In SECY-16-0115 dated October 7, 2016, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff seeks Commission approval to initiate a rulemaking to require financial assurance for the disposition of Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources. The rulemaking would revise § 30.35 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), “Financial Assurance and Recordkeeping for Decommissioning.”
NRC staff ranks the proposed rulemaking in SECY-16-0115 as a high priority using the Common Prioritization of Rulemaking (CPR) methodology and offers the following estimated schedule:
- initiate regulatory basis phase – October 2017;
- complete regulatory basis – October 2018;
- publish proposed rule – October 2019; and,
- publish final rule – October 2020.
The NRC’s regulations in 10 CFR 30.35 require a fixed dollar amount of financial assurance or a Decommissioning Funding Plan (DFP) for licensees possessing byproduct material with a half-life greater than 120 days and at activity levels above certain thresholds. However, the thresholds for sealed byproduct material are such that many licensees possessing Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources are not required to provide financial assurance for decommissioning. Where financial assurance is required, it is to support decommissioning of the site, not necessarily to disposition an individual radioactive sealed source that has become disused or unwanted.
The NRC staff conducted a scoping study to determine whether additional financial planning requirements for end-of-life management for some radioactive byproduct material (particularly radioactive sealed sources) were needed. Based on the scoping study, which is documented in SECY-16-0046, “Radioactive Byproduct Material Financial Scoping Study,” the NRC staff recommends that the financial assurance requirements in 10 CFR 30.35 be expanded to include all Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources tracked in the National Source Tracking System (NSTS).
NRC staff identified three main reasons for proceeding with the rulemaking. Specifically, requiring financial assurance for disposition of Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources would:
- ensure that licensees possessing these risk-significant radioactive sealed sources are financially prepared for the costs of end-of-life dispositioning;
- complement the existing regulatory framework to ensure safe and secure management of Category 1 and 2 byproduct material radioactive sealed sources by facilitating timely disposition when these radioactive sealed sources become disused or unwanted; and,
- help ensure that dispositioning costs are borne by those who receive the associated economic benefits from the use of these sources.
In SECY-16-0115, NRC staff state that the proposed rulemaking would result in increased regulatory costs and that its implementation would require additional NRC and Agreement State resources. Accordingly, NRC staff asserts that engagement with Agreement States and other stakeholders early in the rulemaking process would be prudent to ensure that the benefits of the rule and resource impacts are well understood and that the new requirements can be implemented effectively and efficiently.
For additional information, please contact Ryan Whited, NMSS/DUWP, at (301) 415-1154, or Robert MacDougall, NMSS/MSTR, at (301) 415-5175.