• Erosion and entrainment of activated materials from pipes, valves, and pumps in the cooling system.

Effluent releases from nuclear plants are permitted under regulations promulgated by the USNRC, but they must be controlled, monitored, and reported to regulatory authorities. Appendix F describes USNRC requirements for reporting effluent releases from nuclear plants, and Appendix G describes the Radiological Effluents Technical Specifications (RETS) guidance for monitoring and reporting such releases.

Nuclear plant licensees are required to report emissions of radionuclides to the environment to the USNRC on an annual basis. Because nuclear power plants are industrial sites, plant licensees also are subject to environmental reporting requirements mandated by other federal and state regulatory agencies. These include industrial waste discharges (Clean Water Act), air emissions (Clean Air Act), chemical inventory reporting (Emergency Planning Community Right-to-Know Act), hazardous waste disposal (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), storage tank management, and spill prevention (Oil Pollution Act).

Tables 2.1 and 2.2 provide lists of the radionuclides that are typically reported in effluent releases from nuclear plants. The characteristics and quantities of typical releases are described in the following sections. The radioactive isotope carbon-14, which is not shown in the tables, is mainly produced by neutron activation of oxygen-17 in the coolant of reactors of all types. The production of carbon-14 is estimated to be about 5 Ci per gigawatt (thermal)-year (GWth -y) in boiling-water reactors (BWRs) and 4

TABLE 2.1 Common Radionuclides in Reported Airborne Effluent Releases from Nuclear Plants


Category Commonly Reported Radionuclides

Fission and activation gases Krypton (85, 85m, 87, 88)
Xenon (131, 131m, 133, 133m, 135, 135m, 138)
Argon (41)
Iodines/halogens Iodine (131, 132, 133, 134, 135)
Bromine (82)
Particulates Cobalt (58, 60)
Cesium (134, 137)
Chromium (51)
Manganese (54)
Niobium (95)
Tritium Hydrogen (3)

SOURCE: USNRC (2007), Table 2.1.


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