United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Commercial Storage at Power Reactor Sites of Low-level Radioactive Waste Not Generated by the Utility (Generic Letter No. 85-14)



                                UNITED STATES
                        NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                           WASHINGTON, D. C. 20555

                               August 1, 1985

TO ALL LICENSEES 

SUBJECT:  COMMERCIAL STORAGE AT POWER REACTOR SITES OF LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE
          WASTE NOT GENERATED BY THE UTILITY (Generic Letter 85-14) 

Gentlemen: 

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980 (P. L. 96-573) assigned 
to the states the responsibility to provide for disposal of commercial 
low-level radioactive waste LLW) generated within each state. The Act 
envisioned that all states would be capable of providing for disposal of 
commercial LLW generated within their borders by 1986. Based on the current 
status of state efforts and the substantial time required to establish new 
disposal facilities, no new sites will be available for at least several 
years. Due to the uncertainty of this situation and statements made by some 
officials of states within which currently operating disposal sites are 
located, it appears possible that access to the existing sites may be 
restricted. 

While some licensees have taken steps to temporarily store LLW generated,at 
their sites to alleviate any impact that limiting of access to disposal 
capacity may have on licensed operations, provisions for storing LLW should 
be used only for interim contingency purposes. It is the policy of the NRC 
that licensees should continue to ship waste for disposal at existing sites 
to the maximum extent practicable. 

In anticipation of possible curtailment of access to existing disposal 
facilities, interest is being expressed in some states in commercial storage
of LLW generated within the states. While the NRC recognizes that storage 
may appear desirable in states which have not resolved their low-level waste
disposal problems, commercial storage facilities, however, should not become
de facto disposal sites. NRC will require for commercial storage under its 
jurisdiction that, in addition to safe siting and operation, commitments and
assurances be made for eventual disposition of all waste stored at 
commercial storage locations. This includes provisions for repackaging (if 
necessary), transportation and disposal of the waste, as well as 
decommissioning of the facilities. 

Some of the concepts for commercial storage involve using nuclear power 
reactor sites as commercial storage locations for LLW not generated by the 
utility licensee. As a matter of policy, the NRC is opposed to any activity 
at a nuclear reactor site which is not generally supportive of activities 
authorized by the operating license or construction permit and which may 
divert the attention of licensee management from its primary task of safe 
operation or construction of the power reactor. Accordingly, interim storage
of LLW within the exclusion area of a reactor site, as defined in 10 CFR 
100.3(a), will be subject to NRC jurisdiction regardless of whether or not 
the reactor is located in an Agreement State, pursuant to the regulatory 
policy expressed in 10 CFR 150.15(a)(l). Within Agreement States, for 
locations outside the exclusion areas, the licensing authority is in the 
Agreement State. 

8508050255  

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In order for NRC to consider any proposal for commercial storage at a 
reactor site, including commercial storage in existing low-level waste 
storage facilities, the NRC must be convinced that no significant 
environmental impact will result and that the commercial storage activities 
will be consistent with and not compromise safe operation of the licensee's 
activities, including diverting reactor management attention from the 
continued safety of reactor operations. A Part 30 license is required for 
the low-level waste storage and a Part 50 license amendment may also be 
required. The application must include: 

By the utility 

o    A determination by the utility licensee that the proposed low-level 
     waste commercial storage activities do not involve a safety or 
     environmental question, and that safe operation of the reactor will not
     be affected. In making this determination, the licensee shall consider: 

     -    Direct impacts of the commercial storage operation on reactor 
          operations during normal and accident conditions; 
     -    Diversion of utility management and personnel attention from safe 
          reactor operation; 
     -    Combined effects of onsite and offsite dose during normal and 
          accident conditions; 
     -    Influence on effectiveness of reactor emergency plans; - Influence
          on effectiveness of reactor security plans; 
     -    Financial liability provisions, including impact on indemnity 
          coverage; and 
     -    Environmental impact of the storage facility, including potential 
          interaction with the generating station. 

By the applicant (utility or another person) 

o    Information relating to the safety of the commercial storage operation;

o    Information relating to the environmental impact of the storage 
     operation in sufficient detail to allow staff to establish the need for
     preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement; 

o    Financial assurance to provide for, the commercial storage operation 
     and decommissioning including any necessary repackaging, transportation 
     and disposal of the waste; and 

o    Written agreement from the jurisdiction responsible for ultimate 
     disposal, the State, that provisions are sufficient to assure ultimate 
     disposal of the stored waste. 

The Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) will conduct an environmental
review and review the application to determine whether the low-level waste 
commercial storage activities on a reactor site impact the safe operation of
the reactor. Following NRR review, the licensing authority for commercial 
storage on a reactor site under NRC jurisdiction (all locations in 
non-Agreement States and locations within reactor exclusion areas in 
Agreement States) is the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards. 
The NRC will assess  

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environmental impact and will issue an Environmental Impact Statement, if 
appropriate, In accordance with provisions of 10 CFR 51.20, 51.21 and 51.25.
As part of the procedures, the NRC will provide notice in the FEDERAL 
REGISTER of receipt and availability of any application received for 
commercial storage activities. The public notice will also indicate the 
staff's intent regarding preparation of an environmental assessment and its 
circulation for public review and comment. An Environmental Impact Statement
will most likely be needed based on the environmental assessment. 

Because the NRC has not yet received or reviewed an application for a 
centralized commercial low-level waste storage facility intended to store 
large amounts of LLW for five or more years, the NRC may consider applying 
the criteria described above to such commercial storage facilities whether 
they be on a reactor site or not. 

Interim storage of utility licensee-generated LLW will continue to be 
considered according to the provisions stated in Generic Letter 81-38, dated
November 10, 1981. 

For additional information, please contact Frank Miraglia, Office of Nuclear
Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 
20555 [Telephone: (301) 492-7980] or Richard Cunningham, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, D.C. 20555 [Telephone: (301) 427-4485]. 

                                   Sincerely, 


                                   William J. Dircks
                                   Executive Director
                                     for Operations
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