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RE: Radioactivity in Sewage Sludge



An attorney representing a licensee potentially responsible for the elevated
concentrations of radioactive materials in sewage sludge/ash present at a
POTW in Ohio, discussed his legal opinions concerning the Santa Fe and
Albuquerque cases at a Fuel Cycle Facility Forum meeting in late 1997.  He
questioned the legality of local ordinances restricting effluent discharges
to sewers.  At issue was whether a local ordinance, intended to protect
workers from radiation exposures, was authorized/legal by government
agencies other than the NRC or Agreement States (Section 274 of the Atomic
Energy Act).  To my understanding, the EPA is authorized to regulate public
radiation exposures under CERCLA, CWA and CAA.  However, POTWs are allowed
only to establish pretreatment requirements to ensure that treatment
equipment is not rendered inoperable (as pass through) or that their
discharges are compliant with a NPDES permit under the CWA.  Can anyone
clarify the legal basis authorizing local governments to restrict discharges
to sewers other than the EPA/NRC? 

I think this issues extends beyond possible future restrictions of
discharges to sewers. Licensees may now or in the future be liable (as
pseudo PRPs for lack of a better term) for radioactive material discharges
that are present in sludge/ash at concentrations above prescribed threshold
that may be determined after the national survey is completed.

I donít intend to be an alarmist, but as I recall, I saw a handout presented
at an ISCOR meeting, where a dose standard of 4 mrem/y (equivalent to the
drinking water MCL for beta-gamma emitters) was suggested as appropriate for
limiting  the concentration of radionuclides present in sewage sludge and
ash.  I would be curious to see the corresponding permissible concentrations
derived using the NRCís DandD pathway analysis model and currently used
conservative input parameters for the resident farmer land use scenario,
especially for some of the long-lived alpha emitters.

Scott Kirk, MS, CHP
jskirk@excite.com




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