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Bulk Survey For Release

View the Final Licensing Requirements for BSFR Processors.

Tennessee’s Bulk Survey for Release (BSFR) program was developed in order to have a standardized process to analyze materials with extremely low levels of radioactive contamination for disposal in specified Class I landfills. These levels of contamination, while detectable with modern equipment, pose no hazard to human health or the environment by being disposed of in this manner.

Examples of materials analyzed under the program are bulk materials such as building rubble, metals, soils, asphalt, paper, plastics and wood. Tennessee is unique in that it has more waste processors than other states due to the role played by the Oak Ridge Reservation in the development of atomic energy plus our proximal and historical relationship to the licensed, low-level radioactive waste disposal site at Barnwell, South Carolina. However, Tennessee is not the only state that allows very low-level radioactive material to be disposed of in modern landfills.

Materials that are candidates for the BSFR program are of such low levels other states generally would exempt them from further regulation as a radioactive material and allow their unrestricted disposal. In contrast, Tennessee has developed a regulatory framework for it. Bulk Survey for Release (BSFR) is a term for a licensed process that has been approved by the Department of Environment and Conservation to allow the disposal of materials with extremely low levels of radioactive contamination at four different Class I landfills in Tennessee. Four licensees in Tennessee are currently authorized to conduct the BSFR program: IMPACt, Studsvik-RACE, Toxco and Duratek/Energy Solutions.

The Division of Radiological Health staff conducts regular inspections of licensed processors in order to review their operation for compliance with all standards, regulations and required conditions. Nuclear power plants and other industrial, academic and medical sites that utilize very low-level radioactive materials may send their waste to one of the four licensees for processing. Before going to the licensee’s facility for required sampling and analysis, these materials are evaluated at the generator’s site to ensure the material does not exceed predetermined limits set by the BSFR program. Upon receiving these materials from the generator, the licensed processor will also sample, measure and evaluate the material to make sure it meets BSFR criteria prior to being disposed of as part of this program. Furthermore, materials processed at a licensee’s facility still have to pass through detection monitors before disposal at an authorized landfill site.

There are four Class I landfills in Tennessee authorized to receive wastes under the BSFR program: Chestnut Ridge landfill facility in Heiskell (Anderson County), North Shelby County, South Shelby County, and Carter Valley in Hawkins County. The criteria for accepting material under the BSFR program are extremely conservative. BSFR waste cannot contribute more than five percent of the total landfill waste, and it cannot contribute a dose of more than one millirem per year to any member of the public. To put that in perspective, the public is exposed to approximately 300 millirems per year in Tennessee from naturally occurring radiation in the environment. Any material that does not meet the strict requirements of Tennessee’s BSFR program would need to be disposed of in a licensed radioactive waste facility.

There are three such commercial facilities in the United States. By allowing waste that does not pose any significant risk to be disposed of under the BSFR program, space in the limited number of radioactive waste facilities can be conserved for the material that truly requires that type of disposal.

It’s important to understand that naturally occurring radioactivity is found in nature and materials all around us, thus very low-level radioactive material is disposed of everywhere, all the time.

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Findings/Recommendations

Findings and Recommendations of The Tennessee Municipal Solid Waste Advisory Committee; August 20, 2007
2008 Solid Waste Management Response to BSFR Recommendations
2008 Radiological Health Response to BSFR Recommendations
2008 Radiological Health - Roles of Staff

BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed

BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed 2013
BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed 2012
BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed 2011
BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed 2010
BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed 2009
BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed 2008
BSFR Waste Volumes Disposed 2007

Meeting Transcripts

July 17, 2007 Meeting
July 24, 2007 Meeting

August 16, 2007 SWAC BSFR Meeting

PDF: Handouts to the 8/16/07 Solid Waste Advisory Board
PDF: Written Public Comments to Solid Waste Advisory Board (55.4 MB)
PDF: TDEC's responses to comments from the public as requested by the Solid Waste Advisory Board

July 5, 2007 SWAC BSFR Meeting

PPT: Roger Fenner's July 5 Presentation to Solid Waste Advisory Committee
PPT: Glen Pugh's July 5 Presentation to Solid Waste Advisory Committee
PDF: Prepared Remarks by Lawrence E. Nanney, Director Division of Radiological Health to SWAC
PDF: Handouts given at July 5 SWAC BSFR meeting

Helpful Information

Memo from TDEC Division of Radiological Health, Director Lawrence E. Nanny
Letter from EPA, Regional Administrator J. Palmer to Bart Gordon (including enclosed Response to Bart Gordon Questions)
Letter from Gerald Webb, VP, Studsvik, Inc. to Mike Apple
Legislation addressing SWAC to review the BSFR

External Links

EPA Radiation Protection
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Radiation Information Network
Health Physics Society
Code of Federal Regulations
Conference of Radiation Program Control Directors
Health Physics Society – University of Michigan
Health Physics Resources - Oak Ridge Associated Universities