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Summary of Joint Meeting with NRC to Clarify Fingerprinting and FBI Background Checks For Unescorted Access to Radioactive Material – 11/28/07

AABB, America’s Blood Centers, the American Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services met with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Nov. 28 to discuss the requirements for performing a trustworthiness and reliability determination — based on verification of employment history, education and personal references — as well as fingerprinting and an FBI criminal history records check for individuals with unescorted access to radioactive materials.

 

NRC provided an overview of two regulatory issue summaries — 2007-14: Fingerprinting Requirements for Licensees Implementing the Increased Control Order and 2007-15: Unescorted Access to Materials for Manufacturer and Distributor Service Providers, both issued June 5 — that outline the increased control requirements for performing a trustworthiness and reliability determination. Individuals with unescorted access must meet the minimum criteria for this determination as well as a new requirement for an FBI criminal history records check based on fingerprints.

 

According to NRC, a fingerprinting order is expected to be issued to NRC licensees and agreement states around Dec. 5, legalizing the requirement for fingerprinting personnel with unescorted access to nuclear material. In conjunction with the order, NRC indicated that it would be releasing frequently asked questions to assist facilities in implementing these requirements. The order will be published in the Federal Register within 14 days of its official release. A list of agreement states can be found at http://www.hsrd.ornl.gov/nrc/rulemaking.htm. 

 

The proposed fingerprinting order has several key time frames of particular importance:

·          Licensees will have 60 days to notify the NRC if they will be unable to comply with the requirements or if compliance is unnecessary.

·          Facilities must fingerprint and approve a trustworthiness and reliability official within 90 days of issuance of the order.

·          Implementation of the entire program must be completed within 180 days from the date of the original order.

·          If a facility is governed by an agreement state, a similar order will be issued by the agreement state within 180 days of the original order’s release by the NRC. Facilities will then have 180 days from the date the agreement state releases their order to implement the entire program.

 

The following points of clarification were made:

·          Each facility must establish a process with criteria for performing the trustworthiness and reliability determination.

·          Documentation of the trustworthiness and reliability determination for each employee must be maintained to include a list of personnel granted unescorted access.

·          The trustworthiness and reliability determination with fingerprinting is only required for those personnel that will have unescorted access to the nuclear material, such as a blood irradiator.

·          The trustworthiness and reliability determination with fingerprinting is only required once. Once an individual has completed this process, there is no requirement for it to be repeated.

·          There is no requirement for a facility to maintain a log of escorted access.

·          Personnel with access to the trustworthiness and reliability employee records must meet the trustworthiness and reliability criteria, but the personnel do not have to undergo fingerprinting or an FBI criminal history records check.

·          Irradiator manufacturers and distributors (M&D) as well as third-party providers (non-M&D) should be able to provide proof of trustworthiness and reliability.

 

How to meet the intent of the order with the least amount of burden to the facilities, including the $36 fee for the FBI criminal history records check, was discussed by attendees. The following options were raised:

·          Reduce the size of the room where the blood irradiator is maintained, either by solid, fixed walls or some type of cage. If the only activity performed in the room is blood irradiation, then the number of personnel that would require access would be limited to only this staff, reducing the number of personnel requiring fingerprinting and FBI criminal history records check.

·          Install a lock on the door to the blood irradiator room with a monitoring device, such as an alarm or camera, to limit and control access to the room. 

·          Designate specific personnel, such as supervisors, that would have unescorted access, and require all other personnel to have an escort.

·          Explore potential grant opportunities through the Department of Homeland Security and the National Nuclear Security Agency to offset the cost of implementation.