Adequacy of Controls Placed on Radioactive Material Containers

EMD-77-35: Published: May 11, 1977. Publicly Released: May 11, 1977.

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Recommendations presented in a 1973 GAO report on nuclear regulatory activities have yet to be fully responded to by either the Atomic Commission (AEC) or its successor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). GAO recommended that the agency should: develop quality assurance requirements for licensees to follow in fabricating containers used to transport the more hazardous radioactive materials; review the designs of older-spent fuel containers to insure that they met current standards or that their use was appropriately restricted; and insure that licensees' transportation activities are appraised regularly.

AEC prepared rule changes in accordance with the recommendations on regulation of container quality and wear, but neither AEC nor NRC adopted them. Fruitless attempts to require licensees to describe in their applications the establishment and maintenance of quality assurance programs for designing, fabricating, assembling, and testing transportation containers were made, and recently NRC has been trying to develop a graded approach not being regularly appraised. The time for refining and revising regulations is over, and the time is right for implementing the regulations. NRC requires licensed applicants to demonstrate the safety of their containers by various tests, such as impact, puncture, heat, and immersion in water, but officials do not consider it necessary to test by crushing.

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