The new methodologies to derive discharge limits considering operational flexibility according to international safety standards were developed to help reduce the environmental releases of radioactive effluents from nuclear power plants (NPPs). To overcome the limitations of the two existing methods to set up discharge limits assuming a specific statistical distribution of the effluent discharge, two modified equations were newly proposed to directly derive a particular discharge limits corresponding to the target ‘compliance probability’ based on the actual annual discharge data for a specific NPP and radionuclide groups. By applying these to the actual yearly discharge data of 14 Korean NPPs for 7 radionuclide groups for the past 20 years, the applicability of two new methodologies to actual cases was demonstrated. The ‘characteristic value’ with approximately a 90% compliance probability for each Korean NPP and radionuclide group was proposed based on the results. The new approaches for setting up the discharge limits and the characteristic values developed in this study are expected to be effectively utilized to foster operator's efforts to progressively reduce the environmental releases of radioactive effluents of NPPs relative to the previous discharge data considering operational flexibilities.