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Radioactive Materials Licensing Program

Regulating Radioactive Materials in Oregon

Oregon's authority to regulate radioactive materials originated in 1965 upon then Governor Mark Hatfield's signing of an Agreement with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The Agreement, which made Oregon an "Agreement State," authorized the state to regulate byproduct material, source material, and special nuclear material (defined below) in quantities not sufficient to form a chain reaction. Oregon also has authority to regulate Naturally Occurring and Accelerator Produced Radioactive Materials (NARM).

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued orders enhancing security at nuclear facilities. During the early years of implementation of these enhancements, several violations of the enhanced requirements occurred because of failures to cultivate a positive safety culture in the licensee's security program. As a result, the NRC has developed a safety culture policy statement (pdf) that the state of Oregon RML program has adopted.

Radioactive Materials Licensing (RML) Program:

  • Includes licensing, inspection, and environmental surveillance and control of radioactive materials.
  • Charges specific license fees and general license registration fees (defined below). Oregon Administrative Rules 333-103-010 through 105 document license and registration fees for specific licenses and general license registrations.
  • Maintains radiation exposures in Oregon As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA). The Oregon Health Authority mission ensures protection of public health and safety. RML personnel have extensive training in hard science (chemistry, physics, biology, engineering) and have been trained in the health effects of radiation.


Byproduct material

Any radioactive material that is produced during fission or neutron activation in a nuclear reactor during a chain reaction.

Source material

Uranium or Thorium.

Special nuclear material

Fissionable materials (radioactive materials that will split or fission) in quantities less than those that will sustain a chain reaction (less than a critical mass).

Specific license

The RML program issues a specific license to persons who use radioactive materials in hospitals, universities, and industry. This license requires named persons, requires training documentation, specifies places of use, and designates exactly which materials may be used. Specific licenses may be issued for individual materials (e.g. gauges) or for facility types (e.g. research). The RML program provides extensive support documentation for persons applying for a specific radioactive materials license (see attached files below for examples of documentation).

General license

The RML program registers certain types of radioactive materials used in industry (gauges) and clinics. These materials are called general license materials. General license materials are considered inherently safe because of their quantity or design. Clinics use small amounts of general license radioactive material for diagnostic tests. An example of such a test is the T-4 for hyperthyroidism. Industrial sites use larger quantities of general license material in devices known as "fixed gauges." These gauges measure or control thickness, density, and other engineering and quality control aspects of paper, fiberboard, and food products during manufacture and processing.

NOTE: Food products do not become radioactive when these gauges are used; the radiation from the gauge acts the same way as an x-ray of your chest, and it does not harm the product. At this time, Oregon has no food irradiation businesses.

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