Frequently Asked Questions About the State of Connecticut's Request To Pursue an Agreement with the NRC

What is an Agreement State?

Congress authorized the NRC in Section 274b. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, to enter into Agreements that allow States to assume, and the NRC to discontinue, regulatory authority over byproduct, source, and small quantities of special nuclear material. The State can then regulate byproduct, source and small quantities of special nuclear materials that are covered in the Agreement, using its own legislation, regulations or other legally binding provisions. The Commission will enter into an Agreement, if the Commission finds the State program adequate to protect public health and safety and compatible with the NRC's regulatory program. The NRC ensures that an Agreement State program remains adequate and compatible through periodic review and assessment under the Integrated Materials Performance Evaluation Program (IMPEP).

How many States are currently in the Agreement State Program?

There are 39 Agreement States that regulate approximately 16,500 radioactive material licenses, or approximately 88% of all radioactive material licenses nationally.

What exactly would the Agreement with Connecticut allow the State to regulate and what would the NRC continue to regulate?

The Agreement that Connecticut has requested will allow the State to assume regulatory authority over the possession and use of byproduct material, source material and special nuclear material in limited quantities used at academic, commercial and medical facilities. Once the Agreement is approved by the Commission, Connecticut will regulate approximately 125 radioactive material licensees. The NRC would retain regulatory authority over federal agencies, nuclear power plants, federally recognized tribal lands and the evaluation of sealed sources and devices within the State.

What are the steps in the process by which a State becomes an Agreement State?

The major steps are:

  • The Governor sends a letter to the NRC Chairman expressing the intent to become an Agreement State.
  • The State submits a draft application to the NRC for review and comment.
  • The Governor certifies that the State has an adequate program and submits a formal request that includes supporting legislation, regulations, program description and staffing.
  • The NRC assesses the request and after Commission approval publishes the staff's assessment and proposed Agreement for a 30-day comment period.
  • The NRC assesses public comments and prepares a final assessment.
  • After Commission approval, the Chairman and the Governor sign the agreement.

How long is the proposal review process that results in a State becoming an Agreement State?

The NRC's part of the process takes about a year to complete starting when the agency receives the final application from the State. Adding the time it takes for the State to develop its program, train its staff, and adopt compatible regulations, after it sends in a letter of intent, the entire process typically requires approximately 4 years.

Where is Connecticut's application within this timeline?

The NRC has been working with the State of Connecticut since the fall of 2019. The Governor of the State of Connecticut submitted a letter of intent to the NRC Chairman on December 10, 2020. Current projections are that the Agreement application process will be completed and the Agreement signed by the end of 2024.

What opportunities are currently available or will be available in the future to comment on the State's program and the governing regulations?

Those interested in receiving notifications from the Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) of major developments in their process to adopt regulations to support an Agreement State application can enroll for email notifications with the State. Information can also be obtained from the DEEP's Division of Radiation, Jeffery Semancik, Jeffery.Semancik@ct.gov or (860) 424-3029.

Will the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and/or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews continue to be part of application reviews for materials covered under the Agreement once Connecticut becomes an Agreement State?

No, unless another federal agency, such as the Bureau of Land Management or the Environmental Protection Agency, is involved in the licensing action. The NHPA and NEPA are Federal statutes that apply to federal undertakings and major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Future licensing reviews would be State actions and subject to the regulations developed by the State of Connecticut.

Would the transfer of regulatory authority from the NRC to the State of Connecticut be considered a Federal undertaking as defined in the NHPA and therefore require consultation to comply with Section 106 with federally recognized Tribes and other concerned individuals and stakeholders?

No. The review and consideration of an application for an Agreement is not a federal undertaking that is subject to NHPA Section 106 review.

If federally recognized Tribes have concerns about the Connecticut Agreement State proposal and the impact of the NRC's acceptance of Connecticut as an Agreement State on Tribal engagement what are the channels for expressing these concerns?

Federally recognized Tribes may contact the NRC with any concerns about Tribal engagement. Information on the Connecticut Agreement State proposal can be obtained from Duncan White, Connecticut Agreement Project Manager (duncan.white@nrc.gov, 301-415-2598) or Lance Rakovan, Tribal Liaison Project Manager (lance.rakovan@nrc.gov, 301-415-2589).

Will the State of Connecticut regulate activities on Tribal land held in trust by the Federal government, Tribal reservations, or allotted land?

No. Federally recognized tribes and their land or reservations that are in an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction are only subject to the NRC's regulatory authority. The NRC will continue to regulate the possession and use of byproduct, source and special nuclear materials if they are on land or reservations under exclusive federal jurisdiction. There are currently no facilities in Connecticut that would be transferred to the State as part of the Agreement that are located on tribal land. Case-by-case determinations will be needed to determine regulatory authority over tribal lands that are not under exclusive federal jurisdiction.

What if a federally recognized Tribe leases its land to a private operator? Who would regulate?

The NRC would still be the regulatory authority if a federally recognized Tribe leases its land under exclusive federal jurisdiction to a private operator. Case-by-case determinations would be needed to determine regulatory authority if the tribal lands are not under exclusive federal jurisdiction.