DHEC Receives Top Federal Ratings for Oversight of South Carolina’s Radiation Control Program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 3, 2023
COLUMBIA, S.C. ― The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) oversight of radioactive material use in South Carolina successfully meets all federal standards and requirements for protecting public health and safety, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRC). The NRC has completed its most recent review of South Carolina’s Radiation Control Program and determined the state’s program, which is managed by DHEC, provides proper oversight for protecting people from the potential hazards associated with the use of radioactive materials.
South Carolina’s Radiation Control Program received satisfactory ratings (the highest rating possible) in all assessed categories. The NRC found no needed recommendations for improvements to DHEC’s regulation of radioactive material use.
Since 1969, South Carolina has been an “agreement state,” meaning it has an agreement with the NRC that authorizes state government, specifically DHEC, to regulate certain uses of radioactive materials within South Carolina. The NRC retains responsibility for overseeing the operation of nuclear power plants and nuclear fuel fabrication in all 39 agreement states. In DHEC’s role managing South Carolina’s Radiation Control Program, the agency:
• regulates one of four Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal sites in the country
• regulates 10 specific licenses for management of Low Level Radioactive Waste
• licenses and inspects entities that possess and use radioactive material and maintains incident response capabilities 24 hours, seven days a week
• completes inspections for Type B transportation casks for Low Level Waste disposal
All entities that use or handle radioactive materials are required to comply with SC Regulation 61-63, Radioactive Materials, among other state and federal laws. In South Carolina, there are currently more than 300 active radioactive materials licensees, including medical facilities and nuclear pharmacies that produce, distribute and use nuclear medicine for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other illnesses; colleges and universities that perform research; and industrial facilities that use nuclear gauges and radiography cameras as well as one of the nation’s four low-level radioactive waste disposal sites.
“DHEC is committed to continuing to meet all oversight standards when it comes to regulating the safe handling of radioactive materials in South Carolina,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “I’m proud of our team for their successful management of South Carolina’s Radiation Control Program. They have a critical role in making sure our state’s businesses and industries that use potentially hazardous materials as part of their operations do so with the utmost regard to protecting the health and safety of their staff, surrounding communities, and all South Carolinians.”
Because South Carolina’s Radiation Control Program has had two consecutive reviews with all performance indicators found satisfactory and no improvement recommendations, the NRC feels its next review of DHEC’s oversight doesn’t need to occur for another five years compared to the four-year schedule in place for the majority of other agreement states.