FAQs: Frequently Asked (and Answered) Questions
Index of Agreement State FAQ Categories
- Q: Is October 1, 2007, the effective date of the Agreement?
- A: That was Pennsylvania’s target. However there are many factors that will influence the effective date and it may slip. Please watch for notifications of the effective date.
UPDATE: The target effective date has been moved to March 31, 2008.
UPDATE: The agreement between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Pennsylvania granting Pennsylvania Agreement State status formally took effect on March 31, 2008.
- Q: When and how will Pennsylvania NRC licensees be notified of the effective date of the Agreement?
- A: The NRC and Commonwealth will know at least one month before an effective date, and the NRC will send a notice to all licensees. Pennsylvania will send separate notification by post card. A general announcement will also be noticed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
- Q: Given the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the new definition of byproduct material, who will regulate it, Pennsylvania or NRC?
- A: Pennsylvania has licensed Naturally Occuring and Accelerator Produced Radioactive Materials (NARM) for decades and will continue to as an Agreement State. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows for the same transfer of regulatory authority to Agreement States for accelerator-produced isotopes and discrete sources of radium as previous by-product materials. Non-discrete radium sources will continue to be regulated by the states and not the NRC.
- Q: How will Pennsylvania handle the implementation of new regulations by the NRC?
- A: Pennsylvania has written its regulations in a way that automatically incorporates applicable NRC regulations as of their effective date in the Federal Register. The process is called "incorporation by reference". This may cause some short term confusion for the following reasons. Changes that occur after the beginning of any year will not appear in the printed version of the regulations published by the Government Printing Office (GPO) until the following January, though updates will be posted much sooner on the electronic copy of 10 CFR maintained on NRC's website. And, certain regulations will also apply to radiation-producing machine users who are not used to dealing with Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Pennsylvania will provide compliance assistance to help licensees and registrants understand and comply with new regulations. Depending upon Agreement State compatibility requirements for the new regulations, Pennsylvania may, where appropriate, exercise some degree of regulatory discretion in implementing enforcement.
- Q: Are there any changes to the regulations coming?
- A: Yes, there is a package of revised regulations working through the process now. These are not major changes, simply fixing pointers to transportation regulations in 10 CFR 71, typos, and general housekeeping. We are looking to update the X-ray and CT regulations in the next year or so.
Fees and Billing
- Q: Are the fees going to change?
- A: Yes. The day Pennsylvania becomes an Agreement State the fees in Chapter 218 Appendix A identified as by-product material will replace the current NARM fees. The Pennsylvania by-product material fees are higher than the previous NARM fees but less than the corresponding fee categories of the NRC.
UPDATE: Pennsylvania's fees and fee structure took effect on March 31, 2008.
- Q: As an Agreement State will Pennsylvania charge for inspections as other states do?
- A: There will be no inspection fee, just an annual fee. There is no license application or amendment fee either.
- Q: NRC has a registration and annual fee for General Licenses (GL), will Pennsylvania?
- A: Yes! DEP has a GL program now. It will incorporate the new NRC GLs.
- Q: Are the fees for General Licenses set?
- Q: Will there be an educational insititution fee waiver?
- Q: Does Pennsylvania plan to have a small business fee category?
- A: Yes, there are reduced fees for small businesses and certain small non-medical educational institutions (fee categories SB1 and SB2) with one exception. No licensee that is required to have Financial Assurance can claim the Small Business fee cateory.
- Q: I have received an NRC invoice 6 months prior to my November 1, 2007, anniversary date, whom do I pay?
- A: Do not pay anyone just now, call the NRC for instructions. Pennsylvania and NRC will be looking into this. NRC sends out invoices on the license anniversary date and they are due immediately while Pennsylvania invoices are due at the end of the anniversary month of the license and the invoices are sent out two months in advance.
- Q: What is reciprocity?
- A: For the new Pennsylvania Agreement State (AS) licensees that want to work in another AS, a NRC regulated state or an in-state federal facility (e.g., VA hospital), they’ll need to apply to that state or NRC for reciprocity. The same holds true for out-of-state licensees wanting to work in Pennsylvania. Check with the respective regulator for any applicable fee.
- Q: After the effective date of the Agreement, how will a Pennsylvania licensee get reciprocity to work in an NRC state?
- A: Call Sheryl Villar of the NRC at (610) 337-5239.
- Q: How will reciprocity with New York work when Pennsylvania is an AS?
- A: A licensee will have to contact New York or any other Agreement State they wish to bring Pennsylvania licensed material into just as they do now.
- Q: I have an NRC license now and I do work all over Pennsylvania. I also do work on/at Federal facilities in Pennsylvania. Will I need two licenses?
- A: Probably yes. Federal facilities present unusual jurisdictional issues. You will likely need a Pennsylvania Agreement State license and an NRC license. Please contact us well prior to starting work at Federal facilities in Pennsylvania.
- Q: Will my NRC license be terminated when the Pennsylvania Agreement takes effect?
- A: No. You will receive a letter from Pennsylvania stating that your NRC license will be recognized as a Pennsylvania license until it reaches the NRC expiration date or until Pennsylvania issues you a new license document. It is our intent to issue new licensing documents to all licensees within 13 months of the effective date.
- Q: At the effective date of the Agreement will a new license document be issued?
- A: No, Pennsylvania will issue a letter stating that the NRC license is now valid as a Pennsylvania license. NRC licenses that cover activities in Pennsylvania and another state will be split by NRC prior to Pennsylvania AS status. The replacement of NRC license documents with Pennsylvania letterhead documents will be spread over the following year according to the anniversary month of the license. New documents may be issued earlier if prior to the anniversary month there is an amendment to the NRC license. If an NRC license and Pennsylvania license are scheduled to be merged, the merger will occur on the earlier of the two anniversary months and the anniversary date of the combined license will be that of the Pennsylvania license. The year of expiration will be the earlier of the two.
- Q: Will RAM and Accelerator licenses and X-ray registrations be combined by Pennsylvania?
- A: No, while NRC licenses that overlap with current Pennsylvania NARM licenses may be combined, RAM and accelerator licenses will remain separate, as will x-ray registrations, as will their respective inspections.
- Q: Will license amendments in the pipeline with NRC at or near the effective date of the Agreement be processed by the NRC or Pennsylvania?
- A: The NRC will work ahead to finish all licensing actions prior to the effective date. There will be a blackout period beginning a month prior to the effective date when only emergency (expedited) licensing actions will be processed by the NRC. Pennsylvania will not begin processing licensing actions until the effective date of the Agreement.
- Q: Do new and innovative practices (10 CFR Part 35 Subset K--35.1000) need to be submitted to Pennsylvania for review?
- A: Yes. After the Agreement is in place, NRC will not be doing these for Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania will do the reviews, but may use expert consultants to assist in such evaluations.
- Q: I have a Pennsylvania license due in December. Should I submit the Pennsylvania renewal?
- Q: What forms should I use?
- A: Use Pennsylvania forms as we have already adapted many NRC forms. However, feel free to use NRC NUREGs, regulation guides and other regulatory guidance documents when filling out Pennsylvania forms.
- Q: I have dozens of sites throughout the east coast. NRC has consolidated my licenses in Region III. How will you handle my numerous sites?
- A: If the sites of use on the NRC license correspond to existing Pennsylvania licenses, the sites will be merged into the respective Pennsylvania licenses. If there are no corresponding Pennsylvania licenses it may be possible to issue a single license similar to the NRC license. Contact our licensing section so the details of the NRC license can be reviewed for suitability.
- Q: If I have two different license types will I have two different Pennsylvania license types?
- A: Yes. Your separate NRC licenses will be replaced by separate Pennsylvania licenses.
- Q: How will distribution licenses be handled?
- Q: What will be the inspection frequency?
- A: Pennsylvania will follow the same inspection priority frequency as NRC.
- Q: Will DEP or NRC do Increased Control (IC) Inspections?
- A: NRC will do them for the foreseeable future. DEP will not do IC inspections until we have trained and qualified staff, even if it is after the effective date of the Agreement.
- Q: Will Pennsylvania hold the licensee accountable for staff stupidity?
- A: We will do compliance assistance to a point to help educate personnel about requirements and expectations, but a serious violation is a violation regardless of how “stupid” the staff are. If applicable, fines could be imposed for severe violations. The licensee is responsible for training and the supervision of staff and their actions. But the regulations also hold individuals responsible for willful misconduct beyond the reasonable control of the licensee if they have been adequately trained to know better.
- Q: There are 40 schools in the DEP/EPA voluntary environmental management audit program. Will Pennsylvania’s Radiation Protection group have such a program?
- A: No, all NRC and Pennsylvania licensees will continue to be inspected as they are now. There is no program for replacing inspections with self auditing.
- Q: Will your staff do both inspection and licensing?
- A: No. In general our regional staff will inspect and central office will license. Select regional staff may assist central office in technical license review and any pre-licening site visits.
- Q: As an Agreement State will Pennsylvania perform broad scope license inspections?
- Q: Will Pennsylvania schedule inspection of x-ray registrations, accelerator licenses, and RAM licenses for the same time?
- A: Not necessarily. Occasionally this may occur but RAM license inspections are to be unannounced.
Decommissioning & Financial Assurance
- Q: Will you accept formal decommissioning plans that have received final approval by NRC that are still in progress?
- Q: Where will facility decommissioning be managed?
- Q: How will the transfer of a decommissioning Financial Assurance document from the NRC to Pennsylvania work?
- A: Financial Assurance documents between the NRC and licensees will stay in effect and will not be retired until a new Financial Assurance document is in place between the licensee and Pennsylvania. Once Pennsylvania becomes an AS, those licensees who currently have financial assurance documents with the NRC must contact the DEP Central Office in Harrisburg concerning the submission of appropriate financial assurance documents to Pennsylvania. BRP is developing model financial assurance documents for use in Pennsylvania which will be based on current NRC model financial assurance documents. BRP licensing staff and counsel will work with licensees to implement new financial assurance documents during a reasonable transition period following attainment of AS status.
Additional financial assurance information may be found at the Bureau's Financial Assurance for Pennsylvania Licenses webpage.
- Q: Will Pennsylvania perform accreditation testing of radiographers similar to ASNT?
- A: No, only a few states do so.
- Q: Is it ok for consultants from other states to train licensee staff?
- A: Yes. If it is currently accepted under the NRC license it will be accepted by Pennsylvania.
- Q: What data is viewable by the public in eFACTS?
- A: Limited data only and nothing that is considered to be a security issue. eFACTS is the Department’s Facility, Application, and Compliance Tracking System. Public access to data in those areas is limited for security reasons. The public can search for individual authorizations, clients, sites and facilities. Users can also search our database for inspections, pollution prevention visits, viewing inspection results data, including enforcement data when violations are noted.
- Q: Will Pennsylvania issue a newsletter about enforcement actions like NRC does?
- A: No, we will not produce a newsletter. Pennsylvania will issue press releases on significant events. In addition, as required by NRC, Pennsylvania will continue to report certain events to NRC, and enter them into its national Nuclear Materials Events Database (NMED). From time to time DEP may also issue Information Notices as the NRC does.
- Q: How will the AS program affect solid waste radiation monitoring in Pennsylvania?
- A: No effect, these DEP regulations are separate and apart from Agreement State RAM licensing and the Radiological Health regulations.
- Q: If there is an alarm, can you provide solid waste facility transportation advice?
- Q: What will happen to the NRC office and staff at King of Prussia?
- A: It is our understanding that the office will stay open and continue to perform the NRC mission in non-Agreement States and areas of exclusive jurisdiction within Agreement States. Staff has been and will continue to be “right-sized” through attrition and reallocation. For more information contact the NRC.
- Q: After the effective date, whom do I call about General License events?
- A: Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania will then notify NRC as required. This applies to any reportable event such as a lost source or over-exposure that occurs under activities regulated by Pennsylvania licenses.
- Q: What will the telephone number be for reporting exposures?
- Q: How will the records Pennsylvania receives from NRC be backed up?
- A: Most of the documentation Pennsylvania receives from NRC is in NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) so it will serve as a backup. Upon receipt Pennsylvania will immediately begin duplication of the records and distribute the duplicates to the relevant DEP regional offices.