Nuke Agency Issues New Material Transport Rules

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Distributors of nuclear materials for medical, educational and commercial uses now must follow new regulations aimed at keeping better track of "source materials," the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced.
     Distribution of source materials, including uranium and thorium, now requires authorization by a specific license, allowing the NRC to track the amount and types of materials being distributed.
     Uranium and thorium are toxic and may emit alpha, beta and gamma radiation and may impair kidney function when ingested and inhaled in large quantities. Thorium dioxide is classified as a known carcinogen by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and has been linked to lung and liver diseases, according to the NRC.
     Since about 1947, the NRC has issued general licenses, as well as license exemptions, for the distribution of small, "unimportant quantities" of the materials for medical, educational, research or commercial uses.
     Until the new regulation, there were no requirements to report information about the distribution of source material under general license or exemption provisions, the NRC said its action.
     In addition to having to obtain specific licenses for distribution, licensees will now be subject to new recordkeeping and reporting requirements, the NRC said.
     Another change involves the packaging of products containing source materials and requires distributors "to propose a method of labeling or marking each unit and/or its container with information that identifies the manufacturer or initial distributor of the product and the type of source material in the product," the NRC said in its action.
     The NRC's action also revises regulations for the use of source material and creates separate fee categories associated with manufacturing and processing, and distribution, as well as each specific license type.
     The regulations go into effect Aug. 27.