United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities (NUREG-0586, Initial Report)

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Publication Information

Date Published: August 1988

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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This final generic environmental impact statement was prepared as part of the requirement for considering changes in regulations on decommissioning of commercial nuclear facilities. Consideration is given to the decommissioning of pressurized water reactors, boiling water reactors, research and test reactors, fuel reprocessing plants (FRPs) (currently, use of FRPs in the commercial sector is not being considered), small mixed oxide fuel fabrication plants, uranium hexafluoride conversion plants, uranium fuel fabrication plants, independent spent fuel storage installations, and non-fuel-cycle facilities for handling byproduct, source and special nuclear materials. Excluded here from consideration for regulation change, are decommissioning of low-level waste burial facilities, high-level waste repositories, and uranium mill and mill tailings piles, which are covered in separate rulemaking activities, and decommissioning of uranium mines which are not under NRC jurisdiction.

Decommissioning has many positive environmental impacts such as the return of possibly valuable land to the public domain and the elimination of potential problems associated with increased numbers of radioactively contaminated facilities with a minimal use of resources. Major adverse impacts are shown to be routine occupational radiation doses and the commitment of nominally small amounts of land to radioactive waste disposal. Other impacts, including public radiation doses, are minor. Mitigation of potential health, safety, and environmental impacts requires more specific and detailed regulatory guidance than is currently available. Recommendations are made as to regulatory decommissioning particulars including such aspects as decommissioning alternatives, appropriate preliminary planning requirements at the time of commissioning, final planning requirements prior to termination of facility operations, assurance of funding for decommissioning, environmental review requirements.

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