[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 70 (Thursday, April 11, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21567-21569]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08511]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 70 / Thursday, April 11, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 21567]]


10 CFR Part 73

[Docket No. PRM-73-15; NRC-2011-0251]

Installation of Radiation Alarms for Rooms Housing Neutron 

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Petition for rulemaking; denial.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is denying a 
petition for rulemaking (PRM), PRM-73-15, dated September 15, 2011, 
which was filed with the NRC by George Hamawy (the petitioner). The 
petitioner requested that the NRC amend its regulations to require the 
installation of radiation alarms for rooms housing neutron sources.

DATES: The docket for the petition for rulemaking, PRM-73-15, is closed 
on April 11, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2011-0251 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information for this petition. You may 
access information related to this petition, which the NRC possesses 
and is publicly available, by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2011-0251. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-492-
3668; email: [email protected]. For technical questions, contact 
the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly-available documents online in the NRC 
Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the 
search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and then select ``Begin Web-
based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's 
Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-
4737, or by email to [email protected]. The ADAMS accession number 
for each document referenced in this notice (if that document is 
available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is 
referenced. The PRM-73-15 is available in ADAMS under Accession No. 
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Merri Horn, Office of Federal and 
State Materials and Environmental Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-
8126, email: [email protected].


The Petition

    On December 7, 2011, the NRC published a notice of receipt and 
request for comment (76 FR 76327) of a PRM filed by George Hamawy. The 
petitioner requested that the NRC amend its regulations to require 
installation of radiation alarms for rooms housing neutron sources. The 
petitioner stated that the use of alarms can be effective in preventing 
source removal, especially when an in-house person may be taken hostage 
to get the intruder into the room housing the source. The petitioner 
noted that the construction of the neutron sources used by universities 
for irradiating foils makes the source an easy target for theft. The 
petitioner also noted that the source is located at the end of a rod in 
the middle of a 55-gallon drum and that the drum has a cover that can 
be easily removed, facilitating the removal of the source. The 
petitioner stated that radiation alarms should be installed that are 
connected to the Public Safety Department. The alarm would be triggered 
when the source is removed.

Public Comments on the Petition

    The notice of receipt of the petition for rulemaking invited 
interested persons to submit comments. The comment period closed on 
February 21, 2012. The NRC received two comment letters from industry, 
one comment letter from an individual, and one comment letter from the 
Organization of Agreement States. The commenters all opposed the 
petition. Two of the commenters stated that the petition should not 
apply to the well logging industry. The commenters stated that the 
petition request was vague in terms of the definition of room, types of 
radiation alarms, connectivity to law enforcement, the isotopes 
included, and the threshold for action. Two of the commenters noted 
that their sources are stored by methods approved by the NRC (or 
Agreement State) and as prescribed in national standards established by 
the well logging industry and that additional requirements are not 
necessary. One of the commenters questioned why anyone would want to 
steal a neutron source and asked if any neutron sources have ever been 
stolen. The commenter also stated that natural background may contain 
more radiation than the neutron sources and, therefore, a radiation 
detector would not detect the removal of the sources. The commenter 
also asked if it would be possible to shield the neutron source from 
the detector while stealing the source. The commenter also stated that 
there is no reason that any person would respond to the alarm. The 
commenter stated that the best solution is to put the barrel in a 
locked room. One of the commenters noted that the typical strength of a 
neutron source used in a university is less than the category 2 
threshold. The commenter also stated that the regulations currently 
require a licensee to have security measures in place to ``secure from 
unauthorized removal or access licensed materials that are stored in 
controlled or unrestricted areas.''

Reasons for Denial

    As noted by the commenters on the petition, the petitioner did not 
provide information relative to the source strength of the neutron 
sources or the particular radionuclides for which the petitioner is 
requesting additional security measures be imposed by rulemaking. It is 
not clear whether the petitioner is requesting rulemaking on all 
neutron sources or only on the americium-241/beryllium (Am-241/Be or 
Am/Be) and plutonium-239/beryllium (Pu-239/Be or Pu/Be) sources 
mentioned in the petition. The NRC is taking the view that the 
petitioner is requesting rulemaking for all neutron sources regardless 
of source strength.

[[Page 21568]]

    There are a number of different sources of neutrons, ranging from 
radioactive sources to operating and research reactors and spallation 
sources. Neutron sources are used in diverse applications in areas of 
physics, engineering, medicine, nuclear weapons, petroleum exploration, 
biology, chemistry, nuclear power, and other industries.
    Radioactive materials used as neutron sources by NRC licensees 
include Am-241/Be, Pu/Be, and californium-252 (Cf-252). A licensee's 
decision to use a specific type of source may depend upon cost, 
availability, and the dependence upon historical data with which to 
compare current measurement results. The Am-241/Be and Pu/Be sources 
generate neutrons by the ([alpha],n) reaction in which the americium or 
plutonium decays and emits an alpha particle, which is absorbed by the 
beryllium. Neutron sources that are not integrated into a specific 
device, regardless of type, are generally stored surrounded by paraffin 
wax or other similar low atomic number material as shielding.
    Both Am-241/Be and Pu/Be sources have a wide range of uses. Neutron 
sources can be used with online elemental coal analyzers and bulk 
material analyzers in the coal and cement industries. Neutron 
penetration into materials makes these sources useful in analytical 
techniques such as radiography of aircraft components to detect 
corrosion, imperfections in welds, cracks, and trapped moisture. 
Moisture gauges use neutrons to find water and petroleum layers in oil 
wells, known as well logging. Neutron sources can be used for gold and 
silver prospecting for on-the-spot analysis, and to detect ground water 
movement for environmental surveys. Neutron sources are also used as 
calibration sources.
    Californium-252 sources produce neutrons during spontaneous 
fission. The Cf-252 splits apart producing a number of neutrons in the 
process. Beyond the uses mentioned above for Am/Be and Pu/Be sources, 
the neutrons from Cf-252 are employed as a treatment of certain 
cervical and brain cancers where other radiation therapy is 
ineffective. The Cf-252 sources are also used to start up nuclear 
    The categorization of sources is established in International 
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Series RS-G-1.9, Categorization of 
Radioactive Sources. Safety Series RS-G-1.9 provides a risk-based 
ranking of radioactive sources in five categories in terms of their 
potential to cause severe deterministic effects for a range of 
scenarios that include both external exposure from an unshielded source 
and internal exposure following dispersal. The categorization system 
uses ``D values'' as normalizing factors. The ``D value'' is the 
radionuclide specific activity of a source that, if not under control, 
could cause severe deterministic effects for a range of scenarios that 
include both external exposure from an unshielded source and internal 
exposure following dispersal of the source material. Safety Series RS-
G-1.9 is available on the IAEA Web site at: http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1227_web.pdf.
    As previously noted, neutron sources are used for a variety of 
purposes and in varying source strength. Depending on the source 
strength (activity), the source is considered a category 1 (higher 
activity) to a category 5 (lower activity) source. The threshold is 
established for each individual radionuclide. For Am-241/Be and Pu-239/
Be, a category 5 source is any source with an activity of less than 
0.0006 Terabequerels (TBq) (0.016 curies (Ci)) and a category 1 source 
is any source with an activity of 60 TBq (1,620 Ci) or above. For Cf-
252, the category 5 threshold is 0.0002 TBq (0.0.0054 Ci) and the 
category 1 threshold is 20 TBq (540 Ci).
    The NRC's regulations in Sec.  20.1801 of Title 10 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (10 CFR), ``Security of stored material,'' and 10 
CFR 20.1802, ``Control of material not in storage,'' require licensees 
to: (1) Secure, from unauthorized removal or access, licensed materials 
that are stored in controlled or unrestricted areas; and (2) control 
and maintain constant surveillance of licensed material that is in a 
controlled or unrestricted area and that is not in storage. The NRC's 
regulations in 10 CFR 20.2201, ``Reports of theft or loss of licensed 
material,'' require licensees to report lost, stolen, or missing 
radioactive material. Further, throughout the NRC's regulations for 
licensing byproduct material, there are educational and training 
requirements to ensure that individuals with access to radioactive 
materials have adequate knowledge and skills to safely use the 
radioactive material as intended. These requirements are adequate for 
the protection of most radioactive material that is not subject to 10 
CFR part 73, ``Physical Protection of Plants and Materials;'' however, 
after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Commission 
determined that certain risk-significant radioactive material should be 
subject to enhanced security provisions. The NRC issued several 
security orders to licensees that possessed category 1 and category 2 
quantities of radioactive material of 16 radionuclides or combinations. 
Included in the list of radionuclides considered to be risk-significant 
are Am-241/Be, Pu-239/Be, and Cf-252. In general, the orders provided 
requirements for enhanced security measures for such things as license 
verification before transfer, intrusion detection and response, use of 
security zones, access control, and coordination with local law 
enforcement agencies (LLEAs). The orders also contain requirements for 
the licensee to determine the trustworthiness and reliability of 
individuals permitted unescorted access to category 1 or category 2 
quantities of radioactive material through fingerprinting and criminal 
history checks and other elements of a background investigation.
    On March 19, 2013, the NRC published the final rule (78 FR 16922) 
that establishes the security requirements for category 1 and category 
2 quantities of radioactive material (including Am-241/Be, Pu-239/Be, 
and Cf-252) in the regulations. Once the final rule is implemented, the 
security orders will be rescinded. The final rule establishes a new 
part to 10 CFR, part 37, ``Physical Protection of Category 1 and 
Category 2 Quantities of Radioactive Material.'' This final rule also 
applies to material that if aggregated equals or exceeds the category 2 
threshold. Both the orders and 10 CFR part 37 contain general 
requirements that allow licensees flexibility in how they meet the 
requirements. For example, 10 CFR part 37 requires licensees to monitor 
and detect without delay all unauthorized entries into its security 
zone where category 1 or category 2 quantities of radioactive material 
are stored. Part 37 of 10 CFR further requires licensees to assess 
attempted or actual unauthorized entries and respond as appropriate. 
However, neither the orders nor 10 CFR part 37 specifies exactly how a 
particular licensee must monitor and detect such unauthorized entries. 
Instead, the orders and 10 CFR part 37 allow flexibility in the methods 
a licensee can select. A neutron detection alarm could be an acceptable 
    The NRC is denying the petition because we have determined that 
current NRC security requirements are adequate to protect public health 
and safety. The Commission has recently determined the appropriate 
activity threshold that warrants additional security measures in the 10 
CFR part 37 rulemaking (category 2). The Commission did not find a need 
to change the requirements applicable to

[[Page 21569]]

category 3 or lower. The petitioner has not provided sufficient reason 
to readdress this decision. Additionally, the Radiation Source 
Protection and Security Task Force, an interagency task force 
established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, concluded in its report 
to Congress and the President, ``Radiation Source Protection and 
Security Task Force Report'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML062190349), dated 
August 2006, that the appropriate radioactive sources (category 1 and 
category 2 sources) were being protected. The Task Force also concluded 
that the IAEA Code of Conduct serves as an appropriate framework for 
considering which sources warrant additional protection. For its 2010 
report to Congress and the President (ADAMS Accession No. ML102230141), 
the Task Force conducted a reevaluation of the radionuclides that 
warrant additional security and protection. The Task Force found ``that 
the Category 1 and 2 quantities remain valid for sealed and unsealed 
sources as the list and threshold levels of radionuclides that could 
result in a significant radiological exposure device (RED) or 
radiological dispersal device (RDD) event and therefore warrant 
enhanced security and protection.'' The Task Force periodically 
reevaluates the list of radionuclides that warrant additional security 
and protection. If the radionuclides and/or thresholds change in the 
future, then the NRC would consider making changes in a future 
    For byproduct material below the category 2 thresholds, the 
security of radioactive material is covered by 10 CFR 20.1801 and 
20.1802. The requirement to ``secure, from unauthorized removal or 
access'' and to ``control and maintain constant surveillance'' are 
considered performance-based requirements. Licensees are allowed to 
select methods that work best for their facility to ensure that there 
is no unauthorized removal of the category 3 and lower neutron sources. 
These requirements provide adequate protection for the neutron sources, 
without the need to require a specific measure.
    In conclusion, no new information has been provided by the 
petitioner that calls into question the established thresholds 
(category 2) that warrant additional security measures or the 
performance based approach (non-prescriptive) for ensuring source 
security. This view has been validated by the Radiation Source 
Protection and Security Task Force's conclusions. Existing NRC 
regulations provide the basis for reasonable assurance that the common 
defense and security and public health and safety are adequately 
protected. Additional rulemaking would impose unnecessary regulatory 
burden and is not warranted for the adequate protection of the public 
health and safety and the common defense and security.
    The NRC appreciates the views of the petitioner and encourages 
feedback from the public on any of the NRC processes.
    For the reasons cited in this document, the NRC is denying PRM-73-

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 5th day of April, 2013.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Andrew L. Bates,
Acting Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 2013-08511 Filed 4-10-13; 8:45 am]