Rep. Ritchie Torres Calls on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Secure the Sale of Radioactive Material

Aug 11, 2022
Public Safety

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) called on the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Christopher T. Hanson, to immediately require independent license verification for those seeking to procure category three quantities of radioactive material. This comes after an incredibly alarming report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) discovered bad actors could easily purchase dangerous quantities of radioactive material using fraudulent licenses.

Radioactive material is classified into five different categories of risk. The highest-risk categories one and two, are subject to independent license verification, whereas the remaining categories three, four, and five are exempt from obtaining an independent license verification. The GAO investigation primarily focused on obtaining category three materials; however, Rep. Torres recommends that the NRC examine the requirement of independent license verification for the remaining categories of radioactive material.

Radioactive material is necessary for many medical and industrial devices. However, when these unregulated dangerous materials get into the hands of bad actors, it poses a significant national security threat. Without the addition of more strenuous security protocols, including a more rigorous system of independent license verification, a terrorist could easily exploit the current vulnerabilities of the system and inflict catastrophic harm. Nowhere does this pose a more significant national security threat than New York City.

On the particularly unique threat that this presents to New York City Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) states in his letter, “Nowhere is the threat more profound than in New York City, which, as evidenced by 9/11, is singularly susceptible to acts of terrorism, both domestic and foreign. In addition to unleashing untold human suffering, the damage from a dirty bomb could cost both the U.S. and New York City billions of dollars.” 

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must take the proper steps to immediately require independent license verification for those seeking to procure all quantities of radioactive material, America’s national security depends on it,” said Rep. Torres. 

See the letter here.

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