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Discharges of Radioactive Material to the Environment

Staff conducting a radiationg survey
DEC staff conducting a
radiation survey.

The DEC Division of Environmental Remediation regulates radioactive discharges to the environment under the Rules and regulations for Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Radioactive Materials, 6 NYCRR Part 380. Part 380 requires parties who discharge radioactive material to keep records of the radioactive material discharged and to maintain those discharges as low as reasonably achievable. The regulations set radiation dose limits and emission levels above which a party must obtain a radiation control permit from DEC. Permittees include industrial, research, medical, radiopharmaceutical, and wastewater treatment facilities. Staff perform regular, unannounced inspections of all Part 380 permittees.

The Department is planning to amend the Part 380 regulations. A preliminary draft of the proposed amendment is available for review. Public comments on the preliminary draft closed January 15, 2010.

Site Investigation and remediation

photo of a staff doing radiation measurements and sending data to a computer
Equipment on the
backpack measures
radiation and sends the
values and location on
the site to a computer.
The results can then be
displayed while the
survey is in progress.

DEC monitors the remediation of sites contaminated with radioactive material in accordance with Cleanup Guideline for Soils Contaminated with Radioactive Materials, DER-38. Among these sites are those contaminated during the Manhattan Project, Department of Defense sites undergoing facility closure, United States Department of Energy sites such as Brookhaven National Laboratory, and inactive hazardous waste sites. DEC reviews proposed remediation plans, monitors the remediation work, and performs independent sampling and radiation surveys.

Radiation Monitoring of Non-Radioactive Waste

Staff in the radiation program work with DEC's solid waste, hazardous waste, and regulated medical waste (RMW) programs to prevent the unauthorized disposal of regulated radioactive material at RMW treatment facilities, resource recovery facilities, landfills, and steel smelters. DEC staff work with these facilities to promote the use of effective radiation monitoring where needed and appropriately respond when radioactive material is detected at the facilities.

Transportation and Disposal of Low-Level Radioactive Waste

DEC's regulations, Low-Level Radioactive Waste Transporter, 6 NYCRR Part 381, require transporters of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) to obtain a permit and submit LLRW manifests. DEC administers this permitting and manifest tracking system. DEC also handles all new permits or modifications to permits as well as LLRW manifests. A New York State report is issued annually (see Right Column Important Links for LLRW reports available). Under the State LLRW Management Act of 1986, DEC was charged with permitting and regulating LLRW disposal facilities. 6 NYCRR Part 382 contains requirements for site and method selection. 6 NYCRR Part 383 applies to facility design, construction, operation, closure, post-closure, and institutional control. These regulations include requirements for financial assurance, site monitoring, and emergency response planning. Currently, there are no LLRW disposal facilities operating in New York State.

West Valley State-Licensed Disposal Area

DEC regulates the State-licensed disposal area (SDA) at West Valley, Cattaraugus County under a Part 380 permit. Maintained by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the SDA consists of 15 acres in which radioactive waste had been buried in the 60's and 70's. The SDA is no longer authorized to receive LLRW. DEC staff inspect the site regularly to ensure that it is being properly maintained, pending final site closure.

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