United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Jurisdiction Over Low Level Waste Management at Reactor Sites in Agreement States

HPPOS-097 PDR-9111210206

Title: Jurisdiction Over Low Level Waste Management at

Reactor Sites in Agreement States

See the memorandum from G. H. Cunningham to H. R. Denton

dated September 13, 1985. This memo provides the following

OELD opinion. The NRC has jurisdiction over the handling

and storage of low-level wastes within the reactor

exclusion area. In Agreement States, the states have

control over land burial of low level wastes, even in the

exclusion area. The opinion also extends to reactor


In Agreement States, the NRC licenses and regulates the

handling and storage of low level waste in the exclusion

area. When wastes are derived from offsite waste

generators, NRC jurisdiction is based on 10 CFR 100.3 (a),

which requires the reactor licensee to have an exclusion

area in which the licensee maintains and has full control

over all activities in order to protect public health and

safety from the release of possible fission products from

hypothetical major accidents. Under Generic Letter 85-14,

any program sponsored by a state to fulfill its low level

waste obligations in accordance with the Low Level

Radioactive Waste Policy Act (Public Law 96-573, 42 U.S.C.

2021b-2021d) by storage of waste within the exclusion area

of a nuclear power reactor is subject to the licensing and

regulatory jurisdiction of the NRC pursuant to 10 CFR

150.15 (e) (1).

The disposal of low level radioactive waste generated by

the operation of a nuclear reactor was omitted in 10 CFR

150.15 as a function reserved to the federal government.

This implies that it was relinquished to the Agreement

States. Therefore, because of the hazards or potential

hazards of high level atomic energy wastes from the

chemical processing of irradiated fuel elements, its

disposal is governed by license pursuant to CFR 150.15 (a)

(4). However, the states have control over land burial of

low level wastes (27 FR 1351, February 14, 1962).

In regards to the decommissioning of nuclear reactors,

after removal of all special nuclear material from the site

and fixing the reactor so that it can never again be used

in the production or utilization of special nuclear

material, Agreement States may regulate the remaining

byproduct radioactivity provided the NRC takes the position

that leaving the radioactive structures on site in a safe

configuration is the method of choice for disposal. But,

assuming a continued legal viability for 10 CFR 150.15 (a)

(1), a storage option preserves NRC jurisdiction.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.302, 10 CFR 100.3, 10 CFR

150.15, 10 CFR 20.2002

Subject codes: 9.6, 12.2, 12.9

Applicability: Reactors

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012