The Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste and Materials (ACNW&M) was established by the Commission in June 1988 to provide the Commission with independent reviews of, and advice on, nuclear waste facilities, including application to such facilities of 10 CFR Parts 60 and 61 (disposal of high-level radioactive wastes in geologic repositories and land disposal of radioactive waste) and other applicable regulations and legislative mandates such as the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act, and the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act, as amended. The ACNW&M, at the request of the Commission, provided advice on site decommissioning issues. Before the ACNW&M was established, reviews of this type were performed by the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, and the first members on the ACNW&M had formerly been members of the ACRS. The ACNW&M was, like the ACRS, subject to the NRC regulations set forth in 10 CFR Part 7.
The primary focus of the ACNW&M was waste disposal facilities. In performing its work, the ACNW&M reviewed and reported on those areas of concern referred to it by the Commission and undertook other studies and activities on its own initiative related to areas of regulatory activity identified by the Commission.
The ACNW&M had a history of recommending innovative and risk-based approaches to regulatory problems. A specific example of this is that the ACNW&M, in the period between 1990 and 1994, reviewed the EPA standards for deep geologic disposal of high-level radioactive waste (40 CFR Part 191) and provided its recommendations on critical regulatory issues addressed in the standards. The National Research Council arrived at similar positions on many of these issues in its recent report on the technical basis for such standards. The National Research Council study was done in accordance with Section 301 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The ACNW&M had a significant role in the review and resolution of key technical issues associated with the safe disposal of radioactive waste.