NRC rule creates Web system to track nuclear material

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a final rule on reporting requirements for various transactions involving radioactive materials that will involve establishing secure, Web-based access to a new National Source Tracking System (NSTS).

States and the NRC will use NSTS to closely track the location and use of various radioactive materials.

Although those materials are used in a range of applications in industries such as oil and gas, construction, food and medicine, and a number of separate systems contain information on companies and individuals who are licensed to use them, no one system covers all licensees.

In a report earlier this year, however, the NRC’s inspector general warned that the Web-based system may be inadequate because the supporting regulatory analysis, which provides the framework for the system, is based on unreliable data from an interim database.

That interim database of “sources of concern” was created several years ago, although reporting to it is voluntary. NSTS will be mandatory, and all licensed handlers of materials governed by the new rule will have to report their inventories and transactions such as transfers or disposals involving the materials by the end of November 2007.

The NRC rule covers sealed sources of radioactive material that are either sealed in a capsule or closely bonded to a nonradioactive substrate that effectively locks the material in place.

The rule requires licensees to report all transactions involving these materials by the close of the following business day. Through the online system, they’ll be able to log on and type the information about a source once into an online form. They will be able to continue reporting on transactions involving that source without having to re-enter all of the information.

Licensees will have to establish an account with NSTS, and afterward will have access only to information regarding their own material and facilities. Government agencies other than the NRC will also be given limited access to the data.

Licensees will also be able to submit their information by mailing or faxing forms.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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