United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Contaminated Soil at Big Rock Point

HPPOS-042 PDR-9111210190

See the memorandum from F. J. Congel to C. J. Paperiello dated April 11, 1985. Contaminated soil cannot be left in place without NRC approval pursuant to 10 CFR 20.302. 10 CFR 30.14 on "Exempt Concentrations" is not applicable.

The health physics position was written in the context of 10 CFR 20.105, 20.106, and 20.302, but it also applies to the "new" 10 CFR Part 20, Sections 20.1301, 20.1302, and 20.2002.

NRR reviewed the matter of contaminated soil with regard to the need for the licensee to request permission under 10 CFR 20.302 [or 10 CFR 20.2002] to dispose of the material by leaving it in place. NRC considered the information provided and made the following conclusions:

  1. The licensee has licensed byproduct material in a location and form where it is not secure (e.g., against the weather). Even though the NRC might find, after review of the circumstances, that leaving the material in place is satisfactory with regard to the public health and safety and with regard to environmental impacts, the licensee cannot unilaterally make such a determination. The licensee must do something about the disposition of the material; the choices are either to excavate the material, package it and ship it to a licensed burial ground or to request, pursuant to 10 CFR 20.302 [or 10 CFR 20.2002], approval of a procedure to dispose of it in some other manner (e.g., by leaving it in place).

  2. Including the estimated total quantity of radioactivity as released effluent in their second half 1984 effluent report does not relieve the licensee of the responsibility for the proper disposition of the licensed material, the majority of which remains in place in the soil. Even though weathering and leaching may deliver some of the radioactivity to Lake Michigan within seven years, some will remain in the soil at the location of the leak; it continues to be licensed byproduct material for which the licensee is responsible.

  3. For purposes of determining compliance with 10 CFR 20.105 and 20.106 [or 10 CFR 20.1302 and 20.1301, respectively], the licensee is responsible for accounting for release of radionuclides to the environment (e.g., to Lake Michigan, in the time periods in which they actually occur).

  4. 10 CFR 30.14, "Exempt Concentrations," is not applicable to these circumstances; the licensee was not given specific authorization to introduce the byproduct into the soil. Applicable regulations, 10 CFR Part 20, do not provide lower limits to concentrations and quantities for which licensees are responsible.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 30.14, 10 CFR 20.105, 10 CFR 20.106, 10 CFR 20.302, 10 CFR 20.1301, 10 CFR 20.1302, 10 CFR 20.2002

Subject codes: 9.0, 9.3, 9.7

Applicability: Reactors

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, June 05, 2015