Radiation Regulations and Laws
Congress and the president assign radiation protection responsibilities to EPA through laws (also known as statutes). Specific statutes make EPA responsible for writing regulations that explain what must be done to obey the law. Regulations are requirements that can apply to individuals, businesses, states, local governments, or other institutions. Many environmental regulations set standards that limit the amount of a hazardous material allowed in the environment. Read about how regulations are developed on EPA's Laws and Regulations web page.
Regulations for Specific Radiation Sources
Nuclear Power Operations
Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations (40 CFR Part 190)
These standards limit radiation releases and doses to the public from the normal operation (non-emergency) of nuclear power plants and other uranium fuel cycle facilities. Learn more about Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations (40 CFR Part 190).
Spent Nuclear Fuel, High Level, and Transuranic Wastes
Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Management and Disposal of Spent Fuel, High Level and Transuranic Wastes (40 CFR Part 191)
This regulation sets environmental standards for the disposal of spent nuclear fuelspent nuclear fuelFuel that has been withdrawn from a nuclear reactor after use. It is still highly radioactive., high-level wastes and transuranictransuranicElements with atomic numbers higher than uranium (92). For example, plutonium and americium are transuranics. radioactive wastes. Learn more about Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Management and Disposal of Spent Fuel, High Level and Transuranic Wastes (40 CFR Part 191).
Uranium Mill Wastes
Health and Environmental Protection Standards for Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings (40 CFR Part 192)
This regulation sets standards for the protection of the public health, safety and the environment from radiological and non-radiological hazards associated with uranium and thorium ore processing, and disposal of associated wastes. In January 2017, EPA proposed revisions to 40 CFR 192 that would establish groundwater restoration and monitoring requirements at in-situ recoveryin-situ recoveryA process to recover uranium in which fluids are injected into ground water to mobilize the uranium in underground deposits. Extraction wells then collect the groundwater, which is processed at the surface to recover the uranium. facilities. Health and Environmental Protection Standards for Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings (40 CFR Part 192).
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
Criteria for the Certification and Recertification of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s Compliance with the 40 CFR Part 191 Disposal Regulations (40 CFR 194)
These criteria apply to the certification and recertification of compliance with the radioactive waste disposal standards at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. WIPP is a deep geologic repository operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for permanent disposal of a specific type of waste from the nation's nuclear defense program. Learn more about Criteria for the Certification and Recertification of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s Compliance with the 40 CFR Part 191 Disposal Regulations (40 CFR 194).
Public Health and Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Yucca Mountain, Nevada (40 CFR Part 197)
These regulations, promulgated in 2008, establish public health and environmental standards for storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel at the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission would implement these regulations at Yucca Mountain if a repository were to be established there. Learn more about Public Health and Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Yucca Mountain, Nevada (40 CFR Part 197).
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate airborne emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from a specific list of industrial sources called "source categories." Standards known as the "National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants" (NESHAPs) dictate specific regulatory limits for source categories that emit radionuclides.
40 CFR Part 61: National Emission Standards For Hazardous Air Pollutants: Subpart
Drinking Water Standards
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), EPA sets legal limits on the levels of certain radionuclides in drinking water.