Some 80 acres of land at the site of the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant near Herald, California can be released for unrestricted public use, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ruled.

In June, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) asked the NRC to release a portion of the land at Rancho Seco from its site license (10 CFR Part 50 license DPR-54). The NRC informed the utility that it has approved the release of the land in a letter, dated 25 September.

The contamination level of the land falls below NRC regulatory requirements that allow a maximum radiation dose of 25 millirem per year from residual contamination.

(The average person in the United States receives about 300 millirem a year from background, or natural, radiation.)

Rancho Seco’s NRC licenses will still apply to a low-level radioactive waste storage building and a dry-cask storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The total land remaining under license is about six acres. SMUD remains responsible for the security and protection of this land and the waste storage facilities, and is required to maintain $100 million in liability insurance coverage until all radioactive material has been removed from the site.

The NRC issued SMUD an operating license for Rancho Seco in August 1974, and the plant began commercial operations in April 1975. It was shut down in June 1989. SMUD submitted its license termination plan in 2006, and the NRC approved the plan in 2007.

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Date: Thursday, 08 October 2009
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