Public Doses Resulting from Nuclear Power Plant Emissions

J.T. Harris (Purdue University)

Commercial nuclear power plants release gaseous and liquid radiological effluents into the environment as a byproduct of electrical generation. These releases are monitored by federal agencies to ensure compliance of regulatory limits. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offer guidance and make recommendations for domestic power plants effluent operations. Although these federal agencies track effluent releases, they do not currently compile or analyze the entire industry data. Because of this, international organizations, like the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), have not had a reliable source of U.S. effluent data for the last several years. These organizations require the data for evaluating trends and determining population dose. Individual nuclear power plants also require data for benchmarking operations and work management. In 1997, the North American Technical Center (NATC) began compiling and analyzing the U.S. nuclear power plant effluent release data. The purpose of this paper is to present the public doses resulting from nuclear power plants in the US over the past 8 years. The UNSCEAR population dose methodology was used in figuring the doses. Although the effluent doses are well below regulatory limits, their calculation is necessary to insure compliance and public inspection. The collection of radiological effluent data has sparked new interest and debate about reporting and studying nuclear power plant discharges. Evaluating effluent data will also become more important as plants extend their operating licenses, perform reactor power up-rates, or begin new power plant siting.

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