Stricter Nuclear Freight Rules Forthcoming

By Matthew Harwood

Hounded by criticism, reports USA Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will upgrade security requirements for shipping radioactive materials across the country. The government fears terrorists may try and steal the nuclear freight for later use in a dirty bomb.

The effort follows years of criticism from members of Congress, security experts and environmentalists who say that the commission hasn't done enough to secure potentially dangerous materials since 9/11 raised fears of attacks. The material is typically shipped to and from medical and industrial sites ....The NRC, which regulates the nuclear industry and use of radioactive materials, says the security requirements being considered include contingency procedures if materials go missing, new safeguards for shipment information, new rules on advance notification of shipments and continuous tracking of shipments through GPS and other technologies.

Vayl Oxford, head of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says top officials at DHS are pressuring the NRC to create federal rules fast as states differ widely in their approaches to protecting nuclear freight.  Oxford says some states require armed escorts while some states require no escorts at all.

He also told USA Today that the NRC needs to implement a tracking system like Fed-Ex has for its shipments so officials know where the dangerous freight is at all times.

Despite DHS' desire for quickly drawn up rules, the article says the final rules shouldn't be implemented before 2010 due to the long regulatory process.


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