DoE Controls: 10 CFR 810

The Department of Energy’s 10 CFR §810 regulations are analogous to the EAR’s controls on technology and the ITAR’s controls on technical data and defense services. 

The February 23, 2015 Federal Register article announcing the revised Part 810 says that “Part 810 controls the export of unclassified nuclear technology and assistance. It enables peaceful nuclear trade by helping to assure that nuclear technologies exported from the United States will not be used for non-peaceful purposes.” 

The regulations themselves are less direct, saying that Part 810 enables the Secretary of Energy to “authorize persons to directly or indirectly engage in the development or production of special nuclear material outside the United States.” [“Special nuclear material” means plutonium, uranium-233, or uranium enriched above 0.711 percent-by-weight in the isotope uranium-235.] The Department of Energy has historically interpreted this to include activities related to civilian nuclear reactors, because Special Nuclear Material is produced in the nuclear reaction.

The revised regulations are more specific about activities in the scope of Part 810 (note that the following is a summary, refer to the complete regulations before acting):

  • Chemical conversion and purification of uranium, thorium, plutonium or neptunium
  • Nuclear fuel fabrication
  • Uranium or plutonium isotope separation (enrichment)
  • Nuclear reactor development, production or use of reactor components
  • Development, production or use of production accelerator-driven subcritical assembly systems;
  • Heavy water production
  • Reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel or targets containing special nuclear material
  • The transfer of technology for the development, production, or use of equipment or material especially designed or prepared for any of the above listed activities

Activities listed in 10 CFR 810 (above) will fall in one of three categories:

  • Activities not in the scope of 10 CFR 810: 
    • Exports authorized under NRC, EAR, or ITAR
    • Transfer of publicly available information, publicly available technology or the results of fundamental research
    • Uranium and thorium mining and milling
    • Nuclear fusion reactors
    • Radiopharmaceutical isotopes not involving special nuclear material
    • Transfer of technology to lawful permanent US residents
  • Generally authorized activities, requiring no other authorization (but which do require reporting their use to DoE):
    • Activities listed in 10 CFR 810 involving a “generally authorized destination” country listed in Appendix A (about 50 countries)
    • Transfer of technology to an employee of an NRC-licensed facility, under specified conditions
    • Dealing with a radiological emergency, under specified conditions
    • Furnishing operational safety information or assistance to existing civilian reactors outside the US, under specified conditions
    • Furnishing operational safety information or assistance to new, proposed, or existing civilian reactors in the US, under specified conditions
    • Exchange programs approved by the Department pf State in consultation with DoE
    • Implementing the 1980 US-IAEA agreement for application of safeguards in the US
    • IAEA employee activities
    • Extraction of molybdenum-99 from irradiated enriched uranium for medical use, under specified conditions
  • Activities requiring specific authorization from DoE:
    • Activities listed in 10 CFR 810 involving a country not listed in Appendix A as a “generally authorized destination”
    • Transferring sensitive nuclear technology (information important to the design, construction, fabrication, operation, or maintenance of a uranium enrichment or nuclear reprocessing facility or a facility for producing heavy water to any non-US country or entity
    • Providing technology or assistance to non-US countries or nationals related to uranium or plutonium isotope separation (enrichment), fabrication of nuclear fuel containing plutonium, heavy water production, an accelerator-driven subcritical assembly system, a production reactor or reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuels or targets containing special nuclear material

In some cases, it may be difficult to be sure whether an activity is outside the scope of Part 810, generally authorized, or specifically authorized. If you’re not confident that your activity doesn’t require specific authorization, there’s risk in acting, because if you act first and then find that specific authorization was required it’s too late to fix. 

Part 810.5 describes a mechanism through which you can request advice from the Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control in DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on the interpretation of Part 810 as it applies to the facts in your specific case.