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Superfund

Radiation at Superfund Sites

This page provides EPA remedial project managers with information and guidance on the cleanup of radioactive contamination at Superfund sites, including:

  • Superfund radiation guidance and reports
  • Risk Assessment
  • Community Involvement
  • Radiation reports from non-Superfund EPA programs and offices
  • EPA's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

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Cleanup Levels and Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements (ARARs) Radiation Guidance

EPA’s recommended guidance for selecting remedies at radioactively contaminated Superfund sites. Guidance documents are grouped into three categories below. “UMTRCA” refers to the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act.

 

Overall Cleanup Levels and ARARs

EPA and the Radionuclides Team of the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) collaboratively developed the training. Modules 2 and 3 focus on CERCLA requirements and EPA's guidance for remediating radioactively contaminated sites.

This memorandum requests that EPA Regional offices consult with Headquarters on CERCLA response decisions involving on-site management of radioactive materials (e.g., capping of material in place, building disposal cells) or when there is a potential national precedent-setting issue related to a radioactive substance, pollutant or contaminant.

This memorandum provides clarifying guidance for establishing protective cleanup levels for radioactive contamination at CERCLA sites. Cleanups of radionuclides are governed by the risk range (generally 10-4 to 10-6) for all carcinogens established in the National Contingency Plan when ARARs are not available or are not sufficiently protective. Dose limits in the NRC decommissioning rule (e.g., 25/100 millirems per year) should generally not be used to establish cleanup levels under CERCLA.

This memorandum clarifies that EPA may establish preliminary remediation goals (PRGs) at levels more protective than required by ARARs, even at sites that do not involve multiple contaminants or pathways of exposure. Although this memo does not focus on radiation issues, its general policy is part of the determination in OSWER Directive 9200.4-18 that dose limits in the NRC decommissioning rule should generally not be used to establish cleanup levels under CERCLA.

This memorandum provides interim guidance to clarify EPA's role under CERCLA at facilities previously or currently licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This guidance is in response to EPA increasingly receiving requests to conduct response actions under CERCLA at previously or currently licensed facilities, or to make a determination if a past or proposed NRC decommissioning would meet CERCLA cleanup levels.

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UMTRCA Soil

This memorandum provides guidance regarding the circumstances under which the subsurface soil cleanup criteria in 40 CFR Part 192 should generally be considered an applicable or relevant and appropriate requirement (ARAR) for radium or thorium in developing a response action under CERCLA.

This memorandum provides guidance regarding the circumstances under which the "benchmark dose" criteria in Criterion 6(6) should generally be considered an ARAR in developing a response action under CERCLA for sites with radium-226, radium-228, thorium-230, thorium-232, uranium-234, and/or uranium-238 as contaminants of concern. Because of the interrelationship between the standards under 40 CFR Part 192 and those under Criterion 6(6), this memorandum should be used in conjunction with the “Use of Soil Cleanup Criteria” memorandum listed above (OSWER Directive 9200.4-25).

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Ground water

This memorandum addresses the use of uranium standards in 40 CFR Part 141 (maximum contaminant levels) and 40 CFR Part 192 (UMTRCA) when setting remediation goals for ground waters that are current or potential sources of drinking water at CERCLA sites.

This website provides links to ground water-related guidances and reports used frequently by remedial project managers. Although the documents do not focus on radioactive contaminants, decision-makers at sites with radioactively contaminated groundwater should find them useful. This is because at CERCLA sites, EPA addresses radiological contaminants in a manner consistent with non-radiological (chemical) contaminants, except to account for the technical differences between radionuclides and chemicals.

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Superfund Risk Assessment Radiation Guidance

This page provides EPA remedial project managers with recommended Agency guidance, models and training resources for conducting risk assessments or developing risk-based cleanup concentrations at radioactively contaminated Superfund sites.


Risk Assessment Documents

This fact sheet provides an overview of current EPA guidance for risk assessment and related topics for radioactively contaminated CERCLA sites. It provides answers to several commonly asked questions regarding risk assessments at radioactively contaminated CERCLA sites. It also provides further guidance that dose assessments should only be conducted under CERCLA where necessary to demonstrate ARAR compliance, and that dose-based ARARs should be 12 millirems per year or less to be considered protective. In addition, it provides guidance on how to comply with indoor radon standards. This fact sheet supersedes an earlier Q&A from December 1999 (PDF)(23 pp, 2.1 MB).

These guidance documents provide information on soil screening for radionuclides when setting remediation goals at CERCLA sites with radioactive contamination. The "Soil Screening Guidance for Radionuclides: User's Guide" presents standardized exposure parameters and equations for calculating radionuclide PRGs for residential land use exposures. An electronic version of these risk assessment and unsaturated zone equations have been superceded by the Radionuclide Preliminary Remediation Goals for Superfund electronic calculator (see above).

This chapter of RAGS Part A covers data collection and evaluation, exposure and dose assessment, toxicity assessment, and risk characterization for sites contaminated with radioactive substances. Some of the guidance in the chapter has been updated in more recent OSWER directives (e.g., 9200.4-18 and 9200.4-31P) listed above.

This chapter of RAGS Part B presents standardized exposure parameters and equations that should be used for calculating radionuclide PRGs for residential and commercial/industrial land use exposures. The guidance in this chapter for PRGs has been updated in more recent OSWER directives (e.g., 9355.01-83A) and by the Radionuclide Preliminary Remediation Goals for Superfund electronic calculator.

This appendix to RAGS Part C provides guidance on using risk information to evaluate and select remediation technologies for sites with radioactive substances.

This chapter provides guidance on the potential applicability or relevance and appropriateness of standards for management of mill tailings and on other radiation standards that may be used as ARARs for CERCLA actions. Some of the guidance in this chapter has been updated in more recent OSWER directives (e.g., 9200.4-18, 9200.4-25 and 9200.4-31P) listed above.

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Risk Assessment Models

This electronic calculator provides information on establishing PRGs for radionuclides at CERCLA sites with radioactive contamination. The Radionuclide Preliminary Remediation Goals for Superfund electronic calculator presents standardized exposure parameters and equations that should generally be used for calculating radionuclide PRGs for residential, commercial/industrial and agricultural land use exposures, tap water and fish ingestion exposures, and migration of radionuclides through the unsaturated zone. For relevant training, see Radiation Risk Assessment – Radiation Risk Assessment: Updates and Tools.

This electronic calculator provides information on establishing preliminary remediation goals for radionuclides in buildings (BPRGs) at CERCLA sites with radioactive contamination. The  calculator presents standardized exposure parameters and equations that should generally be used for calculating radionuclide BPRGs for buildings with a residential or a commercial/industrial use. For relevant training, see the online course Decontamination and Decommissioning of Radiologically-Contaminated Facilities.

This electronic calculator provides information on establishing preliminary remediation goals for radionuclides in outside hard surfaces (SPRGs) at CERCLA sites with radioactive contamination. The calculator presents standardized exposure parameters and equations that should generally be used for calculating radionuclide SPRGs for outside hard surfaces (e.g., building slabs, outside building walls, sidewalks and roads) with a residential or a commercial/industrial use. For relevant training, see the online course Decontamination and Decommissioning of Radiologically-Contaminated Facilities.

This electronic calculator provides information on establishing ARAR dose compliance concentrations (DCCs) for radionuclides at CERCLA sites with radioactive contamination. The calculator presents standardized exposure parameters and equations for use in calculating radionuclide DCCs for residential, commercial/industrial and agricultural land use exposures as well as tap water and fish ingestion exposures. For relevant training, see Radiation Risk Assessment – Radiation Risk Assessment: Updates and Tools.

This electronic calculator provides information on establishing ARAR dose compliance concentrations for radionuclides in buildings (BDCCs) at CERCLA sites with radioactive contamination. The calculator presents standardized exposure parameters and equations that should generally be used for calculating radionuclide BDCCs for outside hard surfaces (e.g., building slabs, outside building walls, sidewalks and roads) with a residential or a commercial/industrial use. For relevant training, see the online course Decontamination and Decommissioning of Radiologically-Contaminated Facilities.

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Risk Assessment Training

US EPA Superfund Radiation Risk Assessment Calculator Training (PDF)(388 pp, 13 MB): background resource document for a classroom training from June 2016 (Revised July 15, 2016). Note: this training is not a guidance.

EPA and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) collaboratively developed this training. The background material for the full one day classroom course are posted above on this website. This training is a full-day advanced course that focuses on specific technical and regulatory issues that site managers and technical staff address when managing sites under the US Environmental Protection Agencies Superfund remediation program that have a risk assessment conducted for radioactive contaminants. These tools can facilitate better decision making for accelerated cleanups.  The instructional methodology for this course includes lectures and demonstrations of using EPA risk and dose assessment calculators developed by the Superfund remedial program. The target audience for this course is site managers, risk assessors and others that want to obtain a working knowledge on conducting Superfund radiation risk assessments.

Outline of Training

  1. How Radiation Fits in Superfund
  2. Radiation Risk Assessment
  3. Radiation Risk Assessment Video and Community Toolkit
  4. PRG Calculator
  5. DCC Calculator
  6. RSL Calculator
  7. BPRG and BDCC Calculators
  8. SPRG and SDCC Calculators
  9. Differences between EPA and DOE Tools
  10. BCG Calculator
  11. CPM Calculator
  12. SADA

EPA and the Radionuclides Team of the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) collaboratively developed this training. This training clarifies the variations between the dose approach used at some sites and EPA's risk-based approach. Modules 3 and 4 focus on EPA's radiation assessment tools for Superfund sites – Radionuclide Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) for Superfund and the Radionuclide ARAR Dose Compliance Concentration (DCCs) for Superfund electronic calculator (see above). These tools can facilitate better decision making for accelerated cleanups.

EPA and the Radionuclides Team of the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) collaboratively developed this training. Module 3 focuses on EPA's radiation assessment tool for decontamination and decommissioning activities at Superfund sites, the Preliminary Remediation Goals for Radionuclides in Buildings (BPRG) electronic calculator (see above). The tool can facilitate better decision making for accelerated cleanups.

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Community Involvement Resources for Radioactively Contaminated Superfund Sites

Community involvement fact sheets and videos for use at radioactively contaminated Superfund sites are listed below:


Superfund Risk Assessment Process for Radioactive Contamination Video

The video describes the Superfund risk assessment process for radioactive contamination – what it is, how it works and how members of the public can get involved.


Superfund Radiation Risk Assessment: A Community Toolkit

The following fact sheets were developed by the EPA to help the general public understand more about the risk assessment process that may be used at Superfund sites to assess and address radioactive contamination.

These two fact sheets are a part of the EPA booklet, Superfund Radiation Risk Assessment: A Community Toolkit (PDF)(60 pp, 3.66 MB). This booklet was distributed through a transmittal memo entitled Distribution of OSWER Superfund Radiation Risk Assessment: A Community Toolkit (PDF)(2 pp, 393 K)

Additional fact sheets that are included in Attachment A and B of the booklet can be found in the areas below:

EPA Policies and Tools for Enhancing Community Involvement at CERCLA Sites

The EPA applies the term community involvement to its commitment to early and meaningful community participation during Superfund cleanup. The foundation of Superfund's community involvement program is the belief that members of the public affected by a Superfund site have a right to know what the Agency is doing in their community and to have a say in the decision-making process.

Assistance in answering questions concerning Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) and remediation enforcement is available through the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA).

This area contains additional information on frequently used EPA resources for community involvement at Superfund sites. Although the information does not focus on radioactive contaminants, community involvement coordinators at CERCLA sites with radioactive contamination should find them useful. At CERCLA sites, the process EPA uses to addresses radiological contaminants is the same as the process used to address non-radiological (chemical) contaminants.

Community Education and Participation

Addresses the Community Involvement Processes organized around Superfund site cleanups. A variety of topics are covered including: a layperson description of the Superfund process, definitions of Superfund acronyms, and investigations of the various public groups and grants that help those communities that are dealing with a Superfund Site. Informational hotline numbers along with links for kids and teachers are provided.

EPA Guidance and Policy for Community Involvement

Presents legal and policy requirements for Superfund community involvement and additional suggestions for involving the community in the Superfund process. The suggestions are intended to enact EPA's commitment to providing the public with every opportunity to become meaningfully involved throughout the process. The Community Involvement Handbook provides guidance to EPA staff on how EPA typically plans and implements community involvement activities at Superfund sites. This guidance document is intended to help promote consistent implementation of community involvement regulations, policies and practices. The Superfund Community Involvement Toolkit provides Superfund Regional site teams, community involvement staff, and others with a practical easy-to-use aid for designing and enhancing community involvement activities.

Publishing public notices is one of the methods the Superfund Community Involvement program uses to announce public events and to inform communities about cleanup activities at Superfund sites. This fact sheet offers suggestions to improve EPA's efforts to produce easily understood public notices.
EPA 540/K-97/001, OSWER 9378.0-8FS, NTIS:PB97-963202

This memo builds on the 1991 memo (OSWER 9230.0-18) to encourage more substantive involvement of communities starting at the onset of cleanup. It details six practices to follow during Superfund responses. [5 pp]
OSWER 9230.0-99

Focuses on how to effectively assess and integrate the community's interests into the Superfund remedy selection process.
OSWER 9230.0-18

Serves as a guide to CERCLA and assists EPA and State personnel involved with hazardous waste remediation and emergency response. Section ten provides an overview of the requirements of public awareness and participation relating to Superfund activity.
EPA 542/R-92/005, NTIS: PB93-193852INZ

Superceded Documents

"RCRA, Superfund and EPCRA Hotline Training Module. Introduction to - Superfund Community Involvement" (June 1997) EPA/540/R-98/027, OSWER-9205.5-12

Superseded by:

"RCRA, Superfund and EPCRA Hotline Training Module. Introduction to - Superfund Community Involvement" (June 1998 - Updated February 1998)
EPA/540/R-98/027, OSWER-9205.5-12A

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Related Radiation Guidance from non-Superfund EPA Programs and Offices

Radiation documents from EPA programs and offices other than the Superfund program that may be useful for Superfund remedial project managers are grouped into four categories on this page:


Remediation Technologies

This guide identifies surface decontamination technologies that remove radiation contaminants from building, structure and equipment surfaces. Technology profiles provide information on chemical and physical contamination technologies, including target contaminants, waste management issues, operating characteristics and associated cost. The information presented in this guide enables comparison of the technologies for site-specific use.

This guide references technologies that treat radioactive contamination in liquid media, including ground water, surface water and wastewater, as well as solid media, including soil, sediment and solid waste. Technology profiles provide information on each of 21 applied technologies, enabling comparisons for site-specific use. The guide also profiles five emerging technologies.

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Ground water

This guide helps state regulators, technical assistance providers and field staff address radionuclide residual disposal by outlining options to address elevated radionuclide levels in community water systems. It covers best available technologies (BATs), small system compliance technologies (SSCTs), byproducts of these technologies, waste disposal options and considerations, and federal statutes and regulations governing waste disposal.

This report provides a detailed technical analysis of five unsaturated zone fate and transport models for radionuclides. It supports the information provided in Part 3 - Unsaturated Zone Models for Radionuclide Fate and Transport (PDF) (25 pp, 383 K) of the Soil Guidance for Radionuclides: Technical Background Document on determining the general applicability of the models to subsurface conditions, and an assessment of each model's potential applicability to the soil screening process.

This report describes a long-term field demonstration project at the Fry Canyon site in southeastern Utah to assess the performance of permeable reactive barriers for the removal of uranium from groundwater.

This three-volume report describes the conceptualization, measurement and use of the partition (or distribution) coefficient Kd parameter. It also discusses the geochemical aqueous solution and sorbent properties that are most important in controlling adsorption/retardation behavior of selected contaminants.

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Surveys and Sampling

This document provides guidance to site managers and their contractors managing the cleanup of areas contaminated with radioactive materials. It includes an overview of methodologies for the identification and quantification of radionuclides likely to be present in soil and water at cleanup sites. The goal is to help project managers understand key concepts, requirements and practices of radioanalytical laboratory analyses of environmental samples.

This manual provides information on planning, conducting, evaluating and documenting environmental radiological surveys of surface soil and building surfaces for demonstrating compliance with regulations. The manual was a collaborative effort by several agencies.

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Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM)

  • See "Potential for Radiation Contamination Associated With Mineral and Resource Extraction Industries" on the TENORM Resources page.
    April 2003.

This guidance provides a listing of the various types of mineral and other sites that might have associated technically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM).

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Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

EPA and the NRC developed this MOU to identify the interactions of the two agencies for only the decommissioning and decontamination of NRC-licensed sites and the ways in which those responsibilities will be exercised. Except for Section VI, which addresses corrective action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), this MOU is limited to the coordination between EPA, when acting under its Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) authority, and NRC, when a facility licensed by the NRC is undergoing decommissioning, or when a facility has completed decommissioning, and the NRC has terminated its license. EPA believes that implementation of the MOU between the two agencies will ensure that future confusion about dual regulation does not occur regarding the cleanup and reuse of NRC-licensed sites.

Memorandum of Understanding between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Consultation and Finality on Decommissioning and Decontamination of Contaminated Sites(8 pp, 106KB) OSWER 9295.8-06, signed by EPA on September 30, 2002, and the NRC on October 9, 2002. Distributed through the transmittal memo Distribution of Memorandum of Understanding between EPA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (10 pp, 137KB).  Letters between EPA and NRC concerning site-specific consultation under the MOU are available below.

EPA and the NRC developed this MOU to identify agency responsibilities for the decommissioning and decontamination of NRC-licensed sites. Except for Section VI, which addresses corrective action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the MOU focuses on the coordination between EPA when acting under its CERCLA authority and the NRC when a facility licensed by the NRC is undergoing decommissioning, or when a facility has completed decommissioning, and the NRC has terminated its license. The goal of the MOU is to make sure there is no future confusion about dual regulation regarding the cleanup and reuse of NRC-licensed sites.

The transmittal memo includes guidance to EPA Regions to facilitate Regional compliance with the MOU and to clarify that the MOU does not affect CERCLA actions that do not involve the NRC (i.e., the MOU does not establish cleanup levels for CERCLA sites).

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