NRC Issues RIS re National Terrorism Advisory System

On June 1, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2018-03 to provide information on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) to licensees who are authorized to possess Category 1 and 2 quantities of radioactive material.

Although RIS 2018-03 requires no action or written response on the part of any addressee, and it does not impose new regulatory requirements on NRC licensees, it provides information that addressees may wish to consider in the event that DHS issues an NTAS alert.


In the NTAS advisory system, an “Elevated Alert” threat level warns of a credible terrorist threat against the United States and its territories that is general in both timing and target, or the alert details significant trends and developments in terrorism such that it is reasonable to recommend the implementation of protective measures to thwart or mitigate an attack.  An “Imminent Alert” warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat against the United States and its territories and recommends the implementation of protective measures to thwart or mitigate an attack.

In RIS 2018-03, the NRC recommends that licensees in possession of Category 1 and 2 quantities of radioactive material as listed in Appendix A to 10 CFR Part 37 maintain awareness of the NTAS.  The NRC further recommends that, following an NTAS alert, these licensees should consider the information found in the RIS enclosures.

NRC notes in RIS 2018-03 that licensees required to implement a physical security plan in accordance with paragraph (a) of 10 CFR 73.55, “Requirements for physical protection of licensed activities in nuclear power reactors against radiological sabotage,” are also required under 10 CFR 73.55(k)(10) to establish, maintain and implement a threat warning system.  NRC advises that these licensees may wish to use the information in RIS 2018-03 to revise their existing threat warning system.


In the changed threat environment after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Commission determined that certain licensed material should be subject to enhanced security requirements, and that individuals with unescorted access to risk-significant quantities of certain radioactive material should be subject to background investigations.  As part of the development of the enhanced security measures for this licensed material, the NRC performed threat and vulnerability assessments.  The purpose of these assessments was to identify gaps or vulnerabilities in security and the effectiveness and costs of certain physical protection enhancements at various licensed facilities.  The agency used the results of these assessments to develop enhanced security requirements that were issued to licensees via orders, using a graded approach based on the relative risk and quantity of material possessed by the licensee.

Generically applicable requirements are most effectively implemented through rulemaking rather than by orders.  Therefore, the NRC developed a rule for enhanced security for Category 1 and 2 quantities of radioactive material.  In developing this rule, the NRC considered, among other things, the various orders, lessons learned during implementation of the orders, recommendations of an independent external review panel and the Materials Program Working Group, and stakeholder comments received on the proposed rule and draft implementation guidance.

For additional information, please contact Duane White of the NRC at (301) 287-3627 or at