WASHINGTON, DC – In response to reports that Government Accountability Office (GAO) researchers  were able to smuggle radioactive materials suitable for use in a dirty bomb into the United States in a car trunk, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security Committees and author of the “Dirty Bomb Prevention Act,” sent a letter today to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) asking about the agency’s progress on issuing regulations on the importation of radiation sources. The required regulations, contained within the portions of the “Dirty Bomb Prevention Act” that were enacted as amendments to the Energy Bill last summer, should, when implemented, be capable of preventing unauthorized individuals from smuggling large quantities of radioactive materials into the country in the same manner used by GAO. The NRC has missed the statutorily mandated 180 day deadline for issuing the regulations.

“This Administration’s foot dragging on issuing regulations on the importation of radiation sources is dangerous and irresponsible.  How many more warnings does this White House need to take action to close these loopholes?” asked Rep. Markey.  “The next warning is going to come in the form of a devastating dirty bomb detonating in an American city if we don’t take action.”

“My ‘Dirty Bomb Prevention Act’ was enacted into law last summer and requires the NRC to issue regulations that would force U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to contact the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) when a Category 1 or 2 radiation source is imported to determine whether the documents possessed by the importer were legitimate and if the importer was authorized to possess the material.  Clearly, we need these regulations because without them no document verification or other authorization is required.  We must not allow individuals possessing falsified documentation to smuggle highly radioactive materials into the country the way GAO did.”

In his letter sent today to NRC Chairman Nils J. Diaz, Rep. Markey sought further clarification on the status of the regulations to tighten controls on the transport and tracking of radiation sources, requesting a date certain for the establishment of a tracking system.

For more work on Rep. Markey’s fight to close the loopholes allowing radioactive materials that can be used for dirty bombs to pass through U.S. borders, along with copies of current and previous correspondence with the NRC on this issue, check out: http://markey.house.gov/

Copy of Letter to NRC (3/28/06) Copy of Letter to NRC (3/28/06) (107.04 KB)

Copy of Previous Letter to NRC (8/19/04) Copy of Previous Letter to NRC (8/19/04) (617.30 KB)
Copy of Response to Previous Letter from NRC (10/21/04) Copy of Response to Previous Letter from NRC (10/21/04) (1.41 MB)

March 28, 2006


CONTACT: Tara McGuiness
Michal Freedhoff