OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

January 8, 1987

Mr. John A. Corder
Route 4 Box 4158
Brazoria, Texas 77422

Dear Mr. Corder:

Your letter dated December 10, 1986, addressed to the Secretary of Labor, regarding means of egress and exposure to ionizing radiation in a nuclear power plant and design, installation, and maintenance discrepancies within the plant has been forwarded to me for response.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) jurisdiction in nuclear power plants is limited to the nonradiological health and safety of employees in the work areas and to their exposure to radiation from radiation sources not regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Examples of such sources which may exist in many establishments include X-ray equipment, accelerators, and electron microscopes. On the other hand, at nuclear facilities, the NRC has regulatory authority for all non-military uses of source material, by-product material and special nuclear materials. As part of its licensing authority, NRC has issued regulations to limit employee exposure to radiation from these licensed sources. Under NRC's regulations, licenses for the handling of such materials are issued only if the applicant's proposed equipment, facilities, and procedures are adequate to protect health and minimize danger to life and property. Thus, to the extent that the NRC license addresses working conditions, section 4(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) prohibits the application of OSHA regulations to the same hazards.

If you are aware of any specific working conditions of a general industry nature at this plant which might come under OSHA's authority to investigate, it is suggested that you contact the Area Office in your vicinity. They would be able to assess the issue and determine the appropriate action to be taken. The address and telephone follow:

Corpus Christi Area Office
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
Government Plaza, Room 300
400 Main Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 78408
Telephone: (512) 888-3257

In your letter you referenced the termination of your employment at the South Texas Nuclear Power Plant located near Bay City, Texas. If you believe you had been treated differently or action was taken against you because of your safety or health activity, you may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division. The address and telephone number are:

Ms. Stephanie Glyder
U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Room S3508
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
Telephone: (202) 523-7043

Thank you for your interest in the safety and health of workers. If we can be of any further help, please feel free to contact us.


Edward J. Baier
Directorate of Technical Support