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

Barbara Hamrick blhamrick at aol.com
Mon Apr 2 15:57:48 CDT 2012

Dear Bill,
I have to side with Clayton on this.  The exact wording in Sec. 274.b. is “the Commission is authorized to enter into agreements with the Governor of any State providing for discontinuance of the regulatory authority of the Commission” (for certain byproduct, source and special nuclear materials).  
Section 274.d(2) contains a reference to being “compatible” with the Commission, and as Clayton properly points out, this is a finding that must be made prior to entering into the agreement, but there is no provision for continued compatibility (except with respect to uranium mill tailings).  Section 274.g states the “Commission is authorized and directed to cooperate with the States in the formulation of standards for protection…to assure that State and Commission programs…will be coordinated and compatible.  This is a mandate to the Commission, not to the States.
Finally, in Section 274.j. the Commission may terminate or suspend an agreement after reasonable notice and opportunity for a hearing, and upon a finding that the action is required to protect the public health and safety, or if the State has not complied with a requirement in Section 274, which does not require continued compatibility with the Commission.  
The Commission has only terminated one agreement, since 1962; that was an agreement with Idaho, who requested that the Commission terminate the agreement.  There was also one partial termination of which I’m aware, and that was in New Mexico (I think) who requested that the Commission take back a specific program (either sealed source and device approvals or something to do with waste).  It is true they can terminate or suspend an agreement, but they cannot walk into an Agreement State and start enforcing federal law, because the federal law does not apply to Agreement State licensees; those licensees are governed by State law unless and until the State agreement is terminated or suspended.
Barbara L. Hamrick

-----Original Message-----
From: William Lipton <doctorbill34 at gmail.com>
To: Clayton J Bradt <CJB01 at health.state.ny.us>
Cc: radsafe <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>
Sent: Mon, Apr 2, 2012 12:25 pm
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Agreement States v. NRC (was: radiography incident)

Under section 274 of the AEA the NRC can withdraw an Agreement State's
xemption from NRC regulation.  Also, an Agreement State's program must be
ompatible with NRC regulations.  I interpret this as giving the NRC final
Bill Lipton
On Apr 2, 2012 2:10 PM, "Clayton J Bradt" <CJB01 at health.state.ny.us> wrote:
> Bill Lipton wrote:
 In response:

 1.  The NRC still has final responsibility.  The licensee has an "Agreement
 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

 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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