United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 88-32: Prompt Reporting to NRC of Significant Incidents Involving Radioactive Material

                                  UNITED STATES
                          NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                             WASHINGTON, D.C.  20555

                                  May 25, 1988

                                   INCIDENTS INVOLVING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL 


All NRC material licensees. 


This notice is to emphasize the importance of prompt reports to NRC of signi-
ficant incidents involving licensed radioactive materials, as required by 10 
CFR Sections 20.402 and 20.403.  It is expected that licensees will review 
this notice, distribute it to responsible radiation safety staff, and consider
actions, as appropriate, to assure that NRC receives prompt notification of 
such incidents.  However, this information notice does not constitute new NRC 
requirements, and no written response is required. 

Description of Circumstances: 

Title 10 CFR Sections 20.402 and 20.403 require certain incidents involving 
licensed radioactive material to be promptly reported to NRC.  The most 
significant incidents must be reported immediately, and others must be 
reported within 24 hours.  The types of incidents to be reported are radiation 
overexposures, excessive releases of radioactive material, loss of facility 
operations exceeding one day, damage to property exceeding $2000, and loss or 
theft of significant quantities of radioactive material. 

One case involved a 1986 contamination incident at Wright-Patterson Air Force 
Base in Ohio.  Radiation workers in a radioactive waste storage building 
opened a package containing americium-241, and inadvertently spread contami-
nation within the building.  The event was not initially reported to the NRC. 
When the licensee's staff initiated decontamination efforts, the contamination
got worse.  The event was not reported to NRC for eight days, and the initial 
report did not adequately describe the extent of the contamination.  NRC was 
not fully informed of the seriousness of the contamination until 27 days 
later, when reports were received from third parties, and inspectors were 
dispatched to the site.  Clean-up efforts eventually required several weeks 
and cost several hundred thousand dollars. 

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                                                                 May 25, 1988 
                                                                 Page 2 of 2 

Other incidents which have not been promptly reported to the NRC have included
a serious fire which damaged a device containing radioactive material, and 
losses of gauges containing radioactive material. 


It is important that significant incidents involving licensed radioactive 
material be promptly reported to NRC in accordance with 10 CFR Sections 20.402
and 20.403.  Incidents should be reported to the NRC Operations Center, which 
is staffed 24 hours-per-day, at telephone number 202-951-0550.  It is 
important that NRC receive such prompt notifications so that we can 
immediately determine the need for appropriate emergency actions to protect 
the public health and safety.  Violations involving the failure to report 
incidents promptly could result in escalated enforcement actions from NRC. 

It is suggested that licensees carefully review the requirements of 10 CFR 
Sections 20.402 and 20.403.  In particular, incidents involving loss or theft 
of radioactive materials, fires which damage devices containing radioactive 
material, or contamination incidents which cause loss of use of facilities or 
devices, or require expensive clean-up, should be promptly evaluated as to 
whether they must be promptly reported to NRC. 

In some cases, failure to report incidents to NRC may have been due to 
licensees' misinterpretation of the requirements of 10 CFR Part 20.  The NRC 
staff is reviewing 10 CFR Sections 20.402 and 20.403, and will make clarifying
amendments as appropriate. 

No written response is required by this notice.  If you have any questions 
regarding this information notice, please contact 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:  J. R. Metzger, NMSS
                    (301) 492-3424

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
.                                                            Attachment
                                                            IN 88-32 
                                                            May 25, 1988 
                                                            Page 1 of 1

                             LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED
                            NRC INFORMATION NOTICES 
Information                                  Date of 
Notice No._____Subject_______________________Issuance_______Issued to________

88-31          Steam Generator Tube          5/25/88        All holders of OLs
               Ruptube Analysis                             or CPs for 
               Deficiency                                   Westinghouse and 
                                                            designed nuclear 
                                                            power plants. 

88-30          Target Rock Two-Stage         5/25/88        All holders of OLs
               SRV Setpoint Drift                           or CPs for nuclear
               Update                                       power reactors. 

88-29          Deficiencies in Primary       5/24/88        All holders of OLs
               Containment Low-Voltage                      or CPs for nuclear
               Electrical Penetration                       power reactors. 

88-28          Potential for Loss of         5/19/88        All holders of OLs
               Post-LOCA Recirculation                      or CPs for nuclear
               Capability Due to                            power reactors. 
               Insulation Debris Blockage 

88-27          Deficient Electrical          5/18/88        All holders of OLs
               Terminations Identified                      or CPs for nuclear
               in Safety-Related                            power reactors. 

85-35,         Failure of Air Check          5/17/88        All holders of OLs
Supplement 1   Valves to Seat                               or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors. 

88-26          Falsified Pre-Employment      5/16/88        All holders of OLs
               Screening Records                            or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors and
                                                            all major fuel 

88-25          Minimum Edge Distance for     5/16/88        All holders of OLs
               Expansion Anchor Bolts                       or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors. 
OL = Operating License
CP = Construction Permit 
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015