United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Effluent Reporting Requirement Per 10 CFR 20.405 (a), "Reports of Overexposu res and Excessive Levels and Concentrations"

HPPOS-052 PDR-9111210224

Title: Effluent Reporting Requirement Per 10 CFR 20.405

(a), "Reports of Overexposures and Excessive Levels and


See the letter from T. F. Dorian to A. Mattox (Brandeis

University) dated December 21, 1979. It is an OELD opinion

that 10 CFR 20.405 (a) requires a report on effluent

release only if the releases exceed 10 times the limit in

10 CFR 20.106 or in the license when averaged over one

year. Limits in Technical Specifications were not

addressed in this OELD opinion. The health physics

position was written in the context of 10 CFR 20.106,

20.201, and 20.405, but it also applies to the "new" 10 CFR

Part 20, Sections 20.1302, 20.1501, and 20.2203.

10 CFR Part 20 was promulgated to establish precautionary

requirements for personnel monitoring, posting of areas and

containers where radiation or radioactive materials exist,

radiation surveying, record keeping, storage of radioactive

materials, instruction of personnel, and reporting of

radiation overexposure, accidents, and loss or theft of

licensed material. The regulation does not specify

detailed procedures to be followed in meeting safety

standards in most cases, but individual licenses may, and

usually do, contain special safety requirements and

conditions necessitated by the particular situation.

Radiation exposure of personnel is controlled through the

licensee's ability to control access to its facility and to

direct the actions of individuals within the facility and

by protective equipment, devices, and procedures.

Exposures to the public are controlled by limiting the

quantity and concentration of radioactive material that may

be released to areas not controlled by the licensee.

The sections and appendixes incorporating limits on

radiation levels and concentrations of radioactive material

are designed to assure that individuals in "unrestricted

areas" do not receive exposure in excess of 10% of the

limits established for persons exposed in restricted areas.

For this purpose, these regulations limit levels of

radiation and concentrations of radioactive material that

may be created in unrestricted areas by licensees, without

special authorization from NRC, to extremely low levels.

These levels are believed to be sufficiently low to assure

that there is no reasonable probability to individuals in

unrestricted areas receiving exposures in excess of 10% of

the permissible levels for restricted areas under any

circumstance. Moreover, as a precautionary procedure, 10

CFR 20.201 [or 10 CFR 20.1501] requires licensees to make

(or have made for them) such surveys (and with such

frequency) as may be necessary to comply with the

regulations in Part 20.

Within this scheme, section 10 CFR 20.405 (a) [or 10 CFR

20.2203 (a)] requires written reports within 30 days of

levels of radiation or concentrations of radioactive

material in an unrestricted area in excess of ten times any

applicable limit set forth in Part 20 or in the license.

The applicable limits in Part 20 are listed in Table II of

Appendix B to 10 CFR 20 §§20.1-20.601) [and Table 2 of

Appendix B to 10 CFR 20 (§§20.1001-20.2401)] and are

modified to the extent that 10 CFR 20.106 [and 10 CFR

20.1302 (b)] allows a licensee to average concentrations

over a period not greater than one year. Thus, 10 CFR

20.106 and 20.405 [or 10 CFR 20.1302 (b) and 20.2203 (a),

respectively] are complementary; averaging is, in fact,

permitted; and a licensee is not normally required to

report in writing releases of single milliliters of air or

water that exceed by a factor greater than ten the

concentrations specified in Table II of Appendix B to

§§20.1-20.601 [or, at present, Table 2 of Appendix B to


Each report under 10 CFR 20.405 [or 10 CFR 20.2203]

requires the licensee to "describe the extent of exposure

of individuals to radiation or radioactive material,

including estimates of each individual's exposure...;

levels of radiation and concentrations of radioactive

material involved; the cause of the exposure, levels or

concentrations of radioactive materials involved; and

corrective steps taken or planned to assure against a

recurrence." [Note: 10 CFR 20.2203 requests additional

information such as an individual's dose.] Clearly, the

regulations attempt to ensure that NRC knows about abnormal

conditions at licensees' facilities; that licensees control

their activities, including procedures, equipment and

people, to protect against radiation hazards; and that

every reasonable effort is made to maintain radiation

exposures, and releases of radioactive materials in

effluents to unrestricted areas, as low as is reasonably


Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.106, 10 CFR 20.405, 10

CFR 20.1302, 10 CFR 20.2203

Subject codes: 2.2, 7.3

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012