Up & Atom

Congress recently passed legislation to ban imports of Russian uranium products into the United States. The Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act (HR 1042) (the Act) was approved by the House of Representatives on December 11, 2023, and the Senate on April 30, 2024. President Biden plans to sign the bill, and the ban would go into effect 90 days later.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has published a final rule increasing civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for unintentional violations of 10 CFR Part 810 (Part 810). The rule, which took effect on January 9, 2024, increases the maximum CMP from $120,816 to $124,732 per violation per day. The increased penalty aligns with DOE’s mandate to annually adjust CMPs for inflation.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published an order in the Federal Register on August 14, 2023 suspending the general license to export special nuclear material, source material, and deuterium for nuclear end use to China. Under the NRC’s order, which is effective immediately, any person wishing to export special nuclear material, source material, or deuterium to China must apply for, and receive, a specific license before they can make the export.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) published on January 31 two secretarial determinations in the Federal Register that change the countries that are eligible for general authorizations under 10 CFR Part 810 (Part 810). The first secretarial determination changed the status of Mexico to a fully generally authorized destination, while the second removed Colombia and Egypt from the list of countries eligible for a general authorization.
In a recent LawFlash, lawyers Alex Polonsky and Grant Eskelsen discuss the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) final rule imposing financial penalties for unintentional violations of 10 CFR Part 810. The rule represents a major change in how the DOE encourages and enforces compliance with Part 810.
Good news for Mexico—and a potential farewell to Egypt and South Africa: It’s time to look out for the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) changes to the list of generally authorized countries that appear in Appendix A to 10 CFR Part 810 (Appendix A).
It’s getting harder to send anything from the US to Russia, including radioactive materials and nuclear-related equipment. Below are some recent examples of actions that the US government has taken to clamp down on nuclear trade with Russia. In this ever-changing geopolitical landscape, exporters must maintain export compliance vigilance for the items and technology they export.
A group of four US senators introduced a bill on March 16 to ban imports of uranium products from the Russian Federation. If enacted, such a ban could complicate the refueling of existing commercial reactors in the United States that rely on Russian uranium products. A ban also could extend the schedule in the United States for deploying some advanced reactors, because Russia is a key source of the high-assay, low enriched uranium (HALEU) they plan to use. In a related development, Russia is considering a ban on uranium exports to the United States in retaliation for the most recent energy sanctions on Russia.
An NRC working group released a report on July 23 after conducting a “fundamental” review of 10 CFR Part 110 (Part 110) and the NRC’s readiness to license exports of advanced reactors and their associated nuclear material. The NRC concluded that it “is generally ready to license the export of advanced reactors and their associated materials and components,” but Part 110 could “benefit” from some clarifications because it generally is focused on light-water reactor (LWR) technology. The NRC’s proactive review is welcome news, demonstrating the agency’s commitment to becoming ready to license the next generation of nuclear reactor designs.

The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has submitted its annual report on Transfers of Civil Nuclear Technology to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The report fulfills the agency’s obligation under Section 3136(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 to submit an annual report covering its review of applications under 10 CFR Part 810 to transfer US civil nuclear technology to foreign persons. Morgan Lewis tracks these annual reports; see link to our full analysis of the prior report (for FY 2019).