Office of Radiological Security (ORS)

National Nuclear Security Administration

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The Office of Radiological Security (ORS) works with government, law enforcement, and businesses across the globe to protect radioactive sources used for medical, research, and commercial purposes; remove and dispose of disused radioactive sources; and reduce the global reliance on high activity radioactive sources through the promotion of viable non-radioisotopic alternative technologies.

Strengthening Radiological Security

Radioactive sources play an important role in commercial, medical, and research applications.

However, if high-activity radioactive sources falls into the wrong hands, it could be used for a radiological dispersal device (“dirty bomb”) or in other acts of terrorism. ORS works with governments, first responders, businesses, hospitals, and industries across the globe to provide users of radiological materials with world class security technologies, expertise, training, source recovery, and alternative replacement strategies. ORS focuses its resources on the security of widely used, high-activity sources including cesium-137, cobalt-60, americium-241, and iridium-192. Click here for more information.

The program employs three strategies to accomplish its mission: 1) protect radioactive sources used in vital medical, research, and commercial applications; 2) remove and dispose of disused radioactive sources; and 3) reduce the global reliance on high activity radioactive sources by promoting the adoption and development of non-radioisotopic alternative technologies. Click here for video.

  • Protect: ORS works with organizations to evaluate partners’ existing security systems, and provide protection upgrades, guidance, and training to enhance the security of high-activity radioactive sources. ORS collaborates with partner organizations worldwide on sustainable security, including implementation of regulatory development, security planning and training, transportation security, response planning and training, and the strengthening of inspection and enforcement regimes. To learn more about NNSA’s program to secure your business, community and country, please click here.
  • Remove: ORS works with users of radioactive sources to assist with the proper removal of disused radioactive sources, helping to eliminate excess, unwanted, abandoned, or orphaned radioactive sealed sources that pose a threat to security, public health, and safety. In the United States, ORS manages the Off-Site Source Recovery Project, which recovers and disposes of disused radioactive sealed sources. Internationally, ORS collaborates with partners to repatriate U.S. origin radioactive sealed sources and supports partner country efforts to remove disused sources to a secure location. If you would like to learn more about NNSA’s recovery of disused and unwanted radioactive sources or to register your devices with NNSA for recovery, please click here.
  • Reduce: ORS works to reduce the global reliance on high-activity radioactive sources by promoting the development and adoption of non-radioisotopic alternative technologies where technically, operationally, and economically feasible. As technologies mature, more alternatives are available for common applications that currently use high-activity radioactive sources. ORS focuses on long term, permanent risk reduction through voluntary transition to alternatives. Such technologies eliminate the need for in-depth security and infrastructure modifications and end-of-life management concerns, reducing the long-term costs of operation. ORS works with multiple stakeholders – federal and state governments, industry, healthcare professionals, researchers, and manufacturers – to identify opportunities for information-sharing, education, research and development, and access to replacement incentive programs. To learn more about NNSA’s efforts to reduce the global reliance on high-activity radioactive sources, please click here.
Accomplishments

Since its inception, ORS and its predecessor organizations have:

  • Partnered with more than 1,500 sites in over 80 countries and all 50 U.S. states, plus Puerto Rico, to strengthen radiological security;
  • Enhanced security at more than 2,100 buildings containing radiological material; including the installation of kits used to delay access on more than 540 radioactive source devices in the United States in collaboration with device manufacturers;
  • Recovered more than 58,000 disused radiological sources worldwide, including more than 36,000 radioactive sealed sources in the United States from 1,200 industrial, educational, healthcare, and government facilities;
  • Assisted with the removal of nearly 500 radioisotope thermoelectric generators worldwide, and deployed over 220 alternate power supplies, such as solar-powered systems; and,
  • Conducted alarm response training courses at Y-12 National Security Complex for more than 5,251 participants from the U.S. law enforcement and response community.