THORIUM FLUORIDE SUBSTITUTES
For those who may be unaware, there are impending government hazardous materials regulations that will impact companies that deal with radioactive materials such as Thorium Fluoride (ThF4). The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission released its proposed rule (Distribution of Source Material to Exempt Persons and to General Licensees and Revisions of General License Exemptions) in September 2010, and while no fixed date has been announced, it is expected the Final Rule could be published soon. From that point, there will be a one year period to come into compliance.
Materion would like to encourage our customers to become familiar with the pending regulations, which for the majority could mean an impact on how they do business. Among the requirements is the need to obtain a “specific” license at an increased cost, rather than the current “general” license most employ. Materion would like to stress the importance of companies (big and small) to review the financial and commercial aspects of the pending regulations and license requirements. In addition, be aware that the regulations require an improved radiation safety program and more inspections. This represents other challenges, such as re-training employees to understand the new regulations, implementing a revised company program and perhaps adding staff. Materion’s commitment to producing ThF4 will not cease with the new regulations. However, we will need to comply with the new requirements as regards the supply of material.
Depending upon your application, companies using ThF4 may opt to consider using non-radioactive alternatives. Materion features an ever expanding selection of specialty evaporation fluorides like YF3, YbF3, CeF3, BaF2, CIROM-IRX and LaF3 to name a few. We continue to invest in manufacturing capabilities and developing processes and expertise that allow these materials to be candidates for an increasing number of uses previously dominated by ThF4. Refinements in reaction technology, morphology, raw materials and an increasingly skilled Sales and Sales support structure have increased the role these critical materials and mixtures have in minimizing the risk to the marketplace of having no viable ThF4 alternatives.
Materion is pleased to offer our technical services and guidance in the use of ThF4 replacement products for specific processes and application needs. For further information please contact a Materion customer representative at materion.com/advancedchemicals or call 414.289.9800.
Excerpt following is from “Distribution of Source Material to Exempt Persons and to General Licensees and Revisions of General License Exemptions.”Learn more about the pending regulations by consulting the NRC Guidance Document: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1031/ML103160257.pdf.
(1) The initial transfer for sale of products bearing source material can no longer be done without having a specific license. Subsequent transfers from exempt person to exempt person, or general licensee to general licensee, are still okay. If you import "exempt quantity" source material and then distribute it as either exempt or generally licensed, you too will need a specific license when the proposed rule becomes law.
(2) A general licensee can no longer possess up to 15 pounds of dispersible source material at any one time or 150 pounds in any calendar year. The limits are only 3.3 pounds at once and 15.4 pounds in a year. (Non-dispersible materials still have the 15/150 pound limit.) The new limit applies to natural uranium and natural thorium only, with no other isotopic mixtures covered.
(3) The exemption on the manufacture/distribute of optical lenses coated with thorium pursuant to 10 CFR 40.13 has been preserved, however, the previous limit on the amount of source material that could be coated onto lenses (i.e., 30% by weight) will drop to 10%.
(4) The new rule does not allow for the abandonment of source material when you no longer need it, even if it is an exempted or generally-licensed item. If you need to dispose of anything more than 1.1 pounds of non-dispersible source material (i.e., metal brick, alloy, encapsulated) in a calendar year, you will need to follow the 10 CFR 20 disposal requirements.
Here are the fee amounts for a specific license as they appear in the proposed rule: (1) For distributing items to persons exempt from licensing (i.e., initial distributers), $7,000 for an application and $10,000 for the annual fee. (2) For manufacturing and processing, the fees will be $10,200 for an application and $21,100 for the annual fee. (3) For initial transfer/distribution of small quantities, the fee amounts are $2,000 for an application and $5,000 for the annual fee. You may also be subject to decommissioning funding requirements if deemed eligible.