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Patterns of Noncompliance

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company

Generic and Site-specific Deficiencies
in Radiological Surveillance Programs


Appendix 1. AEC Rule 1.86

All NRC regulatory guides have as their basis prescriptions issued and printed in the Code of Federal Regulations. One of the first rule makings pertaining to residual radiation is the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's Regulatory Guide 1.86, June, 1974 which sets decontamination guidelines for remediation of facilities for release for unrestricted use. Table 1 in this guide is the first and most long standing contamination guideline (other than the occupational and public exposure guidelines established in 10 CFR Part 20) and sets acceptable average, maximum and removable surface contamination levels. This short guideline serves as a model for radiological surveillance programs which are focused on surface contamination at the expense of a more comprehensive analyses of contamination in multiple pathways to human consumption.

The traditional preoccupation with surface contamination rather than volumetric contamination is illustrated by Table 1, which is still the primary guideline being used as recently as the decommissioning of facilities such as the Yankee Atomic facility in Rowe, MA.

Radioactive contamination at less than maximum acceptable surface levels noted above have traditionally allowed a return to unrestricted use of decommissioned nuclear facilities in the United States. The significance of the maximum surface contamination levels in Regulatory Guide 1.86 is illustrated by the fact that these contamination guidelines for isotopes such as 239Pu, 90Sr and 137Cs average five to ten times the cumulative fallout from all weapons testing (e.g. 239Pu: 60 Bq/m2, 90Sr: 1,500 Bq/m2, 137Cs: 2,500 Bq/m2). There are currently no volumetric contamination guidelines for recycled reactor metals (e.g. stainless steel, carbon steel, etc.), nor have any such guidelines ever been in effect. The recent evolution of dose-based contamination criterion will ultimately mandate publicly disclosed and discussed volumetric contamination guidelines, the fervent hopes of the nuclear industry not withstanding.

Appendix 2. Whistleblower's Letter

Background: This letter was first sent to the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., which then released it to government offices in Maine and to the public.

Appendix 3. MYAPC Reactor Vessel Inventory

A copy of this table is in Appendix 5, pg. 116 of Legacy of our Children or look at a synopsis of the table on-line.

Introduction to Appendix 4

Notes on the NRC's annual limit on intake of radioisotopes for the general public
The following paragraphs were not printed in Appendix 4 of the hard copy first edition of Patterns of Noncompliance.

After the Chernobyl accident, FDA officials secretly seized large quantities of imported food containing 137Cs at levels above 10,000 pCi/kg; this 10,000 pCi baseline has since become the defacto emergency action contamination level now a permanent part of unofficial radiation protection guidelines.  This defacto guideline compares with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's annual limit of intake (ALI) for members of the general public of 10,000 nanocuries of contamination derived from NRC licensed facilities.  10,000 nanocuries equals 10 million picocuries of 137Cs or the equivalent of 1,000 1 kg servings of food contaminated with 10,000 pCi/kg. Residents living near NRC supervised nuclear facilities can be assured that NRC licensees are not in violation of Federal Code of Regulations governing nuclear discharges until an individual consumes 10 million pCi of 137Cs.  Volumetric contamination is irrelevant; there is no limit on contamination of the environment per kilogram of any media. Needless to say, members of the public who inadvertently consume hundreds of thousands of picocuries of 137Cs -- an unlikely event -- would also consume a potpourri of other reactor-derived isotopes.  More likely for members of the general public is the possibility of consuming seafood harvested near nuclear facilities containing a reactor-derived hot particle or a few becquerels of a reactor-derived alpha-emitting isotope.  The NRC protective action guideline of 10,000 nanocuries ALI would not be violated by consumption of contaminated foods that would be in excess of FDA guidelines noted below.  The NRC guideline for annual consumption of 239Pu is 80 nanocuries or 80,000 picocuries.  At 27 picocuries to the becquerel, NRC guidelines allow annual consumption of 2,963 becquerels in comparison to the FDA protection action guideline of 2.2 Bq/kg of 239Pu for a specific quantity of food.  In effect, NRC guidelines allow consumption of over 1,000 kilogram sized portions of plutonium contaminated food during a one year period.

This discontinuity in Federal regulations takes on even more significance for persons consuming seafood harvested in the vicinity of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company.  The licensee's confidential documents indicate that an unknown number of its damaged fuel assemblies have discharged spent fuel pellets into the reactor water systems and spent fuel pool.  With an inventory of at least 90,000 Ci of 239Pu (LINK To SPNET fuel inv) in its spent fuel as of 1994, and with over 20% of the fuel assemblies having damage ranging from pinhole leaks to axial fuel cladding failure one can model out a scenario of environmental contamination for a marine environment that is the licensed sewer for MYAPC liquid effluents, and for the terrestrial environment, which has been shown to have high pockets of reactor-derived contamination.  If the fuel cladding failures resulted in the loss of 1% of the plutonium in spent fuel in the form of dispersed fuel pellets (900 Ci) and if the vacuum systems in place at the facility successfully retrieved 898 Ci of the spilled plutonium (very unlikely,) this would still leave two curies of 239Pu unaccounted for.  Two curies of 239Pu equals 64 billion becquerels of one of the worlds most toxic substances with a radiological half life of over 24,000 years.  Ingestion of even one single becquerel of this bone and brain seeking isotope in a chelated or otherwise biologically available form is an extraordinary hazard, as is evident from the strict FDA guidelines of 2.2 Bq/kg (compared to the FDA protection action guidelines of 1,360 Bq/kg of 137Cs).  This becquerel of  plutonium, if not in its original oxide form, which makes uptake by ingestion unlikely, would then provide its consumer with a 6 million electron volt discharge in a specific body of cellular tissue every second for the consumer's lifetime.  Herein lies one of the benefits for communities such as Wiscasset, Maine, of leasing out its marine estuaries as a licensed radiological sewer for the purposes of keeping its tax rates low.

Appendix 4: Guidelines for Annual Limit on Intake (ALI)

The following data is extrapolated from 10 CFR Part 20, Appendices B and C. Appendix B provides guidance for the annual limit on intake (ALI) by ingestion for occupational exposure; the guidance for the annual limit on intake for members of the public is one tenth of the limit for occupational exposure. This appendix is a brief extrapolation of the intake limit for members of the public for some of the most important reactor-derived isotopes discussed in this report. The purpose of this appendix is to provide a handy reference for readers of this report as a point of comparison with the reporting levels contained in the NRC Offsite Dose Calculation Manual. It should be noted here that the "level of concern" implemented by the FDA for seizure of food contaminated by the ubiquitous isotope 137Cs as a result of the Chernobyl accident was 10,000 pCi/kg (10 nCi/kg). Current FDA derived intervention level guidelines now mandate seizure of foodstuffs containing 1,360 Bq/kg of 137Cs (36,770 pCi/kg) and 2.2 Bq/kg of 239Pu (59.4 pCi/kg).

The data in the following table is taken from 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B, Column 1. The table below is divided into 4 columns. The first column reproduces the occupational exposure guidelines of Appendix B which result in a committed dose equivalence of 5 rem (stochastic ALI) or a committed dose equivalence of 50 rems to an organ or tissue (non-stochastic ALI). The second column converts the reporting units used in Appendix B, microcuries (µCi), into nanocuries (nCi) for comparison with the data discussed in the trash investigation controversy at MYAPC contained in Part 2 of this report. The third column is derived from the first column and is the guideline for the general public ALI which is one tenth of the ALI for occupational exposure, e.g. 0.5 rems or 500 millirems. Again, the fourth column represents its conversion to nanocuries.

The data in column 4 represent the sole volumetric concentration guidelines issued by the NRC governing licensed reactor operation. If a member of the public ingests a quantity of reactor-derived isotopes greater than that in column 4, the reactor licensee is in violation of their licensing guidelines. No other restrictions apply other than "as low as reasonably achievable" (ALARA).

NRC Annual Limit on Intake (ALI)
Occupational Exposure Limits
General Public Exposure Limits
8E+04 = 80,000
3E+03 = 3,000
7E+02 = 700
6E+02 = 600
3E+01 = 30
4E+03 = 4,000
5E+00 = 5
3E+01 = 30
7E+02 = 700
1E+02 = 100
5E-01 = 0.5
9E-01 = 0.9
8E-01 = 0.8
4E+01 = 40
8E-01 = 0.8
1E+00 = 1

Only in the event of a major nuclear accident would NRC licensees fail to meet the annual limits on intake listed in column 4. Under any other circumstances, NRC licensees can release nearly unlimited amounts of reactor-derived radiation to the environment and still remain within the "licensing bases guidelines" of the radiation standards in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Appendix 5: Upper Bounds of Noncontamination
(Currently acceptable surface contamination guidelines)

The following data is extracted from Appendix B-1 in NUREG-1500 and represents the upper bounds of exposure which could constitute derived concentration guideline levels (DCGLs) at any particular federal facility. Use of the term "noncontamination" refers to the propensity of the NRC and the creators of MARSSIM to minimize the health physics significance of exposure to ionizing radiation from anthropogenic sources whenever possible. The 24 mrem/yr guideline values in column 6 (pCi/kg or pCi/m2) or in column 7 (Bq/kg or Bq/m2) represent the application of the theoretical guidelines in MARSSIM to surface contamination exposure from the most ubiquitous biologically significant radionuclides. If surface contamination is the only, or at least the primary, dose source then the values in columns 6 and 7 represent defacto maximum acceptable contamination guidelines which supplement AEC Rule 1.86.

The following upper bounds of "noncontamination" were extracted from NUREG-1500 Table B1 which lists concentration values for the residential scenario for achieving 3 mrem/yr exposure. In the following table, soil concentrations (pCi/gm) and surface concentrations (dpm/100cm2) have been multiplied by 8 (= 24 mrem/yr) and then converted to the standard reporting units of Bq/kg and Bq/m2.

The data in column 7 representing the upper limits of "noncontamination" (24 mrem/yr; just below the 25 mrem/yr site release criteria) can be compared to the FDA's derived intervention levels for the most limiting protection action guideline for contaminated foodstuffs, which are noted in column 8. Any contamination above the PAGs (protective action guidelines) listed in column 8 result in the seizure of the contaminated food by the FDA. In contrast, the values in column 6 and 7 represent the upper limits of possible contamination permitted by the new NRC dose-based site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr TEDE for "an average member of the critical group." These theoretical guideline values are called "upper bounds of noncontamination" as a way of illustrating the self-deception inherent in MARSSIM's definition of contamination: "the presence of residual radioactivity in excess of levels which are acceptable for release of a site or facility for unrestricted use" (pg. GL-4).

See the footnotes for the conversion factors.

The data in column 7 represent the best available estimate (in lieu of site-specific DCGLs) of the upper limits of "noncontamination" (acceptable contamination) which would allow release of decommissioned NRC supervised facilities for unrestricted use. (Returned to greenfields status). No NRC or MARSSIM guidelines are available for contamination in any media including shellfish or sea vegetables. A key objective of a dose-based release criterion is the avoidance of controversial volumetric contamination guidelines, yet the use of a TEDE for all nuclides-all pathways mandates analyses for volumetric contamination in all biological media. This new release criterion, i.e. analyses for all nuclides-all pathways - represents a radical change in radiation protection guidelines. No such concept has ever appeared in the Code of Federal Regulations or any other federal document. The concepts in the MARSSIM (NUREG-1575) which precede the NRC's site release criterion provide numerous avenues to circumvent media-specific analyses through the use of statistical modeling. The comprehensive routine radiological surveillance for all reactor-derived contaminants explicitly required by the NRC's new site release criterion may yet be circumvented by application of the MARSSIM guidelines to NRC licensed or supervised nuclear facilities such as MYAPC. The data in column 6 or 7 represent the logical outcome of considering only the external exposure pathway for the most ubiquitous biologically significant radionuclides. As a result, this data becomes the currently acceptable maximum surface contamination guideline, i.e. upper bounds of "noncontamination."

Appendix 6: Cumulative Fallout Index

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Appendix 7: Draft NUREG-1549 and NUREG/CR-5512 Vol. 3

The NRC has recently posted electronic partial drafts of two decommissioning guidelines. Both guidelines perpetuate and institutionalize the deficiencies in radiological surveillance programs discussed in this report.

Draft NUREG-1549, Using Decision Methods for Dose Assessment to Comply with Radiological Criteria for License Termination, <http://techconf.llnl.gov/radcri/1549.pdf>, amplifies the NRC ivory tower tradition of substituting theoretical modeling for hands-on environmental radiological surveillance. The decision methods outlined in this draft will, when applied to the decommissioning of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) or any other NRC licensed reactor, be undermined by a lack of data for transport pathways analyses essential to dose assessment as well as for alternative exposure pathway analyses. The glaring lack of data for "parameter evaluation" creates uncertainty about residual radiation at MYAPC both in onsite and offsite environs. The loopholes discussed in this report are best illustrated by the four steps to reduce uncertainty described in NUREG-1549 on pg. 54: scenario definitions, pathway identification, model development and assessment of parameter uncertainty. NRC ivory tower theoreticians have overlooked the fact that credible dose assessment is based upon the foundation of a comprehensive radiological surveillance database. No such factual database exists to support the NRC love of mathematical and conceptual models outlined in draft 1549.

NUREG-1549, however, promises to be helpful in clarifying derived concentration guideline values (DCGLs). Although focused on surface and soil contamination, the concentration equivalents in Tables A-1 and A-2 (pg. 34-38) and the selected percentiles for total effective dose equivalent (TEDE) distributions in Tables B1 and B2 (pg. 40-45) provide the opportunity for public review of the dose assessment process.

NUREG/CR-5512 Vol. 3, Residual Radioactive Contamination from Decommissioning: Parameter Analysis, <http://techconf.llnl.gov/radcri/vol3-net.html>, perpetuates the NRC focus on one-dimensional soil and structural contamination analysis. The elaborate parameter analyses for the external exposure pathway is extended to include the secondary ingestion pathway (ingestion of removable surface contamination.) As applied to real-world situations such as at MYAPC, the database necessary to execute credible external exposure pathway analysis, as well as any other pathway analyses, is lacking. Repeated reference is made to the possible need for more "complex site-specific analyses" (NUREG-1549, pg. 49), but, otherwise, the limited parameters discussed in NUREG-5512 are grossly inadequate for decommissioning a site such as MYAPC located next to and impacting a complex marine ecosystem. Insufficient historical site surveillance renders these parameters overgeneralized hypothetical bunk.

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Appendix 8: Letter to Shirley Jackson

July 6, 1998

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Dear Chair Shirley Jackson:

I have recently sent to you a report by the High-Level Waste Workshop entitled Patterns of Noncompliance: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company: Generic and Site-specific Deficiencies in Radiological Surveillance Programs. This report was directed to the Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Office of Legal Counsel as a result of our observation of numerous evasions and misrepresentations made prior to and during the time period in which this report was prepared. These allegations are discussed within the report. Three fundamental areas of grossly careless NRC oversight of its licensees such as MYAPC are evident; site-specific examples of negligent NRC interpretation and application of the radiation protection standards in 10 CFR Part 20 include:

· failure to document the impact and accumulation of routine reactor liquid discharges to Montsweag Bay

· failure to document the impact and accumulation of isotopes derived from nonroutine loss of radiological controls e.g. the 1984 leak in the refueling water storage tank (RWST) [The pattern of contamination documented by the Duratek Characterization Survey Report packages 2501, 0100, 0500, 0900 and 1000 appears to be from multiple chronic incidents of loss of radiological controls rather than from one leak]

· failure to document decommissioning activities having a radiological impact on offsite environs [Montsweag Bay, e.g. total discharge of the refueling water storage tank (RWST) as well as other liquid discharges and ongoing activities]

The result of this failure of oversight is the inability of the NRC or its licensee MYAPC to validate the site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr TEDE as required by 10 CFR 20.1402.

There appears to be a giant loophole in NRC regulations which allows ecosystems such as Montsweag Bay as well as onsite plant environs to evolve into undocumented low-level waste repositories. The long-standing use of Montsweag Bay, including Bailey Cove, as a sewer for plant-derived liquid effluents as well as inadvertent onsite liquid effluent spills requires characterization of both offsite and onsite MYAPC environs with comprehensive 10-61 analyses for the same radionuclides which are monitored in radioactive wastes destined for near surface low-level waste land disposal sites.

The NRC cannot legally proceed with any further decommissioning activities until these unresolved issues are addressed. Any further decommissioning activities which occur prior to or without a more detailed characterization of the environmental impact of plant operations and decommissioning on both onsite environs as well as offsite unrestricted ecosystems such as Montsweag Bay constitute obstruction of justice.

The situation at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company is further complicated by a tendency of the NRC and its licensee(s) to evade, omit, misrepresent and obsfucate the documentation of these activities -- a statutory obligation of federal law. The wide-spread shortage of financial resources and staff at all levels of government and licensee operations further exacerbate this unfortunate tendency to deceive and omit. It should be clear to any reasonable observer that neither the NRC nor MYAPC have sufficient financial resources and staff to oversee the safe and legal decommissioning of the MYAPC or any other NRC licensed reactor utilizing the prompt dismantlement method. The lack of a viable, safe and economical federal repository for any type of radioactive waste further insures that onsite safe storage is the only viable and legal decommissioning scenario for MYAPC. What action the Department of Justice will take, if any, in view of the institutionalized evasion of documentation discussed in our report (the tip of a federal iceberg of radiological rituals of aversion) remains to be seen.

Yours truly,

H. G. Brack

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