Information Notice No. 89-34: Disposal of Americium Well-Logging Sources
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
All holders of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) specific license
authorizing well-logging activities.
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
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
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,
. 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
Dale A. Powers, Region IV
1. List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices
2. List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
. Attachment 2
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.
89-32 Surveillance Testing 3/23/89 All holders of OLs
of Low-Temperature or CPs for PWRs.
89-31 Swelling and Cracking 3/22/89 All holders of OLs
of Hafnium Control Rods or CPs for PWRs
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.
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
89-26 Instrument Air Supply to 3/7/89 All holders of OLs
Safety-Related Equipment or CPs for nuclear
OL = Operating License
CP = Construction Permit
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015