NRC to consolidate LLW rulemaking

April 11, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An NRC diagram of a LLW waste disposal site.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will integrate two separate rulemaking activities concerning the disposal of low-level radioactive waste, issuing a “re-proposed” rule that consolidates updates to 10 CFR Part 61, “Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal,” and proposed changes to the requirements for the near-surface disposal of greater-than-Class C (GTCC) waste.

What did I do wrong? Or, “What did we do wrong?”

March 9, 2022, 3:01PMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit
president@ans.org

Have you ever been punished for something you didn’t do? It happens to most of us on occasion while growing up, especially if we have siblings. It’s not the end of the world, and it teaches a valuable lesson: Life is not fair. Nevertheless, when it happens, it really rankles you.

The “issue” of nuclear waste provides me with instant recall of those unpleasant childhood memories. Commercial nuclear power plants have been managing low-level waste and used nuclear fuel safely and efficiently since the beginning of the nuclear enterprise. Industry is adept at minimizing, packaging, transporting, and disposing of LLW. Used fuel is stored safely and securely at reactor sites, awaiting disposal.

Forty years ago, nuclear power plant operators entered into contracts with the federal government. The deal was simple. The operators would pay the U.S. government a lot of money, and the government would pick up the relatively small amount of used fuel and dispose of it in a geologic repository, beginning in 1998. The money changed hands, but the used fuel never did.

Canada’s CNL seeks stakeholder support for Chalk River disposal facility

March 2, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility. (Image: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is asking its stakeholders (members of the public, industry, elected officials, and employees) to support a proposal to construct the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) to dispose of legacy radioactive waste at the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario.

D.C. court dismisses challenge to NRC’s low-level waste policy

May 7, 2021, 12:06PMRadwaste Solutions

A federal court has dismissed a claim by the Nuclear Energy Institute that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had reversed decades of established policy by requiring owners and operators of nuclear power plants to obtain the agency’s approval to dispose of low-level radioactive waste, even in NRC Agreement States.

At issue was a letter the NRC sent to NEI in 2019, stating that licensees must receive agency approval before disposing of LLW. In response, NEI filed a lawsuit against the NRC, claiming that the letter imposes new obligations on licensees without the NRC’s having followed rulemaking procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act, including publishing notice of the new policy and receiving input from stakeholders prior to implementation.

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DOE looks to dispose of Savannah River process equipment as LLW

January 21, 2021, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy is considering disposing of contaminated process equipment from its Savannah River Site (SRS) at a commercial low-level waste facility using its recent interpretation of the statutory term “high-level radioactive waste,” which classifies waste generated from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel based on its radiological content rather than its origin.

The year in review 2020: Waste Management

January 8, 2021, 2:50PMRadwaste Solutions

Here is a look back at the top stories of 2020 from our Waste Management section in Newswire and Nuclear News magazine. Remember to check back to Newswire soon for more top stories from 2020.

Waste Management section

  • First-ever cleanup of uranium enrichment plant celebrated at Oak Ridge: The completion of the decades-long effort to clean up the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant was celebrated on October 13, with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette joining U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and other state and community leaders at the East Tennessee Technology Park, where the uranium enrichment complex once stood. Read more.

Reclassification of HLW could reduce risks while saving billions, DOE says

January 8, 2021, 7:02AMRadwaste Solutions

An engineered stainless steel container designed to hold LLW at Hanford. Photo: Bechtel National, Inc.

A Department of Energy report to the U.S. Congress shows that the reclassification of high-level radioactive waste could save more than $200 billion in treatment and disposal costs while allowing DOE sites to be cleaned up sooner—all still without jeopardizing public health and safety.

The report, Evaluation of Potential Opportunities to Classify Certain Defense Nuclear Waste from Reprocessing as Other than High-Level Radioactive Waste, identifies potential opportunities for the DOE to reduce risk to public and environment while completing its cleanup mission more efficiently and effectively. Those opportunities are based on the DOE’s 2019 interpretation of the statutory term HLW, which classifies waste based on its radiological characteristics rather than its origin.

Under the DOE’s interpretation of HLW, waste from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel may be determined to be non-HLW if the waste (1) does not exceed concentration limits for Class C low-level radioactive waste as set out in federal regulations and meets the performance objectives of a disposal facility; or (2) does not require disposal in a deep geologic repository and meets the performance objectives of a disposal facility as demonstrated through a performance assessment conducted in accordance with applicable requirements.

NRC withdraws LLW rule interpretation

December 21, 2020, 10:20AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has withdrawn a proposed interpretation of its low-level radioactive waste regulations that would have permitted licensees to dispose of waste by transferring it to persons who hold specific NRC exemptions. “The proposal is being withdrawn based on the NRC staff’s assessment that the proposed changes may not benefit the regulatory framework for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste,” the NRC said in a December 17 Federal Register notice.

After releasing the proposed rule for public comment on March 6, 2020, the NRC received about 200 individual comment submissions and approximately 15,000 form letter submissions, the vast majority of which were in opposition to the proposed rule.

“We have strongly disputed the argument by various groups who misrepresented the proposal as deregulation of radioactive waste disposal,” NRC spokesperson David McIntyre told the Courthouse News Service. “This would not have changed anything, just made an existing case-by-case approval process more efficient.”

DOE extends comment period on Hanford LAW document

September 23, 2020, 9:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has extended until November 27 the public comment period on the Draft Waste Incidental to Reprocessing Evaluation for Vitrified Low-Activity Waste Disposed Onsite at the Hanford Site, Washington, which supports the DOE’s decision to dispose of vitrified low-level radioactive waste at an on-site disposal facility at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Notice of the comment extension was published in the September 22 Federal Register.

The DOE initially made the draft waste incidental to reprocessing (WIR) evaluation available in the May 26 Federal Register, opening a 120-day comment period. The DOE said it is extending the comment period an additional 60 days in response to requests.

DOE issues RFP for nationwide mixed LLW treatment services

September 8, 2020, 9:34AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management issued a final request for proposal (RFP) last week for its Nationwide Low-Level Mixed Low-Level Waste Treatment Services procurement. According to the DOE, the RFP is being issued on a full-and-open, unrestricted basis. The DOE intends to issue one or more basic ordering agreements as a result of this RFP.

The final RFP was can be found on the website of the DOE’s Environmental Management Consolidated Business Center. It also will be posted to the Fedconnect website. The deadline for RFPs is September 30.

NRC extends comment period for LLW rule

April 21, 2020, 8:46AMRadwaste Solutions

Recognizing the impacts of the current COVID–19 pandemic, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided to extend the public comment period on a proposed interpretation of its low-level radioactive waste disposal regulations. The new deadline for comments is July 20. The proposed LLW interpretive rule, announced on March 6, would permit licensees to dispose of waste by transfer to persons who hold specific exemptions for the purpose of disposal (NN, Apr. 2020, p. 47).