NRC releases system to track radioactive materials

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has deployed its National Source Tracking System (NSTS), a centralized national registry to provide cradle-to-grave accounting of certain high-risk radioactive materials used in industry, medicine and research.

The NSTS will improve the ability of regulators to detect and act upon inventory discrepancies, respond to emergencies, and verify legitimate import, export, ownership and use of sources, according to NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein.

Mandated by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the NSTS will be required for all licensees by Jan. 31.

Radiation sources to be tracked by the system fall into Category 1 and Category 2 of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) ranking of radioactive materials, including the individual sources used in irradiators, Gamma Knife teletherapy devices, most radiography sources, some well logging sources and others. Anyone possessing and using such sources is required to be a licensee of the NRC or one of its 35 Agreement States and will be responsible for reporting information to the NSTS.

The NSTS will contain information on who possesses tracked sources, including the name and address of a facility, the license number and contact information. Information on each source will include the make, model, serial number, radioactive material and activity. The information will include records of transfers—shipment and receipt—between licensees, from the original sale by the manufacturer to eventual disposal.
Licensees will report to the NSTS primarily over the internet using a secure, authenticated link. Licensees will have access to the information for their facility, but will not have access to information about other licensees. Members of the public will not have access to the data, according to the NRC.