The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Radiation Source Protection and Security Task Force to evaluate and provide recommendations relating to the security of radiation sources in the U.S. from potential terrorist threats, including acts of sabotage, theft, or use of a radiation source in a radiological dispersal device (RDD). The task force is comprised of independent experts from 14 Federal agencies and one State organization, and is chaired by the NRC. The independent task force members represented agencies with broad authority over all aspects of radioactive source control, including regulatory, security, intelligence, and international activities.
The legislation also mandated that within 1 year of enactment, and not less than every 4 years thereafter, reports containing recommendations, including recommendations for appropriate regulatory and legislative changes, be provided to the U.S. Congress and the President. On August 15, 2006, the task force submitted its first report to the President and Congress. The task force submitted subsequent reports on August 11, 2010, August 14, 2014, and October 17, 2018, respectively.
On August 5, 2022, the task force submitted its fifth report. Significant progress has been made since 2006 in regard to improving the security of domestic radioactive sources given the enduring threat of terrorists seeking radioactive materials to attack the United States. The task force has routinely met to discuss progress and further evaluate the protection and security of risk-significant radioactive materials. The following, as highlighted in the 2022 report, provides the accomplishments achieved over the previous 4 years, including the completion of one recommendation from previous reports:
- The NRC approved proceeding with rulemaking to expand financial assurance requirements to support safe end-of-life management for certain Category 1 and 2 radioactive sealed sources. This action addresses an NRC subtask under 2006 Recommendation 9-2, to evaluate financial assurance, which was completed in 2010. The NRC also approved proceeding with a new proposed rule that consolidates and integrates criteria for licensing the disposal of GTCC waste and the 10 CFR Part 61 rulemaking, and provides for Agreement State licensing of those GTCC streams that meet regulatory requirements for near-surface disposal and do not present a hazard such that the NRC should retain disposal authority. This action addresses an NRC subtask under 2010 Recommendation 4, to evaluate disposal options for disused radioactive sources.
- The Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management enhanced the availability of technologies to support the security of radioactive materials in transportation by funding Argonne National Laboratory’s development, patenting, and licensing of two remote monitoring systems. This action addresses the EPAct, 2005 mandate to improve the security of transportation of radiation sources.
- The U.S. Department of Homeland (DHS) Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency published the "Non-Radioisotopic Alternative Technologies White Paper," issued September 2019. The white paper evaluated the application-specific technical, operational, and cost requirements for existing radioisotopic and non-radioisotopic replacement technologies and devices. This action addresses a DHS subtask under 2010 Recommendation 9, to enhance research and development for alternative technologies.
- The United States made a political commitment to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA's) Director General to meet the intent of the IAEA’s supplementary "Guidance on the Management of Disused Radioactive Sources," issued April 2018. The United States continues to promote the use of the IAEA's "Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources," issued in March 2005 and updated in May 2012. This action addresses a subtask under 2006 Action 10-2, to support return of disused sources.
The report also presents the status of the remaining open recommendations and actions and covers topics, which include the security and control of radioactive sources, the status of the recovery and disposition of radioactive sealed sources, and progress in the area of alternative technologies. The task force intends to continue to meet to implement and monitor the progress of any public interactions related to the remaining open recommendations and actions and to identify any additional gaps that may arise in the years to come.