NRC to look at advance notification rules when shipping licensed materials

April 13, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering changes to its rules governing the transportation of radioactive materials, having received and docketed a petition for rulemaking from the Tribal Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee (TRMTC) asking that the agency revise its regulations on when tribal governments are provided advance notification of such shipments.

As announced in the April 9 Federal Register, the NRC is examining the issues raised in the petition to determine whether they should be considered in rulemaking. The NRC is also requesting public comments on the rulemaking petition, to be submitted by June 23.

What’s being asked: The petition, submitted to the NRC in December 2020 by Richard Arnold and Ron Johnson on behalf of the TRMTC, asks that the NRC revise its regulations under 10 CFR Part 37, “Physical protection of category 1 and category 2 quantities of radioactive material,” to make them conform with those under 10 CFR Part 71, “Packaging and transportation of radioactive material,” and 10 CFR Part 73, “Physical protection of plants and materials.”

TRMTC said it was concerned that a “divergence exists” between the regulations after learning of a shipment of category 1 licensed materials that crossed a reservation of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska without prior notification.

Under 10 CFR Part 37, Sec. 37.77, licensees are required to provide advance notification of shipments of category 1 materials to the NRC and states but are not required to notify tribes. Licensees are required to provide advance notification to participating tribes under 10 CFR Part 71, Sec. 71.79, which covers the shipment of irradiated fuel and other licensed material meeting the certain conditions, and under 10 CFR Part 73, Sec. 73.37, which pertains to spent nuclear fuel.

“In reviewing 10 CFR Part 37, TRMTC believes consistent notification standards must be applied to states and tribal governments as well as constituencies under their respective jurisdiction,” the petition states. “Therefore, TRMTC would like to request that the NRC examine these discrepancies and take swift action to modify the language, consistent with Parts 71 and 73 advance notification to tribes.”

Public input: Comments on the petition can be made until June 23 through the federal rulemaking website using a search for Docket ID NRC-2021-0051.

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