[US] Nuclear waste disposal : Proposed Rule on low-Level Radioactive Waste

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has proposed to amend 10 CFR Part 61, which governs low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) disposal facilities.  LLRW, which includes items that have become contaminated with radioactive material, is typically stored on-site by licensees until it has either decayed away or is shipped to a LLRW disposal site.

Usage of revised implementation standards

The proposed amendments would require licensees and disposal facilities to use revised implementation standards as well as new site-specific technical analyses and acceptance criteria.

Proposed amendments to NRC’s requirements for disposal of commercial LLRW

NRC’s licensing requirements for the disposal of commercial LLRW are codified in 10 CFR Part 61.

  • The proposed amendments to 10 CFR Part 61 would require LLRW disposal licensees to prepare a safety case that includes new site-specific technical analyses. 
  • This measure is intended to ensure that LLRW streams that are significantly different from streams that are currently regulated can be disposed of safely as well as meet the performance standards under 10 CFR Part 61.
  • The proposed amendment would also require LLRW disposal facility licensees to develop site-specific criteria for the acceptability of LLRW for disposal. 
  • Although 10 CFR Part 61 contains a classification system for acceptability, the proposed rule would allow facilities to also factor in facility design or characteristics and disposal practices when determining the criteria for accepting LLRW.

End goal of proposed amendments : reflect current health & safety standards

The amendments seek to overall facilitate implementation by updating the regulations to reflect current health and safety standards.

If adopted as final, the rule would become effective 1 year after it is published in the Federal Register.

Red-on-line EHS legal counsel

Sources:

Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal, 80 FR 16081, March 26, 2015.