New Mexico
Environment Department

Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)

Radiation Control Bureau

Security of Radioactive Materials


Following is information of interest regarding security of radioactive materials and dirty bombs.


Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 37

This part has been established to provide the requirements for the physical protection program for any licensee that possesses an aggregated category 1 or category 2
quantity of radioactive material listed in Appendix A to this part. These requirements provide reasonable assurance of the security of category 1 or category 2 quantities
of radioactive material by protecting these materials from theft or diversion. Specific requirements for access to material, use of material, transfer of material, and
transport of material are included. No provision of this part authorizes possession of licensed material.

The regulations in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 37, “Physical Protection of Category 1 and Category 2 Quantities of Radioactive Material,” impose
security requirements for the possession and use of category 1 and category 2 quantities of radioactive material. These regulations establish the objectives and minimum requirements
that licensees must meet to protect against theft or diversion. The intent of these requirements is to protect the public against the unauthorized use of a category 1 or category
2 quantity of radioactive material by reducing the risk of theft or diversion of the material. An effective physical protection program integrates people, procedures, and physical
security technology to protect the facility and assets (e.g., category 1 or category 2 quantities of radioactive material) from theft, diversion, sabotage, or other malevolent attacks.
An effective physical protection program should also have good administrative measures, such as having an employee review process for determining who should have access to
the security zone (e.g., trustworthiness and reliability determination), and a process for protecting the security-related information (e.g., security plan). Access authorization,
access control, detection, delay, assessment, and response are some key elements for an effective physical protection program. Protection in depth for these elements is a critical
component to the overall effectiveness of the physical protection program. A protection-in-depth strategy deters an adversary by requiring him or her to avoid or defeat a number
of different protective measures (e.g., barriers and intrusion sensors) in sequence to access risk-significant quantities of radioactive material. Also, this strategy deters the adversary
by adding uncertainty, requiring different techniques and tools, and creating additional steps. The layered protection concept adds to a system’s overall reliability by removing the
dependency on one barrier or system, which protects against a single point failure.

Licensees that are implementing 10 CFR part 37, guidance can be obtained in  NUREG 2155 Rev. 1. Licensees may also call the Radiation Control Bureau at (505) 476-8600 for
concerns or questions on these orders.

What About Dirty Bombs?

Due to possible terrorist activities in the United States, many people have become concerned about potential use of dirty bombs.  Also known as a radiological dispersal device (RDD), the dirty bomb is a conventional explosive or bomb containing radioactive material. The conventional bomb is used as a means to spread radioactive contamination.  It is not a nuclear device.  The chief hazard from such a device would be percussive effects created by the explosive.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has prepared an examination of dirty bombs, which may be accessed on-line at:

For information regarding this page, contact Carl Sullivan of the Bureau at


For information regarding this page, contact Carl Sullivan of the Bureau at