Decommissioning Waste Materials Containing SNM At Low Concentrations, A Risk Assessment And Analysis Of The Need for Regulatory Changes
A. J. Nardi
The decommissioning of complex sites that processed Special Nuclear Material (SNM), specifically enriched uranium, will normally involve the generation and packaging of large volumes of waste materials that requires on-site processing and possibly shipment for off-site disposal. Even at low concentrations, the total mass quantity of enriched uranium can be substantial. It is anticipated that the mass quantities of SNM involved will trigger certain regulatory requirements including physical security, nuclear criticality safety, nuclear material control and accountability. These regulations were promulgated based on the issues associated with the normal processing of pure materials but do not reflect realistic risk consideration associated with anticipated decommissioning waste streams. While the regulations provide for certain exemptions, based on the mass, enrichment or radiation level of the materials, there are no provisions to account for the low concentrations normally involved in waste materials associated with decommissioning projects. This paper presents a discussion of the anticipated waste streams and the associated contained mass of enriched uranium. A comparison is made with the regulatory requirements that would be invoked and the resulting implications for the licensee. Based on the risk associated with low concentration materials, a specific proposal is made for the changes to the regulations that would reflect the minimal risk associated with such materials. These proposed changes are consistent with the current exemption provisions provided for certain materials that are based on mass, enrichment level or radiation level associated with the SNM.
This abstract was presented at the 38th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Materials Control and Security: Risk Assessment, Handling, and Detection", Late Submissions Session, 2/13/2005 - 2/16/2005, held in New Orleans, LA.