Radioactive materials are a critical and beneficial component of global medical, industrial, and academic efforts. The possibility that these materials could be used by terrorists is a national security concern. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), along with international and domestic partners, addresses radiological material security as part of its nuclear nonproliferation mission.
US Radioactive Material Security
The ultimate responsibility for securing radioactive materials in the United States rests with the licensees that possess these materials. Domestically, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and NNSA partner with state, local, and tribal governments, other federal agencies and the private sector with a common goal of preventing radiological material from being used in a “dirty bomb”.
Domestic Security Requirements
Regulatory control over the safety and security of radioactive sources is mainly under the authority of the NRC. The NRC and state regulatory agencies work together to create a strong and effective regulatory framework that includes licensing, inspection, and enforcement. This framework provides a common baseline level of security and includes:
In 2009, the NRC implemented the National Source Tracking System (NSTS) to track and account for all the radioactive sources that warrant greatest control.
Voluntary Security Enhancements
NNSA, through its Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), provides voluntary security enhancements. These voluntary security enhancements are complementary to and do not replace the licensees’ requirements to meet NRC and Agreement State regulations. The GTRI effort is a way for sites to identify security best practices beyond regulatory compliance. Voluntary security enhancements include:
NNSA’s Offsite Source Recovery Project addresses the end of a radiological source’s working life. Due to limited commercial disposition options, the project’s mission is to remove excess, unwanted, abandoned, or orphan radioactive sealed sources that pose a potential risk to national security, public health, and/or safety.
NNSA and other USG agencies work collaboratively to provide response training for site and local officials through Critical Alarm Response Training and WMD Counterterrorism Table Top Exercises. Alarm response training and table top exercises promote coordinated planning, communications, cooperation, and team-building among first responders and responsible officials in a dynamic environment, strengthening their real world capabilities to address nuclear and radiological incidents.
NRC, NNSA, and other USG agencies have complementary and coordinated programs aimed at assisting our international counterparts to improve the security of nuclear and radioactive materials. These efforts include working bilaterally with the host country, regionally with the host and other donor countries, and/or in partnership with the IAEA, Europol, and Interpol.
Since April 2010, NNSA has worked domestically to:
Since April 2010, NNSA has worked internationally to: