[ RadSafe ] ALARA, BRC ,& regulatoty self-interest

BLHamrick at aol.com BLHamrick at aol.com
Tue Jun 24 20:22:08 CDT 2008

BRC died a political death.  The anti-nuclear activists opposed to BRC  did 
not understand (or intentionally ignored) the fact that BRC was already a  
reality (and had been for the 30 - 40 years of regulation) through  "case-by-case" 
determinations to exempt certain things from regulatory  control.  In fact, 
BRC actually continues to exist as it always had through  guidance.
The NUREG 1556 series for radioactive materials licensees provides  
"unrestricted area contamination limits" (based on the old Regulatory Guide  1.86), and 
allows these limits to be applied to the release of equipment and  other 
items from restricted areas.  Most licensees across the U.S.  (except NPPs) have 
these limits incorporated in their license via a  reference in their license 
application to the NUREG or other comparable  guidance.  The sad part is these 
limits weren't incorporated into  regulation.  
NRC issued BRC as a policy.  The squeaky wheels objected (certainly  not the 
majority of the public), and Congress listened, and instructed NRC to  retract 
the policy, as written, but not the practice.  
In recent years, NRC tried again to codify the de minimus limits used by  
virtually everyone (except the NPPs), when they went forward with the proposed  
"Control of Solid Materials" rulemaking.  Again, the squeaky wheels had  their 
way, and NRC staff ended up recommending a completely unworkable,  
radiation-phobic approach to the problem, which the Commission in its wisdom  shut down, 
by stating that other matters had precedence at this time, and they  weren't 
going to pursue this rulemaking.
EPA also approached this problem in their "Low Activity" rulemaking  effort, 
which also received bad reviews from the anti-nuclear contingency, and  EPA 
promptly stated they too had other more pressing priorities.
Both NRC and EPA were informed as they headed toward these rulemaking  
efforts that in order to succeed, they needed to 1) stand together and proceed  on 
conjoined paths, and 2) introduce the rulemakings by making it quite clear  
that low activity materials were released all the time, and had been for the 50  
years of regulatory control, 3) by stating, quite clearly, that the retraction 
 of the formal BRC policy did nothing to change the ongoing release practices 
 authorized on a "case-by-case" basis, and 4) it would be more efficient and  
provide better regulatory control and consistency to codify these 
"case-by-case"  criteria than to leave them in guidance space.  But, the agencies didn't 
do  that, and they ended up with exactly the mess that was quite predictable 
from  the outset.
The end.
Barbara L. Hamrick
In a message dated 6/24/2008 3:43:37 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
pdemopoulos at af.umaryland.edu writes:

I was at  a BRC public meeting conducted in Philadelphia, and it seems
the reason why  the BRC concept was
dropped was because of the public opposition to it. The  opposition came
in with dolls and 
said something to the effect that the  NRC wanted to kill the babies.

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