For instance, if the 
          specific pattern of package loading is critical to maintain 
          compliance with the radiation limits of 173.393(j), the shippers 
          instructions should include appropriate instructions to the 
          carrier to preclude the carrier from changing the loading pattern 
          within the vehicle or shifting the cargo to a different vehicle 
          (see 173.392(c)(4)). As an example of such a case, to satisfy a 
          State requirement on axle weight limits, a carrier shifted 
          packages within the vehicle; this caused the level of radiation at 
          the exterior of the vehicle to exceed the limits. In another 
          recent case, a carrier changed tractors on a shipment. The 
          replacement tractor was of a different design from the original 
          and caused the radiation level in the occupied area of the 
          replacement tractor, which originally had been in compliance, to 
          exceed the limits of 173.393(j)(4). Although changing of the 
          tractor by a carrier is not prohibited, if the shipper has 
          specified exclusive use controls, his instructions to the carrier 
          should include direct advice that the shipper be notified if a 
          change is made so that a decision can be made as to whether the 
          radiation level pattern was affected by the tractor change. 

14.  Q.   49 CFR 173.393(j)(4) requires that the radiation level in any 
          "...normally occupied position in the car or vehicle..." be 
          limited to 2 mrem/hr. Where should this limit be applied in the 
          case of a tractor with a sleeper cab. 

     A.   The most appropriate application of this rule is to consider the 
          sleeper portion of such a tractor to be "normally occupied" and 
          apply the 2 mrem/hr limit in that area. It is quite important to 
          bear in mind that the limit of 173.393(j)(4) is intended to 
          minimize the exposure of common carrier transport workers. In 
          general, therefore, the existence of levels of radiation above 
          background in  any area of the cab of an exclusive-use shipment 
          would best be interpreted by the shipper as an indicator that a 
          thorough survey of the cab and evaluation of the loading is 
          necessary to ensure that the radiation level is and remains below 
          2 mrem/hr. In addition, as a matter of practice, the radiation 
          levels in the cab should be maintained as low as reasonably 
          achievable and not be allowed to reach 2 mrem/hr on a routine 
          basis. 

Recent Examples of NRC Inspection/Enforcement Actions 

Effective December 3, 1979, 10 CFR Part 71 was amended to require that all 
shipments of radioactive materials made by NRC licensees, other than 
shipments subject to the regulations of the U.S. Postal Service, be made in 
accordance with the regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation in 
49 CFR Parts 170-189. This amendment permits the Commission to inspect 
shipments of radioactive materials and to take enforcement action when 
warranted. On December 3, 1979, a letter was sent to all NRC licensees from 
the Director, Office of Inspection and Enforcement concerning the criteria 
for enforcement action for failure to comply with 10 CFR 71. This letter 
also stated that "severity Level I or II noncompliance will normally result 
in either civil penalties or more severe enforcement action."  (See 44 
Federal Register, page 77135, December 31, 1979.)    
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NRC inspectors have routinely inspected shipments of radioactive materials 
upon arrival at the disposal sites at Barnwell, South Carolina, Beatty, 
Nevada and Richland, Washington since September 1979. Enforcement action, 
including the imposition of civil penalties, were taken recently against NRC
licensees who made shipments which were not in accordance with the 
regulations. 

Examples of recent civil penalties imposed on NRC licensees for violations 
of 10 CFR 71/49 CFR involving shipments of waste to burial sites are: 

1.   A $4000 civil penalty against a nuclear utility for excessive radiation
     levels (300 mrem/hr) on the surface of a package on an open transport 
     vehicle (173.393(i), Severity Level II). 

2.   A $5000.00 civil penalty against a nuclear utility for excessive 
     radiation levels, (17 mrem/hr) at 6 ft from the sides of an exclusive 
     use vehicle (173.393(j)(3), Severity Level II) 

3.   A $1000 civil penalty against a radioisotope supplier for failure to 
     provide instructions on shipping papers for maintenance of exclusive 
     use shipment controls (173.392(c)(9), Severity Level II) 

4.   Three civil penalties totalling $5000 against an industrial laboratory 
     for use of nonspecification Type A packaging, improper shipping paper 
      description, and unauthorized transfer of liquids to a burial site 
     (173.395(a)(1), 172.203(d)(l), and 10 CFR 30.41(b)(c), Severity Levels 
     II and III) 

5.   Two civil penalties totalling $8000 against a nuclear utility for 
     excessive levels of radiation (300 mrem/hr) at the external surface of 
     a closed vehicle and inadequate surveys of the vehicle (173.393(j)(2) 
     and 173.393(n)(9), Severity Level II) 

6.   A $5000 civil penalty against a nuclear utility for excessive radiation
     levels (600 mrem/hr) on the surface of an exclusive use vehicle 
     (173.393(j)(2), Severity Level I) 

7.   A $4000 civil penalty against a nuclear utility for excessive radiation
     levels ( 3.7 mrem/hr) in the truck cab of an exclusive use shipment 
     (173.393(j)(4), Severity Level II) 

8.   A $4000 civil penalty against a nuclear utility for excessive radiation
     levels (700 mrem/hr) at the bottom surface of a closed transport 
     vehicle (173.393(j)(2), Severity Level I) 

In addition, infractions and deficiences were noted on other shipments. 
Noncompliance on matters such as the following were involved: 

1.   Packages not adequately blocked or braced to prevent shifting 
     (173.392(c)(6)). 

2.   Vehicles not placarded or placards not visible (173.393(c)(8), 
     172.516(a)). 

3.   Shipping papers not complete (172.203(d)). 
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4.   Packages identified as containing solids but actually containing free 
     standing liquids (violation of burial site licensee requirements and 
     NRC requirements on transfer of proper form of material, 10 CFR 20.301, 
     30.41) 

5.   Packages not marked as "Radioactive LSA" (173.392(c)(8)). 

6.   Packages of LSA were not strong, tight packages (173.392(c)(l)). 

In addition to enforcement actions which may be taken by NRC, actions 
against agreement state licensee/shippers may also be taken by DOT or the 
states. 

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, November 12, 2013