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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
This is the fourth in a series of reports by the Center for Biological Monitoring (CBM) on the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) in Wiscasset, Maine. These reports originated from observations made by CBM during collation of routine licensee generated radiological data in the late 1970's and early 1980's. At this time, discrepancies were first noted in MYAPC radiological monitoring programs, and CBM issued a report in 1986 (Brack, 1986). We later noted irregularities in waste disposal and decommissioning funding estimates, resulting in another CBM report in 1993 (Brack, 1993). In 1995, a whistleblower's letter revealed that computer codes pertaining to the capacity and safe operation of both the emergency core cooling system and the reactor vessel containment were altered in two successful attempts to upgrade the rated thermal power of the MYAPC reactor. The result was the generation of an additional +/- 100 million dollars in MYAPC revenues over the period of a decade. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) responded to the whistleblower's allegations by issuing a confirmatory order limiting power operations on January 3, 1996. Additional NRC inspections and investigations resulting from this allegation opened a Pandora's box of safety and legal issues and resulted in charges by many organizations and individuals of illegal and unsafe operations and negligent NRC oversight of licensee activities. The generic deficiencies in radiological surveillance reports discussed in this report represent only one subset of these issues.
The closure of MYAPC in the spring of 1997 was followed by a Preliminary Site Decommissioning Activities Report, the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan, and most recently by the GTS Duratek Characterization Survey Report for the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant, Revision 1. Post-closure NRC and MYAPC activities have been characterized by a tenacious aversion to documentation of the past environmental impact of plant operations and of the ongoing decommissioning process. Documentation is not available for information ranging from the historic impact of liquid effluent releases to concentration guidelines for site release criterion. Partial documentation of the isotopic content of a hot particle and associated soil contamination on Bailey Point discovered during the site characterization process has only recently appeared in the MYAPC Characterization Survey Report. Previously undisclosed evidence of extensive soil contamination on the west side of the reactor north of the Forebay was also revealed by this survey. The erratic patterns of chronic onsite contamination discovered during the survey clearly demonstrate the inadequacies of NRC radiological surveillance programs.
The allegations contained in the whistleblower's letter of December, 1995, became the subject of an NRC Office of Investigation inquiry that was then referred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) U.S. Attorney for Maine for investigation and prosecution. This prosecution was unsuccessful, and many of the details of the investigation, including the NRC Office of Investigation (OI) report, have not yet been released to the public. Some of the other allegations of noncompliance have been the subject of NRC and DOJ investigations and special safety inspections. The broader patterns of noncompliance referenced in this report remain unaddressed.
CBM presents this report to the Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Office of Legal Counsel as part of an effort to see that a special prosecutor be appointed to combine, coordinate, and enlarge existing DOJ and NRC OI inquiries pertaining to NRC and NRC licensee failure to protect public health, safety, and the environment. Essential components of a judicial review of NRC licensee activities would include:
· The failure to document routine as well as uncontrolled and accidental reactor-derived releases of radioactivity to restricted as well as unrestricted environments as illustrated by the loss of radiological controls at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company and the Yankee Electric Power Company at Haddam Neck, CT.
· The failure to oversee safe reactor maintenance and operation within the licensing and design bases of NRC guidelines.
· The extent to which NRC licensees have engaged in illegal and/or predatory activities such as the MYAPC thermal power uprate scam as a result of lax NRC oversight, a shortage of staff and resources, and antiquated radiation protection guidelines.
· The extent to which microdegradation processes in aging reactors require early shutdown.
· The failure to fund radioactive waste monitoring, storage, transportation, and disposal costs at the time the wastes were generated, as required by federal law and NRC regulations.
The generic deficiencies in the historic assessment of the environmental impact of reactor operations reappear as deficiencies in the site characterization component of the decommissioning process at MYAPC. The cumulative impact of these deficiencies and the noncompliance that they reference undermine the legal bases upon which the decommissioning process depends. Accurate routine radiological surveillance data is essential to verify both safe reactor operation and the site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr total effective dose equivalent (TEDE). The generic and site-specific deficiencies in radiological surveillance programs also illustrate numerous other areas of NRC and NRC licensee noncompliance with federal law which significantly impact the decommissioning process at MYAPC. The omissions and evasions within NRC radiological surveillance programs and NRC regulatory guidelines call into question the credibility of federal oversight of a declining and increasingly unsafe nuclear power infrastructure. These deficiencies illustrate a giant loophole in NRC radiation protection guidelines: NRC licensees are required to monitor and document the isotopes contained in routine liquid and gaseous releases to unrestricted areas as required in 10 CFR61, but no requirement exists for comprehensive routine monitoring of the biotic and abiotic environment to document non-routine and/or accidental releases, the cumulative impact of routine and non-routine releases, or the validity of the site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr TEDE.
The failure to collect routine radiological monitoring data by the NRC and NRC licensees occurs in the context of a pattern of noncompliance with NRC regulations and federal law. The profit potential of generating nuclear electricity is juxtaposed with a generic federal failure to fund surveillance, storage, administration, packaging, transportation, monitored retrievable storage and disposal of radioactive wastes at the time these wastes are created. This noncompliance, in turn, forms the context of specific illegal activities including the thermal power up-rate scam at MYAPC that constitute the predicate criminal activities necessary to establish the existence of a U.S. Code Title 18 violation. The patterns of noncompliance discussed in this report result in the creation of two classes of people: those benefiting from the generation of nuclear wastes and those who will eventually pay for the unfunded costs of this legacy. This fundamental violation of due process and equal protection before the law is based upon the for-profit generation of nuclear wastes and is accompanied by the propensity of the NRC and its licensee to evade, omit, misrepresent, deflect and obsfucate any and all documentation of the environmental impact of reactor operations and decommissioning.
Generic deficiencies in radiological surveillance programs begin with the historical failure to execute surveillance for those isotopes in the marine pathway at MYAPC in Montsweag Bay, the location of the plant's two liquid effluent diffusers. This failure characterizes both the operation of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company and the monitoring of residual radioactivity remaining after cessation of plant operations. Montsweag Bay is a component of the most westerly branch of the Sheepscot River. This estuarine environment has been used as a defacto sewer for disposal of liquid effluents contaminated with small amounts of plant-derived radionuclides since reactor operation began in 1972. As a result of the removal of a causeway and the relocation of liquid effluent discharges from a restricted and sheltered cove (Bailey Cove) to diffusers at the bottom of Montsweag Bay, the effluents discharged from the diffusers had the potential of impacting a broad area of the Sheepscot River both to the north and south of the diffuser. The tidal flow in the Sheepscot River has the capacity to sweep effluents north to Wiscasset and then down the east branch of the Sheepscot River on the backside of Westport Island. Locations to the south as far as Robinhood Bay and Hockomock Bay may also receive microcontamination originating at the MYAPC diffusers and from one or more undocumented inadvertent releases of liquid effluents that occurred at the MYAPC site just north of the Forebay.
NRC Regulatory Guide 4.1, which is contained in 10 CFR Part 50, requires "...that licensees provide means for monitoring the plant environs for radioactivity that may be released from normal operations..." (pg. 4.1-1). The isotopes which characterize long-lived spent fuel (LLSF) and spent fuel-derived hot particles are: 137Cs, 238Pu, 239/240Pu, 241Pu, 241Am, as well as 90Sr, 92Zr, 99Tc, 126Sn, and 129I. Also of importance as residual radioactivity are long-lived activation product isotopes characterizing CRUD1 and greater-than-class C (GTCC) wastes. The guideline also requires licensees to "...consider the possibility of buildup of long-lived radionuclides in the environment and identify physical and biological sites of accumulation that may contribute to human exposure" (pg. 4.1-2).
MYAPC has failed to provide adequate radiological monitoring of the estuarine environments of Montsweag Bay adjacent to the plant. This failure has its root cause in generic irregularities in the application of the standards for radiation protection in the Code of Federal Regulations and in omissions and inconsistencies in NUREG guidelines issued since 1974. These deficiencies and omissions join with and are expressed in anomalies in the recently issued Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM) pertaining to the use of derived concentration guidance levels (DCGLs). MARSSIM's incorporation of the cumulative deficiencies in radiological surveillance programs is best summarized by a quote from the Radiation Advisory Committee of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) review of MARSSIM: "MARSSIM should discuss its rationale for limiting its scope to guidance for contaminated surface soils and building surfaces. Furthermore, it should more clearly state that radioactive contamination of subsurface soil, surface water, and ground water are explicitly excluded from its coverage" (pg. 2). The SAB review failed to mention that MARSSIM, while referring to traditional monitoring of all pathways to human consumption as an option, also excludes surveillance of biotic media.
In the site-specific case of MYAPC, key pathways which remain uninvestigated include sediment as a repository of contamination and sea vegetables and shellfish as bioaccumulators of this residual radioactivity. The environmental impact of both deliberate and accidental MYAPC liquid effluent discharges remains essentially undocumented. The decommissioning process rests on a site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr total effective dose equivalent (TEDE). The failure to implement site-specific pathway analyses at MYAPC for the historic impact of plant operations, the unplanned and undocumented accidental liquid effluent releases and the current impact of decommissioning activities undermines its credibility.
A review of MARSSIM and the generic deficiencies of NRC regulatory guidelines helps explain the deceptive and evasive site characterization process at MYAPC discussed in Part II of this report. The specific evasions and deficiencies which characterize reactor operations, associated accidental releases and the decommissioning program at MYAPC exemplify a broad array of NRC and NRC licensee noncompliance summarized in Part III of this report. Conclusions and recommendations in Part IV are followed by relevant Appendices.
I. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Generic Deficiencies in Radiological Surveillance and Site Investigation
A. Statutory Obligations of the Code of Federal Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations contains federal standards for radiation protection in 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 20. The definition in Subpart A, §20.1003 clearly includes the types of radiation characterizing long-lived spent fuel (LLSF) (alpha, beta and gamma) without referring to the specific isotopes of concern which are so clearly delineated in 10 CFR Chapter 1, 61.55 (see below). The necessity of monitoring as well as accurate dose assessment is also made explicit in this definition.
10 CFR 20.1101 (Radiation Protection Program) clearly mandates that each licensee "shall develop, document and implement a radiation program commensurate with the scope and extent of licensed activities." Air emissions are limited to a TEDE of 10 mrem/yr for the general public in this section. 40 CFR 61.102 explicitly limits ambient air emissions for the general public for radioiodine, including 129I, to a TEDE of 3 mrem/yr. §20.1302 states "the licensee shall make or cause to be made, as appropriate, survey of radiation levels in unrestricted and controlled areas and radioactive materials in effluent, released to unrestricted ... areas to demonstrate compliance with the dose limits for individual members of the public in §20.1301 (100 mrem/yr)."
10 CFR 20.1302 further stipulates an external dose limit of 50 mrem/yr to members of the general public. When combined with the air emission exposure limit of 10 mrem/yr, this dose limit implies an ingestion dose limit of 40 mrem/yr. These limits are commensurate with site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr. Subpart F stipulates license surveys "necessary ... to comply" as well as "reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate" the extent and concentrations and "potential radiological hazards that could be present." Both the site release criterion and the radiation protection standards in 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 20 imply evaluation of the presence of all radionuclides in all pathways as a component of these regulations.
10 CFR Chapter I Part 50 (Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities) contains even stricter guidelines (design criteria objectives) which, in fact, conflict with 10 CFR 20.1302. "The calculated annual total quantity of all radioactive material above background to be released from each light-water-cooled nuclear power reactor to unrestricted areas will not result in an estimated annual dose or dose commitment from liquid effluents for any individual in an unrestricted area from all pathways of exposure in excess of 3 millirems to the total body or 10 millirems to any organ" (10 CFR Part 50 Appendix I. Sec. II. A.)
Appendix B of 10 CFR Part 20 specifies annual limits on intake (ALI), derived air concentration values and limits for discharges to sanitary sewer systems for all radioisotopes. The federal standards for radiation protection, however, make no other special reference to the individual long-lived isotopes which will characterize residual radioactivity after the short-lived isotopes characteristic of reactor operations have decayed. For an isotope such as 137Cs the only governing regulation other than ALARA2 is that NRC licensees do not discharge sufficient 137Cs to violate the guidelines contained in Appendix B. The annual limit on intake via the ingestion pathway for occupational exposure (nuclear industry employees) is 1E+2 µCi (100 µCi = 1 ten thousandth of a curie) or 100,000 nanocuries. For the general public, the intake guidelines are 1/10th of the occupational limits listed in Column 1 of Appendix B, Part 30. For an extrapolation of data pertaining to annual limits on intake see Appendix 4 of this report. These annual ingestion limits appear to be in conflict with the 3 mrem limit (design criteria) for ingestion of liquid effluents specified in 10 CFR 50 Appendix I, Part A. Ingestion of even 1% of the annual limit for 137Cs intake (100,000 nanocuries occupational ALI; 10,000 nanocuries general public ALI: see 10 CFR part 20, Appendix B) would exceed the 3 mrem/yr TEDE design criteria for reactor liquid effluents, which is a radiation protection guideline for the general public for exposure to all nuclides, all pathways for liquid effluents released to unrestricted areas. Unlike the guidelines in Appendix B, the design criteria in 10 CFR 50, Appendix I, Part A are a theoretical objective rather than a legal requirement and as such are infrequently mentioned in NRC literature.
10 CFR Chapter 1 Part 60 Subpart A pertaining to land disposal of low-level wastes clearly refers to most of the isotopes which characterize long-lived spent fuel (LLSF) in §61.55, Waste Classification. "First, consideration must be given to the concentration of long-lived radionuclides ... whose potential hazard will persist long after such precautions as institutional controls, improved waste form and deeper disposal have ceased to be effective." Tables 1 and 2 provide waste classification standards for 99Tc, 129I, alpha emitting transuranic nuclides with half lives greater than 5 years (238Pu, 239,240Pu, 241Am), 241Pu (a beta emitter), as well as the ubiquitous long-lived isotopes 90Sr and 137Cs. §61.53 clearly mandates environmental monitoring to "include the potential health and environmental impacts" during "construction and operation" of a land disposal facility. This specific citation of isotopic characteristics of long-lived spent fuel (LLSF) in 10 CFR, Part 60 is not repeated in 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 20, which makes no mention of the specific isotopes which might be monitored, except in the general listing in Appendix B.
This section of the Code of Federal Regulations gives rise to the term "10-61 analyses," which refers to the requirement that all low-level waste destined for land disposal be subject to analysis for all the isotopes listed in Tables 1 and 2. Once a licensee establishes uniformity in low-level waste flow contents, not every shipment must be isotopically analyzed. Nonetheless, section 10-61 is the only regulation mandating analyses of radioactive wastes from the long-lived isotopes characterizing spent fuel. Liquid effluent analysis is limited to gamma emitters and includes the hard to detect (HTD) transuranic isotopes such as 239Pu that are included in the proverbial "10-61 analyses."
The Code of Federal Regulations could hardly be more ambiguous about the statutory obligation of the NRC and its licensees to fully document the production, inventories, storage, spillage, uncontrolled and controlled releases, environmental inventories, bioaccumulation, pathways, and dose effect of the isotopes characterizing:
b. residual radiation in the form of isotopes characterizing long-lived spent fuel (LLSF) wastes which remain after cessation of reactor operations (+1 year cooling): 137Cs, 238Pu, 239,240Pu, 241Pu, 241Am, 90Sr, 92Zr, 99Tc, 126Sn, and 129I.
The presence of contradictory guidelines in the Code of Federal Regulations (3 mrem/yr TEDE design criteria for liquid effluent releases, 50 mrem/yr external exposure, 100 mrem/yr TEDE for members of the general public from all release pathways, and the 500 mrem/yr ALI for the general public in 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B) is a precursor to the contradictions contained in later NRC guidelines culminating in MARSSIM. The addition of a fifth guideline, the new site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr TEDE adds to the confusion about the significance of the other four guidelines in the CFR pertaining to exposure of the general public. The new release criterion also accentuates the need for further 10-61 analyses of the long-lived isotopes in residual radioactivity which results from reactor operations.
B. NRC Regulatory Guideline 4.1
The radiological surveillance programs implied and, in fact, mandated by the Code of Federal Regulations are undermined by NRC Regulatory Guideline 4.1, Revision 1, which was issued in 1975 and is still a principal NRC monitoring guideline. The paragraph from NRC guide 4.1 (quoted in the introduction) about the need for monitoring the buildup of long-lived radionuclides is the sole reference in this guide suggesting the comprehensive monitoring program implied by the Code of Federal Regulations. Regulatory guideline 4.1 is otherwise characterized by a general vagueness and a lack of specific details which allows NRC licensees to begin operations with pre- and post-operational surveys of an extremely limited sampling scope (Hess, 1976). Guide 4.1 includes the following 'but' which allows licensees the leeway to maintain token monitoring programs: "Radiation exposures (external) and internal doses from short-lived nuclides may be estimated by calculations (using effluent measurements and appropriate dispersion and bioaccumulation factors) rather than by routine collection of samples of environmental media. In some cases, field measurements at certain locations to establish concentrations of specific radionuclides may be necessary, initially, to confirm predictions" (pg. 4.1-3). No further reference is made in any NRC report or regulatory guideline discussing or mandating the efficacy of monitoring of abiotic or biotic media for the long-lived isotopes which characterize spent fuel wastes (10-61 analyses.) Modeling the dispersion of contaminants in effluents is substituted for more costly laboratory gamma spectroanalyses or liquid scintillation for alpha isotopes.
NRC Regulatory Guide 4.1 was updated in the Radiological Effluent Technical Specifications (RETS) in 1992 which was then reissued as the Offsite Dose Calculation Manual (ODCM). (See the NRC Generic Letter 89.01.) The ODCM is the latest NRC radiological monitoring guideline; it specifies the meager sampling procedures and frequencies to be implemented by NRC licensees. It was not until the ODCM manual was issued that the generic use of "reporting levels" was made explicit in the annual radiological environmental operating reports of NRC licensees. The use of "reporting levels" in lieu of systematic routine data collection allows the institutionalized evasion of accurate documentation of the cumulative presence of residual radiation-derived from reactor liquid effluents. For further comments on these artificial reporting levels see Part II of this report.
In the Maine Yankee Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Report, which follows the guidelines of the ODCM report, plant monitoring requirements include direct (TLDs), airborne (particulates and radioiodides), waterborne (estuary, groundwater, shoreline sediment) and ingestion (milk, fish, three types of broadleaf vegetation) radiation. MYAPC has also added a few mixed samples of Fucus Vesiculosis and Ascophyllum marine algae in their Radiological Environmental Monitoring Program (REMP). These restricted pathway analyses do not include data about long-lived isotopes characteristic of spent fuel wastes other than 137Cs as required by 10 CFR 61 for low level waste characterization. The MYAPC radiological environmental monitoring programs (REMPs) are grossly inadequate, both in the number of samples they require and in the scope of the monitoring program, to evaluate the actual environmental impact of MYAPC plant operations on the estuarine environment of Montsweag Bay. (See Part II of this report which elaborates on this allegation.)
The deficiencies in Regulatory Guideline 4.1 are further illustrated by the quotation taken from 10 CFR Part 20 contained in the second paragraph of Guide 4.1: "...the daily intake of radioactive materials from air, water, or food by a suitable sample of an exposed population group, averaged over a time period not exceeding one year, would not exceed specified quantities. Section 20.201 of 10 CFR Part 20 further requires that a licensee conduct surveys of levels of radiation or concentrations of radioactive material as necessary to show compliance with Commission regulations" (pg. 4.1-1). The primary emphasis and fundamental flaw in this monitoring guide is that NRC licensees are only required to demonstrate compliance with the annual intake guidelines contained in the Code of Federal Regulations Appendix B of 10 CFR Part 20 which is the most unrestrictive of the four guidelines governing exposure of the general public (3, 50, 100, 500, mrem/yr). The actual monitoring programs are insufficient in their scope (number of data points) to accurately validate that the annual exposure from an operating reactor meets the range of exposure guidelines contained in 10 CFR Part 20, or the much stricter design criteria exposure limits to liquid emissions contained in 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix I, Part A (3 mrem/yr). With the advent of a release criterion of 25 mrem/yr, antiquated NRC licensee monitoring programs are unable to accurately document the cumulative presence of the long-lived isotopes listed in 10 CFR 61.55. The deficiencies in NRC licensee radiological surveillance programs, a result of grossly careless federal oversight, have vast ramifications for the decommissioning process at MYAPC and other NRC licensed facilities as noted in Part II of this report. They also refer to a broad pattern of noncompliance discussed in Part III.
C. AEC Rule 1.86
Until the advent of MARSSIM, AEC Rule 1.86 has served as a principal NRC regulatory guide stating guidelines for termination of operating licenses for nuclear reactors. Appendix 1 of this report reprints Table I, Acceptable Surface Contamination Levels, which is the primary guideline for determining the old NRC site release criteria of 5,000 dpm/100cm2 which was used as recently as the decommissioning of the Yankee Rowe facility. The one-dimensional surface contamination guideline this antiquated (June 1974) AEC standard provides is an example of the deficient regulatory guidelines which are inadequate to meet the requirements of the more comprehensive radiological surveillance programs mandated by the Code of Federal Regulations. The problems in MARSSIM and in the MYAPC decommissioning process demonstrate the impact of this out-dated criterion.
AEC Rule 1.86 is divided into three columns covering four groups of radioisotopes. The least restrictive decommissioning guidelines apply to naturally occurring uranium isotopes as well as beta-gamma emitting fission products such as 137Cs (except 90Sr) and identifies 5,000 dpm/100cm2 for the average surface, 15,000 dpm/100cm2 for the maximum surface, and 1,000 dpm/100cm2 for removable surface contamination levels (see Appendix 1 in this report which reproduces AEC Rule 1.86). Guidelines for 90Sr, 131I, and other naturally occurring nuclides (NOR) are more restrictive (1,000/3,000/200), with acceptable surface contamination levels for transuranics, the most restrictive, at 100/300/20 dpm/100cm2.
The significance of AEC rule 1.86 is that it allows acceptable surface contamination levels in isolated pockets one order of magnitude greater than the cumulative weapons testing fallout levels in mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere. 137Cs weapons testing-derived cumulative fallout reached 2500 Bq/m2 before decay in many locations. AEC rule 1.86 average surface contamination guideline levels for 137Cs are about double the cumulative fallout level, as are average surface contamination guideline levels for 239Pu. (See Appendix 6 for the Cumulative Fallout Index.)
AEC Rule 1.86, which dates from 1974, thus allows maximum isolated surface contamination levels of 239Pu up to 30,000 dpm/m2 (500 Bq/m2) and 137Cs up to 1,500,000 dpm/m2 (25,000 Bq/m2). These antiquated guidelines will provide an interesting point of comparison for evaluating site-specific-derived concentration guideline levels (DCGLs) as defined in MARSSIM which will be used at MYAPC and other NRC licensee decommissioning projects.
D. NUREG-1301 (April 1991): Offsite Dose Calculation Manual (ODCM)
NUREG-1301 provides procedural details for monitoring radioactive liquid and gaseous emissions and also covers topics such as instrumentation, operating and sampling procedures and analyses of environmental samples. The ODCM includes equations for dose calculations, effluent alarm setpoint determinations and meteorological dispersion factors. "This report contains guidance which may be voluntarily used by licensees who choose to implement the provision of Generic Letter 89-01" (abstract). "This document contains no new requirements and its use is completely voluntary" (preface).
Table 3.3-12, Radioactive Liquid Effluent Monitoring Instrumentation, provides a listing of liquid effluent source points including the liquid radwaste effluent line and five other effluent lines, including the discharge canal. The radiological environmental monitoring program described in Table 3.12-1 is designed to monitor the environmental impact of these effluent source points. This program mandates that "One sample [be taken] of each commercially and recreationally important species in vicinity of plant discharge area. ... Sample in season, or semiannually if they are not seasonal. ... [and requires] Gamma isotopic analysis on edible portions" (pg. 61). The sediment sampling program for these liquid effluent source points mandates only one downstream shoreline sample from an area "with existing or potential recreational value" (pg. 60), collected semiannually. This is the extent of mandatory radiological environmental monitoring of liquid effluents, and, as the preface to the ODCM makes perfectly clear, even a single sampling of shoreline sediments taken semiannually is optional. These radiological surveillance guidelines are insufficient to effectively document the environmental impact of reactor-derived effluents.
In its application of the guidelines in NUREG-1301, MYAPC takes four sediment samples quarterly for its radiological environmental monitoring program (REMP). This database is equally inadequate to document the impact of plant operations in the estuarine environments surrounding the MYAPC facility. In contrast, typical requirements for a postgraduate's study of the liquid effluent dispersion patterns, or for secondary research in Montsweag Bay carried out as part of the Sea Grant program3, were 100 - 500 sediment samples. Any follow-up survey documenting the historical environmental impact of MYAPC operations in the Sheepscot River ecosystem will require a minimum of 1,000 sediment samples including at least 100 samples for a 10-61 analyses of isotopes characterizing long-lived spent fuel.
Any hope the ODCM will mandate accurate environmental sampling is dashed by Table 3.12-2, Reporting Levels for Radioactivity Concentrations in Environmental Samples. Reporting levels for reactor activation products 54Mn, 59Fe, 58Co, 60Co, and 65Zn range from 10,000 pCi/kg to 30,000 pCi/kg (wet) with fish as the only environmental media impacted by liquid effluents requiring documentation. Reporting levels for 134Cs and 137Cs in fish are 1,000 and 2,000 pCi/kg (wet) respectively. The ODCM does not provide any reporting level for the presence of any radionuclide in sediment, with the result that MYAPC, while explicit in its REMP in noting a 58Co reporting level of 30,000 pCi/kg in biotic media, is not required to report plant-derived sediment contamination no matter the level of volumetric contamination. When queried about what the reporting level was for the MYAPC sediment sampling, the NRC provided this response: "As discussed in NUREG 1301, the reason that Cs-137 does not have reporting limits in sediments is that we are concerned with direct path ingestion. Therefore, we have limits in water and edible items such as marine life, but since we would not expect people to ingest sediments, we do not provide a limit" (Webb, 1998). This explanation helps clarify why sediment and soil as a repository of reactor-derived contamination is of little or no interest to the NRC. It also illustrates on why chronic contamination of the terrestrial environs of MYAPC was undocumented during the years of reactor operation.
The Offsite Dose Calculation Manual provides the following insight about artificial reporting levels in its explanation of lower limits of detection (LLDs) "It should be recognized that the LLD is defined as an a priori (before the fact) limit representing the capability of a measurement system and not as an a posteriori (after the fact) limit for a particular measurement" (pg. 80). The main thrust of the ODCM is to "ensure that the concentration of radioactive materials released in liquid waste effluents will be less than the concentration levels specified in 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B, Table II, Column 2" (pg. 73). With respect to monitoring airborne particulate sample filters, the manual states "If gross beta activity in the air particulate samples is greater than 10 times the yearly mean of control samples, gamma isotopic analysis shall be performed on the individual samples" (pg. 62). These are additional examples of NRC regulations which allow evasion of routine data collection.
This Offsite Dose Calculation Manual institutionalizes the non-existence of a comprehensive radiological surveillance program. No mention is made anywhere in the ODCM of the usefulness of periodic 10-61 analyses of abiotic or biotic media for isotopes characteristic of long-lived spent fuel (LLSF). This ODCM allows a licensee to evade documentation of the release of significant amounts of reactor-derived radioactivity in the form of liquid effluents to unrestricted environments. The meager sampling suggested to document the impact of the release of plant-derived liquid effluents is both pathetic and a clear violation of the statutory obligations of the NRC and its licensees to protect public safety as delineated in the Code of Federal Regulations 10 CFR Part 20.
E. NUREG-2907: Radioactive Material Released from Nuclear Power Plants
NUREG-2907 is a key NRC publication in the documentation of the environmental impact of NRC licensed power reactors and was issued annually until discontinued in 1994. NUREG-2907 provides a summary of effluent and waste disposal data that is broken down into the following four categories: airborne and liquid effluents except tritium and airborne and liquid tritium releases. These reports also include a summary of solid waste effluents. The title of this report is somewhat deceptive in that NUREG-2907 contains only reported releases and does not include accidental spills, leakage, holding pond and tank overflows and other mishaps with liquid and gaseous effluents which have consistently characterized NRC supervised reactor operations. The recently released MYAPC Characterization Survey Report provides compelling evidence of such undocumented releases at MYAPC.
For an additional example of cursory NRC documentation of accidental liquid releases, consult the NRC Haddam Neck Inspection Report 98-02, then compare this report with the more graphic testimony of James K. Joosten before the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission discussed in Part II, Section F of this report.
NUREG-2907 is particularly important in documenting the elevated liquid emissions discharged into Montsweag Bay from Maine Yankee in the early years of operation due to leaky fuel assemblies. During the early years of operation, 1 to 3 billion nanocuries of fission products and hundreds of billions on nanocuries of tritium were released to Montsweag Bay annually. During the mid-1970's, the licensee was successful in solving the problem of leaky fuel assemblies, and, with their replacement, the release of fission products in liquid form was gradually lowered until, in 1993, release of liquid fission products were +/- 200,000,000 nanocuries other than tritium. Liquid emissions of 137Cs in 1993 were listed as 8.18E-03 or just over 8 million nanocuries. Liquid emissions of fission and activation products were probably significantly elevated after 1993 due to steam tube leaks as well as the steam generator sleeving project in 1995. Another episode of fuel cladding failure occurred in 1996 (grid to rod fretting), but data for this time period has not been reviewed for this report. The historical data in NUREG-2907 clearly suggests that a much more detailed site investigation needs to be executed to evaluate the impact of MYAPC operations in the post-Chernobyl era than required by antiquated NRC Guideline 4.1 or AEC Rule 1.86.
F. NUREG/CR-5849 (draft June 1992): Manual for Conducting Radiological Surveys in Support of License Termination
Prior to the issuance of MARSSIM (Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual, Draft, 1996), NUREG/CR-5849, Manual for Conducting Radiological Surveys in Support of License Termination, served, along with AEC Rule 1.86 (see Appendix 1), as the primary guideline for decommissioning nuclear facilities. NUREG/CR-5849 is very specific in suggesting a comprehensive series of surveys supporting decommissioning: background, scoping, characterization, remediation control, final status, and confirmatory. What looks thorough in the general listing, however, is not actually very demanding in a site-specific application. This manual is explicit in delineating release guidelines for pathway analyses which allow the licensee to avoid the expense of a detailed survey of the principal nuclides characterizing reactor operations or spent fuel wastes (e.g. avoiding 10-61 analyses). Guidelines in CR-5849 are dominated by an emphasis on surface contamination which was first expressed in AEC Rule 1.86. "These derived [concentration guideline] levels, ... are presented in terms of direct radiation levels, surface activity levels, volume concentrations of radioactive material in soil and building materials, and site inventory limits" (pg. 2.3). At no point does NUREG/CR-5849 discuss the need for detailed pathway analyses as a necessity for complying with the more comprehensive radiological monitoring programs implied by the radiation protection guidelines in the Code of Federal Regulations. NUREG/CR-5849 also contains no index or glossary. As in MARSSIM, words such as bioaccumulation, bioindicator, abiotic and biotic media, concentration factors, transfer factors, biological significance, and other terms pertaining to pathway analyses do not appear in this text. NUREG/CR-5849 is a predicator publication for the omissions and evasions which culminate in MARSSIM.
G. NUREG-1501 (August 1994): Background as a Residual Radioactivity Criterion for Decommissioning
NRC licensee radiological environmental monitoring programs fail to differentiate weapons testing residual radioactivity from reactor-derived residual radioactivity. The failure to require maintenance of a more comprehensive routine radiological monitoring database originates in part from the careless documentation of a priori contamination from offsite source points such as weapons production and testing, fuel reprocessing, and nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl. Documentation of the cumulative total effective dose equivalence (TEDE) from a multiple number of long-lived isotopes in pathways to human consumption is consistently evaded by NRC licensees.
NUREG-1301 illustrates two of the challenges of accurate monitoring of the environmental impact of reactor operations. The first is that background radiation doses vary widely in the United States from "100 to 1,000 mrem ... a span of a factor of 10 -- is typical of the variation in background doses for most United States citizens in a given year" (pg. 30). This observation also applies to 137Cs, the concentrations of which are discussed in NUREG-1501. For 137Cs, "the concentration in the top 2.5 cm of soil varies by a factor of 20" (pg. 26). Concentrations of fallout-derived 137Cs in soil in the Great Salt Lake vicinity are reported, but with less variation, in a range of 10 - 15 Bq/kg (270 - 405 pCi/kg) (pg. 27). This emphasizes the necessity of careful site-specific background radiation analyses during reactor operation and decommissioning. Otherwise, "without subtracting background from gross radioactivity measurements, the criterion's limit would be exceeded" (pg. 66).
NUREG-1301 therefore implies careful site specific documentation of background radiation. This is expensive and time consuming, requiring painstaking laboratory spectroanalyses of abiotic and biotic media from control locations well away from source points of contamination. Other NUREG guidelines, however (see comments on NUREG-1496), provide a handy shortcut. Exposure from any particular radionuclide less than 3 mrem/yr is considered "indistinguishable from background." It is not in the public interest that residual radioactivity from MYAPC sources involving contamination by hard-to-detect (HTD) long-lived isotopes such as 239Pu and 241Am not be documented if incurring exposure below 3 mrem/yr. This contravenes the meaning and intent of the radiation protection standards in the Code of Federal Regulations. The concept of "indistinguishable from background" is a graphic example of the tendency to evade, omit, and cut monitoring corners within NRC guidelines.
The unsatisfactory nature of the 3 mrem/yr "indistinguishable from background" guideline can be illustrated by restating it as follows: exposure to 239Pu, 241Am, 99Tc, etc. will be considered indistinguishable from background radiation if not exceeding 3 mrem/yr. This is unacceptable particularly in the event of internal exposure resulting from contamination of seafood or any other abiotic or biotic media by isotopes characteristic of long-lived spent fuel. Application of the "indistinguishable from background" concept to site-specific investigation of microcontamination from long-lived isotopes is one in a series of deficiencies in radiological surveillance programs which eventually have the cumulative impact of undermining site release criterion of 25 mrem/yr TEDE.
H. 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B
Appendix B in 10 CFR Part 20 provides the sole federal as well as the only NRC guideline governing total effective dose equivalence (TEDE) resulting from ingestion of foodstuffs contaminated by NRC licensee activities. Appendix B in 10 CFR 20 contains protection guidelines which are expressed as annual limits on intake (ALIs), derived air concentrations (DAC) for occupational exposure and effluent concentrations for release to sewers. These guidelines are expressed in Appendix B in three columns. Column 2 gives radioactivity concentrations which "if inhaled or ingested continuously over a year would produce an effective dose equivalence (TEDE) of .05 rem (50 millirem or .5 millisieverts)." Sewage concentrations are based on the possibility that the sewage released by licensees was diluted by a factor of 10 and was then "the only source of water ingested by a reference man during a year" and would result in a committed effective dose equivalence of .5 rem. Appendix 4 in this report extrapolates the data for the most important biologically significant radionuclides in Column 1 of the CFR Appendix B, oral ingestion, Annual Limits on Intake (ALI) for occupational exposure, and divides these values by 10 for assessment of dose to the public, which the NRC estimates as 10% of the dose resulting from occupational exposure. This data is then converted from microcuries to nanocuries. Ingestion of contamination by members of the general public below the values contained in Appendix B and summarized in nanocuries in Appendix 4 of this report means that licensee effluent discharges are "within regulatory limits." If individual members of the public do not ingest reactor-derived contaminants in excess of the guidelines in Appendix B, then NRC licensees are operating within their licensing basis. There are no volumetric NRC guidelines governing contamination in food products or in abiotic media such as sediments. NRC regulations don't specify in what form annual intake by members of the public might be. The guidelines in Appendix B are expressed in microcuries and are not cumulative; to reach the 50 millirem annual limit on intake a member of the public need only consume one isotope. If consumption of a particular isotope is below the limit suggested in Appendix B it makes no difference that the ingestion of many isotopes may result in exceeding the NRC guidelines. This is a graphic example of what is, in fact, the dysfunctional regulation of NRC licensee activities. The standards in Appendix B are another example of the deficiencies and omissions in antiquated NRC radiological surveillance programs.
I. Other Decommissioning, Radiation Survey and Working Draft Guidelines
During the time period from 1994 to 1996, the NRC issued a flood of new regulatory reports that are among the most opaque publications produced by the federal government. At the same time, they perpetuate the deficiencies and careless oversight that characterize the flawed implementation of the standards of radiation protection contained in the Code of Federal Regulations. The following NUREG publications incorporate the deficiencies discussed above; relevant comments follow their citation.
NUREG-1496, Vol. 1 and 2. (August, 1994). Generic Environmental Impact Statement in Support of Rulemaking on Radiological Criteria for Decommissioning of NRC-Licensed Nuclear Facilities.
The purpose of these two volumes is to rationalize the effective use of the proposed radiological criterion for decommissioning which was about to be codified as 10 CFR 20.1402. The core of this report is the concept that a generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) may quantify the radiological impact of the decommissioning process by modeling rather than by media-specific nuclide-specific spectroanalysis. The following quote delineates the narrow context of the release criterion which have now been set at 25 mrem/yr total effective dose equivalence (TEDE). "The GEIS does not include the radiological exposure impacts on offsite populations from routine and accidental decommissioning releases... Also not specifically addressed in the GEIS are the impacts from future inadvertent recycling of contaminated building rubble and soil following decommissioning of a site" (pg. 5-2 to 5-3). For an illustration of why recycling contaminated decommissioning rubble and metal products is likely to occur during the decommissioning process, consult Appendix 1 in this report which reproduces AEC Rule 1.86. The NRC still utilizes this surface contamination guideline in a slightly modified form (5,000 dpm/100cm2 total surface contamination) during decommissioning activities.
Volume One contains an extensive discussion of nuclear power reactor site evaluation via a variety of modeling approaches, with no mention at all of the necessity of all-nuclide all-pathway analyses (the proverbial 10-61 analyses.) It also contains the assertion that contamination as a result of PWR operations is limited to a few thousand square feet of contaminated soil (Table 4.1, pg. 4.14).
Volume Two continues cleanup discussion with the emphasis again on surface contamination. Table 3.6 (pg. 858), Hypothetical Cleanup Criteria for Five Radionuclides, provides soil concentration (Bq/kg) guidelines for the residential (external exposure) pathway for 15 mrem/yr and 3 mrem/yr (indistinguishable from background). The soil concentration guideline for 137Cs providing an external exposure of 15 mrem/yr is listed at 396 Bq/kg (10,692 pCi/kg) (for 3 mrem/yr, 78 Bq/kg). This guideline should be considered in the context of the reporting levels of 2,000 pCi/kg utilized by MYAPC in environmental monitoring for food products including fish and invertebrates, as well as the lack of any reporting level for 137Cs in sediments. NRC licensees such as Maine Yankee are not required to report 137Cs contamination in food products and edible biotic media in their environmental surveys which do not equal or exceed 2,000 pCi/kg or sediment contamination at any level of contamination.
This may help explain why the extensive area of contaminated soil along the west side fence line north of the MYAPC Forebay, recently documented in the final Characterization Survey Report, never became public. The absence of mandated reporting of any reactor derived contamination above the lower limits of detection (LLD) of available equipment allows NRC licensees the opportunity to systematically evade documentation of the impact of plant operations. Table 3, D-21 contains a description of survey approaches for affected outdoor areas (e.g. Montsweag Bay) and suggests a sampling frequency of 4 per 100m2. NRC licensees taking advantage of all the loopholes and optional surveillance requirements in NUREG-5849 can postpone such monitoring until the final status survey. In fact, so many loopholes exist in NUREG guidelines that no accurate documentation of the environmental impact of plant operations or the decommissioning process on Montsweag Bay sediments may ever be available.
NUREG-1500. (August, 1994). Working Draft Regulatory Guide on Release Criteria for Decommissioning: NRC Staff's Draft for Comment.
Other than MARSSIM and NUREG-5849 this is the next most important document in the development of release criteria for decommissioning NRC licensed facilities. As with other NUREG guidelines, all attention is on modeling rather than on routine media-specific, nuclide-specific data collection. "The criteria in 10 CFR 20, Subpart E would be difficult and expensive to verify with environmental samples alone. The low concentration levels, extended time periods for analysis, and multiple pathways of concern make model calculations the most defensible and cost effective approach... The NRC has developed models to provide generic dose conversion factors for residual radioactivity that can be applied within a hierarchy of modeling approaches" (pg. 9).
The Appendices of NUREG-1500 are a key document in the evolution and calculation of the derived concentration guideline values which play such an important role in MARSSIM and in the decommissioning process. For example, in Appendix B the soil concentration providing exposure @ 3 mrem/yr for the residential scenario for plutonium-239 is 3.77 E-01 picocuries/kg (= .0143 Bq/kg). This is an amount of residual radiation far below detectable levels using existing gross alpha detection equipment. Nonetheless as a component of a pattern of contamination in multiple pathways, if soil or sediment samples at any NRC licensed facility had this level of contamination, compliance with the release criterion of 25 mrem/yr TEDE for all nuclides and all pathways could, in all likelihood, not be met.
As noted, the 3 mrem/yr guideline is a level of radiation which the NRC considers to be indistinguishable from background. Unfortunately the NRC already has reduced documentation requirements for all aspects of radiological surveillance. This tendency to document the environmental impact of plant operations and decommissioning with a minimum of data is exemplified by the fact that NUREG guidelines as well as MARSSIM make no reference to the recently issued draft FDA Derived Intervention Levels. As applied to the marine pathways in the vicinity of the MYAPC facility, it would have been particularly interesting during plant operation to see if careful pathway analyses for isotopes such as 58Co, 60Co, 137Cs, 131I, or even 239Pu would exceed the FDA DILs for a typical tourist eating Maine seafood during a long summer's vacation. It is this type of practical application of monitoring requirements contained in the CFR, and in particular, a "10-61 analyses," that is clearly lacking at all NRC licensed reactors. The vague and flexible derived concentration guideline levels (DCGLs) contained in MARSSIM are the legacy of these older NUREG publications, which prepare the groundwork of the ongoing evasions in the decommissioning process in MYAPC and other NRC licensee facilities.
NUREG-1505. (August, 1995). A Nonparametric Statistical Methodology for the Design and Analysis of Final Status Decommissioning Surveys: Draft Report for Comment.
NUREG-1505 is another important NUREG report which provides clear evidence of the dominance of statistical methodology in lieu of routine nuclide-specific, media-specific field measurements in the design of decommissioning surveys. It is this publication which reiterates the importance of "indistinguishable from background" as a statistical tool that aids NRC licensees in evading a comprehensive and truthful documentation of the actual levels of residual radioactivity which remain after termination of reactor operations and decommissioning activities. "Amounts of material that are predicted to result in a dose less than 3 mrem per year are, by the provisions of 10 CFR 20.1404, acceptable for meeting the reduced documentation requirements for demonstrating ALARA" (pg. 2-8). This is misleading because 20.1404 makes no such statement; this is the NRC's interpretation of the application of ALARA. This provision has very specific and very practical ramifications when considering contamination levels of a hard-to-detect (HTD) isotope such as 239Pu in contaminated shellfish or sea vegetables. While the FDA derived intervention level (DIL) for such contamination in foods is 2.2 Bq/kg, contamination by 239Pu in sea foods consumed by humans would have to exceed this DIL to provide an annual TEDE greater than 3 mrem/yr and therefore become distinguishable from background.
NUREG-1506. (August, 1995). Measurement Methods for Radiological Surveys in Support of New Decommissioning Criteria.
Measurement methods discussed in this report include spectrometry, the only surveillance technique capable of accurately documenting hard-to-detect (HTD) long-lived spent fuel such as 239Pu and 241Am in abiotic and biotic media. While the focus is again on one-dimensional surface contamination surveillance, this report does reference the use of dredge or box core samplers (5.3) for sediment sampling. In the case of Montsweag Bay, other than secondary Sea Grant sponsored pre-1980 monitoring, sediment sampling has been limited to the 16 annual samples taken by the licensee as part of its annual REMP report. The recently issued Duratek Characterization Survey Report is the only report to appear after plant closure that contains further documentation of the impact of plant operations on the marine environment. Though grossly inadequate, the few composites that are reported document reactor-derived 137Cs ranging from three to seven times background value. A more comprehensive survey with sufficient samples to characterize the environmental impact of MYAPC operations isocurically can presumably await the arrival of the tooth fairy. NUREG-1506 describes all the methodology essential for a comprehensive program of radiological surveillance. Other NUREG guidelines provide the rationalization for their evasion.
NUREG-1507. (August, 1995). Minimum Detectable Concentrations with Typical Radiation Survey Instruments for Various Contaminants and Field Conditions.
Guide 1507 is illustrative of the propensity of the NRC and its licensees to focus on one-dimensional radiological surveillance of surface contamination by gamma emitters. While this guide covers the efficacy of using a variety of gamma-detecting equipment and makes some reference to the problems of beta and alpha emitters, there is no reference in this statistically oriented text to measuring the hard to detect (HTD) long-lived isotopes characterizing spent fuel wastes and some types of hot particles other than as total alpha or beta surface activity. There is no discussion in this text of the minimum detectable concentrations of 239Pu, 241Am or any other biologically significant isotope characterizing LLSF other than 99Tc, i.e. a 10-61 analyses. In view of the wide variation in the FDA's derived intervention levels (DILs) guidelines for contaminated food (137Cs: 1,360 Bq/kg, 239Pu: 2.2 Bq/kg) the consistently insular and nearly xenophobic NRC focus on surface contamination at the expense of analyses of many other pathways is an omission which characterizes all NRC guidelines up to and including MARSSIM.
The MARSSIM (Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual) is a "standardized guidance document for cleaning up radioactively contaminated sites" sponsored by the EPA, DOE, DOD and NRC. "MARSSIM provides information on planning, conducting, evaluating, and documenting environmental radiological surveys for demonstrating compliance with dose-based regulations. The MARSSIM, when finalized, will be a multi-agency consensus document" (Federal Register, January 6, 1997, 62(3), pg. 736). MARSSIM summarizes the techniques and surveillance models to be used by the EPA, NRC, DOD and DOE in decommissioning or remediating a wide variety of contaminated weapons or nuclear electricity production sites or facilities. At the same time, it expresses many of the conflicts and institutionalized rituals of evasion that allow these four federal agencies to avoid comprehensive radiological characterization of many controversial facilities which have far greater environmental impact than the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station.
2. Generic Deficiencies
a. Restricted Pathway Analyses
In the event of more than one radionuclide exceeding a DCGL of 25 mrem/yr, the MARSSIM offers this handy guideline:
DCGLs are site-specific in nature; none are listed in this text nor are any available to the general public for evaluation of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company site characterization and decommissioning process. The appendices in NUREG-1500, however, contain release criteria data which may be extrapolated to provide nuclide-specific concentrations of residual radioactivity which represent the upper bounds (an activity/dose relationship) of noncontamination which could be used to set site release criterion. A summary of what could be interpreted as the upper boundary of derived concentration guideline levels for unrestricted site release is contained in Appendix 5. Site-specific DCGLs for MYAPC are not yet available and may be far less than those extrapolated from NUREG-1500. Nonetheless, the surface contamination guidelines for 137Cs implied by Appendix B-1, which could theoretically range up to 36,130 Bq/m2, are even greater than the antiquated surface contamination guideline contained in AEC rule 1.86 which is still being used by the NRC. (See Appendix 1 for a full copy of this guideline.) AEC Rule 1.86 provides a surface contamination guideline for 137Cs of 5,000 dpm/100cm2, with hot spots up to 15,000 dpm/100cm2 (25,000 Bq/m2). The NRC has adapted this rule in the form of a generic guideline for gross contamination not exceeding 5,000 dpm/100cm2 (500,000 dpm/m2; 8,333 Bq/m2).
The "upper bounds of noncontamination," extracted from NUREG-1550 and listed in Appendix 5, serve as a warning illustrating the wide leeway NRC licensees have in setting site-specific DCGLs which are also called SPGV (site-specified guideline values) in the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan.
The artificial statistical essence of the DCGL allows the systemic evasion of accurate pathway analysis of contaminated media impacted by facility operations. Particularly egregious is the failure to require site-specific characterization of background radiation both from naturally occurring radionuclides (NOR) and from the accumulation of fission products prior to determination of the derived concentration guideline levels. In fact, no mention is made in this or any U.S. government publication of the existence of a cumulative fallout record (see RISO National Laboratory Cumulative Fallout Record, reproduced in Appendix 6). This issue is addressed in the Science Advisory Board review of MARSSIM by the following quote "Although MARSSIM is applicable to the majority of contaminated sites, there appear to be cases that MARSSIM, as currently written, would have trouble addressing. These include: ... 2) cases in which a reference background cannot be established" (pg. 3-4) (i.e. because it was inconvenient for NRC licensees to differentiate background anthropogenic radioactivity from reactor-derived contamination.)
The SAD review also illustrates the prevailing focus on surface contamination as the primary basis for determining DCGL models: "The Subcommittee believes that it is critically important that the assumptions and procedures used in MARSSIM to make comparisons with the DCGLs match those used in defining the DCGLs. For example, if a DCGL for soil is derived from a dose limit or risk criterion by assuming that a receptor ranges over a certain area on a random basis, then the same area should be used for spatial averaging in the MARSSIM statistical analyses. Such averaging is usually performed from the standpoint of potential human receptors" (pg. 3). No mention is made in MARSSIM about executing traditional pathway analyses as a component of site investigations.
The cumulative fallout of 239Pu from weapons testing is just one example of contamination that falls through the cracks of generic modeling upon which the DCGL is based. In the latitude of MYAPC, the cumulative weapons testing-derived 239Pu fallout is approximately 65 Bq/m2 (3900 cpm/m2); the DCGL would allow MYAPC-derived plutonium contamination to equal the "background" level of 239Pu (a very unlikely possibility) before it would even begin to meet the definition of contamination. In fact, to provide a TEDE approaching 25 mrem/yr (site release criterion), plant-derived 239Pu contamination would have to be greater than background levels of weapons fallout and Chernobyl-derived contamination before it would have significance as a DCGL.
Use of vague concepts such as the DCGL as the basis of the release criterion combine with optional documentation of residual radioactivity in unrestricted areas to provide the NRC and the licensee wide leeway for avoiding comprehensive characterization of the actual radiological environmental impact of reactor operations.
Despite the deficiencies noted above, MARSSIM also represents an advance over previous guidelines because it refines and expands many of the procedures in NUREG-5849 and provides much more credibility to radiation survey techniques than the restricted content of AEC Rule 1.86. MARSSIM provides a detailed and comprehensive guide for site surveillance, utilizing all the traditional methodologies and equipment available to academic, scientific and governmental entities both outside of and within the NRC-DOE-DOD-EPA labyrinth. MARSSIM suggests a continuous series of radiological surveys documenting the impact of facility operations beginning with historic site assessments and continuing with scoping, characterization, remedial and final status surveys. Part II of this report discusses the failure of the MYAPC site characterization program to comply with the standards and procedures within MARSSIM. Section 2.4.4 of MARSSIM summarizes the characterization survey which follows historic site assessment and scoping surveys. "This type of survey is a detailed radiological environmental characterization of the area" (pg. 2-23).
· determine the nature and extent of the contamination
· evaluate remedial alternatives and technologies
· evaluate whether the survey plan can be optimized for use in the final status survey ...
· provide input to the final status survey design
The characterization survey is the most comprehensive of all the survey types and generates the most data. It includes preparing a reference grid, systematic as well as judgment measurements, and surveys of different media (e.g., surface soils, interior and exterior surfaces of buildings). The decision as to which media will be surveyed is a site-specific decision addressed throughout the Radiation Survey and Site Investigation process (pg. 2-24).
4. MARSSIM: Summary
· MARSSIM, like many other governmental agencies and publications, is steeped in paradox. While providing a comprehensive guideline determining and validating release criterion for decommissioned contaminated federal facilities, MARSSIM also represents the culmination of decades of the institutionalized evasion of accurate and comprehensive routine radiological environmental sampling which would document the environmental impact of facilities such as nuclear power reactors. The concept of derived concentration guideline levels (DCGLs) combines with other spurious definitions in MARSSIM, adding one more order of magnitude of incredibility to the federal government's continued avoidance of comprehensive radiological site investigation and characterization.
· MARSSIM perpetuates the avoidance of accurate characterization of "background" radiation from weapons testing, Chernobyl and other anthropogenic source points. This omission is the first of many evasions institutionalized by MARSSIM.
· Implicit within the MARSSIM is the recognition of the impossibility of a return to unimpacted status for most sites. The concept of DCGLs allows a significant quantity of reactor-derived residual radioactivity to remain at any NRC licensee facility once the release criterion implicit in the DCGLs are met. In the case of MYAPC, in view of extensive soil contamination documented by the Duratek final Characterization Survey Report, DCGLs for 137Cs (2,000 pCi/kg? 5,000? 10,000?) will have a major impact on decommissioning costs and activities.
· Application of the concepts in MARSSIM allows, and in fact encourages, the ongoing avoidance of routine environmental monitoring. Without a much more extensive database, no legally defensible total effective dose equivalent (TEDE) release criterion can be determined for MYAPC.
· At no point in the MARSSIM is reference made to the Derived Intervention Levels (DIL) contained in the FDA's Accidental Radioactive Contamination of Human Food and Animal Feeds: Recommendations for State and Local Agencies, despite the relevance of this FDA guideline for remediation of any site contaminated with anthropogenic radioactivity.
· The best summary of the unreliable and arbitrary nature of the DCGL is found in the controversial definition of "contamination" in the glossary: "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).
· Another way of summarizing the MARSSIM: the actual environmental impact of plant operations as a component of the release criterion is irrelevant. Authorized persons will model, not measure, over-generalized collective risk assessments.
· This perpetuation of outdated radiological surveillance paradigms results in greater site-specific flexibility for NRC licensees to evade accurate site characterization surveys for residual radiation including isotopes characteristic of long-lived spent fuel (LLSF), hot particles and long-lived activation product CRUD.
· The NRC regulatory literature is replete with references to the systematic lack of guidelines pertaining to radiological monitoring, decommissioning and site release criterion. MARSSIM is a step in the direction of a solution to this problem, but its effectiveness and credibility are undermined by its vagueness, generic omissions and one-dimensional focus on surface contamination.
K. Summary of Generic Deficiencies of NRC Regulations
NRC regulations for decommissioning facilities of any kind are grounded in the rulemaking process expressed in the Code of Federal Regulations. The rules contained in the CFR pertaining to radiation protection for the general public contain a basic flaw that is perpetuated and enhanced in the many regulatory guides which the NRC issues as a component of its statutory obligation to protect public health and safety. The CFR contains explicit and specific detailed directives pertaining to occupational exposure of persons working within the nuclear industry. The 5 rem occupational exposure limit is much more liberal than the conflicting guidelines for exposure of the general public of 500 mrem annual limit on intake (ALI), and the 100 mrem limit for total exposure for the general population. The 50 mrem external exposure limit for the general public is in turn less conservative than the recently issued decommissioning release criterion of 25 mrem/yr. The design criteria of 3 mrem/yr TEDE from liquid effluents is the most restrictive of all CFR guidelines. The wide variety of radiation protection guidelines for the general public is not only confusing, it also allows NRC licensees the luxury of contending they are well within their licensing basis if the most liberal of these guidelines is met (500 mrem/yr ALI.) The lack of routine radiological monitoring data prevents NRC licensees from evaluating exposure of the general public to reactor-derived radiation at levels of 50 mrem/yr TEDE or less. Neither the NRC nor any other federal agency, has acknowledged that, at these lower exposure limits, much more accurate and detailed analyses of the biogeochemical cycles of chronic contamination from isotopes characterizing long-lived spent fuel (LLSF) and hot particles analyses are now necessary (i.e. a 10-61 analyses). The historic generic deficiencies in NRC licensee radiological surveillance programs undermine the credibility of the release criterion the NRC has now tried to implement.
A reoccurring theme in the regulatory guidelines issued by the NRC is the evaluation of the radiological impact of facility operations by analysis of the external dose provided by gamma radiation in lieu of a more comprehensive analysis of the dose impact from the more difficult to detect beta and alpha emitting radionuclides. This particularly applies to the chronic presence of long-lived alpha radiation in ecosystems that are not amenable to quick evaluation by in situ or portable gamma ray dosimetry. The NRC regulatory guidelines cited above make frequent reference to the option of removing samples to laboratories for the more laborious gamma spectrometry or liquid scintillation counting. There is little incentive to implement this option, not only due to the high cost, but also because the regulatory guides appear to provide a variety of statistical tools to help evade this obligation. The root causes of the substitution of modeling for media-specific, nuclide-specific spectroanalyses are the economic issues (failure-to-fund, profit motive, fear of remediation costs, etc.) discussed in Part III of this report. This tendency to model instead of to measure serves to cover up the fact that insufficient data exists to establish the historic radiological impact of plant operations or the radiological impact of plant decommissioning.
The following observations of noncompliance with the statutory obligations implicit in the Code of Federal Regulations summarize the failure of the NRC to address the site-specific monitoring needs of power reactors in the post-Chernobyl era, especially those impacting aquatic ecosystems:
· The deficient classification systems contained within the NRC decommissioning guidelines define affected areas as with "contamination greater than the DCGL," whereas unaffected areas are defined as those with "contamination equal to or less than the DCGLs." This perpetuates the generic evasion of the straightforward documentation of the environmental impact of NRC licensee operations.
· In one dimensional scoping and/or site characterization surveys, as with deficient licensee environmental radiation monitoring programs, no accurate data on background radiation is available for the isotopes characterizing long-lived spent fuel which are also present from the accumulation of weapons testing fallout e.g. 137Cs, 239Pu, 90Sr.
· Implicit in NUREG-1500 and MARSSIM is the ability of NRC licensees to equal or surpass background radiation levels in effluent discharges during plant operation or decommissioning without being accountable for the documentation of these discharges.
· These deficiencies result in the failure to collect sufficient data to allow characterization of the environmental impact of nuclear power plant operations in marine and aquatic ecosystems.
· A further shortcoming in NUREG guidelines is the failure to specify that the radionuclides of most concern to the general public and of most interest for radiation protection after termination of reactor operations are the isotopes characterizing long-lived spent fuel (LLSF): 90Sr, 92Zr, 99Tc, 126Sn, 129I, 137Cs, 238Pu, 239/240Pu, 241Pu, and 241Am, as well as the long-lived isotopes contained in hot particles, CRUD and other activation and corrosion products.
· A key characteristic of these deficiencies is the failure to expand the restricted definition of pathways beyond easily measured surface contamination to include the exposures resulting from the ingestion pathway.
· Disregard of site-specific location of reactors result in failure to note that many licensed reactors such as MYAPC are located with liquid effluent diffusers in aquatic pathways, therefore requiring site-specific radiological surveillance of these pathways, including accurate 10-61 analyses.
· A result of these deficiencies is the gross failure to mandate execution of surveys of sufficient magnitude to determine the concentration of isotopes characterizing long-lived spent fuel (LLSF) in marine and aquatic environments and pathways.
· Another result of these deficiencies is the general failure to mandate surveillance programs "commensurate with the scope of licensed activities." This is exemplified by the failure to follow up the design criteria of 3 mrem/yr TEDE for reactor-derived liquid effluents with appropriate surveillance and analysis, or in the case of MYAPC the failure to document the large liquid releases of plant-derived radioactivity that now contaminate soil along the west fence line of the facility.
· A root cause of the generic deficiencies noted above is the failure to maintain a systematic routine environmental sampling program with sufficient data points to document short-lived isotopes characterizing plant operations and long-lived isotopes associated with leaky spent fuel assemblies.
· The failure to execute complete pathway analyses for all radionuclides in all pathways as the basis for site release criterion is not limited to specific facilities such as MYAPC but is a generic deficiency characteristic of surveillance at all other federal installations.
· The cumulative impact of the omissions and deficiencies in NRC radiation protection standards results in a failure to execute the historical assessment of the impact of reactor operation. The resulting lack of data exacerbates the difficulties inherent in executing a credible determination of the actual total effective dose equivalent (TEDE) which results from reactor operations and decommissioning.
· The most significant result of the failure to maintain an adequate environmental radiological monitoring database is that the NRC and the federal government lack the ability to characterize the impact of a nuclear accident originating in any location -- either onsite or offsite.
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