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entitled 'Nuclear Security: DOE Needs Better Information to Guide Its 
Expanded Recovery of Sealed Radiological Sources' which was released on 
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Report to the Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. 
Senate: 

September 2005: 

Nuclear Security: 

DOE Needs Better Information to Guide Its Expanded Recovery of Sealed 
Radiological Sources: 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-967]

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-05-967, a report to the Chairman, Committee on Energy 
and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate: 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Concerns remain over the control of sealed radiological sources, widely 
used in many industrial and medical devices and applications. The 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy (DOE), 
and states have responsibilities for ensuring the safe and secure use 
and eventual disposal of these sources as low-level radioactive wastes. 
DOE must ensure disposal availability for greater-than-class C (GTCC) 
waste; states must do so for non-GTCC waste, that is, classes A, B, and 
C waste. NRC and DOE also collaborate to identify and recover unwanted 
sources that are not safe or secure. GAO examined DOE’s (1) efforts to 
recover unwanted sources and develop a GTCC waste disposal option, (2) 
actions to recover and dispose of non-GTCC source waste, and (3) 
ability to identify sources for recovery and disposal. 

What GAO Found: 

DOE has increased emphasis on its source recovery project and begun the 
process of identifying disposal options for GTCC waste. DOE transferred 
project responsibilities to another office that has given the project 
higher priority and accelerated DOE’s recovery efforts. DOE exceeded an 
earlier goal for recovering sources and has now collected over 10,800 
of them. This recovery has been facilitated by additional project 
funding support and DOE’s resolving a shortage of storage space for 
certain sources. In May 2005, DOE issued a notice of intent to prepare 
an environmental impact statement to assess GTCC waste disposal 
options; however, DOE has not yet determined when a disposal site might 
be made available. 

DOE has expanded the scope of its recovery effort to include non-GTCC 
waste from sealed radiological sources, a change that could increase 
DOE expenditures. DOE recovered and commercially disposed of 443 of 
these sources from a bankrupt firm, at a cost to DOE of about $581,000. 
Given that unwanted sources in storage present higher vulnerabilities, 
DOE might need to recover more of them in the future if the commercial 
disposal site that currently accepts this non-GTCC waste from most 
states ceases to do so as planned in 2008. Lacking a commercial 
disposal option, DOE anticipates storing this waste, rather than 
disposing of it at DOE sites, because, among other reasons, it does not 
want to undermine the responsibility the Congress gave the states to 
provide disposal availability for non-GTCC waste. 

DOE lacks information that would assist its efforts to identify and 
recover unwanted sealed radiological sources that may pose a safety and 
security risk. DOE has useful information on the sources in its 
possession, including recovered sources. However, DOE does not know how 
many sources might need recovery and how much disposal capacity is 
needed for GTCC waste. NRC is developing a national source tracking 
system that would not be useful for DOE’s source recovery efforts 
because it is only designed to track individual sources with high 
radioactivity. According to DOE, nearly all of the sites where it has 
recovered sources contained individual sources with lesser 
radioactivity than would be tracked by NRC, but their combined 
radioactivity posed enough of a risk to warrant their recovery by DOE.
DOE Personnel Packaging a Sealed Radiological Source in a Disposal 
Drum: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of image] 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO recommends that DOE and NRC evaluate and report on the cost 
implications of DOE’s recovery and disposal of non-GTCC waste, options 
to recoup these DOE costs from licensees, the feasibility of using DOE 
disposal sites, and how a national source tracking system can be 
designed and implemented to improve DOE’s recovery and disposal 
efforts. DOE generally supported GAO’s recommendations. NRC found the 
report well written and balanced, but did not agree or disagree with 
GAO’s recommendations. 

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-967. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Gene Aloise at (202) 512-
3841 or aloisee@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

DOE Has Increased Emphasis on Its Source Recovery Project and Begun 
Assessing Options for Disposing of GTCC Waste: 

DOE Expanded the Scope of Its Source Recovery Project to Include Non- 
GTCC Waste, Which Could Increase Project Expenditures: 

DOE Lacks Information to Better Identify Unwanted Sealed Radiological 
Sources That May Need Recovery: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendixes: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Selected Sealed Radiological Source Devices and Their 
Potential Waste Classes: 

Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Energy: 

Appendix IV: Comments from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: 

Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Tables: 

Table 1: IAEA High-risk Categories of Sealed Radiological Sources: 

Table 2: Summary of DOE-Recovered Sealed Radiological Sources, by 
Radionuclide, as of June 7, 2005: 

Table 3: DOE-Recovered Sealed Radiological Sources, by Their IAEA 
Source Category, as of June 7, 2005: 

Table 4: Selected Sealed Radiological Source Devices and Their 
Potential Waste Classes: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Loss of Control of Sealed Radiological Sources: 

Figure 2: Source Recovery Project Personnel Remove a Sealed 
Radiological Source and Repackage It into a WIPP-Acceptable Disposal 
Drum: 

Figure 3: Relative Size of a Sealed Radiological Source and Typical 
Disposal Drums: 

Figure 4: A Cross Section of a Nuclear Gauge, and Leveling Gauges 
Returned to a Manufacturer: 

Figure 5: Interior Views of Two 55-Gallon Disposal Drums, One with a 
Large Opening for an Entire Disused Device and the Other with a Narrow 
Pipe Opening for Only Sources: 

Abbreviations: 

CRCPD: Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors: 

DOE: Department of Energy: 

EIS: environmental impact statement: 

GTCC: greater-than-class C: 

IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency: 

NNSA: National Nuclear Security Administration: 

NRC: Nuclear Regulatory Commission: 

WIPP: Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: 

Letter September 22, 2005: 

The Honorable Pete V. Domenici: 
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: 
United States Senate: 

Dear Mr. Chairman: 

The regulatory control and tracking of sealed radiological sources in 
the possession of academic, government, industrial, medical, and 
utility entities that are licensed to use them in devices and 
applications continues to evolve. These sources contain radioactive 
material encapsulated, or sealed, in metal to prevent its dispersal. 
The small size and portability of sealed radiological sources, however, 
make them susceptible to misuse, improper disposal, and theft. If some 
types of sealed radiological sources fell into the hands of terrorists, 
they could be used in fabricating crude but potentially dangerous 
radiological weapons, commonly called dirty bombs. In general, a dirty 
bomb is produced by packaging explosives, such as dynamite, with 
radioactive material, which would be dispersed when the bomb was 
activated. 

There are an estimated 2 million devices containing sealed radiological 
sources in use throughout the United States,[Footnote 1] and as many as 
one-quarter of them, or up to 500 thousand, may no longer be needed. 
However, only some of these sources are considered particularly 
attractive for producing dirty bombs because, among other things, they 
contain more concentrated amounts of certain nuclear material, such as 
americium-241, cesium-137, plutonium-238, and strontium-90. Depending 
on the type, form (e.g., solid or powder), amount, and concentration of 
the radioactive material dispersed in a malevolent act, the released 
material could cause radiation sickness for people nearby as well as 
significant economic costs and serious social disruption associated 
with the evacuation and subsequent cleanup of the contaminated area. 
Even without an intentional act, the inadvertent loss of a sealed 
radiological source can also lead to radiation exposure, high 
decontamination costs, and public panic. For example, in a 1983 
incident, a Texas company sold a cancer treatment machine containing a 
sealed radioactive source to a clinic in Mexico. The device was 
subsequently stolen, and the source was accidentally melted with other 
metals to form steel reinforcing rods that were imported into the 
United States and eventually used to build 37 homes and businesses. The 
steel rods were encased in concrete and thus were naturally shielded, 
but the incident caused public concern, costly decontamination, and 
increased regulatory inspections. 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Agreement 
States[Footnote 2] are responsible for regulating the use of sealed 
radiological sources and other radioactive materials, from creation to 
disposal, in a way that ensures the public health and safety. They do 
so through a combination of regulatory requirements, licensing, 
inspection, and enforcement. Under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, NRC 
also is responsible for issuing rules, regulations, or orders to 
promote the common defense and security. As we reported in August 2003, 
NRC and the Agreement States disagreed about the appropriate state role 
in the regulation of sealed radiological source security.[Footnote 3] 
According to NRC, it and the Agreement States are currently working 
together to implement increased regulatory requirements on licensees 
that possess sealed radiological sources that are of security concern. 

After a licensee determines that a sealed radiological source is no 
longer useful, the source can be returned to the manufacturer or 
supplier, transferred to another licensee, stored to allow for a 
natural decrease in radioactivity, or sent to a commercial waste 
disposal facility. Once the source is packaged for disposal, the 
disposal container is put into a waste class. NRC defines the four 
types of low-level radioactive waste (i.e., waste not classified as 
high-level waste, such as spent fuel from nuclear power plants) as 
classes A, B, C, and greater-than-class C (GTCC).[Footnote 4] The type 
of radionuclide (e.g., americium-241) and the concentration of 
radioactivity (often measured in curies per gram),[Footnote 5] are 
considered in determining the waste class of the radioactive material, 
which carries progressively more stringent requirements for disposal 
from class A to GTCC waste. Non-GTCC waste, including classes A, B, and 
C waste (e.g., contaminated soil, laboratory equipment, exit signs 
containing tritium, and some sealed radiological sources) generally can 
be disposed of by shallow burial at existing commercial low-level 
radioactive waste disposal sites. However, GTCC waste (e.g., activated 
metals,[Footnote 6] sealed radiological sources, and other highly 
radioactive waste) will generally require a different type of disposal. 
Under the Low- Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980, as 
amended,[Footnote 7] the states and federal government were given 
separate responsibilities for providing disposal availability for these 
wastes. States were made responsible for providing disposal 
availability for non-GTCC waste, and the Department of Energy (DOE) was 
given the responsibility of providing disposal for GTCC waste. Non-GTCC 
waste must be disposed of in a facility licensed by either NRC or an 
Agreement State, but only NRC can license a facility for GTCC waste. As 
an incentive for states to manage waste on a regional basis, the 
Congress consented to the formation of interstate agreements, known as 
compacts, and granted compact member states the authority to exclude 
low-level radioactive waste from other compacts and unaffiliated 
states.[Footnote 8]

Even though states have not developed any new disposal sites for low- 
level radioactive waste since passage of the act, we reported in June 
2004,[Footnote 9] that disposal availability for non-GTCC waste was 
adequate in the short term, but that federal oversight was needed to 
identify any future shortfalls. There are currently three commercial 
disposal sites that collectively serve the nation's non-GTCC waste 
disposal needs.[Footnote 10] A shortfall in disposal availability for 
the higher radioactive non-GTCC waste (classes B and C waste), however, 
could occur by mid-2008, if South Carolina follows through with plans 
to restrict access to its Barnwell disposal site to only the 3 member 
states of the Atlantic Compact. This restriction would mean that 
licensees in the 36 states that are currently allowed to use this 
disposal site would be denied access to it, and under current 
conditions, they would have no alternative option to dispose of their 
higher radioactive non-GTCC waste. Regarding GTCC waste disposal, we 
reported in April 2003[Footnote 11] that DOE had not made progress 
toward providing for the permanent disposal of GTCC waste because doing 
so was not a priority at the time. 

Given the lack of disposal options for GTCC waste and the public 
health, safety, and national security concerns about unwanted sealed 
radiological sources at licensee sites around the country, DOE, in 
collaboration with NRC, has been recovering, taking title of, and 
storing sources--primarily at its Los Alamos National Laboratory. DOE 
has been taking these actions through its Off-Site Source Recovery 
Project, which has been operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory 
personnel since the late-1990s. In June 1999, NRC and DOE entered into 
a memorandum of understanding describing their respective roles and 
responsibilities for addressing the problem of unwanted and 
uncontrolled sealed radiological sources, often referred to as "orphan 
sources." This memorandum formalized agreements reached between these 
agencies in 1992 to have DOE begin recovering and storing unwanted 
sealed radiological sources because DOE had yet to develop a disposal 
site for GTCC waste. Since then, DOE has routinely recovered, from 
licensees that request such a collection, sealed radiological sources 
that when packaged for disposal would be classified as GTCC waste. Many 
of these unwanted sources, such as plutonium-239, were originally 
derived from defense programs and loaned to colleges and universities 
that no longer want them. DOE, at the request of NRC, also recovers 
sources that are in the possession of licensees that are no longer able 
to ensure their safety and security. In our April 2003 report, we found 
that while DOE's source recovery project had collected more than 5,000 
sources, the project faced the following three problems that could 
hinder future recovery efforts: questionable long-term commitment to 
the program of DOE's Office of Environmental Management, inadequate 
storage capacity that meets the higher security requirements for sealed 
radiological sources containing plutonium-239, and DOE's inability to 
store sealed radiological sources containing strontium-90 and cesium- 
137. 

In this context, we examined (1) the status of DOE's efforts to recover 
unwanted sealed radiological sources and to develop a disposal option 
for GTCC waste, (2) DOE actions taken to recover and dispose of non- 
GTCC waste from sealed radiological sources, and (3) the extent to 
which DOE can identify unwanted sealed radiological sources for 
recovery and disposal. 

To conduct our work, we reviewed pertinent information in existing 
databases and published reports and interviewed officials from federal 
and state agencies, professional organizations, and representatives 
from entities that are licensed to possess sealed radiological sources. 
More specifically, we examined DOE's efforts to recover unwanted sealed 
radiological sources and the databases maintained by DOE and NRC to 
inventory some of these materials. We assessed the reliability of these 
data and determined that they were sufficiently reliable for the 
purposes of this report. We also used structured interviews of 
licensees and commercial waste brokers that possess unwanted sealed 
radiological sources and reviewed their waste forms to obtain an 
understanding of how these materials are classified, and what 
challenges might be faced if there is no disposal option availability 
for them in the future. We excluded some radioactive wastes from our 
review because the radioactive materials are already under higher 
security, such as at nuclear power plants and DOE facilities, or 
because they present a lower security risk, such as class A waste. We 
conducted our review between June 2004 and September 2005 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. A more detailed 
description of our methodology is provided in appendix I. 

Results in Brief: 

DOE has increased emphasis on its source recovery project and begun the 
process of identifying disposal options for GTCC waste. Specifically, 
DOE transferred responsibilities for source recovery from its Office of 
Environmental Management to its National Nuclear Security 
Administration (NNSA) to better respond to both domestic and 
international threats posed by unwanted sealed radiological sources. 
DOE was able to recover 5,529 of these sources within 18 months, 
exceeding a recovery goal established in October 2002 and more than 
doubling the number of sources recovered since 1996. As of June 7, 
2005, DOE had collected a total of 10,806 sealed radiological sources 
and plans to continue recovering sources at least until there is a 
permanent disposal option for GTCC waste. DOE's accelerated recovery 
efforts have been supported through continued annual and supplemental 
appropriations. The recovery of these unwanted sealed radiological 
sources was also facilitated by DOE's resolution of some problems with 
storage availability for certain types of sources. For example, DOE was 
able to recover and provide storage for over 260 plutonium-239 sources 
that licensees had registered for collection; however, some new issues 
have arisen that are preventing DOE from recovering the more than 100 
of these sources that still remain at licensee sites. Finally, DOE has 
begun identifying disposal options for GTCC waste. In May 2005, DOE 
issued a notice of its intent to prepare an environmental impact 
statement assessing various disposal options for GTCC waste. In 
preparing this document, DOE plans to gather information on the amount 
of GTCC waste that might be generated over the next 30 to 50 years; 
however, making useful projections will be difficult because, among 
other things, no national database tracks the volume of GTCC materials 
or waste. Further, DOE has not yet determined when a permanent GTCC 
waste disposal site might be available because of uncertainties 
surrounding what alternatives will be available to DOE after it 
completes the assessment of the various disposal options for this 
waste. 

DOE has expanded the scope of its source recovery project to include 
non-GTCC waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources--a change that 
could increase recovery project expenditures if DOE needs to recover 
and dispose of more of this waste in the future. DOE has already 
recovered and commercially disposed of non-GTCC waste from some 
licensees that could no longer ensure the safety and security of their 
unwanted sealed radiological sources. For example, in fiscal year 2004, 
at the request of NRC, DOE recovered from a bankrupt firm and 
commercially disposed of 443 mostly cesium-137, sealed radiological 
sources at a cost of approximately $581,000. Moreover, DOE may need to 
begin recovering greater quantities of non-GTCC waste from unwanted 
sealed radiological sources if licensees in most states have no access 
to commercially dispose of it in the future. Domestic and international 
experts contend that the lack of disposal availability for unwanted 
sealed radiological sources makes them more vulnerable to abandonment, 
misplacement, and theft that would pose a safety and security risk. If 
DOE needs to recover more of these types of sources, source recovery 
project expenditures may increase unless DOE can recoup some of its 
costs from licensees that could otherwise pay for disposal if a 
commercial disposal option were available. In the absence of any 
commercial disposal option for the non-GTCC waste that DOE collects, 
the department anticipates indefinitely storing this waste. DOE's 
current policy is to not use its own sites for disposing of this waste 
because, among other reasons, it does not want to undermine the 
responsibility that the Congress gave to the states for providing 
disposal availability for non-GTCC waste. We are recommending that DOE 
and NRC collaborate in evaluating and reporting on the potential cost 
implications of expanding DOE's recovery and disposal of non-GTCC waste 
from sealed radiological sources, options to recoup DOE costs from 
licensees that may have no disposal option, and the feasibility of 
disposing of this waste at DOE sites. 

DOE's ability to identify unwanted sealed radiological sources that may 
pose a safety or security risk is limited by a lack of information 
needed to guide its recovery and disposal efforts. DOE has useful 
inventory data only on the sealed radiological sources in its 
possession, including those recovered from licensees. This inventory 
captures, among other things, information on the status of each source, 
including whether it is in active use, is inaccessible, is in storage 
for potential future use, or is packaged for disposal. However, DOE 
does not have comparable information on the sealed radiological sources 
in the possession of licensees that might need recovery in the future 
because NRC and the Agreement States do not centrally collect this 
information from them. NRC has recently issued a proposed rule that 
will allow it to establish a national system to track the possession 
and movement of some individual sealed radiological sources that 
present a potential risk to individuals, society, and the environment 
because of their high levels of radioactivity. This proposed rule is 
consistent with the recently enacted Energy Policy Act of 
2005,[Footnote 12] which, among other things, requires NRC to establish 
a tracking system and a task force to evaluate and report on radiation 
source protection and security concerns. However, as presently 
designed, this system would only track individual sources with high 
radioactivity concentrations and would not include essentially all of 
the sources of lesser radioactivity that DOE has recovered. According 
to DOE, over 90 percent of the licensee sites where sources were 
recovered contained individual sources of lesser radioactivity than 
would be individually tracked by NRC, yet their combined radioactivity 
concentration posed enough of a safety and security risk to warrant 
their recovery by DOE. As a result, this proposed national source 
tracking system would be of little use to DOE in its efforts to plan 
and budget for the recovery and disposal of unwanted sealed 
radiological sources. We are recommending that DOE and NRC collaborate 
on evaluating and reporting on how a national source tracking system 
can be designed and implemented to improve DOE's ability to identify 
unwanted sealed radiological sources that may need DOE recovery and 
disposal. 

DOE and NRC provided comments on a draft of this report. DOE stated 
that it generally supports all of our recommendations. Moreover, DOE 
commented that we had correctly reported the department's position with 
regard to issues discussed in this report. In addition, DOE affirmed 
the need to improve the national source tracking system to assist the 
department in identifying and recovering unwanted sources from outside 
the department that pose a potential safety and security risk. NRC 
stated that overall our report was well written and balanced. NRC did 
not specifically agree or disagree with our recommendations. However, 
NRC expressed concerns that any changes to the design of its national 
source tracking system at this time could be extremely burdensome on 
licensees and the agency and would yield little, if any, practical 
benefit. Nevertheless, NRC stated that it will continue to seek 
comments on the inclusion of sources of lower radioactivity in its 
national source tracking system because licensees possessing large 
quantities of these sources could present a security concern. 

Background: 

The loss of control of sealed radiological sources can arise from their 
abandonment, misplacement, or theft. In such cases, there is a risk of 
either the inadvertent or intentional malevolent human exposure to 
radioactive materials in these sources. Figure 1 shows a graphic 
representation of the ways in which the loss of control of sealed 
radiological sources can occur. 

Figure 1: Loss of Control of Sealed Radiological Sources: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Since September 11, 2001, international and U.S. agencies have taken 
additional steps to increase the safety and security of radioactive 
materials, particularly sealed radiological sources. Between 2002 and 
2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)[Footnote 13] held 
various meetings and conferences to discuss how the agency's Code of 
Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources might be 
revised in light of new security concerns. One result of these 
gatherings was the development of a categorization scheme for sealed 
radiological sources in terms of the potential risks associated with 
their malevolent uses.[Footnote 14] The first three of the five source 
categories identified by IAEA, which are considered to pose the most 
significant risk to individuals, society, and the environment, are 
listed in an annex to the Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct 
recommends that IAEA member states establish a national registry that 
tracks, at a minimum, the first two source categories. Table 1 contains 
a listing of the radionuclides and their curie levels that are 
presented in the IAEA Code of Conduct. 

Table 1: IAEA High-risk Categories of Sealed Radiological Sources: 

Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 2,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 20; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 2. 

Radionuclide: Americium-241/Beryllium; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 2,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 20; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 2. 

Radionuclide: Californium-252; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 500; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 5; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 0.5. 

Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 3,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 30; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 3. 

Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 800; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 8; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 0.8. 

Radionuclide: Curium-244; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 1,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 10; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 1. 

Radionuclide: Gadolinium-153; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 30,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 300; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 30. 

Radionuclide: Iridium-192; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 2,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 20; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 2. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-238; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 2,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 20; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 2. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-239/Beryllium; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 2,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 20; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 2. 

Radionuclide: Promethium-147; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 1,000,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 10,000; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 1,000. 

Radionuclide: Radium-226; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 1,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 10; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 1. 

Radionuclide: Scandium-75; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 5,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 50; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 5. 

Radionuclide: Selenium-75; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 5,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 50; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 5. 

Radionuclide: Strontium-90; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 30,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 300; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 30. 

Radionuclide: Thulium-170; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 500,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 5,000; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 500. 

Radionuclide: Ytterbium-169; 
Category 1 (curies)[A]: 8,000; 
Category 2 (curies)[A]: 80; 
Category 3 (curies)[A]: 8. 

Source: IAEA, Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive 
Source (Vienna Austria: January 2004) Annex I, Table 1, p. 16. 

[A] A curie is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay; it is 
equivalent to the radioactivity of 1 gram of radium or 37 billion 
disintegrations per second. 

[End of table]

In May 2003, a DOE/NRC interagency working group--which was formed to 
address security concerns over the radioactive materials that could be 
used in a radiological dispersal device--issued a report that, among 
other things, recommended that actions be taken to develop a national 
threat policy based on vulnerability assessments, a national source 
tracking system, and an integrated national strategy for disposing of 
unsecured sealed radiological sources.[Footnote 15] Following this 
DOE/NRC report, NRC adopted the nonlegally binding IAEA Code of Conduct 
as a basis for (1) determining which licensees may need additional 
protective measures for the sealed radiological sources in their 
possession and (2) defining the scope of a national source tracking 
system. NRC found that the curie thresholds for radionuclides in the 
sources identified by the DOE/NRC interagency working group were 
similar enough to the Code of Conduct categories to warrant adoption of 
the IAEA source categorization scheme to better align domestic and 
international efforts to increase the safety and security of sealed 
radiological sources. 

NRC and DOE have since engaged in separate efforts to (1) assess the 
vulnerability of facilities that contain sealed radiological sources 
within their jurisdictions, (2) promulgate new security measures, and 
(3) begin systematically tracking some of these sources. According to 
NRC officials, NRC has been working with the Agreement States since 
January 2002, and with licensees since September 2002, using a risk 
informed approach to enhance the regulatory requirements applicable to 
high-risk radioactive material. In June 2003 and January 2004, NRC 
issued its first set of protective measures to large irradiators and 
device manufacturers and distributors, respectively. In January 2004, 
NRC and the Agreement States began to consider the need for additional 
protective measures for other licensees. This process has involved 
several iterations of vulnerability assessments of licensee sites that 
have devices or use applications containing IAEA categories 1 and 2 
sources, such as teletherapy, gamma knife, well-logging devices, and 
self-shielded irradiators. On September 6, 2005, NRC announced that 
over approximately the next 90 days, affected licensees will receive 
orders from the agency spelling out increased controls for certain 
radioactive materials. Over the same period, individual Agreement 
States will issue their licensees legally binding requirements 
essentially identical to NRC's orders. Materials covered by these 
requirements will be consistent with the IAEA Code of Conduct. 
Regarding source tracking, in November 2003, NRC, with the assistance 
of the Agreement States, identified and initially surveyed 
approximately 2,600 entities licensed to possess IAEA categories 1 and 
2 sources. The resulting interim inventory will supplement other 
information NRC intends to use in developing a national source tracking 
system. Regarding DOE efforts, DOE officials told us that various 
department offices have been involved in developing, reviewing, and 
issuing domestic and international guidance related to the security of 
sealed radiological sources. Moreover, DOE has established its own 
source tracking system--that is, the Radioactive Source Registry and 
Tracking System--which, among other things, includes the unwanted 
sealed radiological sources that DOE has recovered from licensees. 

In addition to securing and tracking sealed radiological sources, IAEA 
and NRC support the disposal of unwanted sources and other radioactive 
waste. IAEA contends that although waste may be safely stored for 
decades, as long as institutional controls are maintained, progress 
must be made toward permanent disposal. According to the Director 
General for Energy and Transport, European Commission, "the sources at 
greatest risk of being lost from regulatory control are disused 
(unwanted) sources held in local storage at the user's premises waiting 
for final disposal or return to manufacturer."[Footnote 16] In response 
to an international joint convention addressing spent nuclear fuel and 
radioactive waste management,[Footnote 17] IAEA set forth the elements 
of an effective national legal and organizational structure that would 
provide for the safe and secure management of radioactive waste by 
appropriate national authorities. One of the key indicators of such a 
structure is that "the amount of waste in storage awaiting disposal 
should depend only upon operational considerations…and should not 
include a backlog due to an inability (technical, financial, 
organizational, etc.) to reduce the backlog."[Footnote 18] NRC also 
supports the disposal of low-level radioactive waste but has placed no 
time limits on storage, as long as the radioactive material is safe and 
secure. NRC contends that it is acceptable to allow some licensees to 
store a backlog of sources in instances where a disposal option for 
this waste is not available to them. 

In August 2005, the President signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 
2005, which, among other things, addressed the safe disposal of GTCC 
waste and nuclear facility and materials security. The act requires DOE 
to prepare plans for the continued recovery of sealed radiological 
sources and to report on its efforts to develop a GTCC waste disposal 
site. Other provisions call for NRC to issue regulations establishing a 
mandatory tracking system for radiation sources in the United States 
and to chair a task force on radiation source protection and security. 
The task force, comprised of NRC, DOE and other federal agencies, in 
consultation with other groups, is to evaluate and provide 
recommendations relating to the security of radiation sources in the 
United States from potential terrorist threats, including acts of 
sabotage or theft or the use of radiation sources in a radiological 
dispersal device. 

DOE Has Increased Emphasis on Its Source Recovery Project and Begun 
Assessing Options for Disposing of GTCC Waste: 

DOE has placed increased emphasis on its source recovery project and 
has begun to assess disposal options for GTCC waste. DOE has realigned 
its source recovery project within NNSA to more effectively respond to 
both domestic and international threats posed by unwanted sealed 
radiological sources. Further, DOE has accelerated its recovery 
efforts, surpassing an earlier source recovery goal, and has made 
progress in resolving a storage space shortage at its facilities that 
has slowed the recovery of certain unwanted sealed radiological 
sources. Finally, DOE has begun preparing an environmental impact 
statement to assess possible disposal options for GTCC waste. However, 
difficulties in estimating current GTCC waste storage and future waste 
volumes, especially from sealed radiological sources, will complicate 
this effort. Further, DOE has not yet determined when a permanent GTCC 
waste disposal facility will be available. 

DOE Transferred Responsibility for the Source Recovery Project to NNSA: 

To better respond to the security threats posed by unwanted sealed 
radiological sources both within the United States and abroad, in 
October 2003, DOE realigned management responsibilities for its source 
recovery project from the Office of Environmental Management to 
NNSA.[Footnote 19] This realignment was, in part, a response to a 
recommendation to the Secretary of Energy that we made in our April 
2003 report that the priority given to its Off-Site Source Recovery 
Project be commensurate with the threat posed by some unwanted sealed 
radiological sources. Subsequently, NNSA established the Nuclear and 
Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force, under the Office of Defense 
Nuclear Nonproliferation, to unite all of the department's radiological 
threat reduction efforts. One of the principal missions of this task 
force is to identify; secure; and store, on an interim basis, 
radioactive materials that could be used as a radiological weapon. In 
May 2004, DOE announced the creation of the Global Threat Reduction 
Initiative, which further elevated the importance of the task force and 
DOE's recovery of sealed radiological sources. This initiative was 
later institutionalized in the Office of Global Radiological Threat 
Reduction, with a domestic component, the U.S. Radiological Threat 
Reduction Program, and an international component, the International 
Radiological Threat Reduction Program. The Off-Site Source Recovery 
Project was subsumed under the U.S. Radiological Threat Reduction 
Program, but the program retained Los Alamos National Laboratory 
personnel to continue the source recovery effort. 

DOE Accelerated Its Efforts to Recover Unwanted Sealed Radiological 
Sources: 

DOE accelerated the recovery of unwanted sealed radiological sources 
beginning in late 2002. As we reported in April 2003, DOE's ability to 
meet planned recovery activities was largely facilitated by 
supplemental congressional funding and by the urging of NRC to 
accelerate recovery efforts in light of the events of September 11, 
2001. In August 2002, the Congress provided an additional $10 million 
to DOE's Off-Site Source Recovery Project to recover 5,000 unwanted 
sealed radiological sources over the following 18 months.[Footnote 20] 
Between October 1, 2002, and March 31, 2004, DOE recovered 5,529 of 
these sources, exceeding its recovery goal and more than doubling the 
number of sources previously recovered since 1996. As of June 7, 2005, 
DOE had recovered 10,806 of these sources. According to the source 
recovery project leader, the bulk of the remaining excess and unwanted 
sealed radiological sources in the United States should be recovered in 
the next 2 years. Table 2 contains a summary of DOE-recovered sealed 
radiological sources, by radionuclide, as of June 7, 2005. 

Table 2: Summary of DOE-Recovered Sealed Radiological Sources, by 
Radionuclide, as of June 7, 2005: 

Radionuclide: Americium-241/Beryllium; 
Number of sources: 5,222; 
Percentage of total sources: 48.33%; 
Curies[A]: 11,657.48; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 7.77%. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-238; 
Number of sources: 1,907; 
Percentage of total sources: 17.65%; 
Curies[A]: 7,040.66; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 4.70%. 

Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Number of sources: 1,900; 
Percentage of total sources: 17.58%; 
Curies[A]: 464.07; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.31%. 

Radionuclide: Americium-241/Berylllium/Cesium-137; 
Number of sources: 552; 
Percentage of total sources: 5.11%; 
Curies[A]: 26.48; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.02%. 

Radionuclide: Cesium-137Cs; 
Number of sources: 363; 
Percentage of total sources: 3.36%; 
Curies[A]: 1,621.65; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 1.08%. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-239Pu/Beryllium; 
Number of sources: 255; 
Percentage of total sources: 2.36%; 
Curies[A]: 543.42; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.36%. 

Radionuclide: Colbalt-60; 
Number of sources: 197; 
Percentage of total sources: 1.82%; 
Curies[A]: 42,602.21; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 28.41%. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-238/Beryllium; 
Number of sources: 169; 
Percentage of total sources: 1.56%; 
Curies[A]: 2,186.87; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 1.46%. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-239; 
Number of sources: 99; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.92%; 
Curies[A]: 5.48; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.00%. 

Radionuclide: Neptunium-237; 
Number of sources: 25; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.23%; 
Curies[A]: 0.01; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.00%. 

Radionuclide: Americium-241/Cerium; 
Number of sources: 24; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.22%; 
Curies[A]: 51.00; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.03%. 

Radionuclide: Americium-241/Lithium; 
Number of sources: 22; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.20%; 
Curies[A]: 437.00; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.29%. 

Radionuclide: Curium-244; 
Number of sources: 18; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.17%; 
Curies[A]: 7.51; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.01%. 

Radionuclide: Radium-226; 
Number of sources: 17; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.16%; 
Curies[A]: 0.05; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.00%. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-238/Lithium; 
Number of sources: 16; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.15%; 
Curies[A]: 255.50; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.17%. 

Radionuclide: Strontium-90; 
Number of sources: 10; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.09%; 
Curies[A]: 82,958.85; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 55.33%. 

Radionuclide: Plutonium-238/Lithium/Cesium-137; 
Number of sources: 7; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.06%; 
Curies[A]: 66.10; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.05%. 

Radionuclide: Uranium-235; 
Number of sources: 2; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.02%; 
Curies[A]: 0.00; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.00%. 

Radionuclide: Americium-241/Boron; 
Number of sources: 1; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.01%; 
Curies[A]: 15.00; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.01%. 

Radionuclide: Total; 
Number of sources: 10,806; 
Percentage of total sources: 100.00%; 
Curies[A]: 149,939.34; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 100.00%. 

Source: DOE source recovery project inventory database. 

[A] A curie is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay; it is 
equivalent to the radioactivity of 1 gram of radium or 37 billion 
disintegrations per second. 

[End of table]

DOE has maintained its source recovery project efforts through annual 
and supplemental appropriations. In our April 2003 report, we 
recommended that the Secretary of Energy ensure that adequate resources 
be devoted to covering the costs of recovering and storing unwanted 
sealed radiological sources as quickly as possible. In a September 2004 
congressional hearing, the director of DOE's Office of Global 
Radiological Threat Reduction testified that the department had 
increased funding for the source recovery project and had committed 
funds for continuing these efforts.[Footnote 21] The director stated 
that the fiscal year 2004 program budget was $1.96 million, not 
including about $3.49 million that was added to the budget to respond 
in part to unexpected requests from NRC to recover sources of security 
concern.[Footnote 22] In fiscal year 2005, the source recovery project 
budget was increased to $5.6 million; for fiscal year 2006, DOE has 
requested $12.8 million, in part, to better fund the expanded scope of 
the U.S. Radiological Threat Reduction Program. The source recovery 
project leader has estimated an average recovery cost of $3,000 per 
source, on the basis of the initial 10,000 sources recovered, not 
including commercial disposal costs for certain sources. 

DOE plans to continue recovering unwanted sealed radiological sources, 
at least until a GTCC waste disposal site is available. In our April 
2003 report, we recommended that the Secretary of Energy develop a plan 
to ensure the continued recovery and storage of unwanted sealed 
radiological sources until a GTCC waste disposal site is available. We 
reported that DOE used several sources of information and made three 
key assumptions when projecting the anticipated need to recover 14,309 
sources between fiscal years 1999 and 2010. The assumptions were that 
(1) a permanent disposal site for the sources would be available by 
fiscal year 2007; (2) the Off-Site Source Recovery Project would 
continue to recover sources from certain holders of sources during a 
transition period from fiscal years 2007 through 2010; and (3) after 
fiscal year 2010, all unwanted sealed radiological sources would be 
shipped by their owners to a disposal site, and the Off-Site Source 
Recovery Project would cease operations. However, according to the 
manager of DOE's U.S. Radiological Threat Reduction Program, these 
assumptions are no longer used by the department because the lack of a 
firm date for when a GTCC waste disposal site will be available means 
that DOE cannot determine when it will cease recovering unwanted sealed 
radiological sources from licensees. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 
requires DOE to submit a plan to the Congress that ensures the 
continued recovery and storage of unwanted sealed radiological sources 
that pose a security threat until a permanent GTCC waste disposal 
facility is available. Further, this DOE manager told us that source 
recovery project personnel may still be needed to help some licensees 
to meet the packaging requirements of any future GTCC waste disposal 
facility. 

DOE Has Made Progress in Resolving a Storage Space Shortage That Has 
Slowed Recovery of Some Sealed Radiological Sources: 

DOE has taken actions to address the storage space shortage that has 
prevented the recovery of certain types of unwanted sealed radiological 
sources. We reported in April 2003 that DOE had inadequate storage 
capacity to meet the higher security needs for recovered sealed 
radiological sources containing plutonium-239, and lacked a means for 
temporarily storing sources containing strontium-90 and cesium-137. We 
recommended, among other things, that the Secretary of Energy take 
immediate action to provide storage space for these sources at a secure 
DOE facility. According to the director of DOE's Office of Global 
Radiological Threat Reduction, as of September 2004, DOE had developed 
sufficient storage space at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the 
Nevada Test Site to recover more than 260 plutonium-239 sealed 
radiological sources registered by licensees for collection. According 
to the source recovery project team leader, DOE's plan has been to 
recover over 100 remaining plutonium-239 registered sources, 
representing approximately 60 drums of waste;[Footnote 23] ship them to 
the Nevada Test Site; and then incrementally transfer them to the Los 
Alamos National Laboratory as space is made available from the shipment 
of the existing stored plutonium-239 sources to the Waste Isolation 
Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.[Footnote 24] WIPP will only accept 
sources that are shipped from Los Alamos. Implementation of this plan, 
however, has been delayed pending final approvals to ship these sources 
between locations. 

Additional progress has been made in addressing the storage issues that 
relate to unwanted strontium-90, cesium-137, and some cobalt-60 sealed 
radiological sources. According to the source recovery project team 
leader, DOE has recovered a strontium-90 radioisotopic thermoelectric 
generator that was owned by the department and used as a remote power 
supply and disposed of the generator at the Nevada Test Site. DOE also 
has recovered six of these devices that were commercially owned and is 
storing them at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, pending approval 
for disposal as waste. Regarding the cesium-137 sealed radiological 
sources, the source recovery project has recycled 5 large cesium-137 
irradiators to commercial firms. DOE has also contracted to recover the 
remaining 14 registered irradiators by the end of fiscal year 2005. 
Moreover, the team leader told us that the source recovery project 
plans to collect 221 cobalt-60 sources from a university this summer 
and to dispose of them at the Nevada Test Site as DOE-owned nuclear 
material. 

DOE Is Preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for GTCC Waste 
Disposal Options, but Estimating Storage and Future Waste Volumes Will 
Be Difficult: 

DOE has begun to take action to identify a suitable location for the 
disposal of GTCC waste, but producing useful estimates of the current 
storage and future generation of this waste will be difficult. We 
reported in April 2003 that DOE had not made progress toward providing 
for a permanent disposal facility for the nation's GTCC waste, and that 
it was unlikely to provide such a facility by fiscal year 2007 because 
developing a disposal site for this waste was considered a low priority 
within the department. We recommended that the Secretary of Energy 
initiate a process to develop a permanent disposal facility for GTCC 
waste, including empowering an office to take on this responsibility. 
In September 2004, DOE took a first step in this direction by 
transferring responsibility for assessing disposal options for GTCC 
waste from its Office of Environment, Safety, and Health to its Office 
of Environmental Management. With this authority and the heightened 
need to take action, on May 11, 2005, the Office of Environmental 
Management published an advance notice in the Federal Register of its 
intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for GTCC 
waste disposal.[Footnote 25] DOE now anticipates that the actual notice 
of intent to prepare the EIS will be issued in the fall of 2005, 
followed by public meetings to further define the scope of the EIS and 
to identify significant issues to be addressed. The DOE document 
manager for the EIS told us that after the notice of intent is issued, 
the process of preparing the EIS could take 2 years. The Energy Policy 
Act of 2005 requires that, within 1 year, DOE report to the Congress on 
the estimated costs and a proposed schedule to complete both the EIS 
and a record of decision for a permanent disposal facility for GTCC 
waste. Moreover, before DOE makes a final decision on the long-term 
disposal alternative or alternatives to be implemented, this act 
requires DOE to prepare a report to the Congress describing all 
alternatives under consideration, including recommendations for 
ensuring the safe disposal of GTCC waste, and then to await action by 
the Congress. Therefore, it is not possible for DOE to determine when a 
permanent disposal facility will be available for GTCC waste. 

In his September 2004 congressional testimony, the director of DOE's 
Office of Global Radiological Threat Reduction, stated that the EIS for 
GTCC waste disposal will include an analysis of waste inventories, long-
term disposition alternatives, and resource requirements--as well as an 
assessment of legislative, regulatory, and licensing requirements. 
According to the director, the broad scope of the EIS should enable DOE 
to consider any new or existing site, facility, and disposal method for 
GTCC waste. Possible locations and disposal options include commercial, 
DOE, or other governmental facilities and private land. The disposal 
methods examined will range from deep geologic disposal to enhanced 
near-surface disposal, depending on the type of GTCC waste. 

In completing the EIS, DOE plans to inventory the GTCC waste in storage 
at licensee and DOE facilities as well as estimate the waste expected 
to be generated in the future. According to the DOE document manager 
for the EIS, the department will obtain information on nuclear utility 
and DOE GTCC waste that is currently in storage and will estimate 
future volumes over the next 30 to 50 years on the basis of a 
representative sample of some nuclear power plants that are being 
decommissioned, and from existing DOE databases. For nonutility 
licensees, the information on the storage and projected generation of 
GTCC waste will be more speculative. This official said that DOE has 
selected a contractor to update the estimates made in a 1994 DOE report 
that the department now considers outdated.[Footnote 26] DOE asked the 
contractor to begin with the methodology used in the 1994 report to 
estimate current GTCC waste storage and to project future generation of 
these wastes by nonutility licensees, rather than attempt to survey all 
NRC and Agreement State licensees that might possess these radioactive 
materials. 

Attempting to obtain information on nonutility licensee storage of GTCC 
waste that can be used to estimate future generation of GTCC waste from 
sealed radiological sources will be especially difficult. Of the three 
types of GTCC waste, the second largest volume behind activated metals 
is from sealed radiological sources. Uncertainties surround producing 
these estimates, such as (1) how to determine the quantities of 
unwanted sealed radiological sources in storage and (2) how much waste 
and what class of waste might be generated once these sources are 
packaged for disposal. One estimating problem is that there is 
currently no standard process by which licensees declare their sealed 
radiological sources as disused (unwanted). According to an NRC 
official, sealed radiological sources would not be considered waste, 
even if they are stored unused by a licensee, until the licensee has 
determined that they are no longer useful. In addition, sealed 
radiological sources that are no longer useful may be returned to the 
source manufacturer or allowed to decrease in radioactivity 
concentration while in storage so that they can be disposed as a lower 
level waste class. Because licensees typically do not declare their 
disused (unwanted) sources as waste until they are packaged and ready 
for shipment to a waste broker or disposal site, it will be difficult 
for DOE to project when this type of waste might need disposal in a 
GTCC waste disposal facility. 

Another uncertainty in estimating the future quantities of GTCC waste 
is that the volume of waste generated by a small sealed radiological 
source is determined by the size of its disposal container and not by 
the size of the source or number of sources in the container. Disused 
sources are typically placed in 30-gallon or 55-gallon disposal drums. 
The number of sources put into one drum and the packing materials used 
are affected by the acceptance criteria of the disposal site. Figure 2 
shows a sequence of photographs depicting source recovery project 
personnel removing a 5-curie, plutonium-239/beryllium source and 
repackaging it into a 55-gallon drum especially designed to meet the 
acceptance criteria at WIPP. Source recovery project personnel told us 
that these drums cost between $5,000 and $6,000 each. The sealed 
radiological source held in pliers in the first photograph is clearly a 
fraction of the size of the 55-gallon disposal drum. 

Figure 2: Source Recovery Project Personnel Remove a Sealed 
Radiological Source and Repackage It into a WIPP-Acceptable Disposal 
Drum: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Figures 3 through 5 show photographs that illustrate the scale of 
sealed radiological sources relative to their devices as well as how 
the sources or their devices are packaged into more traditional 
disposal drums. 

Figure 3: Relative Size of a Sealed Radiological Source and Typical 
Disposal Drums: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Figure 4: A Cross Section of a Nuclear Gauge, and Leveling Gauges 
Returned to a Manufacturer: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Figure 5: Interior Views of Two 55-Gallon Disposal Drums, One with a 
Large Opening for an Entire Disused Device and the Other with a Narrow 
Pipe Opening for Only Sources: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Yet another uncertainty in projecting the future volume of GTCC waste 
from sealed radiological sources is that different types of 
radionuclides can comprise the sources used in a device, and, depending 
on the radionuclide used, the age of the source, and how the source is 
packaged for disposal, the device can fall into different classes of 
waste. For example, as shown in table 4 in appendix II, six different 
radionuclides can be used as the source in an industrial radiography 
device. Further, the sources that can be used in this industrial 
radiography device can produce non-GTCC and GTCC waste, depending in 
part on how much radioactivity remains in the source when it is 
disposed of and how the source is packaged. For example, a 5-curie, 
cesium-137 sealed radiological source that is used in a device might 
fall into a GTCC waste class when packaged if little of the source is 
depleted; but once it becomes unwanted and then packaged in a 55-gallon 
disposal drum with nonradioactive filler material, it might fall into 
the non-GTCC waste class because its radioactivity, as averaged over 
the entire volume of the drum, would be lower. 

DOE Expanded the Scope of Its Source Recovery Project to Include Non- 
GTCC Waste, Which Could Increase Project Expenditures: 

DOE has expanded its source recovery efforts to include all sealed 
radiological sources that could present a threat, a change that could 
increase project expenditures. DOE's source recovery project now 
includes, among other activities, the recovery and commercial disposal 
of non-GTCC waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources that pose a 
health, safety, security, or environmental threat. The recovery and 
commercial disposal of more of these types of sealed radiological 
sources from licensees that cannot afford to dispose of them today, in 
addition to the recovery of higher radioactive sources, is likely to 
increase DOE project expenditures. Further, DOE may need to recover 
even more non-GTCC waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources in 
the future if licensees in many states lose access to the only 
commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal site where they can 
currently dispose of higher radioactive non-GTCC waste (classes B and C 
waste). This increased recovery of non-GTCC waste from sealed 
radiological sources will place greater demands on source recovery 
project expenditures because of impediments to DOE's recouping recovery 
costs from licensees that could otherwise cover their source disposal 
costs if there were disposal availability. In the absence of access to 
commercial disposal, DOE anticipates the need to indefinitely store the 
recovered non-GTCC waste until a commercial disposal option becomes 
available. DOE's current policy does not include using DOE sites to 
permanently dispose of this waste because, among other reasons, it does 
not want to undermine the authority the Congress gave to the states to 
provide disposal availability for non-GTCC waste. 

DOE Has Recovered and Commercially Disposed of Some Non-GTCC Waste: 

The expanded scope of the source recovery project now includes, among 
other activities, the collection and commercial disposal of non-GTCC 
waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources that pose a health, 
safety, security, or environmental threat.[Footnote 27] Responsibility 
for the safe management and disposal of these radioactive materials is 
normally held by those entities that NRC or the Agreement States 
license to possess and use these materials. However, in some cases, 
licensees are unable to (1) ensure the safe and secure use of these 
materials or (2) cover the disposal costs of their unwanted sealed 
radiological sources. For example, according to the source recovery 
project leader, at the request of NRC, DOE commercially disposed of its 
first significant quantities of non-GTCC waste during fiscal year 2004. 
Source recovery project personnel collected 443 unwanted sealed 
radiological sources (containing cesium-137, cobalt-60, or radium-226) 
from a bankrupt firm in Pennsylvania and commercially disposed of most 
of them at the Barnwell, South Carolina, disposal site. In commenting 
on a draft of this report, DOE provided examples of other non-GTCC 
waste from sealed radiological sources that it had recovered. 

Under the expanded scope of the source recovery project, DOE has 
developed a priority scheme for deciding which sources to recover and 
when to do so. According to the director of DOE's Office of Global 
Radiological Threat Reduction, DOE has been working with the Department 
of Homeland Security and other agencies, in addition to NRC, to 
determine the sources that should receive the highest priority for 
recovery, including those that when disposed of would not be considered 
GTCC waste. In addition, the manager of DOE's U.S. Radiological Threat 
Reduction Program told us that DOE and NRC are also in the process of 
revising the 1999 memorandum of understanding that defined the 
responsibilities of each agency with respect to the problem of unwanted 
and uncontrolled sealed radiological sources to better reflect current 
DOE recovery practices. The source recovery project leader provided us 
with an initial priority ranking scheme for recovering sources that is 
used by DOE, as well as some other factors that DOE considers. The 
initial ranking involves combining three factors into an overall risk 
ranking for each licensee site that contains sealed radiological 
sources. These factors include the level of security over the source at 
a licensee site, the total quantity of radioactive material present, 
and the quantity of radioactive material in any single sealed 
radiological source to a licensee site. Other factors that DOE 
considers when prioritizing sources at recover include the opportunity 
of recovering additional unwanted sealed radiological sources that 
source recovery personnel may discover during their visit at a licensee 
site. For example, the source recovery project leader told us that if 
team members come across vulnerable sealed radiological sources of 
lesser radioactivity at a location where they are recovering higher 
radioactive sources, they will collect them as well. 

Recovery of More Non-GTCC Waste from Sealed Radiological Sources Could 
Increase Project Expenditures Because DOE Cannot Recoup Recovery Costs: 

DOE has already incurred additional expenses to recover and 
commercially dispose of non-GTCC waste from unwanted sealed 
radiological sources. It cost DOE approximately $581,000 to recover 
hundreds of these sources that had accumulated at a bankrupt firm in 
Pennsylvania and to commercially dispose of them. The Barnwell disposal 
site received 15 of the 16, 55-gallon and 30-gallon drums of this non- 
GTCC waste and charged DOE a $1,650 per-cubic-foot disposal fee. For 
example, the disposal fee and container cost for just 1, 55-gallon 
disposal drum holding 130 of the recovered cesium-137 sealed 
radiological sources cost DOE about $21,000, not including labor, 
transport, and other costs. Additional DOE recovery of non-GTCC waste 
from licensees that currently need to store their sources and other 
waste because they do not want to or cannot pay these high disposal 
fees may be necessary in the future. According to the deputy director 
of DOE's Office of Global Radiological Threat Reduction, because of the 
cost involved, encouraging those licensees that have sealed 
radiological sources to dispose of them properly has proven difficult, 
particularly with entities that only have a few sources. NRC can impose 
fines as high as three times the cost of commercial disposal on a 
licensee that fails to properly dispose of radioactive 
material.[Footnote 28] However, a senior NRC official has publicly 
acknowledged the difficulty that licensees with only a few unwanted 
sources have in finding a cost-effective means for disposing of them. 

DOE is currently impeded from recouping more of its recovery and 
storage costs for GTCC waste as well as any non-GTCC wastes that it may 
need to recover. Regarding GTCC waste, since DOE issued its 1987 report 
on how it planned to address its responsibilities under the Low-Level 
Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980, as amended, no specific action 
has been taken to identify a different method of funding the source 
recovery project, other than through the appropriations process. 
According to the manager of DOE's U.S. Radiological Threat Reduction 
Program, DOE has been unable to establish a standard fee for recovering 
unwanted sealed radiological sources from licensees because existing 
cost recovery mechanisms require the department to know both the number 
of years that these sources will be stored and the cost of their 
disposal before setting a fee, which is not currently possible. 
Regarding non-GTCC waste, the sources recovered to date were primarily 
from a commercial firm that had gone bankrupt and did not have the 
necessary funds to cover the cost of disposing of its sources. DOE had 
to cover the recovery and commercial disposal costs because there was 
no other source of funding. One of the reporting requirements for the 
task force on radiation source protection and security, required under 
the Energy Policy Act of 2005, is to provide recommendations for 
appropriate regulatory and legislative changes for the establishment 
of, or modification to, a national system (including user fees and 
other methods) to provide for the proper disposal of sealed 
radiological sources under the act. 

DOE May Need to Recover and Dispose of More Non-GTCC Waste If Licensees 
Have No Disposal Option, Further Increasing Demands on Project 
Expenditures: 

In the future, DOE may have to recover more non-GTCC waste from sealed 
radiological sources if licensees that are forced to store their 
unwanted sources because they have no access to a disposal site. As we 
reported in June 2004, if South Carolina follows through with plans to 
restrict access to the Barnwell disposal site to only the three member 
states of the Atlantic Compact by mid-2008, and if no disposal 
alternative for the more highly radioactive non-GTCC waste (classes B 
and C waste) is developed, licensees in 36 states that are presently 
allowed to use this site will need to store more of their unwanted 
radioactive materials. Although NRC does not place time limits on the 
storage of radioactive materials as long as they are safe and secure, 
greater quantities and longer periods of storage, particularly of 
unwanted sealed radiological sources, will likely increase safety and 
security risks. In January 2002, NRC sent a letter to DOE requesting 
that the source recovery project take actions to recover registered 
unwanted sealed radiological sources because the possession and storage 
of these sources with no GTCC waste disposal outlet represented a 
potential health and safety threat. Regarding non-GTCC waste from 
unwanted sealed radiological sources, the manager of DOE's U.S. 
Radiological Threat Reduction Program told us that DOE will likely need 
to increase the recovery of these sources if licensees have no 
commercial disposal option for this waste. Domestic and international 
experts contend that the lack of disposal availability for unwanted 
sealed radiological sources can increase their risk of abandonment, 
misplacement, and theft. For example, the Health Physics 
Society[Footnote 29] stated that the lack of a GTCC and non-GTCC waste 
disposal option for unwanted sealed radiological sources that pose 
security and public health concerns will continue to increase the 
number of orphan sources. Further, IAEA has reported that disused 
(unwanted) sources represent the largest pool of vulnerable and 
potential orphan sources.[Footnote 30] If DOE were to begin recovering 
more non-GTCC waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources, even 
greater demands will be placed on DOE recovery project resources if DOE 
cannot recoup some of its recovery costs from licensees. While DOE is 
justified in covering the recovery and commercially disposal cost of 
the non-GTCC waste it has collected from licensees that could not 
afford to dispose of it themselves, the department may be able to 
recoup some of its costs in the future from licensees that could afford 
the cost of disposal if it were commercially available. 

It is difficult to estimate the budgetary impact on DOE if there were a 
need to increase the recovery of unwanted sealed radiological sources 
from licensees that have no access to a commercial disposal site for 
their higher radioactive non-GTCC waste. One reason for this situation 
is the lack of information on the number of sources in storage that 
might need DOE recovery. As we reported August 2003, there is no 
national database on the quantities of sealed radiological sources in 
storage. Moreover, there is no national database that tracks the 
storage of any low-level radioactive waste. Given the lack of national 
data on how much waste is generated annually, the disposal data from 
low-level radioactive waste disposal operators can only provide an 
indication of the quantity of disused or unwanted sealed radiological 
sources and other waste that might need storage each year in the 
absence of disposal availability. Nevertheless, we found that between 
2001 and 2004, the Barnwell disposal site disposed of, on average, 
31,150 cubic feet of the higher radioactive non-GTCC waste (classes B 
and C waste), of which about 588 cubic feet, or about 2 percent of the 
total, was derived from disused sealed radiological sources.[Footnote 
31] Approximately one-half of the sealed radiological source waste 
(about 56 percent) came from private industry, followed by government 
agencies (about 25 percent), colleges and universities (about 11 
percent), and medical waste (about 4 percent). If DOE recovered, took 
title of, and commercially disposed of all non-GTCC waste from sealed 
radiological sources that are sent to the Barnwell disposal site 
annually, it might cost DOE approximately $1 million a year just to 
cover the disposal cost at the current $1,700 cubic foot disposal fee 
rate. However, until DOE has better information on the number of 
sources that may need to be recovered and future disposal costs, 
including recovery, packaging, transport, and other costs, it will be 
difficult to accurately estimate future costs of recovering non-GTCC 
waste. 

Lack of Commercial Disposal Availability Could Heighten Interest in 
Using DOE Sites for Disposal: 

If licensees lose access to commercial disposal sites for their higher 
radioactive non-GTCC waste in the future, DOE will likely have to 
recover more of this waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources, 
which could heighten interest in using DOE sites for disposal of these 
wastes. The manager of DOE's U.S. Radiological Threat Reduction Program 
told us that although DOE is not legally prohibited from permanently 
disposing of, at DOE sites, the recovered non-GTCC waste for which it 
has taken title, it would not want to do so. This DOE manager said that 
on the basis of current policy, DOE would indefinitely store any 
recovered non-GTCC waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources at 
its sites until commercial disposal is available or DOE receives other 
congressional guidance. The DOE manager provided three reasons to 
justify this current policy. First, DOE does not want to undermine the 
responsibility given by the Congress to the states to provide disposal 
availability for non-GTCC waste under the Low-Level Radioactive Waste 
Policy Act of 1980, as amended. Second, DOE is not allowed to compete 
with commercial waste companies for the disposal of non-GTCC waste. 
Finally, DOE does not want to dispose of the relatively small quantity 
of recovered non-GTCC waste at its sites because this might set a 
precedent for disposing of all non-GTCC waste that does not have a 
commercial disposal pathway. However, in lieu of storing this non-GTCC 
waste, this DOE manager suggested that DOE could, under emergency 
access provisions, approach the regulatory bodies that have 
jurisdiction over commercial disposal sites to obtain disposal access. 
Despite DOE's current policy regarding what it would do in the future 
with recovered non-GTCC waste if there were no commercial disposal 
availability, there have been calls to consider using DOE sites for the 
disposal of this waste. Our June 2004 report[Footnote 32] discussed 
some issues that would need to be resolved to use DOE sites for this 
waste, including the feasibility of DOE's accepting all non-GTCC waste, 
the responsibility for paying for the disposal of this waste, and the 
licensing and regulatory responsibilities covering its disposal. 

DOE Lacks Information to Better Identify Unwanted Sealed Radiological 
Sources That May Need Recovery: 

DOE lacks information that would assist in its efforts to identify and 
recover unwanted sealed radiological sources that pose a safety or 
security risk. Although DOE maintains an inventory of recovered sealed 
radiological sources and sources registered for future recovery, 
neither DOE nor any other government agency has centrally tracked the 
number of sources in the United States or the number of unwanted 
sources in storage at licensee sites across the country. Under the 
current regulatory structure, NRC and Agreement states only know the 
authorized uses and maximum quantities allowed for each licensee, not 
what they actually possess. As a result, DOE has no means of 
determining the actual number of sealed radiological sources that may 
require recovery in the future. NRC is currently developing a national 
source tracking system to, among other things, identify the possession 
and movement of some high-risk sealed radiological sources. However, as 
presently designed, this tracking system lacks information that DOE 
might find useful in planning and budgeting for the recovery of 
unwanted sealed radiological sources and their eventual disposal. 

DOE Has Information on Sealed Radiological Sources Already Recovered 
and Limited Information on Those to Be Recovered: 

The source recovery project maintains its own inventory of sealed 
radiological sources that have been recovered and are in storage, and 
those that licensees or NRC have asked DOE to recover. According to the 
source recovery project team leader, the accuracy of the information on 
a sealed radiological source in this inventory improves from when a 
licensee initially registers the source; to when source recovery 
personnel have follow-up conversations with the licensee to clarify the 
recovery request for the source; to when the source recovery project 
team actually visits the site to physically inspect the source, record 
its serial number, and package it for disposal. The source recovery 
project team leader told us that the information on sources initially 
registered is less accurate because the licensee may not know anything 
about their source, or a licensee might inadvertently provide incorrect 
information about the source, such as its radionuclide and 
radioactivity concentration. Once recovered, the information in the 
source recovery project inventory includes the type of radionuclide, 
serial number, size, radioactivity concentration, and method of 
packaging for storage or disposal. The source recovery project team 
leader told us that this inventory is designed to assist in 
administrative planning, scheduling and prioritizing recoveries, 
tracking shipments, and documenting storage or disposal locations. 

Information on the recovered sealed radiological sources in DOE's 
possession is then integrated into DOE's Radiological Source Registry 
and Tracking System. This departmentwide inventory system was 
established in November 2003, in response to a recommendation of the 
DOE/NRC Interagency Working Group on Radiological Dispersal Devices. 
The tracking system is managed by DOE's Office of Plutonium, Uranium, 
and Special Materials Inventory and maintained at Sandia National 
Laboratories. DOE designed its system to help (1) monitor the safety 
and security of all DOE-owned sealed radiological sources that meet a 
certain threshold size and radioactivity concentration and (2) provide 
information on the potential threat they pose. In addition to 
descriptive information on the type of sealed radioactive source and 
its location within the DOE complex, this tracking system also records 
data on the source's status--such as whether the source is in active 
use; is inaccessible and, thus, not being used; is in storage for 
potential future use; or is packaged and awaiting final disposal. 

DOE Cannot Determine How Many Unwanted Sealed Sources May Need 
Recovery: 

Because neither DOE nor any other government agency has centrally 
tracked the number of sealed radiological sources in the United States 
at any given time or the number of unwanted sources held by NRC and 
Agreement States licensees, DOE has few available means of estimating 
the quantities of sources that may need recovery in the future. Under 
the current regulatory structure, NRC and the Agreement States only 
have information on the authorized uses and maximum quantities of 
radioactive materials licensees are allowed to possess, although each 
licensee is responsible for maintaining inventories of its individual 
sources. Further, the source recovery project inventory contains only 
information that licensees have voluntarily provided to DOE on their 
unwanted sealed radiological sources and more limited voluntary 
registration of sources that may require recovery in the future. The 
information on sealed radiological sources that NRC provides to DOE for 
scheduling recovery only captures those sources that NRC or Agreement 
States are aware of that need recovery and does not include sources 
that licensees may possess that are unwanted. Consequently, neither of 
these methods for obtaining information provides the kind of data that 
DOE can use to estimate future quantities of sealed radiological 
sources that may need recovery. According to the manager of DOE's U.S. 
Radiological Threat Reduction Program, because the source recovery 
project has no information on the number of sources in current use or 
in storage, DOE is limited in its ability to provide useful estimates 
of the quantities of sealed radiological sources that DOE might need to 
recover in the future. 

The Proposed National Source Tracking System Is Not Designed to Collect 
Some Information That Could Be Useful to DOE: 

NRC plans to develop a national source tracking system that will 
register certain sealed radiological sources possessed by licensees 
and/or DOE. In November 2003, NRC, in cooperation with the Agreement 
States, contacted 2,600 entities licensed to possess IAEA categories 1 
and 2 sources in an effort to capture for the first time national data 
on the actual type, quantities, and current ownership of these sources. 
Over 99 percent of these licensees voluntarily reported information 
back to NRC, but only about one-half of them reported that they 
possessed these sources. NRC has already conducted a follow-up survey 
of a portion of these licensees, and other surveys are planned leading 
up to an implementation of the national source tracking system in 2007. 
Although licensees are requested to volunteer information for these 
interim surveys, NRC issued a proposed rule in July 2005[Footnote 33] 
that would, among other things, require licensees to provide an 
inventory of their sealed radiological sources; annually verify and 
reconcile their actual inventory with the information registered in the 
system; and report certain transactions, such as the date of 
manufacture, transfer, or disposal of their sealed radiological 
sources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires that NRC issue 
regulations, within 1 year, establishing this mandatory tracking system 
that shall be coordinated with systems established by the Department of 
Transportation to track the shipment of radiation sources. Such a 
tracking system must, among other things, provide for the reporting of 
required information through a secure Internet connection. 

As presently designed, NRC's national source tracking system will 
inventory and monitor primarily IAEA categories 1 and 2 sources--the 
minimum required under the 2004 IAEA Code of Conduct--despite support 
from IAEA and DOE for tracking additional source categories and other 
information.[Footnote 34] In its July 2003 technical document detailing 
the methodology behind the IAEA source categorization scheme, IAEA 
suggested that member states consider the combined radioactivity of 
aggregated sealed radiological sources in one location for the purpose 
of categorizing these sources on the basis of their potential to cause 
harm to human health.[Footnote 35] Using this methodology, the 
accumulation of enough individual IAEA category 3 sources in close 
proximity to one another would yield concentrations of radioactive 
material equivalent to a single IAEA category 2 source. For example, 
storing 15 well-logging devices in close proximity (each well-logging 
device typically contains a 2-curie, cesium-137 source, which is an 
IAEA category 3 source) would be equivalent to having a 30-curie, 
cesium-137 source in this location, which is an IAEA category 2 source. 

Almost all of the unwanted sealed radiological sources recovered by DOE 
would fall into categories below IAEA categories 1 and 2 and, 
therefore, would not have been registered in the national source 
tracking system as presently designed. According to the manager of 
DOE's U.S. Radiological Threat Reduction Program, over 90 percent of 
the sites where DOE has recovered sealed radiological sources had 
quantities of lesser radioactive sources that when aggregated were 
equivalent to an individual IAEA category 2 source and, thus, posed 
enough of a safety and security risk to warrant their recovery. This 
recovery has been justified despite the fact that the total curie level 
of all the recovered IAEA category 3 sources was only about 15 percent 
of the curie level of the relatively few recovered categories 1 and 2 
sources, and without regard to whether the sources might or might not 
have been located in close proximity at each of the licensee sites. In 
a 2004 technical document, IAEA suggested that it would be beneficial 
from both a safety and security viewpoint for all disused or unwanted 
sealed radiological sources to be identified and to undergo proper 
disposition.[Footnote 36] According to IAEA, the quality of a country's 
national registry of radioactive sources will be a prime indicator of 
the probability of there being vulnerable and orphan sources. History 
has shown that many accidents involving orphan sources come about 
because sources that are no longer in use are eventually forgotten, 
with subsequent loss of control years later. Table 3 shows a breakdown 
of the sealed radiological sources that DOE has recovered, by their 
IAEA source category, as of June 7, 2005. As shown in the table, about 
98.5 percent of these sources fall below category 2 and, therefore, 
would not have been tracked in the proposed national source tracking 
system. 

Table 3: DOE-Recovered Sealed Radiological Sources, by Their IAEA 
Source Category, as of June 7, 2005: 

IAEA source category: Category 1; 
Number of sources: 37; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.34%; 
Curies[A]: 78,984.07; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 52.68%. 

IAEA source category: Category 2; 
Number of sources: 129; 
Percentage of total sources: 1.19%; 
Curies[A]: 50,181.55; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 33.47%. 

IAEA source category: Category 3; 
Number of sources: 4,941; 
Percentage of total sources: 45.73%; 
Curies[A]: 19,540.26; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 13.03%. 

IAEA source category: Categories 4 and 5; 
Number of sources: 5,672; 
Percentage of total sources: 52.49%; 
Curies[A]: 1,233.43; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.82%. 

IAEA source category: Uncategorized[B]; 
Number of sources: 27; 
Percentage of total sources: 0.25%; 
Curies[A]: 0.01; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 0.00%. 

IAEA source category: Total; 
Number of sources: 10,806; 
Percentage of total sources: 100.00%; 
Curies[A]: 149,939.32; 
Percentage of total curies[A]: 100.00%. 

Source: DOE source recovery project inventory database. 

[A] A curie is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay; it is 
equivalent to the radioactivity of 1 gram of radium or 37 billion 
disintegrations per second. 

[B] Uncategorized sources contain radionuclides that are not covered by 
an IAEA source category. 

[End of table]

In the proposed rule to implement a national source tracking system, 
NRC states that it does not plan to include IAEA category 3 sources in 
the registry at this time, but that it may consider doing so in the 
future because licensees possessing a large quantity of IAEA category 3 
sources could present a security concern. Although NRC contends that 
reliable tracking of the accumulation of IAEA category 3 sources will 
be difficult and might pose a potential burden on licensees, NRC is 
seeking comments on the inclusion of these sources in its tracking 
system. NRC stated in its notice of intent that one way to address the 
accumulation of sources of concern would be to lower the threshold for 
source tracking to include all IAEA category 3 sources, since a source 
level tracking system cannot include aggregation of sources because the 
sources may move in and out of the tracking system with the change of 
ownership. However, in commenting on a draft of this report, NRC stated 
that in lieu of the inclusion of category 3 sources in the proposed 
national source tracking system at this time, its new security orders 
for licensees possessing IAEA categories 1 and 2 sources do, where 
appropriate, address aggregation of any sources below these two 
categories, such that the net result could reach the category 2 
threshold in a given physical location. Nevertheless, it does not 
appear that these new security orders would apply to licensees that do 
not possess IAEA categories 1 and 2 sources but still have large 
accumulations of IAEA category 3 or lesser source categories. 

The national source tracking system, as designed, also would not 
collect other information that DOE might find useful in budgeting and 
planning for source recovery and future disposal needs for GTCC waste. 
Recent IAEA technical guidance states that it is important to capture 
information on the frequency of use of the source in a national 
registry of sealed radiological sources--for example, whether the 
source is actually being used or whether it is being stored 
securely.[Footnote 37] DOE already inventories such information on 
sources in its possession in its Radioactive Source Registry and 
Tracking System. DOE initially requested that NRC collect information 
on licensees' disposal plans in its interim survey, including whether 
the licensees were planning to have DOE recover their sources. NRC 
included this question in its first survey of licensees but has decided 
to drop it in subsequent surveys and in the design of the tracking 
system, because of the low response rate to this question and because 
its security regulations currently do not require licensees to report 
this information. However, NRC is contemplating adding a feature to the 
design of its anticipated national source tracking system that would 
capture information on the long-term storage of some sealed 
radiological sources, although it would be voluntary for licensees to 
provide this information. 

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires NRC to chair an interagency task 
force on radiation source protection and security. Within 1 year of its 
creation, the task is to prepare a report to the Congress and the 
President providing recommendations for a list of additional radiation 
sources that should be required to be secured as well as any necessary 
modifications to the national source tracking system. In addition, the 
task force is also charged with making recommendations in this report 
regarding the creation of, or modification to, procedures for 
improving, among other things, the security of stored sources, 
including periodic audits or investigations by NRC to ensure that these 
sources are properly secured and can be fully accounted for. 

Conclusions: 

DOE and NRC have important roles and responsibilities in ensuring the 
safety and security of radiological sealed sources. The recently 
enacted Energy Policy Act of 2005, among other things, adds new 
requirements for both agencies, including the creation of a task force 
on radiation source protection and security, chaired by NRC, and 
continued recovery by DOE of unwanted sources until it provides a 
disposal site for GTCC waste. The responsibilities for DOE may expand 
further if licensees in most states lose access to the only disposal 
site for their higher radioactive non-GTCC waste by mid-2008. 
Specifically: 

* Loss of access would increase the quantities of non-GTCC waste in 
storage that could necessitate more recovery of this waste by DOE. 
This, in turn, might lead to increased costs for DOE's source recovery 
efforts. However, how much additional funding will be necessary for 
this effort would be difficult to ascertain for several reasons, 
including uncertainties regarding the quantity of non-GTCC waste that 
might need collection. 

* These increased recovery and disposal costs will be incurred by DOE 
unless other mechanisms are adopted to recoup these costs, especially 
from those licensees that would be able to cover them if commercial 
disposal were available. 

* The increasing quantities of non-GTCC waste that will not have a 
commercial disposal pathway could heighten interest in using DOE sites 
for the disposal of this waste. 

* The lack of information to track the number and status of sealed 
radiological sources that may require recovery and disposal in the 
future, limits DOE's ability to effectively plan and budget for its 
recovery and disposal efforts and to monitor the performance of its 
source recovery project. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

We recommend that the Secretary of Energy and the Chairman of the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in collaboration with the Task Force on 
Radiation Source Protection and Security, evaluate and report on: 

* the cost implications of a potential expansion of DOE's recovery and 
disposal of non-GTCC waste from sealed radiological sources,

* options for DOE to recoup these costs from licensees that may have no 
commercial waste disposal options,

* the feasibility of disposing of this waste at DOE sites, and: 

* how a national source tracking system can be designed and implemented 
to improve DOE's ability to identify and track sealed radiological 
sources that may need DOE recovery and disposal. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided a draft of this report to DOE and NRC for their review and 
comment. DOE's written comments are reproduced in appendix III. DOE 
stated that it generally supports the recommendations contained in this 
report. More specifically, DOE commented that we had correctly reported 
the department's position with respect to recouping recovery and 
disposal costs; however, the department expressed some concern that 
charging fees or recouping costs from licensees may inhibit them from 
registering sources, leaving these excess sources at risk. We 
acknowledge in the report that DOE should cover the recovery, storage, 
and disposal costs of unwanted sealed radiological sources that were 
previously owned by DOE. We also acknowledge the need for DOE to cover 
these costs in cases where sources posing a health, safety, security, 
or environmental threat are recovered from licensees that do not have 
the financial means to ensure their proper disposal. Nevertheless, 
given the possibility that, in most states, there may not be a 
commercial disposal option available to licensees for their higher 
radioactive non-GTCC waste after mid-2008, we continue to believe that 
DOE and NRC should evaluate approaches to recoup recovery and disposal 
costs from licensees that could otherwise afford to cover these costs 
if a commercial disposal option were available. DOE also stated that, 
in addition to the non-GTCC sealed source waste that we stated it 
recovered and disposed, it had also recovered other sources that fall 
into this waste class. We added a reference to these other sources in 
the report. Regarding using DOE sites for non-GTCC waste disposal, the 
department commented that we appropriately noted its current policy and 
statutory responsibilities that prohibit the use of department 
facilities for this purpose. DOE stated that it would continue to 
identify potential commercial treatments or disposal options for any 
additional non-GTCC waste that is recovered. Finally, DOE concurred 
with our assessment that the proposed national source tracking system 
should be improved to assist the department in identifying and 
recovering unwanted sources from outside the department that pose a 
potential safety and security risk. DOE stated that its Office of 
Security is working with other elements of the department and NRC in 
developing requirements to ensure that these unwanted sources are 
adequately tracked. 

NRC also provided written comments to a draft of this report, which are 
reproduced in appendix IV. NRC stated that overall our report was well 
written and balanced. While NRC did not specifically agree or disagree 
with our four recommendations, its letter raised seven issues regarding 
the proposed national source tracking system. 

1. NRC stated that its tracking system would provide some information 
useful to DOE. We agree that the national source tracking system might 
provide some information useful to DOE in its recovery of IAEA 
categories 1 and 2 sources. However, since we found that only 1.5 
percent of the sources recovered by DOE as of June 7, 2005, were in 
these two categories, it appears that the national source tracking 
system would yield little, if any, practical benefits to DOE. 

2. NRC stated that requiring the reporting of certain information that 
our report asserts DOE would find useful, such as frequency of source 
use, could be extremely burdensome on licensees and NRC and would yield 
little, if any, practical benefits. NRC provided no support for this 
contention or for why it cannot overcome these burdens as it has done 
in justifying the reporting requirements proposed for licensees 
possessing IAEA categories 1 and 2 sources. In addition, NRC stated in 
its notice of proposed rulemaking for the national source tracking 
system that most licensees already have systems in which information on 
sources is maintained, and that NRC's tracking system is designed to 
ease the reporting burden for these licensees. As to the comment on the 
practical benefit of tracking the use of high-risk radioactive 
materials, our report notes that the most vulnerable sources to 
abandonment, misplacement, and theft are those that are unwanted and in 
storage. Therefore, it seems reasonable to attempt to collect some 
information on frequency of source use, particularly if the storage of 
sources were to increase in the future in the absence of a commercial 
disposal option for the higher radioactive non-GTCC waste. 

3. NRC commented that our report did not accurately characterize some 
issues involving IAEA category 3 sources, mainly regarding our claim 
that IAEA-TECDOC-1388 suggested that category 3 sources be tracked. NRC 
claimed that the IAEA document did not make this suggestion and 
provided some passages from the document to support its position. We 
believe that NRC's comments in this regard reflect a narrow view of the 
guidance provided by IAEA. For example, in IAEA's discussion of disused 
(unwanted) sources in this technical document, it clearly suggests a 
need to identify these sources and to gather information on their 
frequency of use. 

"Disused sources represent the largest pool of vulnerable and potential 
orphan sources. History has shown that many accidents involving orphan 
sources come about because sources that are no longer in use are 
eventually forgotten, with subsequent loss of control years later. To 
this end, it is beneficial from both a safety and security viewpoint 
for all disused sources to be identified [emphasis added] and to 
undergo proper disposition…. Licensees are discouraged from proper 
disposal of disused sources by the cost involved, by the bureaucracy of 
doing so, or by the lack of an available disposal option…. It is clear 
that information needs to be gathered by those developing a national 
strategy regarding the status of at least all [emphasis added] Category 
1, 2 and 3 sources on the licensee's inventory or national registry so 
that appropriate decisions can be made regarding them. Generally, this 
will involve asking the licensee or owner of the source about its 
frequency of use [emphasis added]."

4. In support of its decision not to track IAEA category 3 sources at 
this time, NRC drew attention to its other regulatory efforts, 
especially its new security orders for some licensees that possess IAEA 
categories 1 and 2 sources. NRC stated that, where appropriate, these 
security orders address aggregation of any sources (IAEA category 3 
sources and below) such that the net result could reach the category 2 
source threshold in a given physical location. Despite these security 
orders, NRC's source tracking system would not include IAEA category 3 
sources and below. However, NRC stated in its notice of proposed 
rulemaking for the national source tracking system, that it is seeking 
comments on the inclusion of IAEA category 3 sources in the registry 
because licensees possessing large quantities of these sources could 
present a security concern. 

5. NRC pointed out that, as we reported, the actions it is taking to 
track IAEA categories 1 and 2 sources are consistent with the IAEA Code 
of Conduct and the Energy Policy Act of 2005. However, NRC failed to 
mention, as we do in our report, that this legislation also directs NRC 
to chair an interagency task force to provide a report, within 1 year, 
to the Congress and the President with recommendations for, among other 
things, additional radiation sources that should be required to be 
secured as well as any modifications necessary to the national source 
tracking system. We believe that our report provides ample support for 
areas where NRC, in collaboration with DOE and other federal agencies, 
might consider modifying the design of the national source tracking 
system to better assist DOE in planning and budgeting for the recovery 
and disposal of unwanted sealed radiological sources. 

6. NRC commented that it does not matter that almost all of the sources 
that DOE has recovered are below IAEA categories 1 and 2 sources 
because, according to NRC, the greatest risk from a source is its 
radioactivity level. The radioactivity of an individual source is 
clearly one measure of its potential safety and security risk. However, 
as our report notes, DOE's recovery efforts, often at the request of 
NRC, are not solely dictated by the radioactivity of an individual 
source, but more broadly the health, safety, security, or environmental 
threat posed by the aggregated radioactivity of many unwanted sources 
that are typically in storage at licensee sites around the country. Our 
report also notes that unwanted sources in storage tend to be the most 
vulnerable to abandonment, misplacement, and theft despite requirements 
that licensees keep track of the radioactive materials they possess. 
Some of the lesser radioactive sources are frequently found by DOE to 
be kept in quantities where their aggregated radioactivity would be 
equivalent to an IAEA category 2 source that would present a security 
concern. These lesser radioactive sources also may be more susceptible 
to inadvertent loss, which has already led in some cases to radiation 
exposure, high decontamination costs, and public panic. IAEA 
acknowledged in its Code of Conduct that its categorization of high- 
risk radiological sources is based on health effects and does not fully 
take into account the range of impacts that could result from accidents 
or malicious acts involving radioactive sources. 

7. NRC stressed in its comments that DOE, through its representatives 
on NRC working groups and committees developing the national source 
tracking system, has had the opportunity to provide input on the design 
of the system and the potential usefulness of the system to assist its 
source recovery efforts. Regardless of DOE's opportunities to provide 
input to NRC, DOE officials raised concerns to us during the course of 
our work about the usefulness of NRC's source tracking system. 
Furthermore, in commenting on our draft report, DOE stated that there 
is a need for a more rigorous national-level tracking capability to 
assist the department in identifying and recovering unwanted sources. 

We incorporated technical changes in this report, where appropriate, on 
the basis of detailed comments provided by both agencies. 

We will send copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees. We will make copies available to others upon request. In 
addition, the report will be available at no charge on the GAO Web site 
at [Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at ((202) 512-3841 or at aloisee@gao.gov. Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions 
to this report are listed in appendix V. 

Sincerely yours,

Signed by: 

Gene Aloise, Director: 
Natural Resources and Environment: 

[End of section]

Appendixes: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

In our review, we examined (1) the status of the Department of Energy's 
(DOE) efforts to recover unwanted sealed radiological sources and 
develop a disposal option for greater-than-class C (GTCC) waste, (2) 
DOE actions taken to recover and dispose of unwanted non-GTCC waste 
from sealed radiological sources, and (3) the extent to which DOE can 
identify and track unwanted sealed radiological sources for recovery 
and disposal. To better understand these issues, we met with officials 
at DOE, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission (NRC), and we visited the office of DOE's source 
recovery project at Los Alamos National Laboratory and observed 
laboratory personnel recovering unwanted sealed radiological sources 
from a university. We also interviewed officials at nonfederal 
organizations, including the Health Physics Society, the Organization 
of Agreement States, and the Conference on Radiation Control Program 
Directors (CRCPD), as well as some recognized experts in the field. We 
also met with representatives from commercial entities that are 
licensed to possess high-risk radioactive sources and state regulatory 
officials in California and Ohio. 

More specifically, to examine the status of DOE efforts to recover 
unwanted sealed radiological sources and develop a disposal option for 
GTCC waste, we interviewed DOE officials from the U.S. Radiological 
Threat Reduction Program, Office of Environmental Management, and 
Office of Security. We reviewed applicable statutes, regulations, and 
agency guidance as well as relevant DOE and NRC studies, reports, 
documents, and agency plans. We obtained information from the source 
recovery project inventory database to determine the number and type of 
sources recovered as of June 7, 2005. To determine the reliability of 
these data, we first asked officials a series of data reliability 
questions that addressed areas such as data entry, data access, quality 
control procedures, and data accuracy and completeness. We also 
inspected data records, reviewed manuals and documents relating to DOE 
data collection and verification methods, and interviewed DOE 
officials. We asked follow-up questions as necessary. In consultation 
with a GAO expert in research methodology, we analyzed the officials' 
responses for relevant weaknesses in data reliability that would make 
their data unusable for our analysis and reporting purposes. On the 
basis of these efforts, we determined that these data were sufficiently 
reliable for summarizing volumes of recovered sealed radiological 
sources. 

We also sought a better understanding of how sealed radiological 
sources are classified as waste. We developed a structured interview 
guide to collect information from commercial waste brokers that possess 
GTCC and non-GTCC waste from sealed radiological sources. This 
interview guide asked questions on areas such as the wastes these 
brokers often collect and the potential waste classes of common types 
of sealed radiological source devices. Because the practical 
difficulties of developing and administering a structured interview 
guide may introduce errors--resulting from how a particular question is 
interpreted, for example, or from differences in the sources of 
information available to respondents in answering a question--we 
included steps in the development and administration of the structured 
interview guide for the purpose of minimizing such errors. We pretested 
the instrument with three commercial waste brokers by telephone and 
modified it as appropriate to reflect questions and comments received 
during the pretests. 

To determine which commercial waste brokers to interview, we first used 
a list of commercial waste brokers compiled by CRCPD's National Orphan 
Radioactive Material Disposition Program. This list contained 18 waste 
brokers that met the CRCPD criteria of being in good standing with 
CRCPD and serving more than 1 million customers, serving non-DOE 
customers, or serving more than one state. However, because this list 
is not comprehensive and there is no single source listing of 
commercial waste brokers, we also asked each broker we interviewed for 
the names of additional brokers who could provide useful information or 
insights into these issues. We continued this expert referral technique 
until the references we received became repetitive. In all, we used our 
structured interview guide to interview a nonprobablility sample of 12 
commercial waste brokers in various geographical locations.[Footnote 
38] We then used the results of these structured interviews to create a 
table summarizing common sealed radiological sources devices and their 
potential waste class (see app. II). We shared preliminary drafts of 
this table with experts at DOE and NRC and with leading scientists in 
the field of sealed radiological source security from nonfederal 
organizations, such as the Monterrey Institute of International Studies 
and the Low-Level Waste Forum. We received and incorporated their 
comments as appropriate on the structure and contents of the table. On 
the basis of this process, we determined that these data were 
sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. 

To examine the actions DOE has taken to recover and dispose of unwanted 
sealed radiological sources, we interviewed source recovery project 
personnel and officials from the U.S. Radiological Threat Reduction 
Program. We also conducted interviews with representatives from 
nonfederal entities, including the Monterrey Institute of International 
Studies, the Health Physics Society, CRCPD, the National Research 
Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations. We discussed with these 
agency officials and representatives the likelihood of DOE's needing to 
recover more non-GTCC waste from unwanted sealed radiological sources 
in the future if the Barnwell, South Carolina, disposal site restricts 
access for licensees in 36 states by mid-2008 as planned. To obtain a 
better understanding of how much non-GTCC waste might be stored if 
licensees in these states are denied disposal access for this waste, we 
gathered information on the quantity of non-GTCC waste disposed at the 
two commercial disposal sites that can accept classes B and C waste in 
Richland, Washington, and Barnwell, South Carolina, between 2001 and 
2004. To determine the reliability of these data, we first asked 
disposal operators a series of data reliability questions that 
addressed specific areas, such as data entry, data access, quality 
control procedures, and data accuracy and completeness. We added follow-
up questions as necessary. In consultation with a GAO expert in 
research methodology, we analyzed their responses for relevant 
weaknesses in data reliability that would make their data unusable for 
our analysis and reporting purposes. On the basis of these efforts, we 
determined that these data were sufficiently reliable for summarizing 
volumes of disposed waste at these disposal sites. 

To determine the extent to which DOE can identify and track unwanted 
sealed radiological sources for recovery and disposal, we interviewed 
DOE and NRC officials regarding the scope, capabilities, and 
limitations of their existing databases for tracking these sources. We 
reviewed past estimates of the number of sealed radiological sources in 
the United States, including the scope and methodologies used to create 
these estimates. To examine NRC efforts to develop a national source 
tracking system for certain sealed radiological sources, we interviewed 
NRC and DOE officials who participated in the system's initial 
formulation. We reviewed planning and management documents, including 
related NRC submissions to the Office of Management and Budget, NRC's 
business case analyses, and the proposed rule for implementing a 
national source tracking system. We also reviewed the survey instrument 
NRC used to populate the interim database. Finally, we interviewed 
state officials from Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Oregon to determine 
whether any states currently track sealed radiological sources and 
gathered these officials' views on the need for a national source 
tracking system. 

We conducted our review between June 2004 and September 2005 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

[End of section]

Appendix II: Selected Sealed Radiological Source Devices and Their 
Potential Waste Classes: 

Table 4 presents selected common devices that utilize sealed 
radioactive sources and the NRC waste classes in which sources from 
these devices might be disposed. This table shows the variability in 
the possible sources used in devices, their relative risks according to 
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) categorization scheme, 
and the range of waste classes associated with the sources that could 
be used in these devices. The radionuclides and the ranges of 
radioactivity listed next to each device are presented for illustrative 
purposes--each device might use one of these radionuclides in one or 
more sources. The IAEA source category corresponds to each radionuclide 
and radioactivity range, based on an IAEA technical document, as noted. 
The potential waste classes are associated with each device and not 
with the specific radionuclides that might be in these devices. In 
other words, not all radionuclides that could be used in a source 
within a device produce the range of waste classes associated with the 
device. 

Table 4: Selected Sealed Radiological Source Devices and Their 
Potential Waste Classes: 

Device: Radioisotopic thermoelectric generators: 
Radionuclide: Strontium-90; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 9,000 - 680,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1,2; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Radioisotopic thermoelectric generators: 
Radionuclide: Plutonium-238; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 28 - 280; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2. 

Device: Panoramic irradiators[C]: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 500,000 - 5,000,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C. 

Device: Self-shielded irradiators[C]: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 2,500 - 42,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1,2; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Self-shielded irradiators[C]: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1,500 - 50,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1. 

Device: Blood-tissue irradiators[C]: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1,000 - 12,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1,2; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Blood-tissue irradiators[C]: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1,500 - 3,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1. 

Device: Gamma knife (fixed, multibeam teletherapy)[C]: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 4,000 - 10,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C. 

Device: Teletherapy: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1,000 - 15,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C. 

Device: Teletherapy: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 500 - 1,500; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2. 

Device: Calibration sources: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: .55 
- 16,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1,2,3,4; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Calibration sources: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1.5 - 14,000; 
IAEA source category[B]: 1,2,3,4. 

Device: Calibration sources: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1 - 25; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2,3,4. 

Device: Calibration sources: 
Radionuclide: Plutonium-239/Beryllium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 2 - 25; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2,3. 

Device: Calibration sources: 
Radionuclide: Strontium-90; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.05 - 2; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: Industrial radiography: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 11 - 330; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC[D]. 

Device: Industrial radiography: 
Radionuclide: Iridium-192; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 5 - 290; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2,3. 

Device: Industrial radiography: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 5 - 12; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3. 

Device: Industrial radiography: 
Radionuclide: Selenium-75; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 80; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2. 

Device: Industrial radiography: 
Radionuclide: Ytterbium-169; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 2.5 - 20; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3,4. 

Device: Industrial radiography: 
Radionuclide: Thulium-170; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 20 - 200; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: Fixed industrial gauges (level, dredger, conveyor, blast 
furnace, and spinning pipe): 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.1 
- 40; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2,3,4; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Fixed industrial gauges (level, dredger, conveyor, blast 
furnace, and spinning pipe): 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.1 - 20; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2,3,4. 

Device: Fixed industrial gauges (level, dredger, conveyor, blast 
furnace, and spinning pipe): 
Radionuclide: Californium-252; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.037; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: Well-logging sources: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241/Beryllium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.5 - 70; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2,3,4; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Well-logging sources: 
Radionuclide: Radium-226; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 20; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2. 

Device: Well-logging sources: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.2 -10; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2, 3. 

Device: Well-logging sources: 
Radionuclide: Plutonium-238/Beryllium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 5 - 70; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2, 3. 

Device: Well-logging sources: 
Radionuclide: Tritium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1 - 20; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Well-logging sources: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.5 - 20; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3,4. 

Device: Well-logging sources: 
Radionuclide: Californium-252; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.027 - 1.61; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3,4. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-60; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 1 - 20; 
IAEA source category[B]: 2,3; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.01 - 8; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3,4,5. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): Radionuclide: 
Iridium-192; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.02 - 15; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3,4,5. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): Radionuclide: 
Radium-226; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.005 - 0.05; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4,5. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): Radionuclide: 
Iodine-125; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.005 - 1.3; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4,5. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): Radionuclide: 
Gold-198; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.08; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): Radionuclide: 
Californium-252; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.083 - 0.54; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3,4. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): Radionuclide: 
Strontium-90; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.02 - 0.12; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4,5. 

Radionuclide: Ruthenium/Rhodium-106; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.00022 - 0.0006; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Brachytherapy (high/medium and low dose rate): Radionuclide: 
Palladium-103; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.03 - 0.056; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Pacemakers: 
Radionuclide: Plutonium-238; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 2.9 - 8; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Research reactor startup source: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241/Beryllium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 2 - 5; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Portable gauges (moisture detectors, density and 
moisture/density)[C]: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241/Beryllium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.01 - 3; 
IAEA source category[B]: 3,4,5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Portable gauges (moisture detectors, density and 
moisture/density)[C]: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.008 - 0.011; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Portable gauges (moisture detectors, density and 
moisture/density)[C]: 
Radionuclide: Radium-226; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.002 - 0.005; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Portable gauges (moisture detectors, density and 
moisture/density)[C]: 
Radionuclide: Californium-252; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.00003 - 0.00007; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Static eliminators: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.03 - 0.11; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Static eliminators: 
Radionuclide: Polonium-210; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.03 - 0.11; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: Thickness/fill-level gauges: 
Radionuclide: Krypton-85; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.05 - 1; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Thickness/fill-level gauges: 
Radionuclide: Strontium-90; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.01 - 0.2; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Thickness/fill-level gauges: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.012 - 0.6; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4,5. 

Device: Thickness/fill-level gauges: 
Radionuclide: Cesium-137; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.05 - 0.065; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: Thickness/fill-level gauges: 
Radionuclide: Promethium-147; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.05; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Thickness/fill-level gauges: 
Radionuclide: Curium-244; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.2 - 1; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: Bone densitometry: 
Radionuclide: Cadmium-109; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.02; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Bone densitometry: 
Radionuclide: Gadolinium-153; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.02 - 1.5; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4,5. 

Device: Bone densitometry: 
Radionuclide: Iodine-125; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.04 - 0.8; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4,5. 

Device: Bone densitometry: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.027 - 0.27; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4. 

Device: X-ray fluorescence analyzers: 
Radionuclide: Iron-55; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.003 - 0.14; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: X-ray fluorescence analyzers: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.004 - 0.20; 
IAEA source category[B]: 4,5. 

Device: X-ray fluorescence analyzers: 
Radionuclide: Cadmium-109; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.005 - 0.15; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: X-ray fluorescence analyzers: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-57; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.005 - 0.04; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Electron capture detectors: 
Radionuclide: Nickel-63; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.005 - 0.50; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C. 

Device: Electron capture detectors: 
Radionuclide: Tritium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.05 - 1.0; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Lightning preventers: 
Radionuclide: Americium-241; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.0013 - 0.013; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C, GTCC. 

Device: Lightning preventers: 
Radionuclide: Radium-226; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.000007 - 0.00008; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: Lightning preventers: 
Radionuclide: Tritium; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.2; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5. 

Device: PET checking: 
Radionuclide: Germanium-68; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.001 - 0.01; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C. 

Device: Mossbauer spectrometry: 
Radionuclide: Cobalt-57; 
Approximate initial curie[A] range of radioactivity per device or 
application: 0.005 - 0.1; 
IAEA source category[B]: 5; 
Potential NRC waste class[B] when disposed: A, B/C. 

Sources: See the note below. 

Note: The primary source for the first four columns is IAEA, 
Categorization of Radioactive Sources, TECDOC-1344 (Vienna, Austria: 
July 2003). The primary sources for the waste classification column are 
interviews we conducted with commercial low-level radioactive waste 
brokers. We received comments and suggestions on drafts of this table 
from nine scientists and regulators in the field and accepted revisions 
as appropriate. These revisions affected roughly 30 percent of the 
fields in the table, primarily those in the range of radioactivity and 
waste classification columns. 

[A] A curie is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay; it is 
equivalent to the radioactivity of 1 gram of radium or 37 billion 
disintegrations per second: 

[B] See 10 C.F.R. part 61 for the NRC waste classification system. 

[C] A device may utilize multiple sealed radiological sources. The 
range of radioactivity per use for these devices reflects the aggregate 
activity. 

[D] There was unresolved disagreement between the waste brokers and 
some of the regulators regarding whether industrial radiography sources 
could be GTCC. 

[End of table]

[End of section]

Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Energy: 

Department of Energy: 
National Nuclear Security Administration: 
Washington, DC 20585: 

SEP 01 2005: 

Mr. Gene Aloise:
Director:
Natural Resources and Environment: 
Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC: 

Dear Mr, Aloise: 

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) appreciated the 
opportunity to have reviewed the Government Accountability Office's 
(GAO) draft report, GAO-05-967, "NUCLEAR SECURITY: DOE Needs Better 
Infonnation to Guide Its Expanded Recovery of Sealed Radiological 
Sources." We understand that the Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy 
and Natural Resources requested you to examine (1) our efforts to 
recover Greater-Than-Class-C (GTCC) sources and develop a disposal 
option; (2) actions to recover and dispose of non-GTCC sources; and (3) 
ability to identify sources for recovery and disposal. 

Recovery of excess and unwanted radioactive sources is accomplished 
through the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation's Office of 
Global Threat Reduction. Their mission is to reduce the threat 
domestically posed by a dirty bomb, or Radiological Dispersal Devices 
(RDD). As the draft notes, this program has recovered over 11,000 
sealed sources since 1997, including recovering 5,529 sources in 18 
months from October 2002 to March 2004, as directed by Congress. 
Additionally, as GAO stated, the Office of Environmental Management 
(EM) has initiated actions to prepare an environmental impact statement 
to assess disposal options for GTCC sealed sources and other GTCC 
waste. 

GAO is recommending that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and 
the Department evaluate and report on cost implications of DOE's 
recovery and disposal of non-Greater Than Class C (GTCC) sources, 
options to recoup these DOE costs, feasibility of using DOE disposal 
sites, and how a national source tracking system can be designed and 
implemented to improve DOE's recovery and disposal efforts. NNSA 
generally supports the recommendations contained in the draft report. 
Addressing each in turn: 

* The NRC and DOE evaluate and report on cost implications of DOE's 
recovery and disposal of non-GTCC sources, options to recoup these DOE 
costs, feasibility of using DOE disposal sites. 

NNSA collects, stores, and disposes unwanted non-GTCC sealed sources 
when warranted. However, NNSA believes that charging fees or recouping 
costs from licensees may inhibit licensees from registering their 
sources leaving these excess sources at risk. 

NNSA has experience in recovering non-GTCC sources and has been able to 
plan for these activities. In addition to the recovery of sources 
mentioned in the draft report, the NNSA program that recovers excess, 
unwanted sealed sources - the Office of Global Threat Reduction's U.S. 
Radiological Threat Reduction Program (USRTR) - has recovered over 
1,100 curies of cobalt-60, a non-GTCC radionuclide, from a university 
irradiator. These sources were originally loaned to the university by 
the DOE and are the property of DOE. The sources were recovered and 
shipped to DOE low-level waste disposal. USRTR has also performed a 
number of recoveries of non-GTCC sources where these sources were sent 
to commercial disposal. In addition, in 2004, NNSA began aggressively 
removing excess and unwanted gamma irradiators from 19 institutions, 
including high schools and colleges, throughout the United States. This 
work will be completed this summer. 

With respect to charging a fee to recoup costs for non-GTCC sources, 
the draft report correctly states that the Department is prohibited 
from charging fees for services it cannot define or provide - 
specifically a fee cannot be charged for an undetermined length of 
storage time, nor can a fee be charged for disposal if such disposal is 
not available to determine a cost, without specific legislation 
establishing such a fee mechanism, which does not exist for the 
program. USRTR was transferred from the Office of Environmental 
Management to the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2003, and 
a result is that the USRTR is approaching the recovery of sealed 
sources as a national security issue. The USRTR ensures that excess and 
unwanted sources that are of sufficient type and quantity to be a 
threat for use in a dirty bomb are securely stored or disposed. USRTR 
depends on licensees to voluntarily register their sources with the 
program for recovery. As far as the disposal of non-GTCC sources at a 
Departmental site, the draft report appropriately notes that the 
current policy and statutory responsibilities do not provide for the 
permanent disposal of such waste at a Department facility. However, 
NNSA and EM, as appropriate will continue to work with the commercial 
industry to identify potential commercial treatment or disposal options 
for non-GTCC scaled sources recovered by the Department. 

* How a national source tracking system can be designed and implemented 
to improve DOE's recovery and disposal efforts. 

USRTR has a secure web-based system for licensees to register their 
excess and unwanted sources and provide detailed information about the 
sources. The USRTR has successfully used this system for several years, 
and licensees use it. This system is an integrated tool used for many 
aspects of the program. 

Additionally, Department's Office of Security (the departmental office 
with responsibility for the National Source Tracking Database) 
recognizes the need for a more rigorous national-level tracking 
capability to assist in identifying and recovering unwanted sources 
from outside the Department that pose a potential safety and security 
risk. They are working with other elements of the Department and NRC in 
developing requirements to ensure that these unwanted sources are 
adequately tracked. 

Should you have any questions related to this response, please contact 
Richard Speidel, Director, Policy and Internal Controls Management. He 
may be contacted at 202-586-5009. 

Sincerely,

Signed by: 

Michael C. Kane: 
Associate Administrator for Management and Administration: 

cc: Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management; 
Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation; 
Senior Procurement Executive; 
Director, Service Center. 

[End of section]

Appendix IV: Comments from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: 

UNITED STATES:
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION: 
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555-0001: 

September 6, 2005: 

Mr. Eugene E. Aloise: 
Director, Natural Resources and Environment:
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, NW:
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Dear Mr. Aloise: 

Thank you for the opportunity to review and submit comments on the U.S. 
Government Accountability Office (GAO) draft report, "Nuclear Security: 
DOE Needs Better Information to Guide Its Expanded Recovery of Sealed 
Radiological Sources" (GAO-05-967). The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission (NRC) appreciates the time and effort you and your staff 
have taken to review this important topic. 

Overall, the NRC believes the report to be well written and balanced. 
One general point I would like to make is that the proposed National 
Source Tracking System (NSTS) will provide information on sealed 
sources which the draft report notes is currently lacking (e.g., on 
page 32 of the draft report, the number of covered sources manufactured 
and actually possessed by licensees, the distribution of the sources, 
and their disposal). Knowing this information could permit the U.S. 
Department of Energy (DOE) to at least approximate the number of 
sources that DOE potentially may need to recover. On the other hand, 
requiring the reporting of certain information which the draft report 
asserts DOE would find useful (e.g., frequency of source use) could be 
extremely burdensome on licensees and the NRC, and would yield little, 
if any, practical benefit. 

As written, the report does not accurately characterize a number of 
issues involving category 3 sources. For example, on page 34 of the 
draft report, the first paragraph states, "In a subsequent 2004 
technical document, IAEA suggested that category 3 sources be included 
in a national registry of sealed radiological sources" and references 
"IAEA, Strengthening Control Over Radioactive Sources in Authorized Use 
and Regaining Control Over Orphan Sources: National Strategies, IAEA- 
TECDOC-1388 (Vienna, Austria: Feb. 2004, p. 5)." This reference does 
not suggest that category 3 sources must be tracked by a national 
system. Instead, the reference states that category 3 sources should be 
part of the national strategy for improving control over sources. The 
Code of Conduct recommends a minimum of category 1 and 2 sources to be 
included in a national source registry. On page 5, IAEA-TECDOC-1388 
states: 

The objective of this report is to provide practical guidance to States 
on the development of a national strategy for improving control over 
radioactive sources, particularly dangerous sources (categories 1-3). 
Part of this process involves the determination of the magnitude of the 
potential problem with orphan and vulnerable sources and indeed, 
whether or not a national strategy is needed. 

The ultimate objective is that States will use this report to develop 
and then implement a plan of action that will result in all significant 
sources being managed in a safe and secure manner. 

The NRC regulatory framework addressed all sources regulated by the NRC 
before the adoption of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 
Code of Conduct, and it continues to do so today. The national strategy 
being implemented by the NRC is a risk-informed approach that also 
includes an evaluation of the adequacy of existing regulations to 
provide appropriate control of sources. Based on this risk-informed 
approach and regulatory review, the NRC issued orders requiring 
additional security measures, particularly for the higher risk sources 
in categories 1 and 2. Where appropriate, these security orders did 
address aggregation of any sources (category 3 and below) such that the 
net result could reach the category 2 threshold in a given physical 
location. 

On page 34 of the draft GAO report, it states that the NSTS will only 
address the IAEA Code of Conduct category 1 and 2 sealed sources. 
Although this action is consistent with the IAEA Code of Conduct and 
the Energy Policy Act of 2005, limiting the NSTS to category 1 and 2 
sources raises concerns by some individuals who believe that at least 
category 3 sources should be included as well. For the initial NSTS 
program, NRC decided not to include category 3 sources, at this time, 
based on (1) an assessment that category 3 sources represent a limited 
hazard as a radiological dispersal or exposure device and (2) a 
potential disproportionate burden of including category 3 sources on 
both the regulatory bodies and licensees. It is also important to note 
that, although the NSTS will provide a national tracking system for 
some sealed sources, licensees are responsible for appropriate tracking 
of all sources in their possession under their licenses. However, the 
notice of proposed rulemaking for the NSTS published on July 28, 2005 
(70 FR 43646) acknowledged that the aggregation of category 3 sources 
could present a security concern. For this reason, the notice of 
proposed rulemaking specifically invites comments on including category 
3 sources in the NSTS in the future. The public comment period is still 
open for this proposed rule. The Commission will evaluate the public 
comments received on this rulemaking, and will factor in comments from 
other Federal agencies and our international contacts, before deciding 
what additional action, if any, may be warranted for category 3 sources 
and below. 

GAO is also concerned because category 3 and below sources account for 
over 98.5 percent of the total number of sources recovered to date by 
DOE but would not be covered by the NSTS. The DOE source recovery 
program includes orphaned sources determined to represent a risk to 
public health and safety. Focusing solely on the number of sources 
recovered is not a risk informed approach. The activity level of the 
sources provides a measure of the greatest risk. The category 1 and 2 
sources recovered by the DOE program to date account for approximately 
86 percent of the total activity recovered. 

I would also like to stress that DOE, through its representatives on 
NRC working groups and committees developing the proposed NSTS, has had 
the opportunity to provide input on the design of the system and the 
potential usefulness of the system to assist it in its source recovery 
program. DOE and other stakeholders will have an additional opportunity 
to comment on these and other issues raised in the notice of proposed 
rulemaking published July 28, 2005 (70 FR 43646). 

As you are aware, the NRC and GAO staffs have had multiple exchanges 
regarding the report's contents and context. These exchanges have been 
very beneficial. The enclosure provides specific comments on the draft 
report in addition to the matters discussed above. Should you have 
questions about these additional comments or the issues raised in this 
letter, please contact Ms. Melinda Malloy at (301) 415-1785, or Mr. 
Lance Rakovan at (301) 415-2589. 

Sincerely,

Signed by: 

Luis A. Reyes: 
Executive Director for Operations: 

Enclosure: Additional NRC Comments on Draft GAO-05-967: 

[End of section]

Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Gene Aloise (202) 512-3841: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the person named above, Casey Brown, Ryan Coles, John 
Delicath, Daniel Feehan, Doreen Feldman, Susan Iott, Thomas Laetz, 
Cynthia Norris, Anthony Padilla, Judy Pagano, Leslie Pollock, and 
Barbara Timmerman made key contributions to this report. 

(360486): 

FOOTNOTES

[1] This estimate was first in J.O. Lubenau and J.G. Yusko, 
"Radioactive materials in recycled metals--an update," Health Physics, 
Volume 74, No. 3 (March 1998) p. 297. 

[2] The Agreement States system was formed by section 274 of the Atomic 
Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. § 2021). This section of the 
act allows NRC to relinquish certain parts of its authority to 
Agreement States, of which there are 33, to license and regulate 
certain radioactive materials. NRC retains regulatory responsibility 
over licensees in the other 17 states, and over other activities, such 
as regulation of all nuclear power plants. 

[3] GAO, Nuclear Security: Federal and State Action Needed to Improve 
Security of Sealed Radiological Sources, GAO-03-804 (Washington, D.C.: 
Aug. 6, 2003). 

[4] 10 C.F.R. § 61.55. 

[5] A curie is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay; it is 
equivalent to the radioactivity of 1 gram of radium or 37 billion 
disintegrations per second. 

[6] As a result of reactor operations, portions of the reactor barrel 
and other stainless steel components near the fuel assembly become 
highly radioactive. The majority of this waste is generated when 
nuclear power plants are decommissioned, although some waste may result 
from maintenance activities performed before decommissioning. There are 
presently 103 active and 24 decommissioned nuclear power plants in the 
United States. 

[7] Pub. L. No. 96-573, as amended by Pub. L. No. 99-240, codified at 
42 U.S.C. §§ 2021b-2021j. 

[8] There are 10 compacts comprised of 43 states and 7 unaffiliated 
states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

[9] GAO, Low-Level Radioactive Waste: Disposal Availability Adequate in 
the Short Term, but Oversight Needed to Identify Any Future Shortfalls, 
GAO-04-604 (Washington, D.C.: June 9, 2004). 

[10] The commercial disposal site in Barnwell, South Carolina, is 
available to the 3 member states of the Atlantic Compact and 36 other 
states that are currently allowed to use this site for all non-GTCC 
waste. The commercial disposal site in Richland, Washington, serves 
only the 8 member states of the Northwest Compact and the 3 member 
states of the Rocky Mountain Compact for all non-GTCC waste. A third 
commercial disposal site in Utah is available to all states, except the 
Northwest Compact member states, for the disposal of only class A 
waste. 

[11] GAO, Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE Action Needed to Ensure 
Continued Recovery of Unwanted Sealed Radioactive Sources, GAO-03-438 
(Washington, D.C.: Apr. 15, 2003). 

[12] Pub. L. No. 109-58, 119 Stat. 594 (2005). 

[13] IAEA was established within the United Nations in 1957. IAEA works 
with its member states; 138 countries, including the United States; and 
multiple other partners to promote safe, secure, and peaceful nuclear 
technologies. 

[14] IAEA, Categorization of Radioactive Sources, TECDOC-1344 (Vienna, 
Austria: July 2003). IAEA defined five categories of radioactive 
sources in this 2003 document. The agency based its categorization 
framework on the health effects of exposure to the radioactive 
materials in the sources and did not fully take into account the range 
of impacts that could result from accidents or malicious acts involving 
radioactive sources. 

[15] DOE/NRC Interagency Working Group on Radiological Dispersal 
Devices, Radiological Dispersal Devices: An Initial Study to Identify 
Materials of Greatest Concern and Approaches to Their Tracking, Tagging 
and Disposal (May 2003). 

[16] IAEA, Proceedings of an international conference on security of 
radioactive sources, held March 10-13, (Vienna, Austria: 2003). 

[17] A Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on 
the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, signed by Member States of 
the IAEA, entered into force on June 18, 2001. 

[18] IAEA, Radioactive Waste Management: Status and Trends--Issue No. 2 
(Vienna, Austria: September 2002) p. 16. 

[19] This realignment did not include transferring responsibilities for 
the long-term storage and disposal of the recovered sources. 

[20] H.R. Rep. No. 107-593, at 142 (2002), conference report 
accompanying Pub. L. No. 107-206, Making Supplemental Appropriations 
for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the 
United States for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2002, and for 
Other Purposes. 

[21] Statement of Edward G. McGinnis, Director, Office of Global 
Radiological Threat Reduction, National Nuclear Security 
Administration, Department of Energy, before the United States Senate, 
Energy and Natural Resources Committee, September 30, 2004. 

[22] According to NRC, funding to support its request represented about 
$500,000 of the additional $3.49 supplemental funding for the source 
recovery project in fiscal year 2004. 

[23] As a comparison, according to the source recovery project team 
leader, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is currently storing 21,000 
55-gallon drums of DOE-or defense-related nuclear waste destined for 
disposal at WIPP. 

[24] WIPP, operated by DOE and licensed by the Environmental Protection 
Agency, is an underground repository for defense-generated transuranic 
waste. Transuranic waste refers to man-made radioactive wastes that 
have particles whose atoms are heavier than uranium; are alpha particle-
emitting, with a half-life longer than 20 years; and have a 
concentration greater than 100 nano-curies per gram of waste. These 
wastes include radionuclides, such as americium-241, plutonium-238, and 
plutonium-239, that are generated by nuclear weapons production and the 
reprocessing of spent nuclear fuels. 

[25] 70 Fed. Reg. 24775 (May 11, 2005). 

[26] Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Greater-Than-Class C Low 
Level Radioactive Waste Characterization: Estimated Volumes, 
Radionuclides and Other Characteristics, DOE/LLW-114, Revision 1 (Idaho 
Falls, ID: September 1994). 

[27] The other activities of the source recovery project include 
recovering from other countries sealed radiological sources that were 
previously owned by the U.S. government, cooperating with IAEA, and 
working with the Department of Homeland Security. 

[28] NRC policy establishes base civil penalties for loss, abandonment, 
or improper transfer or disposal of sealed radiological sources and 
devices that, according to NRC, have been imposed on many occasions. 

[29] The Health Physics Society is a nonprofit, scientific professional 
organization whose mission is to promote the practice of radiation 
safety. The society has approximately 6,000 scientists, physicians, 
engineers, lawyers, and other professionals representing academia, 
industry, government, national laboratories, the Department of Defense, 
and other organizations. 

[30] IAEA, Strengthening Control Over Radioactive Sources in Authorized 
Use and Regaining Control Over Orphan Sources: National Strategies, 
IAEA-TECDOC-1388 (Vienna, Austria: February 2004) p. 54. 

[31] Between 2001 and 2004, the other low-level radioactive waste 
disposal site in Washington only received an average of 155 cubic feet 
of classes B and C waste comprised of sealed radiological sources. 

[32] GAO-04-604. 

[33] 70 Fed. Reg. 43646 (July 28, 2005). 

[34] NRC has added seven radionuclides not recommended for tracking by 
the IAEA Code of Conduct, including actinium-227, polonium-210, 
plutonium-236, plutonium-239, plutonium-240, thorium-228, and thorium- 
239. Although these radionuclides are not prevalently used by 
licensees, they are used at DOE facilities. 

[35] IAEA, Categorization of Radioactive Sources, p. 9. 

[36] IAEA, Strengthening Control Over Radioactive Sources, pp. 39, 54. 

[37] IAEA, Strengthening Control Over Radioactive Sources, p. 55. 

[38] Results from nonprobability samples cannot be used to make 
inferences about a population because in a nonprobability sample, some 
elements of the population being studied have no chance or an unknown 
chance of being selected as part of the sample. 

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