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Subpart E--Technical Criteria

§ 63.101 Purpose and nature of findings.

(a)(1) Subpart B prescribes the standards for issuance of a license to receive and possess source, special nuclear, or byproduct material at a geologic repository operations area at the Yucca Mountain site. In particular, § 63.41(c) requires a finding that the issuance of a license will not constitute an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of the public. The purpose of this subpart is to set out the performance objectives for postclosure performance of the geologic repository and other criteria that, if satisfied, support a finding of no unreasonable risk. Postclosure performance objectives for the geologic repository include a requirement to limit radiological exposures to the reasonably maximally exposed individual, a requirement to limit releases of radionuclides to the accessible environment to protect ground water, and a requirement to limit radiological exposures to the reasonably maximally exposed individual in the event of human intrusion (see § 63.113(b), (c), and (d), respectively).

(2) Although the postclosure performance objectives specified at § 63.113 are generally stated in unqualified terms, it is not expected that complete assurance that the requirements will be met can be presented. A reasonable expectation, on the basis of the record before the Commission, that the postclosure performance objectives will be met, is the general standard required. Proof that the geologic repository will conform with the objectives for postclosure performance is not to be had in the ordinary sense of the word because of the uncertainties inherent in the understanding of the evolution of the geologic setting, biosphere, and engineered barrier system. For such long-term performance, what is required is reasonable expectation, making allowance for the time period, hazards, and uncertainties involved, that the outcome will conform with the objectives for postclosure performance for the geologic repository. Demonstrating compliance will involve the use of complex predictive models that are supported by limited data from field and laboratory tests, site-specific monitoring, and natural analog studies that may be supplemented with prevalent expert judgment. Compliance demonstrations should not exclude important parameters from assessments and analyses simply because they are difficult to precisely quantify to a high degree of confidence. The performance assessments and analyses should focus upon the full range of defensible and reasonable parameter distributions rather than only upon extreme physical situations and parameter values. Further, in reaching a determination of reasonable expectation, the Commission may supplement numerical analyses with qualitative judgments including, for example, consideration of the degree of diversity among the multiple barriers as a measure of the resiliency of the geologic repository.

(b) Subpart B lists findings that must be made in support of an authorization to construct a geologic repository operations area at the Yucca Mountain site. Prior to closure, § 63.31(a)(1) requires a finding that there is reasonable assurance that the types and amounts of radioactive materials described in the application can be received, possessed, and stored in a geologic repository operations area of the design proposed without unreasonable risk to the health and safety of the public. After permanent closure, § 63.31(a)(2) requires the Commission to consider whether there is a reasonable expectation the site and design comply with the postclosure performance objectives. Once again, although the criteria may be written in unqualified terms, the demonstration of compliance must take uncertainties and gaps in knowledge into account so that the Commission can make the specified finding with respect to paragraph (a)(2) of § 63.31.

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