United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Licensing Criteria for the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository

On June 13, 2001, EPA published final standards (40 CFR Part 197) for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in a proposed geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. On November 2, 2001, NRC published final regulations for Yucca Mountain (10 CFR Part 63) on November 2, 2001. As required by statute, NRC’s regulations are consistent with EPA standards.

The State of Nevada and other petitioners challenged both the EPA standards and the NRC regulations in court. On July 9, 2004, the United States Court of Appeals upheld both EPA's standards and NRC's regulations on all but one of the issues raised by the petitioners. The court disagreed with EPA's decision to adopt a 10,000-year period for compliance with the individual protection standard and NRC's adoption of that 10,000-year compliance period in NRC's implementing regulations. Thus, the court vacated EPA's rule at 40 CFR Part 197 to the extent that it specified a 10,000-year compliance period and remanded the matter to EPA. In response to the remand, EPA issued its proposed revised standards on August 22, 2005, (Federal Register Vol. 70, pages 49014-49065 PDF Icon), which provide for a separate dose limit (350 mrem/yr) to be applied beyond 10,000 years up to 1 million years. To comply with EnPA and the court's remand, NRC proposed revisions to 10 CFR Part 63 on September 8, 2005,
(Federal Register Vol. 70, pages 53313-53320 PDF Icon).

The NRC has proposed to amend the regulations governing the disposal of high-level radioactive wastes in a proposed geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The proposed rule would implement the EPA's proposed standards for doses that could occur after 10,000 years up to 1 million years. The proposed rule also specifies a value to be used to represent climate change after 10,000 years, as called by EPA, and specifies that calculations of radiation doses for workers use the same weighting factors that EPA is proposing for calculating individual doses to members of the public. The comment period expired on December 7, 2005. Following review of the public comments and finalization by the EPA, NRC expects to finalize its regulations.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, November 18, 2013