How clean is coal : coal power plant ash pond regulations compared to nuclear reactor decommissioning standards Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/qb98mh54z

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  • Coal power is the prominent source of energy in the United States (U.S.) and around the world. The byproducts of coal power contain many of the same radioactive nuclides that are found in the local environment just in higher concentrations. With so much of this ash being stockpiled, the amount of radioactive material in one location can be staggering. Currently, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations covering disposal of coal ash are focused on protection of the environment and the general public from the risks associated with heavy metals like mercury and arsenic, but not specifically for radionuclides. However, in the case of decommissioning of nuclear power facilities, both the EPA and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations for environmental protection are quite stringent. Comparisons of the risk basis for the regulatory oversight of residual radiation from the two different sources of power are needed to bring the radiation levels into context. Utilizing the software package RESRAD simulations of the annual radiation dose were made to hypothetical members of the general public residing in an area contaminated by the coal ash residue from two coal-fired power facilities. The first is the Kingston facility operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the second is Portland General Electric's (PGE, Boardman coal-fired plant. The methodology used in this assessment is the state of practice followed by the nuclear power industry as it decommissions its facilities. Radionuclide collected and made publically available from the TVA Kingston spill was used along with soil data from the USDA for the two locations. The coal ash quantities, quality, and type were obtained from data TVA and applied to the PGE site. Results from the simulation suggested elevated radiation levels to occupants residing on either site. At the TVA Kingston site, the maximum radiation dose was more than 100 mrem/y or 4 times greater than what would acceptable from a nuclear facility and over the EPA radiation to the general public levels of 100 mrem/y. The maximum dose projected for the PGE site was more than 200 mrem/y. The difference between the two sites was due to soil and environmental erosion coefficients.
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