Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste 124th Meeting, January 17, 2001
Official Transcript of Proceedings
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
Title: Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste
Docket Number: (not applicable)
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001
Work Order No.: NRC-030 Pages 114-230
NEAL R. GROSS AND CO., INC.
Court Reporters and Transcribers
1323 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 234-4433. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
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124TH ACNW MEETING
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NUCLEAR WASTE
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JANUARY 17, 2001
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The Advisory Committee met at Conference
Room 2B3, Two White Flint North, B. John Garrick,
ACRS STAFF PRESENT:
John T. Larkins, Executive Director
Lynn G. Deering
Robert Johnson, NRC
Dr. Thomas Leschine
Paul Genoa, NEI
AGENDA ITEM PAGE
Opening Remarks by Chairman Garrick 117
Institutional Control Status
Opening Comments by Larry Camper 119
Presentation by Bob Johnson 120
Comments by Paul Genoa 144
Comments by John Greeves 152
Comments by Larry Camper 154
NRC Report, Long-Term Institutional
Management of U.S. Department of Energy
Legacy Waste Sites
Presentation by Dr. Thomas S. Leschine 168
Comments by Bob Budnitz 210
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Good morning. The
meeting will now come to order. This is the second
day of the 124th Meeting of the Advisory Committee on
Nuclear Waste. My name is John Garrick, Chairman of
Other members of the Committee include
George Hornberger, Milt Levenson and Ray Wymer. This
entire meeting will be open to the public. Today, the
Committee will hear a presentation by the NRC staff on
the Institutional Control Status, hear a presentation
on the principal findings in the National Research
Council Report, "Long-Term Institutional Management of
U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites."
That presentation will be given by the
Chairman of the Committee, of that Committee, Tom
Leschine. We will meet with the Office of Nuclear
Materials Safety and Safeguards to discuss items of
And finally, we're going to review the
ACNW 2000 Action Plan and discuss relevant changes for
our 2001 Action Plan. And in the course of this we
were going to be honored by having a discussion with
former NRC Chairman John Ahearne.
Richard Major is the designated federal
official for the initial portion of today's meeting.
This meeting is being conducted in accordance with the
provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
We haven't received any statements from
members of the public regarding today's session. The
procedure is for anybody wishing to do so, to make
those wishes known to the Committee staff.
And as usual, it's requested that each
speaker be sure and use one of the microphones and
identify themselves and speak clearly. So with that
we're going to move directly to the Agenda.
The Committee member that has the lead on
institutional control matters is Ray Wymer, and I'll
turn the meeting over to Ray.
DR. WYMER: Thanks, John. This morning,
we're going to hear two presentations on the issue of
institutional control, which is a particularly thorny
issue in that it's open-ended. There is really no end
in time to institutional control.
It goes on as long as there is something
to be controlled, and in some cases that's a very long
time. We're going to hear first from the NRC staff.
Bob Johnson will talk about it, and then about the
NRC's approach and the handling of this issue up to
this point and where they plan to go.
And then we'll hear from Tom Leschine,
who, as John said, chaired the Nuclear -- the National
Academy of Sciences Committee that wrote a report on
this about a year ago. So we'll start right off here
with Johnson and --
MR. CAMPER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman,
Committee. For those of you who don't know me, I know
the Committee does, I'm Larry Camper, the chief of the
Decommissioning Branch, and I wanted to make one or
two comments before Robert --
DR. WYMER: Okay. Fine. I'm sorry.
MR. CAMPER: -- gave you the briefing.
You know, in decommissioning we face a lot of
challenges. Decommissioning's highly visible. The
Commission has a great deal of interest in
decommissioning, and perhaps one of the most daunting
challenges that we face is with this question of
adequate institutional controls.
We have about 10 to 12 sites right now
that are opting to pursue the restricted release
scenario at this point in time. We've not had a site
go from A to Z yet. We've not put in place a
successful set of institutional controls.
So literally, we are talking with you in
real time as we go through the implementation of the
license termination rule and the provision for
institutional controls set forth in sub-part (e) of
Robert is the project manager dealing with
the institutional controls issue. He's a member of
our Institutional Working Group and he has been the
lead on the staff as we work toward an arrangement,
hopefully, ultimately with the Department of Energy,
and he'll tell you more about that.
So I just wanted you to know from my
standpoint that we're putting a lot of management time
and energy into the institutional controls issue.
It's very challenging, in particular, finding a
responsible third party to step up to the plate and
assume the stewardship in perpetuity that's called for
in the Regulations.
So with that, I think I'll ask Robert to
step us through the briefing.
DR. JOHNSON: Thanks, Larry. Good
morning, and it's a pleasure to be with you today as
a speaker. I've in my past been your coordinator for
many years, so I trust that you'll be kind to me.
DR. JOHNSON: But really, you now --
DR. HORNBERGER: Fat chance.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: We've finally got you
where we want you.
DR. LEVENSON: And some of us are new and
don't have to be kind to you.
DR. JOHNSON: So we'll see how this goes,
but as Larry said, this is an emerging issue. It's a
new issue, not only that we're facing, but of course,
other federal agencies, Department of Energy and EPA,
are also wrestling with this issue, maybe on a
different scale, but it certainly -- our work on this
issue is very important.
And it's sort of right now, I kind of view
it as there's more questions about this issue than
there are answers. So I'll say I welcome your
questions. However, I may not have all the answers.
But it's good to kind of get those out and
understand, you know, what other people's views are,
what people think some of the key concerns are with
proceeding here. So today, in this talk I'll give
-- it's just to point -- kind of -- it's like a status
In a sense, this is new and a starting for
us. We'd like to tell you where we are right at this
point in time, and where we're headed. And then maybe
periodically, you know, as we go down this sort of
uncertain path, you know, we'll keep you informed you
and we'll brief you on the status of our progress.
But today, I thought it was useful to give
you some background, you know. What are just a
summary of the institutional requirement --
institutional control requirements of the license
termination rule, what we see the institutional
control issue to be, the NRC initiatives to seek
resolution, where we are right now with respect to
seeking that resolution, and then just mention, you
know, our involvement in keeping stakeholders
And of course, the ACNW is an important
stakeholder, too. I'd like to just go over some of
the requirements in the license termination rule. Of
course, as you're familiar, the license termination
rule allows for the option of restricted release,
assuming certain requirements are met.
And institutional control requirements are
one part of the set of requirements that would have to
ultimately be met for any site that is proposing for
a restricted release. And so today's talk is only
focusing on just those parts of the license
First of all, with respect to dose
criteria, legally enforceable institutional controls
are required so that doses will not exceed 25 millirem
in the future. But the rule also included caps on
doses, assuming that institutional controls would
So in a way, I think the rule was
recognizing, you know, some of the issues that have
been brought up about it's not likely or it will be
very challenging for institutional controls to remain
effective over the time period, the long time period
that, you know, we're faced with.
And so as a result, caps were put into the
rule to minimize those consequences. Two caps,
possibilities are there that if controls fail that
doses would not exceed 100 millirem per year, or for
special cases they would not exceed 500 millirem per
year, and that's for special cases.
Now, let's look a little bit at the
special case for 500 millirem, because this is a
special case. It is a higher dose, of course; 100
millirem being public, you know, dose limit, the 500
So the rule contemplated this would be
very rare and certain very stringent criteria would be
needed if this were to be approved, and certain
conditions would have to be met if this were to be
First of all, it would only be, or this
particular case would only be acceptable if the
applicant could demonstrate that further reductions
down to the 100 millirem are either not technically
achievable, prohibitively expensive or would result in
net public or environmental harm.
So that's the first criterion that they
would have to meet. Secondly, they would -- the
applicant would have to put in durable institutional
controls. This might include things like redundant
controls, multiple; that is, multiple controls.
Should one fail, you know, others would be
available to act. This might include certain
engineering features that might be more durable. And
then lastly, government ownership was contemplated as
a possibility in the statement of considerations, and
possibly federal ownership and control.
Also, in the rule, five-year rechecks for
institutional controls were required so that doses
-- could be confirmed that doses would not exceed the
25 millirem. And this limits the time period.
Should there be a failure, theoretically
anyhow, if you do have five-year rechecks then you
would only have a dose exceeding the 25 millirem limit
for a limited period of time, a five-year period of
The rule also required that a government
entity or an independent third party be -- that
arrangements be made, you know, to either provide
oversight to make sure that the monitoring and
maintenance, you know, and the five-year rechecks were
being done or step in and provide for that themselves.
Finally, requirements for sufficient
financial assurance are put in place so that there is
funding available for rechecks and controls and
maintenance. So the net result for this special case,
500 millirem, if it's needed, you know, is that you
would be limiting it to five-year periods of time.
It would also be a flag that more durable
controls, whatever they can be proposed, you know,
would be needed. And so it's a way of saying, these
are the higher risk cases, and so more, much more
needs to be done, you know, to protect health and
safety over the long period of time for these
particular cases if they're to be approved.
The rule also has requirements to seek
public involvement, in particular, that licensees are
to seek the advice of affected parties in the public
early in the planning process. And this is important
for two reasons in particular.
The local, state governments are often the
ones that understand the controls that are appropriate
for this particular area the best. Which ones, you
know, are going to be most effective, most
So it's important to get their advice
early on in the planning stage. Secondly, seeking
advice from the public is important because they're
the people that are going to be affected. They're the
people that will be living with the facility, you
know, for a long period of time.
And so their views on impacts to them and
their community are important to consider. It's
important also to say that the decommissioning plan
that is required before any remediation begins is to
contain the plan that the licensee has for
And it's to contain a number of the things
listed here. It's a report on how they sought the
advice of stakeholders, what things were recommended
by the stakeholders and how they considered the
stakeholders' input in coming up with their
institutional control plans in the decommissioning
So this is all done up front before any
work is started. It's also done up front when the
planning for remediation is going on, so that you have
this sort of integration of how you're planning for
the long-term institutional controls, and maybe how
that fits into the actual clean-up of a site.
All that is done up front in the
decommissioning plan before any work begins. All that
is done, the input from the parties is done up front.
The rule asks that advice be sought from the public on
whether or not they feel doses, you know, will exceed
25 millirem; sufficiency of financial assurance.
Will the controls proposed by the licensee
be enforceable? And then making sure that the plans
proposed will not impose undue burdens on the local
community or the affected parties.
The NRC, of course, will review what the
licensee has done and how they've considered the
public input as the staff, you know, reviews and
approves the plan.
The rule also has requirements for
sufficient financial assurance to allow a third party,
including a government custodian, to assure and carry
out the five-year rechecks in the control and
In the event that, you know, the
arrangements that the licensee has made, you know,
fail financially, there will be a fund, you know, set
up that would provide funding for this over the time
Now, what is the issue? I've just sort of
summarized, glossed over the requirements in the rule,
but what is the issue? And of course, I think it
first focuses on durability. We certainly have
mentioned that the institutional controls require a
long time period.
And when you look at the 10 or 12 sites
that currently we're thinking are either planning or
considering restrictive release, for the most part
they're uranium/thorium sites, long-lived radio
nuclides that will require up to a 1,000-year time
period for controls.
And so this long time period is one of the
challenges. And you know, there are many factors that
could contribute to durability, you know, that you
might hope would help deal with this challenge like
redundancy or layering of controls that might be
proposed, like I said, the five-year rechecks, and
having funds available.
These all contribute, you know, to
achieving, you know, the duration or making sure that
the controls remain effective over the time period.
But the time period is still unprecedented. It is
kind of the crux of the problem.
And I think, of course, as we'll hear in
the talk after myself from Dr. Leschine, the National
Academy Report identified a number of limitations on
institutional controls. I'll just mention a few, but
of course, he'll be giving you the summary.
But some of their conclusions were that
there's a limited likelihood that controls will remain
in effect over this time period. Some oversight
enforcement in enforcement of these controls is
needed, but there's going to be a lot of difficulty in
enforcement and in providing sustained oversight.
What we need, they concluded, was some way
of detecting failures that might occur, and then the
ability to correct over that long time period. So in
a way, I might say that some of the requirements in
our license termination rule addressed some of the
National Academy recommendations, like our legally
enforceable controls, five-year rechecks, independent
oversight, financial assurance.
You know, these are all good things in the
rule, you know, that at least and of course, some of
these issues in the National Academy Report are not
new. They've been around, and so our rule
incorporated a lot of thoughts on what might make
However, that's sort of the good news
part. The rule has some good things in it, you know,
but we're now finding difficulties with implementing
We're finding difficulties in identifying
willing and acceptable governments or independent
third parties, you know, to provide the continuity,
the sustainability, the oversight, the enforceability.
There's a potential and in some cases a
real unwillingness of local and state government to
accept this long-term responsibility. Secondly, there
are a lot of concerns raised, also in the National
Academy Report, with the long-term effectiveness of
private arrangements, ownership, passage of ownership,
How do you maintain or transition from one
owner to the next, you know? How do you assure that?
And then lastly right now, at this point in time
there's uncertainty regarding DOE's agreement to
assume authority provided by the Nuclear Waste Policy
Act, for them to provide long-term institutional
controls for sites like ours.
I'll talk a little bit more about this in
a minute, about this provision in the Nuclear Waste
Policy Act. But the way the law is written, it's
discretionary rather than mandatory that DOE assume
So where do we go from here? We have an
initiative underway or just beginning to resolve this
-- hopefully resolve this institutional control issue.
We have begun discussions with DOE regarding the
feasibility of DOE providing long-term institutional
control under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, what we
That's the shortcut, you know, 151(b). We
met in December, first with DOE most recently, and
we're meeting again this week. We've provided them
background information about our rule requirements,
about the sites that we envision are possibilities in
going this route, and we proposed some plans for
proceeding, you know, for their consideration.
Again, we emphasize the point that we're
really only looking at maybe 10 or 12 sites that are
currently considering restrictive release. The actual
number of sites that might be candidates for transfer
to DOE might be far fewer.
And that has to be worked out, you know,
as licensees firm up their plans, as the staff, you
know, reviews their applications. But in any event,
it's important to understand, you know, for DOE to
understand, for others to understand how many sites
we're thinking of and the nature of our sites compared
to sites that DOE may be used to, more used to in
facing every day within their complex.
Those are far smaller, far simpler
relatively speaking. So that's important for all of
us to keep in mind. Like to point out that in
December the Commission did approve the staff's
initiative to seek an MOU with DOE regarding 151(b).
And very importantly, the Commission wants
to be kept informed about our progress, and we're to
immediately inform them if we're not successful in
gaining DOE's agreement, you know, for possible
transfer of these sites.
Now, let's just summarize a little bit of
what the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 151(b) provisions
include. As I said before, DOE is authorized to
assume title and custody of the low-level waste and
the lands following license termination by NRC.
And then they would be the owner and they
would provide protection over the long-term, but
that's discretionary and DOE has to agree to accept
that authority. There are conditions specified in the
Nuclear Waste Policy Act for Commission
One is that, of course, our license is
terminated. Two is that NRC requirements, including
financial assurance, have been met, that there would
be a no-cost transfer to the federal government.
And then the Commission would have to
determine and make a finding that federal ownership is
either necessary or desirable for protection of the
public health and safety over the time period.
Now, I'd like to just sort of mention a
few of the benefits that might be gained by proceeding
with this approach to resolution. We feel that the
federal government may be in the best position to
provide sustainable controls over the long-term.
Of course, I don't think that you can
really guarantee something for the time period we're
looking at, but you can do the best you can, and
federal control may be the best way for achieving
But federal control may be the only option
that we have if local and state governments are
unwilling to accept this responsibility. Our rule did
say local, state or federal governments might be
preferable, you know, for providing this type of
oversight long-term control.
Federal control may be the most convincing
way to assure the affected parties that the controls
will be sustainable. But of course, I'm sure there'll
be many concerns about, you know, showing that or
The statement of considerations in the
license termination rule notes that federal control is
acceptable. So the Commission previously, or when the
rule was promulgated, you know, did consider that
particularly for sites with the uranium/thorium long-
lived radio nuclides that federal control is
The statement of considerations in the
license termination rule also recognized that DOE is
an option under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act 151(b).
So they at that time recognized that this particular
part of the law was applicable to these kinds of
We feel that resolving the institutional
control issue is very necessary for the acceptability
of the restrictive release option. If this issue
can't be resolved then that option is going to be very
difficult, if not impossible, to implement.
Lastly, DOE has valuable experience and
expertise in long-term stewardship. You're probably
aware that, I think it's over the last 11 years
they've been working with us under UMTRFCA, and for
the Title I sites, about 20 sites have been -- or
long-term stewardship arrangements have been set up
and DOE is providing long-term stewardship for those
And I believe two Title II sites have been
transferred to DOE and long-term stewardship. So
under -- we have worked together with them under this
program for very similar sites. Although they may be
larger sites, they're very similar, and we've had a
very positive experience working that.
It's been successful. Of course, DOE will
also have the responsibility for long-term stewardship
of their sites, over 100 sites. And they're in
transition, as you know, some of you know very well,
and their responsibilities for long-term stewardship
for these more complex sites, you know, will be
growing in the future.
So they're experience and their expertise,
you know, there's a fair amount right now, but a lot
more will be growing in the future. So this is a
benefit to our few sites kind of going in with that
pool, we feel.
I'd like to mention that we're just
beginning our talks with DOE, as I mentioned. Of
course, in the transition with the administration and
some of their people that have been in leadership
positions, there'll be a changeover.
And so more background and negotiations,
you know, are planned, you know, over the next few
weeks and we'll probably have a better idea of where
we're headed in the next few weeks.
But the Commission has asked us to give a
status report next October, you know, of our -- of how
we've progressed, unless, you know, there's something
to report on sooner than that.
So today is more of letting you know that
we're starting this effort, and where we're headed in
general, and we'll keep you informed of the status
along the way. What I also wanted to mention is that
we're keeping our stakeholders and licensees informed,
In the November workshop on
decommissioning with industry and other stakeholders
I gave about the same talk to them, letting them know
of the issue and how we're proceeding, and invited any
feedback from them at that time.
And we plan on keeping them informed, as
there are important -- as important progress comes up.
If we have an agreement in principle or if we have a
draft MOU, we'll be involving those stakeholders
appropriately. So that's an important part of our
So in conclusion, this is an important
issue for us. We wanted to keep you informed about
starting work in this area. And while it's very
important for us and we've made that case to you I
think this morning, you now, we welcome your feedback,
but it really depends on how much, you know, you want
to be involved with this issue.
But at least I think we should keep you
informed because it is important to the success of the
whole part of the Decommissioning Program, that is,
the part that relates to potential restricted release
sites. Any questions?
DR. WYMER: Thank you very much. I had a
couple of comments and then a question. One is, this
problem divides itself pretty cleanly into two parts.
There's the institutional controls part, which is sort
of the legalistic part, the who owns it and who's
responsible for it and financial assurance.
And then there's the other part, which is
the technical part, which how in the world do you keep
this stuff where you want it, which is really the
issue that relates to health and safety. How do you
keep the material from getting out and affecting
On the technical side -- the first side is
much more difficult, the financial assurance side and
the guarantees and that sort of thing. That's a
The technical side, just to throw out some
thoughts with respect to what might be required on the
part of NRC on a development or research program, the
areas that emerge pretty cleanly are hydrology and
early nuclide transport.
There needs to be a lot understood about
what the water does and what the radio isotopes do
when they move. There's some work going on in the
research program on the retention of radio nuclides.
And then a second R&D point is monitoring.
You mentioned monitoring and that's extremely
important, and it's particularly difficult because it
has to be done over such a long period of time.
So the instrumentation has to be durable,
has to be maintained. So there's a major monitoring
activity, which is a technical problem. And a third
area is the one of engineered barriers where if you
want to gain assurance that you're going to -- or
reasonable assurance that you're going to keep the
material contained, then you probably, often you will
not be able to rely on just what is naturally in the
environment, what the setting is, the natural setting
And there have to be some sort of
engineered barriers like chemically reactive screens
that are put into the ground, absorbents of various
kinds, or other kinds of materials that can sequester
One of DOE's favored approaches, as I
mentioned to you before the meeting is a pump and
treat approach, which is not a long-term answer. You
can't keep pumps running very well for hundreds of
years, and you can't keep treatment plants running for
hundreds of years reliably without a lot more
assurance than it's likely that will be available.
So the third point is engineered barriers
from the technological point of view. That's my
speech. Now, I had a question. You talk about
uranium and thorium sites, but it seems to me that,
you know, you got 104 reactors sitting out there, some
of which will have probably institutional controls
over those sites.
So I don't think that this business of
going to green field, while it's a goal of all the
utilities, they'd love to all go to green field,
that's their stated goal, it may well not be possible
in all cases to get to green field, and there'll be
restricted release sites.
I wondered why those weren't mentioned in
what you were talking about.
DR. JOHNSON: I'll attempt to answer part
of the question, but maybe some of the other staff
might support me. As currently, as I've been told,
reactor sites right now aren't proposing restricted
release, although --
DR. WYMER: I know they're not proposing
DR. JOHNSON: -- they're certainly -- I
mean, we're saying this certainly could be an issue in
the future, and I don't know if Larry or others might
want to further elaborate on that. But that certainly
is a possibility in the future.
MR. GREEVES: It's not a plan.
DR. JOHNSON: It's not a --
MR. GREEVES: The reactors are all telling
us that, you know, they're going to clean up to our
criteria. John Greeves, for the record.
And Larry, just jump in here, but --
MR. CAMPER: Yes. No, I would -- John,
simply I would only add to that. I mean, we have no
indications at this point that any of the rector
facilities would be pursuing a restricted release
In fact, what we're finding is for reactor
sites, as compared to some of the processing sites
like Robert's referring to, I mean, the reactor sites
are pristine by comparison.
I mean, they're able in their unrestricted
release scenario, in fact, to demonstrate DCGLs and
clean-up methodologies that can come down to a few
millirem, I mean, a few millirem.
So probably, the most complicated thing
that I might foresee in some reactor sites would be
the potential for groundwater problems. You know, the
reactors have a rent program which is designed to
monitor off-site biota and water and what have you,
but we're finding that there's more of a need for on-
site groundwater monitoring.
And there might be a few sites where
there's a groundwater issue, but by and large, at
least at this stage of the game, there's not an
indication that the reactor sites are going to need to
or want to pursue a restricted release scenario.
DR. WYMER: This sort of goes back to one
of the presentations we had yesterday on entombment.
And there were some indications that there might be
some possibility for restricted release -- during that
discussion -- at reactor sites.
So I certainly agree it would be highly
desirable to go to unrestricted release, green field,
for the reactor sites, but I don't know.
MR. CAMPER: Well, of course, the
fundamental difference there in the entombment
approach is the degree of clean-up that takes place as
compared to pursuing an unrestricted release. You
know, under entombment, of course, the idea is to do
some clean-up and ultimately come down to the question
of what to do about greater than Class C waste under
DR. WYMER: Yes, that's right.
MR. CAMPER: -- is it in or is it out.
That's a big deal.
DR. WYMER: It is a big deal.
MR. CAMPER: So the question is, you're
letting this scenario -- you're entombing it. You're
letting it cool off as a mechanism of decommissioning,
as opposed to --
DR. WYMER: Yes.
MR. CAMPER: -- pursuing a rather
DR. WYMER: Yes.
MR. CAMPER: And of course, unrestricted
release. So fundamental difference there, as you
appreciate, I'm sure. But again, the problem that we
see for the restricted release scenario and the sites
that are, you know, unrestricted release, or the
complicated materials --
DR. WYMER: Yes.
MR. CAMPER: -- and their processing
sites, and there's extensive contamination in many
cases. That's not the case for the reactor sites.
DR. WYMER: No. No, I --
MR. CAMPER: Which of course, is a good
DR. WYMER: Yes. Okay. Well, I just
wondered why it wasn't even mentioned that it was --
MR. CAMPER: Yes, right. It was a good
MR. GREEVES: Let me just add, if I could,
we're prepared to deal with both, and you got a
briefing, apparently, yesterday on entombment.
DR. WYMER: Yes, we did.
MR. GREEVES: So that would be the vehicle
that we could use, per chance, somebody in future
years came forward with that approach. The industry's
interested enough to have asked us to look seriously
into the entombment topic, but that would be subject
to -- you know -- advance notice of rule-making, and
I'm sure we'll get plenty of comments on it.
So I think that's something we'll be back
talking to you about and you'll get a lot of
DR. WYMER: Well, it was just -- of
course, it's certainly an observation about the
reactors. I understood that the plan was in fact to
go to green field.
MR. GREEVES: NEI's in the audience if you
want to hear from them. That's up to you.
DR. WYMER: Well, if you've got a few
comments, Paul, you might want to kick them in.
MR. GENOA: Yes. Thank you. Good
morning. Paul Genoa, with NEI. And in fact, your
point is well-taken. We have every belief that
virtually all the operating reactor sites in the early
decommissioning sites can be released under the
current unrestricted release scenario.
But we are looking to the future and the
future is not, you know, completely certain. Low-
level waste disposal has been unavailable to certain
generators in the past, and we view in the future it's
We would ask that the entombment option be
explored so that we know that there is a safe way to
decommission a power reactor, even in the absence of
available low-level waste disposal. So we're looking
at it from a contingency point of view.
DR. WYMER: Oh.
MR. GENOA: And we certainly believe in a
performance-based rule, if that's possible. The only
thing I would add is there are situations. I mean, we
do have the -- you know -- the failed TMI facility.
It's possible that that might be a
restricted release, entombed facility at some point.
It may make more sense to deal with it in place, in
situ, as you pointed out yesterday, as opposed to
moving it somewhere else.
That's just an example. It has not been
proposed by the company, but I use it for illustrative
DR. WYMER: Right.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: While you're here I
wanted to ask, many of the sites, the reactor sites
have on site low-level waste burial facilities.
MR. GENOA: A few have had very low
licensed material at very low concentrations disposed
of on site. That's true.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. Is it your
expectation that those would -- those sites would be
removed or --
MR. GENOA: Not necessarily. The criteria
that's been used under the 2002 and the old 20.302,
alternate disposal requests, were always in the range
of a few millirem.
DR. WYMER: A few millirem.
MR. GENOA: That I know of. And of
course, the requirements are that we go back and
reevaluate those at license termination, and that the
dose components of any of those on site disposals must
be factored into the equation of the residual activity
and the dose consequences to the public.
So those would be considered under license
termination. And our view is that all that I know of
would, either unremediated or remediated, meet the
unrestricted release criteria.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: There is a couple of
cases of tritium contamination as -- would you say the
same applies there?
MR. GENOA: I don't --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: We mentioned TMI. We
know that there's some tritium contamination.
MR. GENOA: Yes. That facility I think is
on a more complicated site and is not characteristic
of the other sites. I'm not aware of any of the other
sites that have groundwater contamination exceeding
drinking water standards. And you know, I'm not sure.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Okay.
DR. WYMER: Thank you, Paul. It's always
good to have the industry perspective. With respect
to trying to guess what's going to happen in the
future, Nils Bohrs, quoted a note, said: "Predictions
that are very uncertain, especially about the future."
MR. GENOA: I find that to be the case.
DR. WYMER: Are there anymore questions of
DR. LEVENSON: I have I guess two
comments. One, I'm sort of intrigued by your position
that states are unwilling to accept responsibility and
In the part of the world where I spend a
few days a month that I'm not concerned with ACNW I've
been involved with a fair number of things at the
state, county, city and all the way down to local
school boards where the federal government has
mandated unfunded responsibilities and liabilities.
And this seems to be a unique position of
the federal government, that they don't have the
ability to mandate that. I wish that could be
extended to other parts of the government. It really
is -- you really are taking a unique consideration.
The other comment I want to make is
somewhat in the same line as Ray's about the business
of, we need to know more about retention and
hydrology, because if we accept what we know now in
the current modeling there would not be a single ore
body anybody -- anywhere in the world that our current
assumptions about how rapidly things move through
nature clearly is not sustained by what happens in the
So it's kind of a plea to direct our
research and our thinking that we can -- in the near
term we can make overestimates of things and then say,
well, we'll do this.
For the very long term where we're not
going to be doing things, it's very important that was
have a more basic understanding of what is real, not
what is computed.
DR. WYMER: All right. George? John?
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I wanted to pick up on
this option in the rule of the -- what I'll call the
walk away option with a 100 MR and the 500 MR caps.
What other provisions are there, other than dose, for
removing institutional controls?
DR. JOHNSON: For removing institutional
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Well, the one option is
-- the conditions under which you can essentially walk
away from the site.
DR. JOHNSON: If I understand your
question, I think the license would be terminated.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes.
DR. JOHNSON: If you have one of those --
well, either you demonstrate 20 -- you don't exceed 25
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Right.
DR. JOHNSON: And assuming institutional
controls fail, you either are not exceeding 100 or not
exceeding 500 --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: So the failure of the
institutional controls is not the same as eliminating
the institutional controls.
DR. JOHNSON: No. It's a calculation
again, you know, of what if, you know, we know they're
fragile. We know they may not last. So calculate
what the dose would be, assuming they fail.
And then that's intended to limit the
consequence, should they fail, to either the public
dose on that or in very special cases, the 500
millirem. And I listed all those requirements, you
It's a stringent set of requirements that
would have to be met, you know, if you had a situation
under the 500 millirem cap situation.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: You talked a little bit
about experience and the DOE has already had quite a
bit of experience in institutional control. Also,
hasn't EPA had a considerable amount of experience
with institutional control of nonradioactive sites,
but with hazardous sites?
DR. JOHNSON: Exactly.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: And has that had any
bearing on any of your approaches?
DR. JOHNSON: I think it's -- like I said,
this is early in our getting involved, but you know,
recently I attended a conference and EPA gave a
presentation of where they are.
And they summarized, saying they have over
600 sites that are currently in the five-year recheck
or their institutional control time phase, and around
3,000 separate institutional controls at those 600
So yes, they do have a lot of experience.
You know, we haven't yet kind of aggressively looked
at what things might pertain to our particular sites.
However, some of our staff, you know, have been
involved with, you know, looking at their guidance and
looking at, you know, their past experience, and this
may be useful.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. This sounds like
a classical case for risk harmonization as far as an
opportunity for it. Are there any genuine gestures,
given that we're now looking at institutional controls
for nuclear sites for looking at the more broader
issue of consistent regulation of hazardous sites in
Are there some over-arching requirements
that are evolving?
DR. JOHNSON: I guess I can say I'm only
aware of the one study that recently was done by an S-
Core (phonetic) subcommittee to compare --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes.
DR. JOHNSON: -- the requirements and
guidance among DOE, NRC and EPA, and I think that was
recently published. John, do you have any --
MR. GREEVES: Yes. John Greeves again.
We're at what I would describe the front end of this
process in terms of our regulation, but there are a
number of paradigms out there in terms of
You're going to hear from Dr. Leschine
shortly, and I'm sure he looked into some of these.
But there are the CERCLA approach. That's under a
piece of -- it's a different piece of legislation, and
I think we do need to go to school as to what has EPA
done with those 600 sites.
But it's a different paradigm. They don't
require, to my knowledge, federal or state control.
They do require the five-year rechecks. And you know,
600 cases, that's a lot of experience.
So I think, Larry, that's something we
really should go to school on. We've worked with EPA.
They're part of the Interagency Steering Committee on
Radiation Standards. What we have done is looked at
the various regulations that are on the book, and
evaluate how institutional controls is effected for
each of those.
And we've gone to international meetings
and made those presentations, mostly comparing what
the differences are. It is very hard to harmonize
between legislation. You have one set of legislation
that controls the CERCLA sites.
Another paradigm is the DOE paradigm.
They're automatically responsible for their sites.
They provide institutional control for those "100
sites" that are out there.
A third paradigm is Part 40, our
regulation which is really a commercial site that by
legislation turns over to the Department of Energy at
a certain point in time. So that's a third paradigm.
The fourth paradigm is the one we're
dealing with, which is a commercial site that is not
required for the Department of Energy to pick it up.
It is discretionary.
So this is kind of a web that I expect
we're going to be talking to you about for the next
year or two, and sorting out over time. We need to do
more homework on what EPA is doing, because they may
have some techniques that would be quite valuable to
us. So Larry, you want to add?
MR. CAMPER: Yes, let me add to that. I
mean, I think you did a great job of framing the
paradigms, the possibilities. I mean, where we are as
a staff right now is we have the license termination
rule which went into effect in the '96-97 time frame.
Arguably, the institutional control
scenario called for in the LTR is a stringent
standard. It really -- it requires very precise
things in terms of durable institutional controls,
financial shorts and what have you.
We know that we have this population of 10
or 12 sites that appear to be headed that way. So
we're trying to make sure that the institutional
control as envisioned in that regulation can in fact
be carried out.
What we're finding out is that it's
problematic. We're finding, for example, in one case
a state -- I won't name the state; it's not important
-- but a state that has some of these sites made it
very clear there's simply no way they were going to
step up and become this third party.
Too much -- too many unanswered questions.
The standards may change. The role of government may
change. Politics is a factor. Why do I want to
assume responsibility for this site as a state that I
don't have right now.
We don't mandate under our approach that
they would do that. That is unusual, you're right, in
some cases. We are finding -- we had one entity that
came in and proposed a private enterprise scenario.
They have subsequently withdrawn that.
They're not going to pursue restricted release after
all. They're going to go with unrestricted release,
take everything off site. The problem with the
business approach was you start to worry about
continuity and stability of a business arrangement for
It raises a litany of questions that have
to be answered. So it was going to be problematic.
It was going to pose a lot of questions. I don't know
if in the final analysis it would have been sustained
or not. I doubt it, but it's possible.
So we look at this and we say, okay, we
have this criteria now. What is the most viable
entity that -- whose paradigm is closest to ours that
has the experience and infrastructure for managing
these sites in perpetuity, if it comes to that, vested
upon that entity?
We also recognize and we've had some early
discussions amongst ourselves that as we go down the
road, let's say, for example, if we're not successful
in working out an arrangement for an MOU with the
Department of Energy, then we're going to really have
to stop and come back and say, okay.
Now, what have -- what is our experience
to date on this institutional control scenario called
for in our regulations? The DOE's scenario didn't
work out. What do we do now? What do we do now?
And one of the things we have in fact
talked about, as John alluded to, is what other
paradigms are out there? How do they work? Might it
necessitate going back to the Commission and saying,
we have this approach in our regulations.
We now have some experience, some three,
four, five years of experience. We have found the
following. We believe we now need to do x or y. It
could come to that and your point is along those
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. Yes. Well,
there's always the question of, if we're being
motivated here to protect the health and safety of the
public, what contribution to the health and safety of
the public are we making by focusing on the nuclear
sites and somewhat isolating them in terms of how we
perform things like institutional control?
And you can't help but wonder if this
isn't one-tenth of one fraction percent of the real
problem here. And my real question, I guess, is
-- and of course, the NRC can only do what the NRC
Charters asks it to do.
But I can't help but wonder if there isn't
a much, much bigger question out there when you start
talking about health and safety. And again, the
public is being led to believe, because of all the
attention we give to the nuclear sites, that this is
the problem, when in fact it may not be.
And I was just curious what -- and I
appreciate John's comment -- I'm just curious about
whether these other paradigms are having any attention
given to them in that regard. I'm hopeful that
somebody is trying to put this in some sort of global
DR. JOHNSON: If I can just make an
observation on that. Even though the topic may be --
the words were institutional controls you know -- DOE
uses long-term stewardship. That's a broader -- it
just gives you the feeling that there's more to it
And I think that certainly in our rule
that's the same situation. It's just not deed
restrictions, you know, we're talking about. It's
maintaining the effectiveness of those engineered
barriers over time.
But the importance I think in our process
is that the decommissioning plan needs to look at not
only the engineered barriers that should be proposed,
but how they should -- how monitoring needs to be
designed and how the effectiveness of those engineered
barriers over time, you know, need to be monitored and
maintained, you know.
So it's the broader picture and putting
that whole picture together in the decommissioning
plan to make sure that the designs for the engineered
barriers, the designs for the monitoring, designs for
the five-year rechecks are all done together, you
know, with the thought in mind up front to possibly
keep in mind that part of the engineered system is to
-- is that it has to maintain its effectiveness over
the time period.
So I mean, that's one good thing about
doing the planning all up front.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes.
DR. WYMER: You got any questions with the
MR. LARSON: I thought the 500 millirem
requires a Commission decision that that's an
acceptable release, the release site. Isn't that what
the license termination rule requires? Don't they
have to make a decision of 500 or more? I'm just
looking at some of the --
MR. GREEVES: They have to consult with
MR. LARSON: All right. I can't --
MR. GREEVES: I don't -- you know -- the
regulation is what the regulation is.
MR. LARSON: Okay.
MR. CAMPER: I do want to -- you know,
Howard, I want to point out -- again, this is for Dr.
Garrick and Dr. Wymer, too. I want to make three
comments here. It gets back to the comments that Dr.
Wymer made about the question of hydrology and
And under the institutional control or the
strict release scenario bear in mind again that the
licensee has to demonstrate through its hydrologic
analysis, through its modeling -- and we have taken
steps recently to try to make the modeling approaches
more realistic in bringing more probability to bear.
We've been constantly refining the codes
that we use. But the licensee has to demonstrate that
that site is at 25 millirem under the scenario that it
intends to leave it there, and that if those
institutional controls fail, if they fail, it's 100.
It's the safety cap of the 100 and 500
under certain circumstances. So and our staff, of
course, looks very closely at the proposed engineered
barriers, the hydrology analyses that are provided,
the dose modeling that's provided and so forth and so
on, to insure that the engineered barriers and all the
parameters the licensee is proposing for leaving that
site under restricted release will in fact insure the
25 millirem layer is met.
With regards to your point, Howard, I know
there's consultation that's required with the
MR. LARSON: Okay.
MR. CAMPER: I have to really go back and
look closely at that.
MR. LARSON: And but as far as agreement
states are concerned.
MR. CAMPER: Come again?
MR. LARSON: As far as agreement states
are concerned, if an agreement state decided that a
privately-owned facility was okay, I mean, that the
land and disposal?
MR. CAMPER: Yeah. I mean, you know, the
rule was in light of compatibility --
MR. LARSON: Right, that's true. Right.
MR. CAMPER: The rule was in light of
compatibility, of course, in the agreement states.
Now, they had the normal three years to implement the
rule. We have been pulsing them recently, a number of
meetings like the origination agreement states, and
CRCPD as to what the states are doing.
We're finding, of course, that they're
still early in the game, as well. But yes, I mean,
they could entertain a private scenario situation,
just as we could. Whether they would find it
acceptable or not, I just don't know.
MR. LARSON: Well, would we comment if
they proposed that in light of our own belief that it
should be a federal, state or local --
MR. CAMPER: Well, but again remember, we
would entertain, we would --
MR. LARSON: Okay.
MR. CAMPER: -- when MOLYCORP, that
proposed a private scenario, came in -- it was
subsequently withdrawn -- we were going to evaluate
that proposal. And it doesn't have to be a
It's preferable because of the longer term
-- the envisioned longer term stability of a
government as opposed to a private enterprise
scenario. But a private enterprise scenario is not
ruled out for consideration --
MR. LARSON: But we had a proposed rule-
making for private enterprise and we withdrew it.
MR. CAMPER: Well --
MR. LARSON: Seven or eight years ago.
MR. CAMPER: Yes, but we -- under the LTR,
we've not yet taken one all the way under the LTR,
under the license termination rule.
DR. WYMER: Any other comments,
DR. WYMER: If not, well, thanks. It's
good to get this very early in front of briefing on
this because I think it'll become a hot topic as time
wears on. So we'll look forward to having continuing
input from the staff here on this.
MR. CAMPER: Thank you. And we suspect
we'll come back to you and talk more about this again
as we work our way through it.
DR. WYMER: We would anticipate that, yes.
MR. CAMPER: There's going to be a lot of
lessons learned, and we'll be back to you.
DR. WYMER: Now, before we turn to the
next presentation I'd like to make a little personal
aside here. We have two representatives of the
National Academy of Sciences here, Tom Leschine, whom
you'll hear from in a few minutes. Oh, three.
And the senior staffer who was the
responsible Academy staffer on this committee that
turned out the report on institutional management, Bob
Andrews, who will soon be in that enviable state of
grace known as retirement.
MR. ANDREWS: Like you are.
DR. WYMER: Yes, like I am. And of
course, the ever popular Bob Budnitz, who are all
sitting over here. So okay. I wanted to get the
little personal things out of the way here.
So now, let's go ahead and hear from Tom
about the Academy Report.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: He's ready to go and
plug it right in for you.
DR. LESCHINE: Okay.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: While we're getting set
up here it's important to point out here that not only
do we have with us today the Chairman, Tom Leschine of
the current form of the Committee, but we have the
last Chairman, Bob Budnitz.
So we have a lot of experience and
continuity here, that of course, as Ray said, we have
the staff member that has been through this for many
years. So we welcome you all here.
DR. WYMER: While we're waiting for our
high technology stuff to kick in here, let me go ahead
and introduce Dr. Tom Leschine, who was the Chair of
quite a long-running Committee that produced this
report on institutional management.
And subsequent to the publication of the
report has been subjected to numerous inquiries by the
press and various organizations and has had to commit
himself to many statements that he probably would have
rather not made.
DR. LESCHINE: Yes, I could tell some
DR. WYMER: But anyway, it was a long,
drawn out process and many facets of the problem were
considered and they -- what I think was a very
creditable report was turned out by the Academy.
DR. LESCHINE: This is it. I don't know
if you got copies. I saw something in e-mail.
MR. CAMPER: Yes, we all got copies.
DR. LESCHINE: Okay.
DR. WYMER: The Academy was kind enough to
present it to all members.
DR. LESCHINE: I'm not sure what you
really want me to do here. So I have kind of too many
pictures and I could, you know, spend a lot of time
walking through a lot of conceptual ideas that we
developed. I think you should hear some of that.
And as I was listening to the last
session, I guess the things that I might not have
emphasized too much that are, in fact, at the -- kind
of at the end of the talk are our findings and
recommendations and, you know, what are some of the
The issues are sprinkled throughout my
talk and then we come down to maybe what really just
reinforces them. So what's your pleasure? You like
dialogue? How should I --
DR. WYMER: I think the conclusions and
recommendations are a key part of what you're going to
give us, but let's hear the whole story.
DR. LESCHINE: Okay.
DR. WYMER: Especially some of the
concerns about the durability of institutional
controls; I think, Tom, some of our -- the Committee's
concerns about just how long can you rely on various
DR. LESCHINE: Yes. Just in what I heard
in the few minutes that I was listening in on the last
session, I'll try to talk about some of those issues.
These are not technical difficulties. We need a
different term. These are just technical --
DR. WYMER: Glitches.
DR. LESCHINE: No, they're -- see, we need
a positive of, just what you have to do. It's the
price you pay.
DR. WYMER: Well, you've got three minutes
before your scheduled, anyway.
DR. LESCHINE: It's a type of Faustian
bargain, maybe, the one with technology, as opposed to
the one we quoted here from Alvin Weinberg.
MR. ANDREWS: Ray, if I may, you might
introduce Tom in terms of being a professor of marine
policy at the University of Washington. And this was
a very unusual study for me at the Academy, since we
had a blend of physical scientists and social
And we found that communication between
these two groups is very difficult.
DR. WYMER: I was going to question your
MR. ANDREWS: Each side accused the other
of being ambiguous, muddle-headed and everything else.
But it made for a very interesting study and it's
-- this is not just a science and technology issue, as
we found. We have to deal with people, as well.
DR. LESCHINE: Yes. We discovered if you
take a long time, longer than the Academy would like,
and especially the sponsor, and you spend all your
money and more, you can really get the two groups on
the Committee to come together, and the social and
natural science technology and human dimensions,
really, to come together in what I think is a very
coherent report that does this better than I've seen
it happen before. So I hope you'll see that reflected
in what I'll talk about. How we doing?
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Go ahead and open it.
(Pause to set up computer)
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Are we ready to go on
DR. WYMER: Looks like it.
DR. LESCHINE: Okay. We're set.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: All right.
DR. LESCHINE: Maybe I should sit down.
Well, I'll be in your way. I'll walk. I'll stand up.
It's a pleasure to be here. I am not so
familiar with the issues of commercial nuclear power
plants, but I recognize that in the broad outlines
many of the questions are the same.
And, you know, I already picked up in this
short time that I sat here this interesting question,
which is one that we've had to deal with in our study
at the National Research Council, as well.
And that's when the commercial sector
comes into things, because even though, you know, we
look at nuclear power as a kind of commercial
technology and we think of DOE sites as quite the
opposite, we've got all kinds of ideas like re-
industrialization around the fringes of the DOE sites
that mean that, in fact, it's possible that commercial
interests will be the ones doing long-term stewardship
at some of those sites, as well.
So there's an interesting nexus here
between those two. Well, I already told you some of
the dilemma, but I will, you know, try to march
smartly through some ideas to make sure that you
understand the conceptual foundations of this study,
because it was very important to our thinking about
really there being a couple of fundamental issues that
we think are pretty insoluble at the moment that I
heard echoed in the brief discussion beforehand, as
And I'll tell you in advance what they
are: that science and technology is really wanting,
and yes, we need those models to tell us where
contaminants are going to go and what long-term
contaminant concentrations are going to be, because
that's the basis of our institutional control design,
and those models are not really up to par that we have
to rely on.
And the second problem is the social and
human dimension. It's one thing to say we'll have
institutional controls. It's another thing to
guarantee that they will be in place, and I think
that's going to become a very big issue.
So this is the Committee and you already
heard that we're very pleased to have our former
Chair, Bob Budnitz, because this Committee, unlike
most National Research Council Committees, was set up
actually as Standing Committee, and we did five or six
I should mention that Bob Andrews, our
retiring Staff Officer -- well, we did quite a few on
this Committee. We did a report on the Hanford tanks
that I think was very prescient where we saw nothing
but trouble in the privatization initiative that DOE
was undertaking, but nobody listened to us.
So and we did a very nice study that Ray
was really involved in on the Niagara Falls storage
sight. So these were all in the history of this
Committee when Bob Budnitz was the chair. I took on
the chairmanship after him, and the Committee left as
a Standing Committee, I guess I'm presiding over the
end of now, but that's how things go.
But that's another comment on our -- the
world we live in with institutional longevity. So the
Committee members are here, just to make the point
that there was an interesting balance, very strong
representation on both the natural and the social
sciences on this Committee, much more-so than in my
experience with other National Research Council
And by the way, way down at the bottom we
have the redoubtable Bob Bernero, who was our
consultant. And so I didn't have to know anything
about regulations, because he knew everything that
there was to know about regulations.
Our charge is worth considering because we
thought we were the masters of our own destiny and
Chairman Budnitz very astutely was negotiating what
this standing committee would do next as he left the
And we actually wrote the original charge
and proposed it to DOE, but it went through the mill
of the Academy and DOE repeatedly, and to Al Lamb's
office and to Tom Grumley and back again. And by the
time it came back to us it ended up with a rather odd,
you know, assess approaches for developing the
criteria, don't just develop the criteria.
Don't state what the approaches are,
assess the -- it was a little confusing. But it made
us realize that what we needed to do was to start from
a conceptual place. In other words, think of this as
a conceptual problem and don't just rush into
-- tempting though it might be, let's look at all the
institutional controls that EPA has imposed, because
there's a wealth of experience there, and let's go
down the road that way.
So we spent a fair amount of time looking
at the end of this statement in trying to come up with
a conceptual model for long-term stewardship planning,
if you will, that would encompass all the things in
the charter as we were given it, so that at the end we
could say something about appropriate criteria.
That's how we approach this job. So what
we gave back as an answer is a report on stewardship
that avoids using this word "stewardship" that has
become very current in DOE. We call it long-term
It's somewhat of a redundant term, in
fact. But we've -- because management is by
definition an institutional enterprise, right? But
our purpose was to really underscore the importance of
institutional reliability in the management that
And as you can see from this list of --
you know, these characteristics are very general --
that we're thinking in a broad, systematic,
integrative, iterative way. And you can see in this
our conclusion that only this kind of approach,
really, do we think will work.
And in fact, if you knew the work of this
Committee, I think the consistent theme in all our
work, Bob, was that every study really said, you've
got to look at things in a big, broad, integrative
We can't look at these K-65 wastes at
Niagara Falls and not think about what we're doing at
Fernald because we've got a very similar situation
there. And we were always trying to fight against I
guess what is sometimes called stove-piping in the
Department of Energy, where problems tend to get
single processed without much learning across the
So we think this is a situation where
learning is really going to be at a premium, and
that's why we went in that direction. Let me -- we
have a number of side bars in here and this is my
It came out of a master's thesis of a
student at the School of Marine Affairs where we do
nothing nuclear, except Ann Ballou was very interested
in what happened to all those Pacific islands and all
those marine resources where all the atomic testing
took place, and she wrote her master's thesis on that.
There's a very interesting, I'll call it
a moral tale, in Bikini, because if you know the
story, we did a lot of testing there and Bikini was
resettled probably a little bit before it should have
And in fact, the old Atomic Energy
Commission resisted the resettlement of Bikini, but
the natives went back anyway. This is a story from
the New York Times, which is very recent, and it is
And what is interesting about Bikini is
all the mistakes you can make, and I think are still
very vulnerable to, were made then. We did let 167
people resettle the island of Bikini, but on an
understanding that turned out to be erroneous in two
The first point was that modeling was done
to determine what kind of doses people resettling the
island would receive under various scenarios, and the
modeling was in error. The modeling was based on
terrestrial soils, continental soils, not islands in
And the relative lack of potassium in the
real soils meant that cesium, which covered the place
basically, was readily available for uptake by coconut
palms. Okay. So we sort of understood the mechanism,
but not the degree to which that was really going to
And we told the Bikini Islanders, you can
go back, and we shook our fingers at them and said,
but don't eat the coconuts. But they did, okay, and
they did because this is everything to their life.
It's the symbolic connection to their
homeland. It's the most important food. These are
Marshall Islanders. These people in the Pacific eat
coconuts. So they did eat the coconuts and they did
very quickly develop these body burns.
This was an early attempt at risk
communication before there was even the term, right?
So we got it all wrong. We just told people once who
didn't even understand what the real risks were, what
-- how they should control their behavior.
We didn't really monitor. But then we did
something right. We also had medical monitoring.
Every single person that went back was required to
take a physical exam every year, and it was this
medical monitoring that picked up the signal, okay.
So another kind of lesson comes out of
that, a sort of wrong scientific model, an
inappropriate control message, but a system of
control, of management, if you will, that had this
component of layering in it, redundancy, right?
Medical monitoring was an additional
measure put on top of the idea, don't eat the coconuts
and rely on foodstuff from off island, okay. Now, you
know, easy to look back and draw a lesson on something
like that, but that's a difficult thing to do and this
is one of the institutional challenges.
You know, what you're gong to be asked to
do is to assure that the institutional controls put in
place will be effective. What's that medical
monitoring doing? Is that sort of betraying that
there's doubt about the -- you know -- there's this
difficulty that we might call political that will be
faced by people that try to do these kinds of things
and it's something to really take into account.
So we took out of this the idea that we
shouldn't talk about stewardship. We should talk
about something that is a different term that we kind
of invent in the report. And here's our problems with
So what I want to do for a few minutes is
talk to you about this word that's just all over the
place in the Department of Energy right now, long-term
stewardship, already been reduced to an acronym, LTS.
Well, there's a lot of problems with it.
The activities, institutional controls do not equal
long-term stewardship. Stewardship is a management
function. Institutional controls are a set of
measures that are part of that system; essential
And also, this idea that stewardship is a
nice-sounding word and it becomes all things to all
people, and that can be its undoing. So in fact, I
went to -- DOE has a brand new website, energy.gov,
and they have -- oops. What did I do.
More technical problems. The Department
of Energy website has a stewardship category. And I
was two minds about this. What else is there -- in
back of mine? Okay. Here we go. Okay. On the one
hand -- you hear me fine?
Okay. Well, on the one hand I like the
idea that stewardship is getting very prominent play.
On the other hand, applying it to all these very
disparate activities, will the real essence, the gem
of what I think needs to occur really be maintained
when stewardship applies to everything?
And by the way, what's missing here?
Stockpile stewardship. It's another term they use,
right? That's their word, and it's not even on this
list. And if you saw the newspapers or maybe the
report, they're really being blasted for their, you
know, failed stockpile stewardship, according to the
GAO or somebody.
So you need to think about this term and
recognize -- this is something I made up -- this is an
old, old term that has a lot of meanings, and not the
meanings that we're now investing in it. I would
argue that real stewardship is out here.
I don't know if you're familiar with Aldo
Leopold, but kind of the birth of the model
environmental movement in these very lyrical essays he
wrote, "The Sand County Almanac." He coined the term
"land ethic," you know.
And between that and Gifford Pinchot's
conservation management, I'll spare you the details on
his school of natural resources, this is the
difference between Bruce Babbett and Gail Norton,
okay? This is a huge --
DR. LESCHINE: -- this is a huge
ideological divide about what you do with forest lands
and whether the purpose of why stewardship is
productive use of environments versus leaving them
The wilderness concept versus the well-
managed forest that produces timber, fish, wildlife,
et cetera. And I would argue that reuse and re-
industrialization, DOE terms on what we're going to do
with surplus sites and facilities are, you know,
moving along further still.
And protection from harm, DOE's idea, is
really way over there, especially by comparison to
this, okay? So you have a term which has a lot of
different meanings to different people.
And I'm a professor of public policy, and
let me just say that when you're in that kind of
situation you tend to get a lot of conflict because
people have different ideas about what they think
should go on.
So EM, you know, Department of Energy has
this kind of institutional controls, and stewardship
after remediation is pretty much the concept. And
yet, part of what we're saying in the report is that
stewardship has to be part of remediation, has to be
part of remediation planning, in fact, has to be part
of construction of waste management facilities and
maybe in your world, reactors in the first place.
You build the reactor with the thought of
how you're going to decommission it. Maybe the
commercial nuclear power world does better at that
then we did in the DOE world.
But you know, hey, taking those kinds of
considerations into account right at the beginning so
that you have a continuum between operations and
decommissioning, and then dealing with the wastes is
Here now are some of what our report said,
and we said that, you know, it's basically echoing
what I'm already saying, stewardship has to be a
pervasive concept and waste management -- today's
waste management has to become part of tomorrow's
So I just want to point out, the
Department of Energy has itself changed its story
quite a bit, and this is what Hazel O'Leary was
saying. She was giving -- she was using the term
"stewardship" about this report, called "Stewards of
a National Resource."
This was right at the point where we were
starting to talk about deaccessioning a lot of
surplused lands and facilities, and noticed that it's
a very Aldo Leopold like concept, and it's only under
Secretary Antune (phonetic) that stewardship has
become associated with this idea of long-term care and
So this doesn't come through very well.
It's in the report. This is the Alan Croft diagram.
DR. WYMER: Yes.
DR. LESCHINE: This is our model for long-
term stewardship, our conceptual model. This diagram
appears in the report. We adopted the idea of a
I think it was, well, came out of a
Committee meeting where the idea is that you have
stewardship activities on one leg, okay. And I'll
talk about what those activities are.
They include but are not limited to
institutional controls. You have contaminant
isolation on another leg. You have contaminant
reduction on the third leg. It's a package. It's
They form the configuration of a stool.
They support an end state. I'm looking at John
Garrick as I say that because he's been the crusader
constantly for the idea that you can't do management
and clean-up at DOE sites and not have an end state in
It's very important that you have one,
even though it might change, but that's the nature of
things. And the idea here of the rungs is that this
is an iterative process. We're not going to get there
in a day.
There's a guy -- you know -- Milton
Russell's talking about rolling stewardship, the idea
that you put a set of controls in place today and you
keep those controls going into the distant future, but
you keep revisiting them, keep changing them, you
don't expect to be able to -- you don't expect to put
anything in place for 1,000 years.
You expect to put something in place and
start revisiting it right away and see how it's
working and make adjustments as appropriate. But
maybe those adjustments are more clean-up in the
future, because you realize you can't really sustain
the system you're trying to retrain, and you've got to
get rid of the waste or build a better cap or deal
with the fact that the cap is failing or will fail,
and take other measures.
So there's also a lot of terminology that
relates to the fact that these decisions that are made
at every stage, we call them contextual factors,
they're represented on the rungs, is costs and risks
and life-cycle analysis and all kinds of things,
political factors, what stakeholders want, community
All that stuff in the case of a DOE site
is really going to figure big time. In fact, any
federal facility, I would argue, because the federal
government has taken this notion that, you know, we
don't take -- withdraw lands and facilities and hold
We've got the idea that they go back to
the people at some point. So there's this -- and also
this notion of perpetual responsibility for any hazard
we create. So you've got an interesting kind of a
It's really built into our notion of
governance in this country, and that is the federal
government on the one hand has the duty to return
things to the people, return things to productive use
in the economy.
On the other hand, it has this
responsibility for perpetual care of the problems that
the federal government has created. So if you're
thinking that way about nuclear power plants, you see
the same kind of dilemma in a way, but it's certainly
built into the DOE world.
So the tools, I've kind of mentioned this
already. But I guess my real point here is to focus
on the stewardship measures and the fact that
institutional controls, which are use and access
restrictions, basically, that's the primary tool and
that's where EPA always goes in these CERCLA-type
That's really only one part of the story
of stewardship from our perspective, and the rest of
the story is all of these things which -- I guess the
point I want to make here now is that this list is
kind of organized on a continuum -- it's discussed in
the report -- that goes from sort of the familiar and
the accepted to things that we think are necessary,
but not considered by most people, and certainly not
by DOE as part of what they're up to.
So yes, institutional controls,
monitoring, surveillance, oversight and enforcement,
we talk about that all the time, and yes, we're
talking about the necessity of maintaining information
and very good records on contamination.
This is a very essential feature of
anything you're going to hand off to the future. But
then we get into things that it's not so clear
anybody's committed to do. Is the Department of
Energy really committed to periodic reevaluation of
the whole site protective system?
What I know about that is that DOE is
looking very carefully at its legal responsibilities.
It's not clear the extent to which they or anybody
else is required to do this. We'll probably see some
congressional action, I would think, that takes on
this question of clarifying responsibility for the
waste, but there's not necessarily responsibility for
the situation in which the waste is left.
And then we would argue more radically
still, you've really got to keep looking at technical
options. You can't say the problem you couldn't fix
in 1990 is one that you don't have to fix in 2020, or
ever, because you didn't have the technology then.
So we think that it's important not only
to be passive here, but really force the R&D. So if
the Department of Energy, you know, they have this new
technology program emerging at the Idaho site, INEEL,
and I would guess and hope that that's sort of the
Some people are a little bit skeptical,
but that's the idea, that they should be pushing
towards what we'll call stewardship technologies,
which are remediation technologies at large, let's
So to talk about the R&D a bit, you have
to have it. Your technical capabilities are
deficient. We don't understand sites and residual
contaminants very well, and I want to show you some
-- I'll stop showing you lists and show you some
pictures in a minute.
But there's two issues here. We don't
really have as much knowledge as we should about the
bio-geophysical character of sites. Surprisingly, we
don't know much about the subsurface where all the
wastes are, especially, and in some cases even the
Not that we don't understand radio
nuclides, but radio nuclides in the complex site
environments can sometimes be a problem. And then,
you know, and this is very much consistent with the
spirit of this report, we extend that list right into
the demographic and social dimensions.
In fact, what we're saying is we do have
to understand. We went to the Nevada test site and
started asking questions about what if Las Vegas needs
water? Well, you know, they'll find water up north,
not a problem.
This is the fastest growing city in the
country. Is it really not a problem that there's a
lot of contaminated drinking water 100 miles north of
Las Vegas, the fastest growing city in the country in
a desert, and the biggest user of water on a per
capita basis by far of any city in the country, and
this bugaboo of how well institutions really can
We just want to kind of assure people we
will perform and not really look at what adds up to
effective performance. So the science and technology
issues, then, really relate to understanding long-term
risks and conceptual modeling.
And I think I reversed the order of these
two things; I did. I want to talk about this because
this is the undercurrent of this whole -- what I heard
you talking about, you know, how do you assure that an
institutional control is going to achieve a numerical
standard, whatever that -- 25 millirem or 15 millirem,
like we're using at Hanford for the clean-up of soils
along the Columbia River.
The fact is, we are finding surprise after
surprise in that the contaminants that are released
into the environment are not behaving as expected.
Techniicium, appearing in the -- under the
tank farms at Hanford, plutonium well down the
gradient from the test site at Nevada, the Benham
test, and plutonium migrating at the Rocky Mountain
-- sorry -- Rocky -- that place, RWMC in Idaho.
Subsurface could -- you know -- you know
where this stuff comes from. It's a much bigger
problem at DOE sites than at the typical nuclear plant
with all that stuff everywhere.
But this is a very -- this is borrowed, by
the way, from Jane Long in another National Research
Council study, a very nice study, Research Needs in
Subsurface Science. She was the Chair of that study.
This is the changing view of how long it
takes radio nuclides to get to the Snake River from
the Idaho RWMC. And what's happened here is going
back in time to the 1960s, a four order of magnitude
We used to say they don't move, takes
70,000 years. We're saying now, they can under some
circumstances move in mere tens of years. This is a
-- basically, what we're learning is that we had a
casual, naive conceptual model of the site.
The model wasn't really tested by reality
or data, and when we started to do that, which is now
happening, we're discovering that things are quite
different than they were in the past.
So this other report, Research Needs and
Subsurface Science, has a very nice discussion in it
of the problem of site conceptual modeling, something
that was represented in our Committee by Schlomo
Neuman, who insisted that our report had to really
emphasize this, a very nice discussion of what the
need is, what the requirements are, what the standards
So you know, I don't need to show you too
many pretty pictures, but this is the estimate of the
new picture of the Hanford Tank Farm, with cesium and
other contaminants distributed at depths, cesium-137.
And you know, this is also the reality.
Again, Hanford is the worst site in the complex, and
I'm from Washington State, so this is the one we think
about a lot. And here's the radio nuclide tritium
contamination above drinking water standards.
And you know, I mentioned this kind of
interplay between the human and the technical, and I'm
about to switch. So I want to point out, here's the
old Hanford town site. As Bob Andrews was pointing
out, there's not much there but it's a historic site
and people like to visit it.
And what's our President Clinton been
doing in his waning days? I heard he did a bunch more
this morning. He's creating national monuments all
over the place and is trying to hide this stuff from
the Republicans so they don't cut all the treaties, I
DR. LESCHINE: But here's the Hanford
Reach National Monument, the Bruce Babbett vision of
stewardship, right. And notice, this is the proposed
boundary. You see that lobe? Okay. Well, that's so
the people can visit the Hanford town site, though.
So you know, I know that contamination is
in the subsurface and we don't really expect the
average national monument visitor to put in a well.
But you know, do we really understand all the
mechanisms that could bring contamination to the
surface, taproot plants with 12-foot taproots, the
typical sagebrush that lives in the desert, which this
You know, these are the kinds of questions
you have to start thinking through so you don't
recreate Bikini and the coconut trees. So let me talk
about long-term risk, a little bit at my peril because
John Garrick's sitting here and he's the guy who
clarifies completely the discussion of risk.
But the way we see it is this way. You
know, it's a question of stewardship technologies in
looking at who's going to use them, how they'll use
them, will they use the technology if it's intended to
really be a protective technology.
And very importantly, who else out there
might do something that would change the way our
protection system might work? These are questions
without answers, and the message of our report is,
somebody's got to get into the business of starting
the research and looking seriously at answering these
So the groups that we're thinking about
now are not just the agency people administering the
institutional controls, but certainly it includes
them, the long-term stewardship managers, employees,
What other agencies, as well? Agencies
that DOE is not necessarily used to thinking about as
kind of partners. This is a very good news/bad news
As I was telling it, I was meeting with
Gerald Boyd, because I'm part of this Press Program if
you know about that, a few weeks ago, and telling him
about the good news at Hanford when the fires blew up
last summer and led to the near catastrophe there,
people in the community were not blaming DOE.
They were blaming the Fish and Wildlife
Service. That's really unique in DOE's experience
that something involving radio nuclides happened and
they didn't get the blame for it. Well, you know, the
story there is that if you're going to have a
wilderness area next to a hazard, that wilderness area
gets managed, too.
And do we manage these sites in ways that
prevent fire or do we have -- you know -- what did we
learn out of the Yellowstone fires. You know, I'm a
westerner, a land -- not -- from Pittsburgh but a
westerner now, right.
And these big land management issues loom
large, and after the Yellowstone fires we decided the
fire policy is let it burn, that fire is part of
nature's intention that renews forests and ecosystems,
and is an essential part of those systems.
So that's what you get from the Aldo
Leopold way of thinking now, but fires that are
unchecked in the vicinity of hazards are fires that
can be very dangerous, and we sure found this out at
Los Alamos, as well, right.
So you've got a conflict between two
ideals, separate managers. Somebody's going to have
to work that out. The public certainly is very
important and users and visitors have been hinting at
So we're worried about things like water
and water demand. Again, in the west where a lot of
the biggest hazards are, that's where the water issues
loom very large. Development encroachment is very
important, and that's true in many of the eastern
Mound and Fernald are really good examples
of that. The industrial, commercial and residential,
recreational use that we're inviting onto the sites,
What we're talking about doing in Oak
Ridge at the East Tennessee Technology Park is re-
industrialization where facilities that were formerly
used for, you know, weapons production get turned over
to the private sector for use, and they're not
facilities that are scrubbed free of any
And then the learning aspect becomes very
significant. So here's some of the lessons that loom
large to us. Looking at sites -- so this comes right
out of DOE's own report from clean-up to stewardship.
Rocky Flats, 1940. Here was Denver and
here's Boulder, I guess, and here's Rocky Flats today
and this is, you know, the kind of stuff you get off
of a LANDSAT image, that's how this was created, of
how growth and development has changed.
So if you've been to Rocky Flats, it's
obvious to anybody driving down that road there's an
awful lot of housing right there nearby. And this is
a site which is -- you know -- DOE creates a vision of
it in a kind of computer animation that shows
buildings disappearing and a green field, basically.
But you know, Ray was using that term and
that's one we thought about in this report, too. You
know, what does it mean to call something a green
field? It really doesn't mean that what you see is
green grass. It means it's free of contamination.
Well, Rocky Flats will be the green grass,
but by no means free of contamination. So and this
is, you know, with the encroaching settlement. So
these kinds of issues really have to be looked at.
I also wanted to show you a couple of
pictures from Hanford again, because the way that we
think about sites -- you were talking about EPA -- you
know, tends to be in a very management-driven way.
And what's interesting about Hanford, we
see maps like this all the time. You know, what is
the 100 area at Hanford? Is there a boundary line?
Is there something you can see from a satellite?
There's not -- this was an operational term.
It was meant to be cryptic, you know. It
was created during the war, the 100 area, the 200
area. Something went on there, you know, take this
stuff over to the 200 area. Don't -- whatever you do,
don't open the doors in the back of the truck.
So these were operational designations and
it's how we're used to thinking about our sites. And
we bring in somebody like EPA and we start targeting
And this is one that I've been looking at
through my involvement in the Press Program, you know,
playing the game of CERCLA, which is a dice and slice
approach. It's a reductionist approach that I would
argue drives us away from the big picture of what
we're really trying to do.
And I think that's something really
important. So you get, you know, all these reactor
areas, and you've got all this contaminated
groundwater. But you know, the approach with CERCLA
is basically, take the problem down to its smallest
relevant scale and deal with every single facility,
pipeline, et cetera, on top of this mass of
contaminated groundwater that we really don't have any
way to do anything about, right?
So what's interesting there is we start
imposing, you know, the devil's in the details. But
let me just say, the institutional controls that have
been created in associated with soils clean-up
deliberately are created in a way that ignores the
reality of this contaminated drinking water plume.
In other words, we're only asking the
question, what minimizes the contribution from this
site to the drinking water as if it were
uncontaminated because we're trying to, you know,
remove every iota of contamination.
And we're doing that in a way where we are
actually, in order to kind of force the removal of
contamination, we're using a residential scenario
here. So the thought here is residential, and the
whole construction of institutional controls is
oriented toward this notion of residential use which
will never occur.
And people think that's a good thing
because it's a high standard. I argue it's a bad
thing because it's preventing you from thinking about
what really will occur and whether you're really being
protective about that.
So you're not protective by creating
little holes where you're cleaning up these little
individual sites that are very clean to a residential
use that could never be supported because of all the
other hazards in the area.
So no one would ever -- you'd never want
anybody to live here, but is the area really being --
are you doing the best thing to make the area safe for
the uses that are likely to occur? That's the
question that seems to us to not be getting approached
through the kind of things that we're doing in our
most dominant cleanup strategies.
So you end up with that. Swiss cheese,
basically, we have excised some holes. We've created
some brown fields, and that's the world we're going to
try to live in.
And I guess I'll just -- I've switched now
to Savannah River and I've borrowed this slide from
Chuck Powers and, boy, it doesn't show much. But I
made that point about looking at sites in operational
terms over and over.
You know, every maps shows the 100 area
and the reactor sites. This is a aerial photograph of
the Savannah River site, and here's the Savannah River
site boundary. And this is, I think, Steel Creek and
supposed to show -- doesn't show very well -- but it's
supposed to be cesium concentrations in surface
sediments in the creek.
And what you see here in the aerial
photograph is an active working farm snugged right up
against the site boundary. Well, I argue -- we argue
-- there's a reality in this kind of image that you
just don't quite get to when you keep looking at
things in regulatory-driven and sort of operational
You're not really looking at who your
neighbors are and what's likely to happen, like if we
change this boundary. You know, should this boundary
actually be pushed out so that we don't have a farm
here for the institutional control period at this
And those are the kinds of questions we're
not asking, and I know that if you -- because I've
been to the 100 area at Hanford, and if you go to the
-- so if you haven't been there in awhile you might be
surprised, because if you stand there at the end
reactor or any of the others and look out across the
river, what you see marching down the other side of
the river are vineyards.
The Washington Wine industry is booming.
It's really hot stuff. Everybody's planting
vineyards. No pun intended, but you know, even the
perception that there's contamination that's affecting
those grapes, and perception, not necessarily reality,
would be a financial disaster to the agricultural
sector in Washington State.
And a downstream view, too, this is part
of the story right off site, the fact is, there are
off site affects, and I think any reasonable
institutional control, stewardship planning has to get
serious about those.
This is fish consumption from the Savannah
River, a study done by Joanna Berger, who's at Rutgers
University. And her point was, she interviewed
fishermen, intercepted them and talked to them and
went to their homes and interviewed them about their
fish consumption, and found that the EPA model is
assuming 19 kilograms per year consumption.
And this is actual consumption and here's
50 over here, and you see that there are some
consumers of the fish caught in this river who are
well, well over those assumed limits.
So again, you know, the kind of artificial
constructs we're using in our risk modeling aren't
necessarily verified by empirical reality. And if
we're really going to be protective at these sites,
we're going to have to change those things.
Well, I think what I ought to do is --
let's see where we are. I'm inclined to sort of --
I've talked enough, I think -- to rush toward the --
rather than -- let me just tell you what we did.
I'll summarize it briefly, you know, and
I'll show yo some of the things, because you've
already seen some of the recommendations from the
report. We did come up with -- we would say our
report is a blueprint, that we talk about these tools
that the -- are available to site managers, you know,
isolation barriers, remediation as a stewardship tool,
and institutional controls and other stewardship
The contextual factors, the ways and risks
and costs and political accountability and so forth
will shape and constrain the decisions at site. And
then what we do in our report is talk about these
desirable characteristics of institutional control
This is our coming back to the criteria
question that was part of the charge, and then our
generic design and implementation criteria and some
recommendations and so forth. So let me finish up,
then, by just talking briefly about some of these
I think the lists of the characteristics
of what we want in the ideal are not hard to find.
Everybody's talking about them. You can look at the
work that Resources for the Future is doing. There's
some very nice stuff by John Applegate, who some of
you may know.
You know, here's the layering and
redundancy idea that I talked about. This notion of
reliability, you know, it's one thing to say that a
system will be reliable. I'm working with a professor
of government at American University, a guy named
Howard McCarty, who studies something called high
And he points out that the bureaucratic
organizational model is absolutely the enemy of
reliability. I mean, this is government theory. What
you want a bureaucracy for is constancy and
maintenance, and it has worked.
We have a postal service that we've had
since Benjamin Franklin still delivering the mail and
doing it pretty well, you know, constantly changing,
but basically delivering the mail.
So we have a flywheel in our bureaucratic
form of government that came from Max Weber that keeps
it all going in a way where it's predictable that what
we did in the Truman administration we can still do in
the Bush administration in pretty much the same way.
But that's not the same as reliability
that applies when you're dealing with hazards by any
stretch. And in fact, it gets very difficult to do
that, right, and we all know the reasons, the budgets
and so forth.
You know, the money for long-term
stewardship, the things that's got many states
refusing to cooperate, refusing to say yes to DOE, is
they're just not assured that there's going to be the
commitment from anybody with funding to keep the
It's a real hard problem, let alone this
notion of how you really do. I mean, when you look at
reliability people start looking at things like the
flight crews that launch the space shuttle, or the
people that land planes on aircraft carriers.
And that's a very different kind of
organization. It's one that actually when you study
it, you discover it's not at all bureaucratic in its
character. It doesn't even respect its own hierarchy.
The guy who's -- the term "inside the
bubble," apparently, we were operating in the bubble
or along the bubble, comes from people on flight decks
who are in these plexiglass bubbles watching planes
come in for landings.
And this is usually a young -- you know
-- this is a navy, but this is a young guy. This is
an ensign at best. It may even not be an officer. He
has authority. He has authority that won't be
questioned by his commanding officer.
If he waves the plane off, the plane is
waved off. He has a -- he's making a snap judgment.
He's running -- you know -- I don't want to dwell on
this too much, just to point out, though,
bureaucracies don't operate that way.
We do have accountability and slow process
and that isn't necessarily the way to assure that the
operations of something you really care about are
reliable. So you know, again, accountability,
feasibility, defense in depth that I talked about,
stability through time, you know, these are the kinds
of things we want to worry about.
And we want to make sure that when we put
these systems in place the objectives are clear,
right, of our organizations, the governance is clear.
Who's in -- we can't -- you know -- the Fish and
Wildlife Service and the Department of Energy are
going to have to come to some terms that relates to
fire suppression policy where it's necessary, right?
So it's got to be clear who's doing what.
It has to be integrated and there has to be positive
incentives. Employees, people at the bottom who
really make sure that things really happen, if they
don't perceive that the incentives are in the right
direction, they don't behave in the right way.
So we think that we wanted to kind of
invert the sort of standard thought process here. We
think people should plan for uncertainty and plan for
fallibility. We wrestle a lot with this language, as
Ray will well remember.
And what we mean is, you know, not really,
literally, everything is going to fail, but to plan as
if it's going to fail and not as if it's going to
succeed. It's a different planning basis. It gets
you to a different place in a cautionary approach to
what you're doing.
Incentive structures have to be real. I
was at a -- I think -- were you on the -- no, actually
it was -- maybe you were on the committee with
Elizabeth Pate-Cornell (phonetic), where we looked at
She gave a talk at the Society for Risk
Analysis last month in Washington, a very nice talk
about a study she did on the space shuttle system
where she was engaged to look at the problem of the
If you know about the space shuttle, these
heat-resistant tiles are everything to whether a
shuttle's going to be able to land or not without
burning up. And one of the things they found is that
the incentive structure was such that among the lowest
salary employees were people who were tile inspectors.
And there were jobs they aspired to where
they could make more money. So what you discover was
you never had any experienced tile inspectors. And
this is a purely intuitive thing. You know, this
one's got to be replaced or these are okay.
It's people learning in a kind of
intuitive way how to be good at that job, but they
don't stay in it. So when they realized that they
changed the whole job classification system with the
help of the union, and made tile inspector one of the
And now, it's one that everybody wants and
you do get senior people. So that kind of stuff is
out there lurking and it's things that you really need
to be worrying about. So our findings were that
-- this isn't our finding.
It was DOE's finding, but we stole it from
them, I guess. All sites will require future
oversight. That's, you know, they count 140 some
major sites and they say 109 of them require long-term
stewardship, no matter what clean-up occurs.
Engineered barriers do have limited lives.
That's the reality of them. Don't talk about 1,000-
year barriers. Institutional controls will eventually
fail. And by that I mean, if you don't keep renewing
them, they fail.
It's like it's got to be -- you've got to
keep starting all over again. There's nothing you can
put in place that you can reliably say will continue.
Remediation planning isn't taking long-term factors
Transport modeling is inadequate, and
we're recommending things like, for example, taking
the performance assessment idea -- this is something
that I think would be a natural to you people, to the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and talk about
institutional performance assessment.
What kind of standards and criteria for
the performance of institutions, you know, basically
administering, implementing institutional controls,
can we hold them to? And what should those standards
be? What's the error rate that's the tolerable error
Bob Bernero used to talk about this a lot.
He used to say the essence of the problem is the
consequences of failure have to be tolerable. And if
you're not operating inside that domain, then you're
not operating in the right domain. Very interesting
You have to have a basic research program.
It's fundamental. We're just not to the point where
we know very much about these things in our scientific
understanding, both the natural and social side.
We need these organizational designs that
are more reliable than traditional bureaucratic forms.
That's a very difficult challenge, but it's the
reality. And we need to be, as I said, pessimistic in
Assume that the institutional controls
will fall apart and then what. Ask yourself that
question. Assume that contamination migration
assumptions won't -- they tend to be very rosy
scenarios when you look at the kind of modeling that
is done at sites, for example, using EPA's REDRAD
model, where we assume the kind of homogeneity in the
subsurface that isn't necessarily there.
And you know, our basic conclusion is that
the approach is really the key. We call it long-term
institutional management. It's very comprehensive.
It's definitely iterative. It tries to be goal-
focused and goal-oriented and tries to overcome all
the natural problems of bureaucracy.
Do we end up saying, here's a recipe for
how to do that? We don't. In fact, we say, there's
no recipe for success. It's something that's just
going to have to be worked out by people like you.
Believe it or not, that's all I have to say.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Great.
DR. WYMER: As usual, very, very lucid,
very interesting, Tom, and thank you very much.
Are there any questions here from the
DR. LESCHINE: And fire away.
DR. WYMER: I think we're still reeling a
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: What do you think's
going to happen to your report?
DR. LESCHINE: Good question. You know,
among organizations which are not real strong on
follow-through, the National Research Council. And I
think what should have happened or should happen are
some follow-up studies to try to turn this into kind
of an empirical reality.
There was a suggestion that there be some
studies that look at actual sites and try to look at
the planning as being done in a detailed way and
compare it to this model. And I know that Kevin has
been working with Gerald Boyd on trying to come to
terms on something like that.
But my understanding is, nothing has
happened. So I think if there isn't follow-up, what
the difficulty is with all National Research Council
studies, they tend to appear in isolation. You know,
Bob Budnitz had the point -- although he's
masquerading as Carol Harris right now --
DR. LESCHINE: -- made the point a couple
of years -- he's on the board. You still on the
MR. BUDNITZ: No.
DR. LESCHINE: And one of his point on the
board was the board should do a study which is simply
to study its own studies and look for the consistency,
the coherency and start putting that out as a separate
message, that there are all these reports that point
in this direction, because otherwise, the follow-
through doesn't occur.
And DOE says fine, thank you, we're
already doing it, and that can be the end of the
story. So I don't know if we're going to have an
impact in the long run. I hope that the stakeholders
and people like that take on the charge.
I was at a meeting in San Francisco and a
guy representing the Colorado Attorney General's
Office got up and gave the talk on the report. He
just had read it so thoroughly that every slide was
about a report.
And he said, this is the best -- he said,
this is what we need to finally be able to deal with
DOE on the terms and conditions for long-term care of
Rocky Flats. So you know, if it gets out in that way,
then if it's received in that sense I think you do
have a lasting impact.
But I am worried about that. As usual,
John Garrick asks the key question.
DR. WYMER: Any other questions, George?
DR. HORNBERGER: No.
MR. BUDNITZ: Can I make --
DR. WYMER: Yes, sure, Bob.
MR. BUDNITZ: I'm Bob Budnitz. I just
want to raise a question that seems to me fundamental
to the whole enterprise, and without knowing what the
The reason why these meetings are
necessary and the reason why we're worried is because
there's risk out there that we think is troubling if
it's not managed properly.
Risk to the environment, risk to public
health and safety, various kinds of risks that differ
from site to site, and in fact, differ over the
decades and millennia, depending on your time scale.
Now, part of the problem that I understand
involving the skepticism of the people at the sites,
these are DOE sites, but by the way could perfectly
well apply to a site where one or two or three nuclear
reactors are now sitting that it's going to be
decommissioned and managed whenever, some years hence,
exactly the same thing, is that the people at the site
having these concerns insist on certain end-points for
risk which they want because many of them wish there
had never been that thing there.
They'd just as soon it was 1930. And like
I said, this could perfectly well apply to a reactor
site or it could be Hanford or Fernald or wherever.
And sometimes, the reason why they're
skeptical of signing on to something like this is that
they don't believe -- and I understand why they don't
believe -- that the federal government will be there
50 or 100 years from now, the Congress will be there
with appropriations and with follow-through, or you
know, and so on.
You say the Postal Service works. Well,
the Postal Service has revenue, you know. It's 34
cents and it's doing something -- I mean, we
understand this, but -- and the revenue's guaranteed
by as long as there's, you know, revenue.
But that's not true of most other
government agencies. In fact, hardly anything else is
like that. And so local people are afraid to sign
onto something without knowing, and they can't know
because Congress by definition in the Constitution can
only appropriate one year at a time, except when
they're building ships it can be three.
They just don't read the Constitution,
although it's literally what it says. Now, the
problem has to do with what risk is acceptable or what
risks are risks, and that's where the trouble comes.
You see, I remember hearing the classic
phrase. It's called the man from Maine. That's
interesting because the DOE has no sites in Maine.
That's why you use the man from Maine. Why would the
man from Maine appropriate his or her tax dollars to
fix something at Hanford and Savannah River?
The answer is because the man from Maine
benefitted from those activities, you know. I mean,
that's always the rationale. We understand that
rationale. But sometimes, the remedy sought costs far
more than the real objective risk is, and that's the
And therefore, I want to insist on
something that is at least the perspective I bring to
this. Until and unless there is some agreed-on -- and
this is very hard politically -- rational allocation
of these risks and the benefits that allows the man
from Maine, the skeptical appropriator in the
Congress to feel that the money is being properly
allocated roughly, there will always be this concern.
And it rears its ugly head every time you
turn around and see something nuts. And if you'll
indulge me I'll just give you a 90-second thing about
something that's absolutely nuts that I was just
At Idaho they have all this low-level
waste that's contaminated with a little bit of
plutonium that could otherwise go to WIPP, except it's
got a little bit of PCBs, so it can't go to WIPP.
So the scheme that the department came up
with after six or eight years of hard work was, we're
going to incinerate the stuff to get rid of the PCBs,
and then the ash -- it's perfectly good technology, it
works -- the ash can go to WIPP.
And they did all this. They had the EIS
process. They had a record and decision. They were
going ahead with an incinerator to incinerate 65,000
cubic meters of this stuff. And the incinerator met
all applicable regulations at its fence post, which
was 35 miles from Idaho Falls.
The people in Jackson, 90 miles further
east, or 125 miles from the site, objected that some
of that stuff might get to them, and in fact, some
does, 10 to minus 44 or something. I don't know the
number, but anyway, it's nothing, but it's something.
And they had enough political muscle that
the secretary in August put the incinerator on hold
while he commissioned a blue ribbon panel that I set
up to explore alternatives to incineration, of which
there are some.
And we identified alternatives to
incineration. That was the charge. It's just been
published December 15th. You can go and read it. It
came out of the secretary's office at SEAD (phonetic).
I was part of that.
But all those alternatives cost tens of
millions of dollars more than the incineration, and
there's no risk that's being averted that wasn't
averted before. And when that nonsense goes on, the
man from Maine is skeptical.
And that then leads to the skepticism of
the local people that the government will carry
through because they listen to political noises that
aren't necessarily risk-based.
And I think that this Committee, ACNW,
ought to wrestle hard with whether there's some
mechanism -- because obviously, you're concerned with
NRC licensed facilities, which are not necessarily
-- not just reactors that are going to be
decommissioned, but other facilities like that, that
NRC licenses and the -- you know -- the initial
facilities and obviously the waste sites, the Part 61
sites and Part 60 sites, Part 63 sites.
Seems to me that until and unless there is
some way to overcome that skepticism, the skepticism
just arises out of this risk misallocation, so people
feel they're mis-spending money, there isn't going to
be any easy way to overcome that problem.
And I think that's one of the real roots
of this long-term problem with commitment, and the
problem of commitment goes back to the risk.
DR. WYMER: Yes. And we have a member in
our Committee who's sitting on my left here, Milt
Levenson, who echoes or says exactly the same thing
you've just been saying.
MR. BUDNITZ: I knew perfectly well that
Milt thought --
DR. LEVENSON: Well, I can give you --
MR. BUDNITZ: I've known Milt for a few
days or so.
DR. LEVENSON: I'll give you a better
example in connection with WIPP. A piece of plutonium
that's chrome-plated is taken into a glove box and
stripped the chrome off because you can't put it into
WIPP, but then you put that piece of plutonium in a
stainless steel barrel and bury it in WIPP because
"the stainless is not part of the waste," quote,
MR. BUDNITZ: But the chrome --
DR. WYMER: Yes, that's a lot of chromium
MR. BUDNITZ: But I guess I was trying to
focus on the fact, and it is a fact, that when public
at the sites insist on measures that are very costly
that are not beneficial to the risk, it induces the
skepticism that induces their skepticism that Congress
will appropriate, and so it becomes a cycle. Okay.
DR. LEVENSON: Yes.
DR. WYMER: Yes.
MR. BUDNITZ: And I don't know what to do
DR. HORNBERGER: So why does Jacksonhole
have more clout than the people from Maine?
DR. WYMER: He said they have more money.
MR. BUDNITZ: Well, in this particular
case they have more clout because there was an
election going on.
DR. WYMER: Yes.
MR. BUDNITZ: And there were donors; and
there were donors and they went to court. I mean, you
know, just different things, they're political things
that are --
DR. LESCHINE: Yes. They did see it. It
was in their back yard from retrospective, and the man
in Maine is silent --
DR. HORNBERGER: Yes.
DR. LESCHINE: -- because it's not in his
DR. HORNBERGER: That was my point.
DR. LESCHINE: Yes.
DR. HORNBERGER: And I think that will
always be true.
DR. LESCHINE: Yes.
DR. HORNBERGER: I don't think that
there's a resolution for that. I had another comment
on -- for you, Tom. Then again, it's a little bit off
the subject. But as you pointed out, that nice graph
from Jane Long's report on travel time at INEL, and I
think that it is important, though, that we contrast
a minimum travel time with a mass flux.
MR. BUDNITZ: Yes.
DR. HORNBERGER: Those two things are
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. Yes.
DR. LEVENSON: Right.
DR. HORNBERGER: And it's not huge
quantities of plutonium that have made it down to the
inner beds in the Snake River plain.
DR. WYMER: Right.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: So you need to talk
about mass flow.
DR. WYMER: Mass flow.
DR. HORNBERGER: Well, that's -- at least
it's another facet of the problem. I'm not saying
that we shouldn't talk about travel time, but it is
important to not think that everything is going that
MR. BUDNITZ: But I insist that that was
the problem with the incinerator. People in Jackson
asked the question, will any of that stuff get to me,
and the answer was, 10 to minus 14 will. And by the
way, there's no -- you know -- there's nothing -- no
such thing as zero.
DR. HORNBERGER: Right.
MR. BUDNITZ: And they said, we want
nothing, and nothing is nothing. But there are no
zeros in the environment in this way, and that then
feeds, you know, the perception -- and then they gave
in so that that feeds the next guy who's going to try
it again, because they gave in this time.
DR. HORNBERGER: I actually do have
another question that follows on what Tom was
suggesting, and that is the -- I think you called it
the fragility of government controls, and I suppose
that in some ways the commercial controls are viewed
as even more fragile.
And I know in discussions like this people
somewhat frivolously say, well, why don't we engage
the Catholic Church because it's been going for a few
thousand years. Do you have any alternatives, other
than, say, national governments for being less
DR. LESCHINE: Well, yes. I think in one
word, oversight, that if you really have an engaged
citizenry that cares about a place and has a stake in
the environmental health of the place, that that would
-- I mean, that's what democracy should make work.
So you'd like to believe that maybe -- you
know -- everybody kind of looks to the Internet as a
solution to all problems, but the idea that it is
possible to put a lot more information out in front of
a public in a form that, you know, right now I would
say we're not doing all that well.
But got a graduate student, in fact,
working on the problem with transparency and what it
means and how you achieve it. And part of her
dissertation research is going to be to develop a
website based on this 100-area clean-up where you try
to put out information and then test it with a group
of people knowledgeable about Hanford and see, does
this help you understand what's going on and could you
imagine this thing being a useful way to track and
understand the system -- any system of controls and
the institutional controls being in place.
And I guess that's ultimately what you
have to rely on, right, because there just isn't a
magic priesthood out there that's going to do this
DR. HORNBERGER: In some ways it strikes
me that what you're suggesting is an equivalent to a
local priesthood, and that is, to have local interest
with an Aldo Leopold ethic.
DR. LESCHINE: Yes.
DR. HORNBERGER: Who will provide some
DR. LESCHINE: And again, the difficulty
at DOE sites is some of the -- you know -- they have
the Citizen Advisory Boards and these things have been
very fractionated at some of the sites.
And the one at Oak Ridge is one where -- I
think it was Oak Ridge -- where we had an exit
actually from the board of the entire environmental
contingent. And Oak Ridge is very split because the
community there, the business interests, the Chamber
of Commerce, have really been pushing hard this re-
And we went down there and we got some
presentations from them, and I have to say, I did feel
that there were people in very nice suits who
represented the business community and didn't know
anything about the risk who were simply asserting that
there was no risk, or that there would be no risk,
because, really, what they wanted was economic
development, and you have to be able to counter that.
And so yes, but you know, how you maintain
that is very difficult. You really have to take the
long perspective, and recognize that there may be
periods where you don't have a very good balance
between the two interests.
And you hope that you will restore that
balance in the future. But you have to take into
account what Bob was saying, too, that you know, that
the Citizens' Group is just as capable of sort of
pushing down the road toward these unrealistic clean-
ups that are very expensive.
And that kind of creates its own kind of
difficulty because that starts creating economic
inefficiency, which raises the ire of the counter to
that, the business interests. No easy solution.
DR. WYMER: No, there's no easy solution.
Are there any other questions around the table here?
How about from the audience? That certainly was a
-- John, please. John Greeves.
MR. GREEVES: Yes, just -- John Greeves.
I don't know whether it's a question or really a
comment. The report presents at least two problems to
us. One is, the report identifies inadequate
And frankly, that's what we use to
terminate sites. We do this all the time. We're
terminating sites every year. We use modeling,
predictive tools. So the Academy putting out a report
like that, it's a tool that people could bring to the
table, you know.
If it went to a hearing, Academy says the
models are inadequate. So that I'm not looking for an
answer. I'm just identifying a concern. And Bob, you
chuckle over there. Maybe you can give me some help
on that, because as you know, we -- you do use
modeling for high-level waste, low-level waste,
And for a National Academy Report to say
inadequate is a challenge. The second one is, I know
you did this report in the context of the Department
of Energy and you stressed an integrated approach in,
it sounds like an evolving management process.
Maybe that's okay for the Department of
Energy, but in the commercial sector the idea is
you've got to terminate sometime.
DR. WYMER: Yes.
MR. GREEVES: How do you price out
something that stresses an evolving approach so you
can get enough money up front to account for what you
described? I see that as a bit of a challenge for
the, you know, the bigger sites, the 10, 12 that we,
you know, may have a similar problem with.
So I don't expect an answer, but I share
with you what a read of the report you produced has in
terms of impacts on the commercial sector.
DR. WYMER: Right.
DR. LESCHINE: Well, what you just said,
I mean, you used the key words in your remark, price
out, and that's that notion of creating some kind of
a fiduciary mechanism, a trust of some sort that can
be there when the private enterprise -- private entity
And yes, you know, that absolutely is the
case of any brown fields or Super Fund site in the
private sector. That private entity always wants to
buy out of that site. It's a liability that they're
carrying and it's only sensible.
And it's sensible when you get to the
appropriate point to permit them to do that. So then
it really does become a question of the mechanism.
Resources for the Future last month had a meeting on
trust fund mechanisms.
I didn't go to it, but I heard from
several people -- I think Bob was there -- that it was
a very interesting meeting, and they -- you know
-- they talked about some of the -- I think they came
down on the side of kind of state and local
arrangements over federal, because federal trust funds
have some innate difficulties from our constitution
that they really just become IOUs and not real money
in the bank, and you're actually not avoiding the
Congressional appropriation problem.
But I think there's, you know, good
experience in the brown fields world, for example. At
one point in our report we got a presentation from a
guy named Ed Frost who's a very prominent attorney
who's worked in brown fields area, worked with Tom
Grumley for awhile, in fact.
And they were talking about these kinds of
arrangements where essentially you've got to figure
out up front what the right amount of money is. And
if you do that and you turn that over to the
government entity or whoever, it could even be another
private sector entity, why not, you know, that's how
you do it.
So that's the mechanism, but we have to
rely on that mechanism. You know, the State of
Tennessee has an interesting experiment where they did
negotiate a trust over some facilities at Oak Ridge.
But it was very interesting what they did,
because even after this tremendous battle with DOE
over the principle of the trust fund, DOE relented and
they created a trust.
But they did it for -- when it was done,
the battle was won -- I guess we would argue and it's
in our report -- the war was lost because they took no
uncertainty into account, and only looked at the
predicted cost of maintaining and monitoring a cap.
And so they settled on $14 million, which
they amortized into the exact dollar value of the
estimated monitoring and maintenance of the cap at the
site in perpetuity, or for as long as was necessary
for the -- given the hazard.
Well, you know, that's kind of the right
approach but the wrong answer, because what's missing
there is factoring in the uncertainty and the real
scenarios of what can go wrong and what happens if
that goes wrong.
So you know, these trusts could be the
answer but they have to be done in a way that takes
the uncertainties into account and doesn't just ignore
them. And again, that gives --
MR. GREEVES: Those uncertainties will
drive the cost up significantly.
DR. LESCHINE: Yes. Well, that's where
you -- but you know, those exist in the private sector
and don't we use insurance to do that? And so
sometimes, insurance schemes are preferable because
you pool the risk if you have an insurance company out
And something will go wrong at one site,
but it won't go wrong at every site. So in that way
we sort of meter out the money on a, you know,
actualized risk basis. That's some people's
DR. LEVENSON: Has anybody gone back and
looked -- we do have a lot of experience over a long
period of time in a somewhat different field -- in
perpetual care in cemeteries, who make estimates and
funded things and costs have changed over time.
Have anybody gone back and see if there's
anything to be learned from all of that experience?
DR. LESCHINE: If you read the literature
that comes out of the social sciences on long-term
care and maintenance, cemeteries are a very prominent
model. National parks are another model, too.
You know, Yellowstone is still there as
Yellowstone. As our first national park, it's more
than 100 years old. But cemeteries are good ones, you
know, except what happens with cemeteries is they do
drive you to the edge of sort of your limits of
control, you know, that kind of cultural imperialism
where one group overcomes another.
And often, what they do is go out and
desecrate the cemeteries. So the Arlingtons get very
well taken care of, but the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw
does not, you know. So those are the dilemmas that
you have to face, but yes, a cemetery is a good model
because there's an income flow in a way.
People die, except you know, the Catholic
Church is having a hard time maintaining some of its
cemeteries right now, and it's turning into kind of a
little crisis for them because of the changing
demographics of the population.
And they're not maintaining the income
flow they had expected. So but it's an interesting
DR. WYMER: Okay. Well, is there any
other comments or observations? It's certainly a
provocative talk, and it's a challenging field.
There's no question about it, this whole business of
DR. LESCHINE: Yes. I think this report,
I have to say, we raised many more questions than we
had answers, as Carolyn Huntoon pointedly said.
DR. WYMER: Yes.
DR. LESCHINE: So.
DR. WYMER: Well, thanks again. I know
you came here at some personal sacrifice. We
DR. LESCHINE: Well, it's my pleasure.
DR. WYMER: Very much.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: All right. This
actually ends the presentation phase of our meeting,
especially since I regret to announce that John
Ahearne came down sick this morning, with chills and
headaches and sore throats and has had to cancel his
visit with us this morning.
So from this point on we will not need
recording and there will no longer be any formal
presentations and the committee will, after the break,
reconvene to do some planning and business-related
So we adjourn with a 15-minute break.
DR. WYMER: Thank you.
(Whereupon, this portion of the 124th
meeting of the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste was
concluded at approximately 10:50 a.m.)
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