Pennsylvania to Regulate Radioactive Material Users

Under an agreement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Pennsylvania on March 31 assumed regulatory authority over approximately 700 radioactive material users in the state, a change Gov. Edward G. Rendell said will strengthen public safety by improving emergency response capabilities.

The governor said with its new "agreement state" status, Pennsylvania will be better able to provide timely and accurate information to state and local authorities responding to incidents involving radioactive materials, which improves public safety.

"State officials are usually the first to respond to incidents involving radioactive materials," Rendell said. "Now, these officials will have more knowledge to protect the public from the first minute they arrive on scene."

Under the agreement, Pennsylvania assumes regulatory authority from the NRC over most of the in-state facilities using radioactive materials -- the majority of which are medical facilities treating patients with nuclear medicine procedures.

Industrial, construction, and pharmaceutical firms using radioactive materials also now fall under the state's jurisdiction, as do colleges and universities using nuclear materials for academic purposes.

Pennsylvania's nine nuclear power plants and one research reactor will continue to be regulated by the NRC.

The Governor added that the agreement also improves the business climate through lower licensing fees and less duplicative regulatory requirements.

"Pennsylvania's businesses will benefit because state licensing fees are expected to be lower than the NRC's in the long run," said the Governor. "These savings will help to reduce costs and encourage businesses to locate and expand here, creating jobs for Pennsylvanians."

Radioactive material licensing fees are expected to generate at least $2 million a year, which should be sufficient to fund the entire cost of licensing, inspecting and regulating facilities within the state that hold such licenses.

As required by law, no state general fund tax dollars will be used for this program.

The NRC licensed 693 radioactive material users in the state and, prior to gaining the agreement state status, Pennsylvania licensed 436 users. About half of the state's licensees were also licensed by the NRC.

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