United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Policy and Guidance Directive FC 86-10, "Onsite Burial by Material Licensees"

HPPOS-258 PDR-9306070112

See the memorandum from R. E. Cunningham to Regional Administrators (and Branch Chiefs, Division of Fuel Cycle and Material Safety) dated October 9, 1986, and the enclosed memorandum from V. Stello, Jr., to Addressees dated September 23, 1986.

Policy and Guidance Directive FC 86-10 provides updated guidance for reviewing applications requesting authorization for licensees to bury their own radioactive waste onsite. Applications for such authorizations are made pursuant to 10 CFR 20.302. This health physics position also applies to "new" 10 CFR Part 20.2002.

Since the deletion of 10 CFR 20.304, "Disposal by Burial in Soil" (January 28, 1981), and the issuance of IEIN 83-05, "Obtaining Approval for Disposal of Very-Low-Level Radioactive Waste - 10 CFR 20.302" (February 24, 1983), a number of medical, academic, industrial, and reactor licensees have applied to the NRC for approval pursuant to 10 CFR 20.302 to dispose of licensed material by onsite burial or disposal in offsite landfills or hazardous waste disposal sites. The number of such licensee requests has increased in the past few years, and because of waste volume limitations imposed on existing sites by the recently enacted Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985, the NRC anticipates a continuation of this tend over the next five years.

Several Divisions within more than one office at NRC Headquarters, as well as the Regional Offices and the Agreement States, have within their respective regulatory purview the responsibility for performing reviews and technical evaluations of proposed waste disposal activities by licensees. Consequently, it is important that a centralized cognizance within the NRC for waste disposal actions under 10 CFR 20.302 [or 10 CFR 20.2002] be maintained and that NRC reviews and decisions relative to these activities be internally consistent and uniformly applied. Examples of areas where agency policy and action should be consistent are as follows: the disposal of wastes which are both radioactive and chemically hazardous, the notification of State and local authorities of licensee-proposed burials, the authorization of disposal of low-activity waste offsite in the public domain, and the authorization of disposal of potentially recyclable materials contaminated with radioactivity.

To ensure consistency and uniformity in NRC reviews and evaluations, the Division of Waste Management, NMSS, is assigned responsibility to monitor all 10 CFR 20.302 [or 10 CFR 20.2002] actions. Discussions and coordination between offices should take place for the purpose of developing consistent criteria for acceptable waste disposal practices. Recent guidance to non-reactor licensees seeking authorizations pursuant to this regulation has been published in NUREG-1101, Vol. 1. Additional guidance for other applications which are not covered in NUREG-1101 will be completed in the near future. Guidance for reviews of applications from utilities for disposal of reactor-generated waste, pursuant to 10 CFR 20.302 [or 10 CFR 20.2002], is in preparation for incorporation into the Standard Review Plan (NUREG-0800).

NUREG-1101, Vol. 1, "Onsite Disposal of Radioactive Waste," March 1986, provides guidance for non-commercial disposal by subsurface burial. It specifies information to be provided by the licensee so that an adequate evaluation of the application can be performed by NRC staff. In addition, this guidance provides site parameters, radionuclide limits, and disposal methods normally acceptable to the NRC staff. Limiting conditions are described for different categories of radionuclides with respect to total radioactivity, waste packaging, burial frequency, and other conditions normally acceptable for burial.

Licensees applying for onsite burial authorization should be referred to NUREG-1101 for guidance in preparing their requests. If an application meets the guidelines of NUREG-1101, the appropriate Region can issue an amendment without referring the request to NRC Headquarters. A copy of the final licensing actions plus any assessment of the burial request should be sent to the Director, Division of Waste Management. Any questions or special cases should be referred directly to the Director, Division of Waste Management.

Policy and Guidance Directive FC 84-12, Rev. 1, is being revised to reflect the fact that burial cases do not always need to be referred to Headquarters. Policy and Guidance Directive FC 84-7, Rev. 1, pertaining to management of sites containing material already buried pursuant to 10 CFR 20.304, remains unchanged.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.302, 10 CFR 20.2002, NUREG-1101

Subject codes: 9.0, 9.4, 9.7

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, June 30, 2015