Public Health Analysis Resulting From Nuclear Power Plant Radiological Emissions

Jason Harris
Purdue University, School of Health Sciences
North American Technical Center, Public Radiation Safety Research Program


Abstract- Although it is known that commercial nuclear power plants release small amounts of radioactivity into the environment, there is still the potential for these releases to impact public health.  This is especially important today as changes are occurring in nuclear power plant operations including: higher electric generating capacities, increased power levels then originally designed, and 20 year plant life extensions.  Public health effects must be reexamined as new light water reactor designs are being considered for construction.  Providing dose information is also important for public inspection and acceptance of nuclear power.

The assessment of the public impact of commercial nuclear power plant (NPP) radiological emissions encompassed three goals.   First, a "closed loop" study of all nuclear power plant radiological releases in the United States (US) over the past 10 years was performed.  Second, a model was developed to predict the radiation doses to the public based on various plant parameters.  Third, current nuclear power plant radiological environmental monitoring programs (REMP) were evaluated to assess their adequacy for the next generation of nuclear reactors.  The purpose of this presentation is to discuss and present initial findings related to these research areas.  The author will also summarize relevant research activities performed by the North American Technical Center (NATC), Public Radiation Safety Research Program.