A number of initiatives have been underway in the United States in the past several years in the area of clearance of solid materials both at the federal level and at the industry and professional society level. Clearance of solid materials is an issue that has significant economic consequences for decommissioning projects where large quantities of such materials are generated. The cost of treating these materials as low-level radioactive waste (LLW) is prohibitive. A regulatory mechanism could remove economic burdens on such projects while maintaining the public health and safety standards. At the federal level major initiatives are being undertaken by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also taken some steps in this area under their Clean Materials Program. In the private sector, the nuclear industry is active through the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). The Health Physics Society (HPS) prepared the ANSI/HPS N13.12 standard about four years ago, which has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The American Nuclear Society (ANS) has recently released a Position Statement on the clearance of licensed materials from nuclear sites and the Society has been active in the national deliberations on this subject. The National Academies (NA) conducted a study for the NRC on alternatives for controlling the release of solid materials and their report was issued in 2002. The steel and concrete industries have also participated in the NRC rulemaking process and are opposed to any release standards for materials that may have residual radioactivity on them. This was clear from industry representatives at the stakeholder workshops conducted by the NRC as a part of the enhanced rulemaking effort. A review of all these initiatives shows the intensity of the debate but it also highlights the need for one national standard, preferably dose based, thus allowing site-specific application through derived radioactivity limits. Thus, interagency cooperation and agreement are necessary at the federal level. Consensus is necessary with standard writing organizations, professional societies, public and other stakeholders. This paper provides an overview of the developments in the United States in the area of clearance of solid materials, a brief comparison to international activities, and a discussion of key points for consensus building that is necessary for any initiative to succeed.
- Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
An Update on Clearance Initiatives in the United States
Devgun, J, Peterson, H, & Trottier, C. "An Update on Clearance Initiatives in the United States." Proceedings of the ASME 2003 9th International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation. 9th ASME International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation: Volumes 1, 2, and 3. Oxford, England. September 21–25, 2003. pp. 1105-1110. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICEM2003-4923
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