Occupational Radiation Exposure at Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors and Other Facilities 2019: Fifty-Second Annual Report (NUREG-0713, Volume 41)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: June 2021
Date Published: April 2022

Prepared by:
T.A. Brock
M.N. Nguyen
D.A. Hagemeyer*
D.B Holcomb*

 1299 Bethel Valley Road, SC-200, MS-21
 Oak Ridge, TN 37830

M.N. Nguyen, NRC Project Manager

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

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This report summarizes the occupational exposure data that are maintained in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Radiation Exposure Information and Reporting System (REIRS) database. The bulk of the information contained in this report was compiled from the 2019 annual reports submitted by five of the seven categories1 of NRC licensees subject to the reporting requirements of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 20.2206, "Reports of Individual Monitoring." Because there are no geologic repositories for high-level waste currently licensed and no NRC-licensed low-level waste disposal facilities currently in operation, only five categories are considered in this report. The annual reports submitted by these licensees consist of radiation exposure records for each monitored individual. These records are analyzed for trends and presented in this report in terms of collective dose and the distribution of dose among the monitored individuals.

In the Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Evaluation Plan [Ref. 11] the NRC developed its Annual Evaluation Plan which included an evaluation of the "Radiation Protection Program." The purpose of the Outcome Evaluation of the "Radiation Protection Program" is to measure the effectiveness NRC's Radiation Protection Program as it pertains to as low as is reasonably achievable (ALARA) regulations of 10 CFR 20.1101(b) for each of the NRC-licensee categories. The evaluation included trend analysis of radiation exposure to transient individuals (i.e., those who have been to two or more sites during the year) as well as radiation exposure histories to individuals who were exposed to radiation at NRC-licensed facilities. The evaluation conducted for the Radiation Protection Program analyzed the radiological risk associated with certain categories of NRC-licensed activities and performed comparative analyses of radiation protection performance. Based upon the trend analysis of the occupational exposure data, for all NRC-licensee categories, the overall NRC/licensee radiation protection program is effective with respect to ALARA.

Annual reports for 2019 were received from a total of 181 NRC licensees from the five categories included in this report. The summation of reports submitted by the 181 licensees indicated that 144,243 individuals were monitored, 60,289 of whom received a measurable dose (dose that is reported as a positive value, see Table 3.1). When adjusted for transient individuals, there were actually 102,182 unique individuals that were monitored, 44,848 of whom received a measurable dose (see Section 5).

The collective dose incurred by these individuals was 7,150 person-rem (71,500 person-millisieverts [mSv]), which represents a 12 percent decrease from the 2018 value (see Table 3.1). The 2019 collective dose is 14 percent lower than the 5-year average of 8,348 person-rem (2014 – 2018), which is a statistically significant change.2 The decrease in collective dose in 2019 was due to decreases in two categories offsetting increases in the remaining three reporting categories. Two reporting categories reported decreases, namely, industrial radiography licensees (15 percent decrease) and commercial nuclear power reactor licensees (13 percent decrease). Three reporting categories reported increases; spent fuel storage licensees (11 percent increase), fuel cycle licenses (9 percent increase) and manufacturing and distribution (M&D) licensees (8 percent increase). When compared to the 5-year average of collective dose for each category, commercial nuclear power reactor licensees had a statistically significant decrease. The increases or decreases for the remaining three categories were not statistically significant.

The number of individuals receiving a measurable dose decreased by 11 percent from 2018, and was 15 percent below the 5-year average and statistically significant. When adjusted for transient individuals, the average measurable dose of 0.20 rem (2.0 mSv) was slightly higher in 2019, compared to 0.17 rem (1.7 mSv) in 2018, and is statistically significant when compared to the 5-year average. The average measurable dose is defined as the total effective dose equivalent (TEDE) divided by the number of individuals receiving a measurable dose.

In calendar year 2019, the average annual collective dose per reactor for light-water reactor (LWR) licensees was 53 person-rem (530 person-mSv). This is a 10 percent decrease from the value reported for 2018 (Table 4.3) and is statistically significant when compared to the 5-year average. The total outage hours at commercial nuclear power plants decreased 12 percent from 2018 to 2019 [Ref. 1]. The collective dose for the LWR licensee category decreased 748 person-rem (7,480 person-mSv) from 5,829 person-rem (58,290 person-mSv) in 2018 to 5,081 person-rem (50,810 person-mSv). The average annual collective dose per reactor was 105 person-rem (1,050 person-mSv) for the 32 boiling-water reactors (BWRs) and 27 person-rem (270 person-mSv) for 64 pressurized-water reactors (PWRs). The BWR 2019 value is 6 percent lower than the 5-year average annual collective dose per BWR reactor, but is not statistically significant. The 2019 value for PWR licensees is 32 percent below the 5-year average annual collective dose per PWR reactor and is statistically significant when compared to the 5-year average. The primary driver for the decrease in collective dose was the closure of Three Mile Island 1 (PWR) and Pilgrim 1 (BWR).

There were 23,196 individuals that were monitored at two or more licensees during the monitoring year. The assessment of the average measurable dose per individual is adjusted each year to account for the reporting of a measurable dose for transient individuals by multiple licensees. The adjustment to account for transient individuals has been specifically noted in footnotes in the figures and tables for commercial nuclear power reactors.

1 Commercial nuclear power reactors and test reactor facilities; industrial radiographers; fuel processors (including uranium enrichment facilities), fabricators, and reprocessors; manufacturing and distribution of byproduct material; independent spent fuel storage installations; facilities for land disposal of low-level waste; and geologic repositories for high-level waste. There are currently no NRC licensees involved in low-level waste disposal or geologic repositories for high-level waste.

2 This report presents additional Statistical Comparisons in Section 2.2.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, April 26, 2022