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Radiation Protection

Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and Transuranic Radioactive Wastes (40 CFR Part 191)

Rule Summary

This regulation sets environmental standards for public protection from the management and disposal of spent nuclear fuelHelpspent nuclear fuelFuel that has been withdrawn from a nuclear reactor after use. It is still highly radioactive., high-level radioactive wastesHelphigh-level radioactive wasteHighly radioactive materials produced as a byproduct inside nuclear reactors. Other highly radioactive materials can be designated as high-level waste, if they require permanent isolation. and wastes that contain elements with atomic numbers higher than uranium (transuranicHelptransuranicElements with atomic numbers higher than uranium (92). For example, plutonium and americium are transuranics. wastes). The standards apply to the management and storage of these materials at any facility regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or its Agreement States that is not subject to 40 CFR Part 190. They also apply to the management and storage of these materials at facilities operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and not regulated by NRC or its Agreement States (with the exception of the proposed Yucca Mountain facility).

Subpart A limits the radiation exposure of members of the public from the management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste prior to its disposal. 

Subpart B sets containment requirements for disposal systems, which limit the amount of radioactivityHelpradioactivityThe emission of ionizing radiation released by a source in a given time period. The units used to measure radioactivity are curie (Ci) and becquerel (Bq). that may enter the environment for 10,000 years after facility closure. Subpart B also sets individual protection requirements which limit the amount of radiation to which an individual can be exposed from an undisturbed repository. 

Subpart C includes ground water protection requirements that for 10,000 years after waste disposal, contamination in off-site underground sources of drinking water will not exceed the maximum contaminant level for radionuclides established by the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Rule History

EPA originally promulgated these standards in 1985. The final rule was reissued in 1993 with updated individual  and groundwater protection requirements. The complete rule history is described in the Preamble to the final rule published in the Federal Register on December 20, 1993. View the full text of the final rule.