United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 87-37: Compliance with the General License Provisions of 10 CFR Part 31

                                                  SSINS No.:  6835 
                                                         IN 87-37 

                                  UNITED STATES
                          NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                OFFICE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDS
                             WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                                 August 10, l987


Information Notice No. 87-37:  COMPLIANCE WITH THE GENERAL LICENSE 
                                   PROVISIONS OF 10 CFR PART 31 


Addressees: 

All persons specifically licensed to manufacture or to initially transfer 
devices containing radioactive material to general licensees, as defined in 10 
CFR Part 31. 

Purpose: 

This notice is to inform manufacturers and distributors (vendors) about the 
results of a study on the effectiveness of the general license.  This study 
included specific cases where general licensees violated NRC regulations.  It 
is expected that recipients will review this notice in order to help vendors 
better understand what constitutes potential violations.  Thus, vendors will 
be more effective in helping their customers comply with NRC requirements and 
avoid violations at their facilities.  However, suggestions in this 
information notice do not constitute NRC requirements; therefore, no specific 
actions or written response to this information notice is required. 

Description of Circumstances: 

NRC regulations allow general licensees to use devices containing radioactive 
material.  These devices are subject to certain requirements such as labeling, 
accountability, and proper disposal.  General licensees often are not aware of 
these requirements.  Several incidents involving generally licensed devices 
have raised radiation safety concerns at NRC.  These incidents involved 
devices that were either dismantled and melted with scrap steel, or were lost.

From 1984 through 1986, the following are examples of deficiencies that were 
noted that relate to the use, under general licenses, of devices containing 
radioactive material: 

     Some users did not know the location of their gauging devices.  In many 
     cases, they simply assumed that their devices had been disposed of, but 
     did not know where or how.  The NRC learned of disposal methods that 
     included onsite burial, offsite burial, or removal as scrap steel by 
     recycling companies.  Unlicensed persons who receive material for 
     disposal or scrap recycling do not normally test incoming materials for 
     radioactivity; thus, they may not be aware that radioactivity is present.  
     


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     If a device follows one of the aforementioned disposal pathways and is 
     damaged in handling, it could cause contamination of the receiver's 
     equipment, or of the receiver's plant, employees, or product.  This 
     contamination could become widespread before being detected, possibly 
     causing serious risks to public health and safety.  Disposal of gauging 
     devices MUST be entrusted only to someone specifically licensed for this 
     activity.  In most cases, gauging devices should be returned to the 
     vendor for disposal.  The NRC staff found that in several cases, general 
     licensees violated transfer requirements by redistributing the devices to 
     others as general licensees, which is contrary to NRC regulations.

     The NRC staff found that vendors usually supply customers with a copy of 
     the applicable NRC regulations.  However, the general licensee frequently 
     misplaces or does not read them.  Thus, many general licensees do not 
     realize they have any responsibility to comply with NRC requirements.

     The NRC staff found that many general licensees were unaware of the NRC 
     requirements; most relied on the vendors to inform them of requirements 
     such as device leak testing and shutter checks.  In one case, the general 
     licensee's employees tried to arrange for the required tests, but the 
     general licensee's management denied the funds for the tests.

     The original owner of a device containing radioactive material properly 
     notified the NRC of the sale of the facility and equipment (including the 
     device) to a new company.  However, the original owner did not inform the 
     new company's management that it now possessed radioactive material.  In 
     uncontrolled surroundings, where the presence of radioactive material may 
     not be known, the unidentified devices can cause radiation exposures to 
     members of the general public.

     The NRC staff found that some vendors' material transfer reports did not 
     contain correct or complete information on the name and full address of 
     the general licensees.  Some of these transfer reports did not identify 
     any intermediate persons who temporarily possessed the device at the 
     intended place of use, before its possession by the final user.  Reports 
     of no transfers during a calendar quarter are also important.  Pertinent 
     transfer report requirements are found in the appropriate section of 
     10 CFR Part 32 Subpart B.

Discussion: 

Vendors should consider the following: 

Vendors can communicate more effectively with their customers about regulatory 
requirements.  This should increase customer awareness of, and compliance 
with, the NRC requirements.

Vendors can provide more detailed information on general licenses and the 
products distributed in their quarterly reports to the NRC.

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NRC and the Agreement States may have slight differences in their requirements 
for general licensees.  However, the vendor is responsible for compliance with
NRC and State requirements. 

If you have questions about this matter, please contact the Regional 
Administrator of the appropriate NRC Regional office, or this office. 




                                   Richard E. Cunningham, Director
                                   Division of Industrial and
                                     Medical Nuclear Safety
                                   Office of Nuclear Material Safety
                                     and Safeguards

Technical Contact:  Steven Baggett, NMSS
                    (301) 427-9005

                    Lloyd Bolling, GPA
                    (301) 492-9889

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued Information Notices


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