Meteorology and the Nuclear Industry—A Case Study of Industry/Government Cooperation

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 9:15 AM
B214 (GWCC)
Stanley Marsh, Southern Consolidated Edison, Rosemead, CA

The commercial nuclear power industry, with its very small carbon foot print, and the Federal Government nuclear reservations and national laboratories are key building blocks that are helping the nation toward its goal of energy independence. All proposed and operating nuclear facilities in the private and public sectors are required to establish, operate and maintain meteorological monitoring programs to support siting, licensing and operational programs. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which licenses and regulates commercial nuclear power plants, fuel fabrication facilities and other nuclear materials facilities, and the Department of Energy (DOE), which self-regulates a variety of Federal nuclear materials facilities, requires extensive meteorological monitoring during the entire life-cycle (i.e., design, engineering, construction, cold and hot functional testing, operation, and decommissioning). This meteorological information is used for routine radiological and chemical release consequence analyses, real-time consequence assessments of accidental releases of radiological and chemical species, and potential environmental impacts resulting from design basis accidents from new facilities or from modifications to existing facilities. In addition, the meteorological monitoring program supports environmental compliance, development of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) impact analyses, Safety Analysis Report (SAR) accident assessments, and the protection of the workforce during operations from natural phenomena hazards. The broad scope of the meteorological monitoring program includes all parameters necessary to characterize the atmospheric environment within a 10-mile radius of these nuclear facilities and beyond.

Several years ago, under the encouragement of the Nuclear Utility Meteorological Data User Group (NUMUG), a commercial nuclear industry trade group comprised of meteorology professionals joined forces with the Federal Government-sponsored DOE Meteorological Coordinating Council (DMCC) to develop urgently-needed guidance associated with meteorological monitoring programs at all public and private sector nuclear facilities, in the form of a voluntary consensus standard. The resulting national standard was developed by an American Nuclear Society (ANS) Working Group, titled, ANSI/ANS-3.11(2000), “Determining Meteorological Information at Nuclear Facilities”. This guidance was later updated to capture more modern technology and issued on December 22, 2005. This standard is presently going through a reaffirmation process since it is scheduled to sunset in late-2010.

Significant in this endeavor was the balance of interest in the ANSI/ANS-3.11 Working Group composition; which included a broad spectrum of meteorological expertise from the private sector (e.g., utilities, architect-engineers, consultants) and the Federal Government (e.g., DOE, national laboratories, EPA, NRC, NOAA). This forum enabled the working group members to pool their collective meteorological knowledge and expertise resulting in a national standard which could be supported at all stakeholders. The resulting national standard was instrumental in the development of Revision 1 to NRC Regulatory Guide 1.23, “Meteorological Monitoring Programs for Nuclear Power Plants”, its first revision in more than 35 years.

The process of working group member selection and the development of a national standard through a managed consensus process within the purview of a standards development organization represents an example of industry working with Government toward a common goal of developing an important tool that can be used to support efforts towards energy independence while protecting the environment and the health and welfare of workers and the public.