Beveridge & Diamond

Radioactive Materials

Radioactive materials issues can arise in a wide range of contexts, such as products with radioactive components, wastes from nuclear power facilities, sites with historical contamination from nuclear weapons production, recycled materials with radioactive contamination, and radon gas in homes from radioactive decay of radium in underlying soils.  Common issues relate to licensing for manufacture, import, distribution, use, or disposal of the materials; remediation of contaminated sites; compliance with requirements for transport, worker safety, incident reporting, etc.; and compensation for alleged damages from exposure.  However, the variety of situations and issues is virtually endless.

In the U.S., most types of radioactive materials (e.g., source, special nuclear, and by-product materials) are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or by states acting by agreement with NRC.  Other types of radioactive materials (e.g., diffuse sources of Naturally-Occurring and/or Accelerator-Produced Radioactive Materials (NORM or NARM)) are regulated exclusively by the states.  Internationally, most countries have their own regulatory counterparts, frequently based on regulations or standards issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).   

Beveridge & Diamond has extensive experience with a host of radioactive materials issues, both in the U.S. and internationally.  Our experience includes:

  • Licensing and Exemptions.  We help clients on NRC (and Agreement State) licensing and/or license exemption issues for manufacture, import, distribution, use, or disposal of various products with radioactive components.  For example, for one manufacturer/importer of a wide range of products with different radioisotopes, we identified key exemptions from certain licensing requirements and determined the need for new or modified licenses for certain activities.  We have done similar work in several other countries.   
  • Remediation.  We represent a number of clients on remediation of sites contaminated by radioactive materials, including several being addressed under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) program administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for cleanup of sites used by the former Atomic Energy Commission and its predecessors.  For example, at one FUSRAP site being used by a client for industrial purposes, Beveridge & Diamond successfully negotiated a significant contribution by the federal government to the site cleanup.  We also helped the client identify experts and develop a technical approach to the remediation that was both cost effective and compliant with applicable regulations.  At another FUSRAP site, we are helping to assess the sufficiency of the cleanup to date, determine additional steps that may be required, negotiate allocation of remediation costs, and address potential legal barriers to redevelopment of the site.  We have also worked on remediation of radioactive-contaminated soils and sediments at non-FUSRAP sites, such as industrial sites being cleaned up pursuant to CERCLA/Superfund. 
  • Transportation Requirements.  We advise clients on the requirements for transporting radioactive materials (including some with other regulated hazards) under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s hazardous materials regulations and the corresponding rules for transport of dangerous goods in other countries.                                         
  • Reporting Requirements for Radioactive Materials Incidents.  We counsel clients in a variety of industries on U.S. and foreign requirements for reporting radioactive materials incidents (e.g., lost radioactive sources, unauthorized worker exposures, or environmental releases).  For example, we helped a beverage bottler determine applicable reporting obligations when a sensor containing radioactive material was lost.  For an oil field services company, we have been compiling and summarizing information on reporting requirements in countries all around the world for potentially relevant radioactive materials incidents.
  • Medical Isotopes Legislation.  For a foreign producer of radioisotopes for medical applications, we tracked, reported on, and provided advice on U.S. legislation encouraging domestic production of such isotopes and limiting export of highly enriched uranium for similar production abroad, as well as on specific proposals to NRC for domestic production of medical isotopes.  One of our attorneys served as an expert witness on these issues in a related arbitration matter in the relevant foreign country.
  • Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal.  One of the Firm’s attorneys, prior to joining Beveridge & Diamond, was one of three lawyers representing the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on a highly controversial contested case on a permit application for a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in West Texas.  The case involved years of pre-trial discovery, preparation of pre-filed testimony from numerous agency scientists and engineers demonstrating that the application met applicable NRC rules and guidance for low-level radioactive waste disposal, and more than three months of public hearings and trial proceedings.