Task Force on Radiation Source Protection and Security

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 its second and third reports on August 11, 2010 and August 14, 2014, respectively.

On October 17, 2018, the task force submitted its fourth 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 2018 report, provides the accomplishments achieved over the previous 4 years, including the completion of four recommendations from previous reports:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) completed the "Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Greater-Than-Class-C Low-Level Radioactive Waste and GTCC-Like Waste" (Final EIS) and submitted the Report to Congress identifying and describing the alternatives under consideration for the disposal of greater-than-Class-C (GTCC) low-level radioactive waste, as required by Section 631 of the EPAct.  Although the Final EIS and Report to Congress do not constitute a final decision on disposal of GTCC low-level radioactive waste, their completion represents a major accomplishment in progress toward establishing a disposal pathway for certain risk-significant radioactive sources.

  • The NRC issued certificates of compliance to DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration for two new transportation packages—the Model 435-B container in 2014 and the Model 380-B container in 2017.  Together, the new containers will help to enable shipment of nearly all commercially used devices containing high-activity cobalt-60 and cesium-137 radioactive sealed sources.

  • The National Science and Technology Council Interagency Working Group on Alternatives to High-Activity Radioactive Sources completed its best practices guide for Federal agencies.  The guide provides measures that Federal agencies can consider to facilitate the transition to alternative technologies in their long-term strategic planning in a way that meets technical, operational, and cost requirements.

  • The United States continued to elevate the international radioactive source safety and security framework.  For example, the Nation continues to support International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) efforts to encourage Member States to make a political commitment to act in accordance with the IAEA "Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources", issued in March 2005 and updated in May 2012.  In addition, the United States was instrumental in finalizing Supplementary Guidance to the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, "Guidance on the Management of Disused Radioactive Sources," issued in April 2018.

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.

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Related Letters

Letter Date Description
Chairman Dale E. Klein to Congressman Thomas R. Carper 01/24/2007 Status of NRC's rulemaking efforts to implement Section 651(e) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 on "Treatment of Accelerator-Produced and Other Radioactive Material as Byproduct Material"
Chairman Dale E. Klein to Michael Chertoff, Secretary, DHS 08/28/2006 The NRC's perspective on security improvements made over the past five years

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, March 08, 2021