United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Clarification of Generic Letter 81-38, "Storage of Low Level Radioactive Wastes at Power Reactor Sites"

HPPOS-239 PDR-9111210366

Title: Clarification of Generic Letter 81-38, "Storage of

Low Level Radioactive Wastes at Power Reactor Sites"

See the memorandum from L. J. Cunningham and P. Lohaus to

M. R. Knapp (and others) dated January 31, 1991. This memo

provides guidance for Generic Letter 81-38 and states that

NRC licensees should minimize on-site storage of low-level

radioactive waste. Licensees who construct storage

facilities, or expand existing facilities with the

intention of storing waste for more than five years should

obtain a separate Part 30 license. HPPOS-264 and HPPOS-278

contain related topics.

Various questions from Regional inspectors and Headquarter

reviewers had arisen concerning whether Generic Letter

81-38 required nuclear power reactor licensees to limit the

storage time for radioactive waste generated by normal

reactor operation and maintenance to five years or less.

Generic Letter 81-38 reflects the position of the NRC that

all licensees should minimize on-site storage of low-level

radioactive waste. However, the Commission recognizes that

reactor licensees need to have interim (short-term) storage

capability while disposal capacity is being developed by

the States. The intent is that licensees who construct or

expand storage facilities with the intention of storing

waste for more than five years should obtain a separate

Part 30 license. The guidance provided in Generic Letter

81-38 was not intended to be applied to single packages or

just a few packages of waste. Likewise, radioactive

components, such as replaced steam generators or heat

exchangers, generated through non-routine maintenance, were

not intended to be included within the scope of Generic

Letter 81-38. The Commission is considering a number of

low-level waste storage issues, including factors that need

to be addressed in deciding whether to authorize storage

beyond January 1, 1996. These activities are a part of the

Commission's evaluation of possible actions to be taken in

response to the 1996 title transfer and possession

provisions of the Low-level Radioactive Waste Policy

Amendments Act of 1985.

Generic letter 81-38 can not be used as a basis for citing

licensees for storing their normally generated low-level

radioactive waste past a defined time period (e.g., 5

years). However, storage of such waste beyond the period

allowed by the license (if specified) or referenced in the

FSAR, without amending the license or performing a 50.59

evaluation and submitting an updated FSAR in accordance

with 50.71 (e), may be a basis for enforcement action.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 61, Generic Letter 81-38

Subject codes: 3.4, 9.0, 9.6

Applicability: Reactors

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012