United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC: Table S.3 Uranium fuel-cycle environmental data

Table S.3 Uranium fuel-cycle environmental dataa

[Normalized to model light-water reactor (LWR) annual fuel requirement (WASH-1248) or reference reactor year (NUREG-0116)]

Environmental considerations Total Maximum effect per annual fuel requirement or reference reactor year of model 1000-MW(e) LWR
Natural resource use
  Temporarily committed, acresb 100  
   Undisturbed area 79  
    Disturbed area 22 Equivalent to a 110-MW(e) coal-fired power plant.
  Permanently committed, acres 13  
  Overburden moved, millions of MT 2.8 Equivalent to a 95-MW(e) coal-fired power plant.
Water (millions of gallons)
  Discharged to air 160 = 2% of model 1000-MW(e) LWR with cooling tower.
  Discharged to water bodies 11,090  
  Discharged to ground 127  
     Total 11,377 < 4% of model 1000 MW(e) LWR with once-through cooling.
Fossil fuel
  Electrical energy, thousands of MWh 323 < 5% of model 1000-MW(e) LWR output.
  Equivalent coal, thousands of MT 118 Equivalent to the consumption of a 45-MW(e) coal-fired power plant.
  Natural gas, millions of scf 135 < 0.4% of model 1000 MW(e) energy output.
Effluents--chemical (MT)
Gases (including entrainment)c    
  SOx 4,400  
  NOxd 1,190 Equivalent to emissions from 45-MW(e) coal-fired plant for a year.
  Hydrocarbons 14  
  CO 29.6  
  Particulates 1,154  
Other gases    
  F 0.67 Principally from UF6 production, enrichment, and reprocessing. Concentration within range of state standards--below level that has effects on human health.
  HCl 0.014  
  SO 9.9 From enrichment, fuel fabrication, and reprocessing steps. Components that constitute a potential for adverse environmental effect are present in dilute concentrations and receive additional dilution by receiving bodies of water to levels below permissible standards. The constituents that require dilution and the flow of dilution water are NH2--600 ft3/sec, NOx--20 ft3/sec, Fluoride--70 ft3/sec.
  NO 25.8
  Fluoride 12.9
  Ca 5.4
  C1 8.5
  Na 12.1
  NH 10.0
  Fe   0.4


Tailings solutions 240,000 From mills only--no significant effluents to environment.
Solids 91,000 Principally from mills--no significant effluents to environment.
Effluents Radiological (curies)
Gases (including entrainment)    
  Rn-222   Currently under reconsideration by the Commission.
  Ra-226 0.02  
  Th-230 0.02  
  Uranium 0.034  
  Tritium 18,100  
  C-14 24  
  Kr-85 400,000  
  Ru-106 0.14  
I-129 1.3 Principally from fuel reprocessing plants.
  I-131 0.83  
  Tc-99   Currently under consideration by the Commission.
  Fission products and transuranics 0.203  
  Uranium and daughters 2.1 Principally from milling--included tailings liquor and returned to ground--no effluents; therefore, no effect on environment.
  Ra-226 0.0034 From UF6 production.
  Th-230 0.0015  
  Th-234 0.01 From fuel fabrication plants--concentration 10% of 10 CFR 20 for total processing 26 annual fuel requirements for model LWR.
  Fission and activation products 5.9 x 10-a  
Solids (buried on site)    
  Other than high level (shallow) 11,300 9100 Ci comes from low-level reactor wastes and 1500 Ci comes from reactor decontamination and decommissioning-- buried at land burial facilities. 600 Ci comes from mills--included in tailings returned to ground. Approximately 60 Ci comes from conversion and spent-fuel storage. No significant effluent to the environment.
  TRU and HLW (deep) 1.1 x 106 Buried at federal repository.
Effluents--thermal, billions of British thermal units 4,063 < 5% of model 1000-MW(e) LWR.
Transportation, man-rem    
  Exposure of workers and general public 2.5   
  Occupational exposure 22.6 From reprocessing and waste management.
aIn some cases where no entry appears, it is clear from the background documents that the matter was addressed and that, in effect, the table should be read as if a specific zero entry had been made. However, other areas are not addressed at all in the table. Table 10.5-3 does not include health effects from the effluents described in the table, estimates of releases of radon-222 from the uranium fuel cycle, or estimates of technetium-99 released from waste management or reprocessing activities. These issues may be the subject of litigation in the individual licensing proceedings.
Data supporting this table are given in WASH-1248; NUREG-0116; NUREG-0216; and in the record of the Docket RM-50-3. The contributions from reprocessing, waste management, and transportation of wastes are maximized for either of the two fuel cycles (uranium only and no recycle). The contribution from transportation excludes transportation of cold fuel to a reactor and of irradiated fuel and radioactive wastes from a reactor, which are considered in Table S-4 of § 5.20(g). The contributions from the other steps of the fuel cycle are given in columns A through E of Table S-3A of WASH-1248.
bThe contributions to temporarily committed land from reprocessing are not prorated over 30 years, because the complete temporary impact accrues regardless of whether the plant services 1 reactor for 1 year or 57 reactors for 30 years.
cEstimated effluents based upon combustion of equivalent coal for power generation.
d1.2% from natural gas use and process.

Source: 10 CFR 51.51.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012