Working to Keep Our Web Info Current

With so much information on the NRC website, it is difficult to keep everything up to date. The agency staff works hard every day on licensing actions, certifications, technical reviews and such, which means information can go out of date almost as soon as we post it.

But we’ve recently done several updates on important materials and wanted to point them out.

We recently overhauled the NRC’s Uranium Recovery page to include current information on the staff’s reviews of several applications for new uranium recovery licenses out West.

We also recently made a change to our Fact Sheet on Biological Effects of Radiation. The pie chart showed where Americans get their average annual radiation exposure from, and was taken from a 1980s-era report by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). The NCRP had updated the graphic in 2009, almost doubling the amount of average annual radiation exposure because of the rise in medical procedures.

We had used the 2009 graphic in our brochure on Radiation Protection and the NRC and in our Radiation Protection section of the NRC website. But we had missed it in the fact sheet. It was an easy update, and today, for now at least, the fact sheet is current.

Another fact sheet we recently updated is Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants. This is a lengthy one that contained information specific to each plant currently being decommissioned. The problem was that work continued after the last update was posted in January 2008, so we worked with the technical staff to make sure the information there is current. The decommissioning folks have been busy the last three years!

We work hard to keep these materials up to date. But if you see something on the NRC’s website that seems inaccurate, out-of-date, or contradictory to another item or statement we make elsewhere, please let us know so we can correct it! (An e-mail to OPA.Resource@nrc.gov will do the trick.) And be patient – we’re trying to keep up!

Dave McIntyre
Public Affairs Officer

A Day In the Life of an NRC Materials Inspector

An NRC inspector walks up to a pickup truck that has a strange oversized camper. Next to the truck sits a device that looks like a large metallic lunch box with bright yellow labels, except this lunch box has what appears to be 30-foot-long tubes stretching from each end like tentacles. She takes out her radiation survey instrument and it starts to register a faint, familiar chirp.

The inspector has just stumbled upon a radiographic exposure device (camera) that contains a radioactive source (pill). Radiography is a type of non-destructive testing and can be compared to a type of mobile industrial X-ray service. The dense shielding within the camera surrounds the pill and protects those nearby from excess radiation exposure.

Back to our inspector, she is surrounded by a field of large pipes stretching across the open landscape like capillaries moving the rich natural gas and oil resources from their barren origin in western Wyoming to the urban centers where they are needed. The pressures of the fluids in these conduits is high. Any defects or weaknesses in the system can lead to leaks, failure, or catastrophe.

Similar to going to the doctor to get a chest x-ray, radiographers use the radioactive source to get images of the internal welds connecting the robust pipes. The resulting exposure, or image, can tell the engineers whether the pipe weld is weak and needs to be replaced, or if this one is sturdy and will get the contents to their destination safely.

The inspector completes her surveys; no readings were out of the ordinary. She discusses security controls with the radiographers; the radioactive source must not fall into the wrong hands. She verifies that the public is safe; the procedures were followed to ensure that no one was allowed near the radiation.

Jason Razo
Region IV