United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

upplement to Policy and Guidance Directive FC 84-20, "Impact of Revision of 10 CFR Part 51 on Materials Licensing Actions"

HPPOS-256 PDR-306070047

See memorandum from R. E. Cunningham dated February 19, 1992, providing guidance for determining when field studies are eligible for a categorical exclusion in accordance with 10 CFR 51.22 and do not require coordination with NMSS.

The memo contains two enclosures which should be consulted for additional information. HPPOS-209 contains a related topic.

A major revision of 10 CFR Part 51 was published in the Federal Register in March 1984 (49 FR 9352) and established which categories of licensing actions are categorical exclusions and no not require an environmental assessment. A categorical exclusion for the use of radioactive material for research and development, and for educational purposes is granted in 10 CFR 51.22 (c) (14) (v). However, the Statements of Consideration state that, "This categorical exclusion dose not encompassperformance of field studies in which licensed material is deliberately released directly into the environment for purposes of study." The need for an environmental assessment for field studies should continue to be determined on a case-by-case basis. A request for an environmental assessment can always be required in accordance with the provisions specified in 10 CFR 51.22 (b).

Field studies that deliberately release radioactive material into the environment, such as tagging of animals which remain in the wild, may require an environmental assessment in accordance with 10 CFR 51.21. Further, if the proposed activity is not similar to normal routine research, development and educational activities, then an environmental assessment may be needed. All studies that may require an environmental assessment must be coordinated with NMSS as a Technical Assistance Request (TAR).

Field studies that do not deliberately release radioactive material to the environment, such as tagging of animals and penning then to prevent escape, may be eligible for a categorical exclusion (see Enclosure 1 for additional examples). If the field study does not involve the "intentional or deliberate" release of radioactive material into the environment (e.g., the release is recoverable, retrievable, revocable) and it is a research, development, or educational activity, then the field study qualifies for a categorical exclusion in accordance with 10 CFR 51.22 (c) (14) (v). If the field study is not research, development or education, but the field study could qualify as a "similar" activity compared with other 10 CFR 51.22 (c) (14) (xvi) activities, then the field study qualifies for a categorical exclusion in accordance with 10 CFR 51.22 (c) (14) (xvi). In these cases, a written explanatory memorandum must be prepared describing that the amount, type, and activity is similar to routine research, development, or educational activities and criteria for a categorical exclusion listed in 10 CFR 51.22 (c) (14) (xvi). The information which should be contained in the memorandum includes:

  1. A description of the study which includes the radionuclide (chemical characteristics and solubility), total activity, procedures to control and control the radioactive material, location of study, size of study, and length of time study will be conducted (material must be controlled and cleaned up to qualify),

  2. The potential dose to individuals and estimated effluent releases (dose and releases must be less than 10 percent of the 10 CFR Part 20 limits to qualify),

  3. A statement that there is no impact to endangered species, and

  4. A statement on the ability to restrict access to the study area.

This memorandum must be made part of the permanent docket file and be approved by the appropriate Division Director or his delegate. The flow diagram in Figure 1 (Enclosure 2) assists in determining when field studies are eligible for categorical exclusion.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 51.21, 10 CFR 51.22

Subject codes: 11.1, 11.8

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, October 18, 2017