United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 86-31: Unauthorized Transfer and Loss of Control of Industrial Nuclear Gauges

                                                           SSINS No 6835  
                                                           IN 86-31        

                                UNITED STATES
                           WASHINGTON, DC 20555

                                 May 5, 1986

                                   OF INDUSTRIAL NUCLEAR GAUGES 


All NRC licensees authorized to possess and use industrial nuclear gauges 


This notice is provided to alert recipients of a potentially significant 
problem involving nuclear gauges It is expected that recipients will review
the information for applicability to their facilities and consider actions, 
if appropriate, to preclude a similar problem from occurring at their 
facilities Primarily this concerns authorized transfer of licensed material
[10 CFR 3041(a) and (b)] and notification to the NRC when licensed 
activities are discontinued [10 CFR 3036(b)] However, suggestions 
contained in this information notice do not constitute NRC requirements; 
therefore, no specific action or written response is required 

Description of Circumstances: 

It was determined during recent NRC inspections that some licensees 
authorized to use industrial nuclear gauges containing sealed radioactive 
sources were discontinuing operations without taking adequate provisions for
transfer of the gauges The licensees also had failed to notify the NRC of 
their intent to discontinue operations, thus denying the NRC the opportunity
of inspecting the closeout procedures 

A recent inspection at one licensee's facility demonstrated how the failure 
to properly transfer and to properly notify the NRC resulted in the loss of 
control of a nuclear gauge that contained a significant quantity of 
cobalt-60 The plant and all its equipment, including the gauge, was sold in
1981 to a non-licensee Some time later, the non-licensee ceased operations 
and sold the plant and equipment to a salvage company In late 1984, 
employees of the salvage companys unaware that the gauge contained a 
radioactive source, used a cutting torch on the gauge in an attempt to 
salvage some of the metal on the device Fortunately, the sealed source 
itself was not damaged However, the shutter mechanism was damaged such that
radiation levels at the open port of the gauge caused an employee to receive
a significant radiation exposure 


                                                             IN 86-31     
                                                             May 5, 1986  
                                                             Page 2 of 2  


Licensees authorized to possess and use sealed sources in industrial nuclear
gauges should be aware of their responsibilities to maintain compliance with
10 CFR 3041(a) and (b) and 10 CFR 3036(b) The licensee is required by 10 
CFR 3041(a) and (b) to transfer byproduct material to persons and agencies 
described in that section 10 CFR 3036(b) requires each licensee to notify 
the NRC immediately in writing and request termination of the license when 
the licensee decides to terminate activities involving materials authorized 
under the license 

No specific action or written response is required by this information 
notice If you have any questions about this matter, please contact the 
Regional Administrator of the appropriate NRC regional office or this 

                                   James G Partlow, Director 
                                   Division of Inspection Programs 
                                   Office of Inspection and Enforcement 

Technical Contact:  J R Metzger, IE 
                    (301) 492-4947 

Attachment:    List of Recently Issued IE Information Notices 

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