United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Background as a Residual Radioactivity Criterion for Decommissioning: Appendix A to the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement in Support of Rulemaking on Radiological Criteria for Decommissioning of NRC-Licensed Nuclear Facilities - Draft Report for Comment (NUREG-1501)

This NUREG-series publication was issued as a draft report for public comment and interim use, and the comment period is now closed.

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: July 1994
Date Published:
August 1994

A.M. Huffert, R.A. Meck, K.M. Miller*

*Environmental Measurements Laboratory
U.S. Department of Energy
376 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3621

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

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Abstract

This report was originally published as an appendix to the draft U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) document entitled, "Generic Environmental Impact Statement in Support of Rulemaking on Radiological Criteria for Decommissioning of NRC-Licensed Nuclear Facilities." Because of the great interest in this report by members of the public, citizen and environmental organizations, academicians, licensees, and regulators, the NRC staff is publishing this report separately, so that it can be readily available to a diverse audience. This report was created to assist both the NRC staff and interested members of the public in evaluating background radiation (background) as a decommissioning criterion, by serving as a primer on background and providing information on the existing applications of background in regulatory criteria and standards. This report also discusses some of the methods available to measure and distinguish between the very low radiation levels associated with background and man–made sources of radiation.

Two approaches are considered for applying background as a decommissioning criterion; these are the use of background dose rates and background radionuclide concentrations. This report concludes that the temporal and spatial variability of background produces a wide range of doses to United States residents, which prevents the application of background dose rates as a decommissioning criterion. Instead, this report recommends that local background radionuclide concentrations serve as a benchmark for decommissioning criteria, while taking into account the concept of reducing residual radioactivity to a level as low as is reasonably achievable.

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