Environmental Protection

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EPA Planning Update of Radiation Protection Standards

The agency's standards for nuclear power operations date to 1977 and are the earliest radiation rules it has developed.

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for public comments as it updates ts Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations, now 37 years old. EPA has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking saying it seeks comments and information on potential approaches to revising them.

The standards were issued to limit radiation releases and doses to the public from the normal operation of nuclear power plants and facilities involved in the milling, conversion, fabrication, use, and reprocessing of uranium fuel for generating commercial electrical power. They are the earliest radiation rules developed by EPA and are based on nuclear power technology and the understanding of radiation biology current in 1977. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for implementing and enforcing the standards, according to the ANPRM.

Comments are being accepted for the next 120 days (www.regulations.gov, Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OAR–2013–0689). More information is available at www.epa.gov/radiation/laws/190, and EPA has posted three fact sheets there (ANPR Fact Sheet, Radiation Regulations Fact Sheet, Uranium Fuel Cycle Fact Sheet).

The ANPRM lists six issues that commenters are asked to address:

  • Consideration of a risk limit to protect individuals: Should the agency express its limits for the purpose of this regulation in terms of radiation risk or radiation dose?
  • Updated dose methodology (dosimetry): How should the agency update the radiation dosimetry methodology incorporated in the standard?
  • Radionuclide release limits: Should the agency retain the radionuclide release limits in an updated rule and, if so, what should the agency use as the basis for any release limits?
  • Water resource protection: How should a revised rule protect water resources?
  • Spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste storage: How, if at all, should a revised rule explicitly address storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste?
  • New nuclear technologies: What new technologies and practices have developed since 40 CFR part 190 was issued, and how should any revised rule address these advances and changes?
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