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Suggested Citation:"Potential Sources of Radioactive Wastes." National Research Council. 1959. Considerations on the Disposal of Radioactive Wastes From Nuclear-Powered Ships Into the Marine Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18744.
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Suggested Citation:"Potential Sources of Radioactive Wastes." National Research Council. 1959. Considerations on the Disposal of Radioactive Wastes From Nuclear-Powered Ships Into the Marine Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18744.
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given in Title 10, Chapter 1, Part 20, Code of Federal Regulations, Re- vised 1959 (proposed). POTENTIAL SOURCES OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES Of all the unwanted radioactive byproducts, or wastes, produced in the operation of a nuclear reactor, the fission products comprise the bulk. Under present and contemplated design, these fission products would be contained largely in the spent fuel elements. Additional wastes result from the induced activity of corrosion products in the primary coolant, together with small amounts of fission products which may be transferred to the primary coolant as a result of minor failures in the cladding of the fuel elements. The amount of radioactive materials in the primary coolant is maintained at relatively low levels by use of a bypass purification system resulting in the accumulation on ion exchange resins of corrosion product activity, and a considerably smaller amount of fission product activity. The greater part of the fission products is removed from the ship in the spent fuel elements at the time of refueling. The possible ultimate fate of such high level wastes is beyond the scope of this re- port. It is, however, our basic assumption that these high level wastes do not enter the marine environment through normal operation of a nuclear-powered ship. Only in the case of a highly improbable maxi- mum credible accident could any portion of these materials enter the marine environment. The potential sources of radioactive wastes which might be dis- charged to the marine environment from nuclear-powered ships are, then: (a) the expansion volume of primary coolant during warm-up of a pressurized water reactor; (b) operational leakage from various com- ponents of the primary and auxiliary systems, and wastes from the lab- oratory, from sampling, from equipment decontamination, and shower and laundry wastes associated with the reactor plant; (c) ion exchange resins which remove corrosion products from the primary coolant; and (d) contaminated solid materials. AMOUNT AND COMPOSITION OF WASTES The amount and composition of radioactive wastes cannot be pre- dicted accurately for all potential marine reactors. In order to have some reasonable basis for evaluation, data for the proposed N.S. SAVANNAH, obtained from the report of the Maritime Administration entitled "Waste Disposal Considerations in the Nuclear-Powered Merchant Ship Program" (January, 1959), have been employed as rep- resentative of the composition and amount of "typical" potential radio- active wastes from a nuclear-powered merchant ship. In addition, actual operating data from the nuclear-powered sub- marine NAUTILUS have been made available in the report "Radioactive Waste Disposal from U. S. Naval Nuclear-Powered Ships" (January, 1959) presented for inclusion in the record of the public hearings on

with conventional hull and machinery inspection and maintenance schedules. Liquid wastes associated with refueling will generally in- clude drainage from the primary system, together with effluents from decontamination of reactor components and fuel handling facilities. As additional experience is obtained in the operation of both land- based and shipboard reactor systems, changes will undoubtedly be made in design criteria, selection of materials, and other factors influencing the character and volume of wastes. Other types of reactors will un- doubtedly be used in some future nuclear-powered ship designs. Thus there are now in progress several feasibility studies of the use of or- ganic-moderated and gas-cooled nuclear reactors. The character and amount of wastes which might be introduced to the marine environment from such future designs cannot be stated accurately now. It is believed that these general conclusions can be utilized in formulating design criteria and operating doctrine, with respect to waste disposal into the marine environment, for such future types of marine reactors. The specific considerations presented here are primarily directed towards the presently planned water-cooled marine reactors. DEFINITION OF THE TERM "WASTES" In the normal operation of a nuclear-powered ship, as with any conventionally powered ship, liquid effluent will originate from a num- ber of sources. Thus considerable quantities of sea water are circu- lated through the steam condenser, and discharged back to the marine environment. Sanitary wastes and water used to wash down the decks and for similar normal operating purposes are usually discharged over- board. These liquid effluents would not normally contain any radioac- tivity resulting from the operation of the nuclear power plant, though it is conceivable that some human or mechanical failure could alter this. It therefore is desirable, from a practical standpoint, to state some criteria serving to clarify, within the scope of this report, whether a particular effluent could be considered as a radioactive waste or not. For this purpose the following working definition is proposed: A liquid effluent shall be classed as a radioactive waste if the activity of the undiluted effluent exceeds the mpc values for drinking water for the general public as given in Title 10, Chapter 1, Part 20, Code of Federal Regulations, Revised 1959 (proposed). Solid materials such as trash and.garbage are normally dis- charged overboard from ships at sea. S\ich material would not be ex- pected to have any activity originating from the operation of the nuclear power plant. In order to cover any eventuality, this working panel sug- gests that: Solid materials discharged to the ocean shall be classed as radio- active wastes if the total activity of any whole solid segment exceeds the total activity which would be contained by an equal volume of water having mpc values for drinking water for the occupational worker as

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