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An Overview of US EPA’s Current Radioactive Waste Management and General Radiation Protection Efforts

[+] Author Affiliations
R. Thomas Peake, Daniel Schultheisz, Loren W. Setlow, Brian Littleton, Reid Rosnick, Ken Czyscinski

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC

Paper No. ICEM2009-16104, pp. 249-253; 5 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2009-16104
From:
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • ASME 2009 12th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Volume 1
  • Liverpool, UK, October 11–15, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4407-6 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3865-X

abstract

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Radiation Protection Division is the portion of EPA (or the Agency) that develops environmental standards for radioactive waste disposal in the United States. One current issue of concern is the disposal of low activity radioactive waste (LAW), including wastes that would be produced by a radiological dispersal device (RDD), for which current disposal options may be either inconsistent with the hazard presented by the material or logistically problematic. Another major issue is related to the resurgence in uranium mining. Over the past several years, demand for uranium for nuclear power plant fuel has increased as has the price. The increase in price has made uranium mining potentially profitable in the US. EPA is reviewing its relevant regulations, developed primarily in the 1980s, for potential revisions. For example, in-situ leaching (also known as in-situ recovery) is now the technology of choice where applicable, yet our current environmental standards are focused on conventional uranium milling. EPA has two actions in process, one related to the Clean Air Act, the other related to revising the environmental standards that implement the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (UMTRCA). Separately, but related, EPA has developed over the last several years uranium mining documents that address technologically enhanced natural occurring radioactive materials (TENORM) from abandoned uranium mines, and wastes generated by active uranium extraction facilities. Lastly, in 1977 EPA developed environmental standards that address nuclear energy, fuel fabrication, reprocessing, and other aspects of the uranium fuel cycle. In light of the increased interest in nuclear power and the potential implementation of advanced fuel cycle technologies, the Agency is now reviewing the standards to determine their continued applicability for the twenty-first century.

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