United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 90-31: Update on Waste Form and High Integrity Container Topical Report Review Status, Identification of Problems with Cement Solidification, and Reporting of Waste Mishaps

                                UNITED STATES
                        NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
              OFFICE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDS
                           WASHINGTON, D.C.  20555

                                 May 4, 1990


Information Notice No. 90-31:  UPDATE ON WASTE FORM AND HIGH INTEGRITY 
                                   CONTAINER topICAL REPORT REVIEW STATUS, 
                                   IDENTIFICATION OF PROBLEMS WITH CEMENT 
                                   SOLIDIFICATION, AND REPORTING OF WASTE 
                                   MISHAPS

Addressees:

All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power 
reactors, fuel cycle licenses, and certain byproduct materials licenses.

Purpose:

This information notice is being provided to inform addressees of recent 
developments concerning the stability of waste forms that contain Class B or 
Class C low-level waste.  The developments pertain to: the status of reviews 
of topical reports (TRs) on waste stabilization media and high integrity 
containers; the results of the Workshop on Cement Stabilization of Low-Level 
Waste held in Gaithersburg, Maryland, on May 31 to June 2, 1989; the 
identification of constituents that create problems with cement 
solidification of low-level wastes; and the notification to the U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission (NRC) of mishaps with waste stabilization.

It is expected that addressees will review the information for applicability 
to their facilities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid problems 
in solidification of wastes in cement and in disposing of certain waste 
streams. Addressees are encouraged to distribute the notice to responsible 
radiological staff and waste handling personnel.  However, suggestions 
contained in this information notice do not constitute NRC requirements; 
therefore, no specific action or written response is required.

Discussion:

     Update on Waste Form and High Integrity Container TR Review Status -

In Information Notice No. 89-27, "Limitations on the Use of Waste Forms and 
High Integrity Containers for the Disposal of Low-Level Radioactive Waste," 
March 8, 1989, it is pointed out that waste generators are required, under 
10 CFR 20.311, to certify that any Class B or C wastes that they send for 
disposal are structurally stable, in accordance with 10 CFR Part 61.  The 
information notice goes on to describe the NRC review of TRs on waste 
solidification media and high integrity containers for the disposal of Class 
B or Class C wastes.  The status of these NRC TR reviews is summarized.  A 



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description is provided on how the Agreement State authorities that host the 
three operating low-level waste disposal facilities have implemented NRC 
decisions on the TRs.  The information notice states that the status of 
approved waste stabilization media and high integrity containers will change 
periodically as TR reviews are completed, and as new TRs are submitted for 
review.  The information notice states that NRC will periodically issue 
updates of the status of topical report reviews, to keep licensees fully 
informed of approved solidification media and high integrity containers for 
disposal of Class B and C wastes.  Attachment 1 provides the status of NRC 
topical report reviews as of April 1, 1990.  Licensees are directed to 
Information Notice 89-27 for further information that applies to disposal of 
Class B and C wastes.  Waste generators are urged to contact the disposal 
facility operators for additional information and procedural details before 
pursuing disposal options for Class B and C wastes.

     Cement Solidification Workshop -

Information Notice 89-27 pointed out that NRC had not approved any topical 
reports describing commercial cement stabilization of low-level wastes.  
This situation still exists (see Attachment 1).  To gather information that 
would provide an improved understanding of the complex technical concerns 
regarding the use of cement for waste stabilization and that would lead to 
both short-term and long-term regulatory resolution of TR reviews on cement 
stabilization media, NRC hosted the Workshop on Cement Stabilization of 
Low-Level Radioactive Waste on May 31 - June 2, 1989.  During the workshop, 
the following topics were dis-cussed:  lessons learned from small- and 
full-scale waste forms and observations at nuclear power plants; 
implications of laboratory test experience with cement solidification and 
the application to problem waste streams; stabilized waste form testing 
guidance (including NRC's 1983 "Technical Position on Waste Form"), and 
process control programs and waste characterization.  The results of the 
workshop have been published as an NRC Conference Proceedings report, 
NUREG/CP-0103.  Licensees are encouraged to obtain a copy of this report and 
determine if any topics discussed will potentially improve their application 
of waste solidification processes.

     Waste Constituents That Create Problems with Cement Solidification -

One important item that licensees should be fully aware of, which was 
discussed in detail during the workshop, is continuing concerns with 
deleterious chemical reactions during waste solidification using cement.  
This subject was first brought to the attention of licensees by Information 
Notice No. 88-08, March 14, 1988, "Chemical Reactions with Radioactive Waste 
Solidification Agents."  As a result of the continuing concerns with this 
subject, NRC has developed the list in Attachment 2 of waste constituents 
that could cause problems with solidification campaigns, particularly at 
nuclear power plants.  The first part of the list identifies "problem" 
constituents of wastes that are expected ingredients in certain waste 
streams.  Licensees should ensure that proper formulations are being used 
for these types of wastes, especially if the wastes require structural 
stability.  The second part of the list covers "problem" constituents of 
waste streams that are not expected ingredients in 
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the wastes, and may cause a problem with cement solidification if they 
accidentally get into a waste stream, especially since the waste-processing 
vendor may not necessarily be using a formulation that would successfully 
treat the waste stream.  Some of these constituents may be a problem for 
successful cement solidification, even at parts per million concentrations, 
depending on the waste stream they are in and the synergistic effects that 
could arise.  NRC has identified these as waste constituents that could be 
controlled and possibly prevented from entering waste streams with good 
housekeeping, inventory control, use limits, or pretreatment, thereby 
minimizing the potential to affect cement solidification.  NRC encourages 
licensees to determine if they are using any of these items, and if they 
are, to determine if housekeeping, inventory, or use controls are adequate 
to prevent these "problem" constituents from entering waste streams that are 
to be solidified; especially waste streams that require structural 
stability.  Licensees who are aware of having small concentrations of these 
"problem" constituents in their waste streams, and are using a proper 
solidification formula to treat the wastes, should be aware that changes in 
concentrations of these constituents may result in a problem.  Licensees are 
also encouraged to evaluate the use of alternative products or chemical 
constituents, in order to reduce or eliminate the possibility of "problem" 
constituents entering the waste stream.  Licensees should inform 
solidification vendors of circumstances that may result in waste constituent 
changes, so that the vendor may determine the correct formula to use in 
solidification.  This will help in avoiding problems such as those reported 
in Information Notice No. 88-08.

Licensees should be aware that several of the waste constituents listed in 
Attachment 2 may result in a situation that produces mixed hazardous and 
radioactive waste.  The currently operating low-level radioactive waste 
disposal facilities are not permitted to receive mixed wastes.  Licensees 
should contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for more 
information on what constitutes a mixed hazardous and radioactive waste and 
refer to the joint NRC Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance 
document entitled, "Guidance on the Definition and Identification of 
Commercial Mixed Low-Level Radioactive and Hazardous Waste and Answers to 
Anticipated Questions."

     Notification of Waste Stabilization Mishaps -

NRC has become increasingly concerned about mishaps that have occurred 
during the solidification of low-level radwaste at power plants and other 
facilities. These mishaps, some of which were described in Information 
Notice No. 89-27, have included waste forms that have failed to solidify 
completely and that swelled and/or disintegrated over relatively short times 
after solidification. These mishaps result in questions as to whether the 
waste form will satisfy the Part 61 stability requirements.  To maintain 
current information about problems encountered in solidifying wastes and 
placing wastes in high integrity containers for structural stability, NRC is 
evaluating mechanisms for obtaining reports of mishaps like the ones 
described above.  Licensees will become in-volved in the reporting process to 
the extent that the waste that is involved in mishaps reported to NRC is the 
ultimate responsibility of the waste generator.  Waste mishaps reporting 
will be addressed in a future information notice.

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No specific action or written response is required by this information 
notice. If you have any questions regarding this information notice, please 
contact the technical contact listed below or the Regional Administrator of 
the appropriate regional office.




                                   Richard L. Bangart, Director 
                                   Division of Low-Level Waste Management 
                                     and Decommissioning 
                                   Office of Nuclear Material Safety 
                                     and Safeguards 

Technical Contact:  Michael Tokar, NMSS
                    (301) 492-0590


Attachments:

1.   Topical Report Review Status Summary: Solidified Waste Forms and
     High Integrity Containers (HICs)
2.   List of Waste Constituents That May Cause Problems with Cement
     Solidification
3.   List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices 
4.   List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
.ENDEND
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, November 12, 2013