Regulatory experience in applying a radiological environmental protection framework for existing and planned nuclear facilities

Abstract of the journal article published in Annals of the ICRP
August 22, 2012

S. Mihok, P. Thompson
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission


Frameworks and methods for the radiological protection of non-human biota have been evolving rapidly at the International Commission on Radiological Protection and through various European initiatives. The International Atomic Energy Agency has incorporated a requirement for environmental protection in the latest revision of its Basic Safety Standards.

In Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has been legally obligated to prevent unreasonable risk to the environment since 2000. Licensees have therefore been meeting generic legal requirements to demonstrate adequate control of releases of radioactive substances for the protection of both people and biota for many years.

In the USA, in addition to the generic requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy facilities have also had to comply with specific dose limits after a standard assessment methodology was finalized in 2002. Canadian regulators developed a similar framework for biota dose assessment through a regulatory assessment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in the late 1990s. Since then, this framework has been applied extensively to satisfy legal requirements under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. After approximately a decade of experience in applying these methods, it is clear that simple methods are fit for purpose and can be used for making regulatory decisions for existing and planned nuclear facilities.

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