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Information Notice No. 89-13: Alternative Waste Management Procedures in Case of Denial of Access to Low-Level Waste Disposal Sites
UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 February 8, 1989 Information Notice No. 89-13: ALTERNATIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES IN CASE OF DENIAL OF ACCESS TO LOW-LEVEL WASTE DISPOSAL SITES Addressees: All holders of NRC specific licenses. Purpose: This information notice is being provided to inform addressees of important recent and potential future events concerning restrictions on disposal of low-level radioactive waste, and to suggest actions to minimize possible adverse consequences of these events if licensed activities involve the need to dispose of radioactive waste. It is expected that recipients will review this information for applicability to their activities and consider action, as appropriate. However, suggestions contained in this information notice do not constitute NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written response is required. Description of Circumstances: The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-240, the Act) established a series of milestones, incentives, and penalties designed to assure that States and Regional Compacts without low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities make timely progress toward development of such facilities. States and Regional Compacts which do not meet the milestones specified in the Act can be subject to penalties such as higher disposal costs, and may even-tually be denied access to currently operating burial sites. The most recent milestone under the Act was on January 1, 1988. This milestone required non-sited Regional Compacts (those not affiliated with the currently-sited States of Nevada, South Carolina, and Washington) to identify a host state, develop a siting plan, and delegate legal implementing authority. States not affiliated with a Regional Compact were required to develop a siting plan and provide for delegation of authority as well. In January of 1988, the U.S. Department of Energy and the sited States of Nevada, South Carolina, and Washington determined that the States of New Hampshire and Vermont were in noncompliance. On December 19, 1988, the State of Washington 8902070339 . IN 89-13 February 8, 1989 Page 2 of 4 informed the States of New Hampshire and Vermont that effective January 1, 1989, waste originating in those States would be denied access to the regional disposal facility located near Richland, Washington. Similar action is anticipated by the States of South Carolina and Nevada. On January 31, 1989, the Governor of Michigan issued a letter to the members of the seven-State Midwest Interstate Compact in which he stated that he was halting the siting process for a disposal facility in Michigan. As a result, the State of Washington has denied access to waste originating from the State of Michigan. Similar action is anticipated by the States of South Carolina and Nevada. At this time, it does not appear that any immediate action will be taken to deny access to the other members of the Midwest Compact (Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin). Discussion: Denial of access to disposal sites could disrupt licensed operations which generate waste by preventing licensees from shipping waste from their faci- lities. This, in turn, could cause regulatory and safety problems such as exceeding authorized possession limits due to the accumulation of waste, in- adequate waste management capability, or inadequate waste storage facilities. It is suggested that licensees monitor the progress of their States or Regional Compacts in meeting milestones specified in the Act. Licensees in States for which it appears milestones will not be met may need to prepare for the possi-bility of severe restrictions on disposal of radioactive waste. Licensees in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Michigan may wish to consider actions now to miti-gate the potential impact of loss of disposal capability. Following are examples of suggested actions to be considered: 1. Review your current NRC license and license application, particularly possession limits and procedures and requirements for waste processing, storage, and disposal to determine if changes need to be made for increased storage of waste. 2. Determine how much of your waste goes to a licensed burial site either directly or indirectly through a "waste broker." 3. Evaluate potential safety problems and technical difficulties which might result if radioactive waste remains in storage at your facilities for long periods of time; e.g., package deterioration, inventory control, fire hazards, etc. 4. Review alternatives to minimize generation of waste shipped to burial grounds; for example: a. Carefully segregating long-lived radioactive waste from short-lived and non-radioactive waste. b. Stopping unnecessary work which generates waste. . IN 89-13 February 8, 1989 Page 3 of 4 c. Changing processes, procedures, or radionuclides to reduce volume of generated waste. d. Using volume reduction techniques, such as compaction. 5. Review alternative waste management and disposal methods; for example: a. Transfer of unneeded sealed sources to their respective manufacturers. b. Disposal of biomedical wastes in accordance with 10 CFR Section 20.306. c. Decay-in-storage. d. Incineration. e. Interim storage pending transfer to a licensed burial site if access is restored in the future. 6. For waste management measures which are not currently authorized by your NRC license, consider requesting an amendment to your license to authorize additional waste management actions in the event of restricted access to burial grounds. Examples would be amendments to authorize increased pos-session limits, decay-in storage, incineration, or use of interim storage facilities. The above suggestions would not be a permanent solution to waste burial restrictions, but would better assure that licensees have contingency plans in place to avoid safety violations and to minimize disruption of licensed activities. A number of parties have inquired about the granting of emergency access under the provisions of Section 6 of the Act. On February 3, 1989, NRC issued a new rule, 10 CFR Part 62, in the Federal Register (54 FR 5409) which establishes criteria and procedures to be used in determining whether emergency access should be granted. These criteria and procedures, consistent with Congressional intent, view the granting of emergency access as a last resort. Therefore, waste generators should be aware that only under the most limited and rare circumstances would generators be granted such access. Questions about license requirements and license amendments should be directed to the appropriate NRC licensing office, either in one of the Regional Offices or in Washington, D.C. Questions on low-level radioactive waste policy issues . IN 89-13 February 8, 1989 Page 4 of 4 should be directed to: Paul Lohaus, Chief, Operations Branch, Division of Low-Level Waste Management and Decommissioning, Mail Stop 5E4, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555, Phone: (301) 492-3345. No specific action or written response is required by this information notice. Richard E. Cunningham, Director Division of Industrial and Medical Nuclear Safety Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards Charles E. Rossi, Director Division of Operational Events Assessment Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Technical Contact: Paul Lohaus, NMSS (301) 492-3345 Attachments: 1. List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices 2. List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices . Attachment 2 IN 89-13 February 8, 1989 Page 1 of 1 LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED NRC INFORMATION NOTICES _____________________________________________________________________________ Information Date of Notice No._____Subject_______________________Issuance_______Issued to________ 89-12 Dose Calibrator Quality 2/9/89 All NRC medical Control licensees. 89-11 Failure of DC Motor-Operated 2/2/89 All holders of OLs Valves to Develop Rated or CPs for nuclear Torque Because of Improper power reactors. Cable Sizing 89-10 Undetected Installation 1/27/89 All holders of OLs Errors In Main Steam Line or CPs for BWRs. Pipe Tunnel Differential Temperature-Sensing Elements at Boiling Water Reactors. 89-09 Credit for Control Rods 1/26/89 All holders of OLs Without Scram Capability or CPs for test and in the Calculation of the research reactors. Shutdown Margin 89-08 Pump Damage Caused by 1/26/89 All holders of OLs Low-Flow Operation or CPs for nuclear power reactors. 89-07 Failures of Small-Diameter 1/25/89 All holders of OLs Tubing in Control Air, Fuel or CPs for nuclear Oil, and Lube Oil Systems power reactors. Which Render Emergency Diesel Generators Inoperable 89-06 Bent Anchor Bolts in 1/24/89 All holders of OLs Boiling Water Reactor or CPs for BWRs Torus Supports with Mark I steel torus shells. 89-05 Use of Deadly Force by 1/19/89 All holders of OLs Guards Protecting Nuclear for nuclear power Power Reactors Against reactors. Radiological Sabotage _____________________________________________________________________________ OL = Operating License CP = Construction Permit ..
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