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Low-Level Waste and Decommissioning Sub-Arena

Low-level waste and decommissioning comprise one of three sub-arenas that the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) identified in considering which areas of the waste management arena to target for greater use of risk information. This page summarizes the following aspects of this sub-arena:

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Objective

Facilitate the application of risk-informed and performance-based approaches in implementing the NRC's rulemaking, licensing, and oversight functions for low-level waste, including waste incidental to reprocessing, and decommissioning on a case-by-case basis.

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Basis

The NRC staff engages with the agency's licensees and stakeholders (including the public) in making significant decommissioning decisions and implementing significant actions focusing on risk-significance and potential environmental impacts. The NRC's Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS), in coordination with the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research (RES) and the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analysis (CNWRA), is continuing development, maintenance, and evaluation of probabilistic environmental models and codes for risk/dose analysis. Use of probabilistic distributions as inputs to uncertain physical and behavior parameters is common in independent staff reviews in determining risk-significance and request for additional information development. The NRC also uses probabilistic tools with uncertainty analysis to review and assess dose impacts to demonstrate compliance with the dose criteria set forth in Subpart E of 10 CFR Part 20.

In review of waste determinations to be made by the U.S. Department of Energy that waste is incidental to reprocessing, the staff utilizes risk-informed performance-based approaches including uncertainty/sensitivity analyses and alternate conceptual models. The risk insights gained during the review are utilized to establish the monitoring areas for a site.

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Goals

The staff has established the following goals for risk-informed and performance-based activities in this subarena:

  • Continue to evaluate current dose modeling approaches for low-level waste and decommissioning, and provide recommendations for a path-forward to enhance the use of risk-informed and performance-based approaches in licensing reviews and regulatory implementation.
  • Continue making incremental improvement (as practicable) in rulemaking and guidance development, licensing, and oversight, to enhance the use of risk-informed and performance-based approaches.
  • Encourage the industry and NRC licensees to use a risk-informed and performance-based approach in demonstrating compliance with the NRC's risk/dose criteria.

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List of Risk-Informed and Performance-Based Activities

This list shows the ongoing licensing initiatives, projects, and activities that the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has targeted for greater use of risk information in the Low-Level Waste and Decommissioning Sub-Arena within the Waste Management Arena:

SECY-16-0106: Final Rule: Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal (10 CFR Part 61)

Summary Description

Conduct rulemaking to require site-specific analysis for licensed low-level waste disposal facilities. This rule improves on the risk-informed, performance-based framework already present in Part 61 to ensure that the safety analyses performed to evaluate long-term isolation are comprehensive and consistent.

FY 2015

Developed SECY for final rule.

FY 2016

The 10 CFR Part 61 Rule was provided to the Commission for consideration in September 2016.

FY 2017

On September 8, 2017, the staff received direction from the Commission on the path forward in Staff Requirements – SECY-16-0106 – Final Rule: Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal (10 CFR PART 61) (RIN 3150-AI92). The Commission directed the staff to make substantive revisions to the draft final rule and subsequently republish it as a supplemental proposed rule for a 90-day public comment period. The associated guidance documents must also be revised and be made publicly available, concurrent with the comment period on the supplemental proposed rule.

Risk-Informed Basis

This rulemaking uses risk insights of disposal of significant quantities of depleted uranium, other long-lived wastes, and other wastes not fully analyzed during the initial 10 CFR Part 61 rulemaking process.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, May 09, 2018