United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Commercial Storage at Power Plant Sites of Radwaste Not Generated by the Utility

HPPOS-092 PDR-9111210185

See the letter from W. J. Dircks to All Licensees dated August 1, 1985.

NRC is opposed to any activity at a reactor site that is not supportive of authorized activities. Interim storage of low-level radioactive waste (LLW) within the exclusion area of a reactor site is subject to NRC jurisdiction. In an Agreement State, for storage outside the exclusion area, the State has authority.

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Act of 1980 assigned states the responsibility for disposal of commercial LLW generated within each state, and a few states have expressed some interest in the use of existing nuclear power sites. As a matter of policy, NRC is opposed to any activity at a nuclear reactor site which may divert attention of licensee management from its primary task of safe operation or construction of the power reactor. Accordingly, interim storage of LLW within the exclusion area of a reactor site, as defined in 10 CFR 100.3 (a), will be subject to NRC jurisdiction regardless of whether or not the reactor is located in an Agreement State, pursuant to the regulatory policy expressed in 10 CFR 150.15 (a) (1).

Within Agreement States, for locations outside the exclusion areas, the licensing authority is in the Agreement State. In order for NRC to consider any proposal for commercial LLW storage at a reactor site, the NRC must be convinced that no significant environmental impact will result and that the commercial storage activities will be consistent with and not compromise the safe operation of the licensee's activities, including diverting reactor management attention from the continued safety of reactor operations. The Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) will conduct an environmental review and review the application to determine if the LLW commercial storage activities on a reactor site will impact the safe operation of the reactor.

Following NRR review, the licensing authority for commercial storage under NRC jurisdiction is the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS). A Part 30 license is required for the LLW storage and a Part 50 license amendment may also be required. The application must address the following issues.


A determination by the utility licensee that the LLW commercial storage activities do not involve a safety or environmental question, and that safe operation of the reactor will not be affected. In making this determination, the licensee shall consider:

  1. Direct impacts of commercial storage activities on reactor operations during normal and accident conditions.
  2. Diversion of utility management and personnel attention from safe reactor operation.
  3. Combined effects of onsite and offsite dose during normal and accident conditions.
  4. Influence on effectiveness of both reactor emergency plans and reactor security plans.
  5. Financial liability provisions, including impact on indemnity coverage.
  6. Environmental impact of the storage facility, including potential interaction with the generating station.


The utility or another person shall consider:

  1. Safety of the commercial storage operation.
  2. Environmental impact of the storage operation in sufficient detail for NRC to establish the need for an Environmental Impact Statement.
  3. Financial assurance to provide for commercial storage operation and decommissioning including any necessary repackaging, transportation and disposal of the waste.
  4. Written agreement from the jurisdiction responsible for ultimate disposal, the State, that provisions are sufficient to assure ultimate disposal of the stored waste.

As part of the procedures, the NRC will provide notice in the Federal Register of receipt and availability of any application received for commercial storage activities. The public notice will also indicate the NRC staff's intent regarding preparation of an environmental assessment and its circulation for public review and comment. The environmental assessment will most likely require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement in accordance with the provisions of 10 CFR 51.20, 51.21 and 51.25.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 100.3, 10 CFR 150.15

Subject codes: 9.6, 12.2, 12.9

Applicability: Reactors

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, June 08, 2015