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Information Notice No. 89-34: Disposal of Americium Well-Logging Sources
UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION OFFICE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDS WASHINGTON, D. C. 20555 March 30, 1989 Information Notice No. 89-34: DISPOSAL OF AMERICIUM WELL-LOGGING SOURCES Addressees: All holders of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) specific license authorizing well-logging activities. Purpose: This information notice is provided to inform well-logging licensees of the potential problems and costs that may be incurred in disposing of americium sources, when they are no longer needed. Such disposal costs may be an unan- ticipated financial hardship for some well-logging companies. It is expected that licensees will review this information for applicability to their programs, distribute the notice to responsible licensee management, and radiation safety staff; and consider plans to ensure that special attention is paid to this area. However, suggestions contained in this notice do not constitute any new NRC requirements, and no written response is required. Description of Circumstances: Numerous licensees who provide well-logging services using americium sources are experiencing financial problems because of the depressed oil and gas industry. Many of these licensees have terminated licensed activities, and some have under-gone bankruptcy proceedings. In addition, after July 14, 1989, certain sources will no longer be permitted to be used in well-logging, unless the sources con-form to new performance criteria outlined in 10 CFR Section 39.41 (see 52 FR 8225, March 17, 1987). These factors may increase the number of non-usable sources, and, consequently, may increase source storage and disposal problems. With respect to disposal, most americium well-logging sources contain americium in sufficient concentrations that they are not generally acceptable for disposal as waste at low-level waste disposal facilities. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for disposal of such waste but a DOE disposal facility will not be available for several years. Thus, there are few choices available to a licensee who has no further need for americium sources. Discussion: Licensees are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the public and workers with respect to nuclear materials in their possession, in accordance with NRC regulations and requirements of their licenses. Unsafe storage, 8903240063 . IN 89-34 March 30, 1989 Page 2 of 2 abandonment, or unauthorized disposal of a radioactive source or any licensed material will result in enforcement action by NRC, and may constitute a criminal activity prosecutable by the U.S. Department of Justice. The following summarizes the choices that may be available to licensees with surplus radioactive sources: (1) Transfer the source to another licensee (NRC or Agreement State) that is willing and authorized to take the source. (2) Return the source to the manufacturer. The licensee should deter- mine if the manufacturer has provisions for accepting returned sources, and is willing to accept returns. (3) Transfer the source to a private contractor which is licensed to permanently store or reprocess the source. NRC staff is currently aware of only one contractor in this type of business, and under- stands that the fees for the service can be up to tens of thousands of dollars per source. (4) Continue licensee storage of the source. If a well-logging licensee plans to remain in business, but will no longer use licensed material and cannot find an authorized recipient for licensed sources, the licensee may request that NRC amend the license to authorize "storage only" of sealed sources. The license status will result in reduced program responsi-bilities and associated NRC licensing and inspection fees. Licensees that need information about the storage of sources, or who are experiencing difficulty in maintaining safe storage of any radioactive source should immediately contact their NRC Regional Office by telephone. No written response is required by this information notice. If you have any questions about this matter, please call a technical contact listed below or the appropriate NRC Regional Office. Richard E. Cunningham, Director Division of Industrial and Medical Nuclear Safety, NMSS Technical Contacts: Jack R. Metzger, NMSS (301) 492-3424 Dale A. Powers, Region IV (817) 860-8195 Attachments: 1. List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices 2. List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices . Attachment 2 IN 89-34 March 30, 1989 Page 1 of 1 LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED NRC INFORMATION NOTICES _____________________________________________________________________________ Information Date of Notice No._____Subject_______________________Issuance_______Issued to________ 89-33 Potential Failure of 3/23/89 All holders of OLs Westinghouse Steam or CPs for PWRs. Generator Tube Mechanical Plugs 89-32 Surveillance Testing 3/23/89 All holders of OLs of Low-Temperature or CPs for PWRs. Overpressure-Protection Systems 89-31 Swelling and Cracking 3/22/89 All holders of OLs of Hafnium Control Rods or CPs for PWRs with Hafnium control rods. 89-30 High Temperature 3/15/89 All holders of OLs Environments at or CPs for nuclear Nuclear Power Plants power reactors. 89-29 Potential Failure of 3/15/89 All holders of OLs ASEA Brown Boveri or CPs for nuclear Circuit Breakers power reactors. During Seismic Event 89-28 Weight and Center of 3/14/89 All holders of OLs Gravity Discrepancies or CPs for nuclear for Copes-Vulcan power reactors. Air-Operated Valves 89-27 Limitations on the Use 3/8/89 All holders of OLs of Waste Forms and High or CPs for nuclear Integrity Containers for power reactors, the Disposal of Low-Level fuel cycle Radioactive Waste licenses and certain by-product materials licenses. 89-26 Instrument Air Supply to 3/7/89 All holders of OLs Safety-Related Equipment or CPs for nuclear power reactors. _____________________________________________________________________________ OL = Operating License CP = Construction Permit ..
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