Answer to Question #11168 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Power, Devices, and Accidents — Nuclear Power

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Q

We are considering relocation and the development we are looking at is located about 6 kilometers (km) northeast of a nuclear power plant. What safety concerns should we be aware of? I believe the plant has nuclear waste ponds on site. What concern should we have with these?

A

As someone who has worked inside nuclear power plants, I can say that the plant workers have the front-row seats in this industry. If the plants are safe for the workers—and I believe they are—they are safe for the neighbors. Any safety concern I would have relates to radioactive releases from the plant. Routine releases are limited to a small percentage of natural radioactivity in the environment. This comes from naturally radioactive minerals in the soil and other sources. Accidental releases can be a concern, but fortunately they are rare (in the United States) and have never been large enough to cause harm.

Regarding nuclear waste ponds, these are not permitted in the United States. You may be thinking of storage of used nuclear fuel, which is in the form of solid uranium rods. You might ask the operator of the plant about these.

I hope this allays your concerns. If you have other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Joel I. Cehn, CHP

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 13 February 2015. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.