United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Public Involvement in High-Level Waste Program

Public involvement in NRC activities creates effective regulations. The NRC is interested in the public's views on the safe regulation of a repository, and the NRC provides opportunities for citizens to communicate their opinions. The NRC seeks public involvement throughout the regulatory process so that the safety concerns of all affected people can be promptly addressed.

This page describes how the public can participate in NRC's activities associated with high-level waste disposal and the potential Yucca Mountain repository. It also provides informational materials and resources so that public participation can be more effective. More information is available at our public involvement page and in NUREG/BR-0215, "Public Involvement in the Regulatory Process."

On this page:

Public Web Conferences

The public can be involved by providing comments on NRC documents, including proposed regulations, at the Regulations.gov website.


Developing regulations is called "rulemaking." All rulemakings provide the public with at least one opportunity for comment. When a proposed rule is developed, it is published in the Federal Register for public comment as explained under Public Involvement in Rulemaking.

The NRC published proposed regulations for Yucca Mountain at 10 CFR Part 63 in February 1999. Public comments received during 1999 were factored into the development of the final rule, which, like the proposed rule, was published in the Federal Register and is available at 10 CFR Part 63.

The NRC has proposed to amend its regulations governing the disposal of high-level radioactive wastes in a potential geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, to define the term "unlikely" in quantitative terms. The NRC proposed this amendment to clarify how it plans to implement two of the final environmental standards for Yucca Mountain issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The comment period for this amendment expired April 10, 2002. For more information see the Federal Register notice.

Yucca Mountain Review Plan

The Commission made available and requested comments on the NUREG-1804, Revision 2, "Yucca Mountain Review Plan (Draft Report for comment)." In addition, the Agency held three public meetings on the draft Yucca Mountain Review Plan on May 21-23, 2002, in Nevada. The comment period ended August 12, 2002.

The Commission is releasing NUREG 1804, Final Revision 2, "Yucca Mountain Review Plan."

The plan will guide the NRC staff's safety review of a potential license application and will implement the NRC's regulations in 10 CFR Part 63 for reviewing key technical issues, as they related to repository safety. A Federal Register notice will follow with the response to public comments received on the Draft Yucca Mountain Review Plan.

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As part of the ongoing dialog between the public and NRC, the public can attend one of the numerous meetings open to the public that continue to be held at several locations. These include meetings with the public in the vicinity of a licensed facility, technical meetings with DOE, and meetings with trade organizations and public interest groups.

When NRC staff meetings address issues of local interest, the meetings are generally held near the proposed facility to make it easier for the public to participate. For example, the NRC staff may hold public meetings in Nevada, near Yucca Mountain, to explain the NRC's role as it relates to the DOE's planned activities and to answer questions posed by Nevada citizens. NRC announces major meetings in press releases issued to the news media and mailed to more than 1,000 addressees.

When the NRC staff meets with DOE to discuss safety matters, the meetings are generally open for public observation. In some cases, the public may be able to provide comments during these meetings. An agreement between DOE and NRC that governs interactions between the two agencies during the pre-licensing phase is available. This agreement discusses the extent of public involvement permitted in these interagency meetings. Staff meetings are announced at least 10 calendar days in advance.

See About Public Meetings and Frequently Asked Questions About Public Meetings for more information.

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Meeting Schedule

  • NRC Public Meeting Schedule page - Notices for Commission, Advisory Committee, and many staff meetings are published in the Federal Register, and are also available on NRC's main public meetings schedule page. Look for meetings on the high-level waste repository under Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards (NMSS).

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Meeting Archive

Licensing Meetings between NRC and DOE
- Meeting Summaries
Public Outreach Meetings
- Transcripts and Presentations
Technical Meetings between NRC and DOE Including Meetings to Resolve Key Technical Issues
- Meeting Summaries and Agreements
Quality Assurance and Management Meetings Between NRC and DOE
- Meeting Summaries

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Participation in the Licensing Process

Through the Atomic Energy Act, Congress made it possible for the public to get a full and fair hearing on civilian nuclear matters. Should the President approve DOE's site recommendation, the decision on whether to license the DOE to construct and operate a repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, will, therefore, be deliberated in a public proceeding. The public may participate in the licensing proceeding by submitting written comments, by making oral presentations before a panel of independent judges or the Commissioners, and, in some cases, by becoming a party or "intervenor" to the proceeding. Parties to NRC licensing proceedings may appeal Commission decisions to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and, subsequently, in some cases, to the Supreme Court of the United States. See Public Involvement in Licensing and Public Involvement in Hearings for more information.

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Petitions for Enforcement

If the DOE requests, and if it is granted a license to construct and operate a repository at Yucca Mountain, an individual member of the public or citizen's group may raise health and safety issues in a petition to the NRC to take specific enforcement action regarding the repository. If warranted, the NRC may take action to modify, suspend, or revoke DOE's license or could take other appropriate enforcement action to resolve a problem identified by a petition. For more information, see Public Involvement in Enforcement.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, November 07, 2013