The NRC's Criteria for Adoption of DOE's EIS
Once the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) submits its license application and environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed geologic repository for disposal of high-level waste (HLW) at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must determine whether it is "practicable" to adopt DOE’s EIS, as directed by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA). (For additional information about the NWPA, see The NRC's Environmental Responsibilities for Yucca Mountain.)
The NRC's regulations in 10 CFR Part 51, contain the environmental protection regulations applicable to the NRC's domestic licensing and related regulatory functions. Thus, these regulations implement the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), under which Federal agencies must consider the environmental impacts of their major actions.
In particular, to decide whether it is "practicable" to adopt DOE’s EIS, the NRC will use the criteria in Title 10, Section 51.109, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR 51.109), "Public hearings in proceedings for issuance of materials license with respect to a geologic repository." The regulations in 10 CFR 51.109 implement the NWPA’s direction by setting forth the criteria for determining whether it is practicable to adopt an EIS for the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain. Specifically, it will be practicable to adopt the EIS unless either of the following criteria is met:
- The action proposed to be taken by the Commission differs from the action proposed in the license application submitted by the Secretary of Energy, and the difference may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.
- Significant and substantial new information or new considerations render such environmental impact statement inadequate.