[ RadSafe ] Agreement States v. NRC (was: radiography incident)

Clayton J Bradt CJB01 at health.state.ny.us
Mon Apr 2 13:10:34 CDT 2012

Bill Lipton wrote:
In response:

1.  The NRC still has final responsibility.  The licensee has an 
State" license.  Although Texas issues the license, the standards are set
by the NRC, and the NRC has responsibility for assuring that the state's
program is adequate.  It seems that there are grounds for thinking

2.  The problem is not the regulations, but their enforcement.  " If Texas
Rad Control don't [sic] have time or expertise to do it..." the NRC should
withdraw it's agreement state status.

3.  I agree.

Not so , Bill.

The final responsibility always rests with the Agreement State.  Under an 
agreement, the NRC relinquishes its authority to regulate by-product 
material. The Agreement State enforces state, not federal, law through its 
radioactive materials regulations.  Although the NRC has claimed 
otherwise, the Atomic Energy Act has no provision for NRC to assure that a 
state does anything once an agreement has been signed (with the sole 
exception of regulating uranium mill tailings site in accordance with 
federal standards). 

As has been said elsewhere, Texas does in fact have the one of the best 
regulation programs for industrial radiography in the country (which means 
probably one of the best on the planet).  They do a better job than NRC. 
By all means we should look at the licensee's compliance history and the 
state's responses to previous incidents, but one should not expect to find 
any systemic problems with Texas' regulatory program. 

The reason we see the same radiography incidents repeating themselves over 
and over again is to be found in the nature of the industry itself. 
Radiographers are generally not unionized and not paid all that much. Turn 
over can be fairly high. Many of the trainees speak English as a second 
language.  The work sites where radiography is performed, like all heavy 
construction sites, tend to be dirty, uncomfortable, and dangerous places 
- even without the radiography source!  The radiographers frequently work 
under considerable time pressure because the construction work has to stop 
while they set up their shots and make an exposure.  Given all the factors 
working against safety it is remarkable how few of these over-exposure 
incidents occur. 

Clayton J. Bradt
Principal Radiophysicist
NYS Dept. of Health
Biggs Laboratory, Room D486A
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12201-0509


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