Information Notice No. 87-37: Compliance with the General License Provisions of 10 CFR Part 31
SSINS No.: 6835
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
All persons specifically licensed to manufacture or to initially transfer
devices containing radioactive material to general licensees, as defined in 10
CFR Part 31.
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
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.
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
Technical Contact: Steven Baggett, NMSS
Lloyd Bolling, GPA
Attachment: List of Recently Issued Information Notices
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