Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste 134th Meeting - April 17, 2002

Official Transcript of Proceedings NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION


Title: Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste
134th Meeting


Docket Number: (not applicable)


Location: Rockville, Maryland


Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2002




Work Order No.: NRC-327 Pages 139-251


Court Reporters and Transcribers
1323 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
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APRIL 17, 2002
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The ACNW met at the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, Two White Flint North, Room T2B3, 11545
Rockville Pike, at 8:30 a.m., George M. Hornberger,
Chairman, presiding.
RAYMOND G. WYMER Vice Chairman

JOHN T. LARKINS Executive Director, ACRS/ACNW
SHER BAHADUR Associate Director, ACRS/ACNW
MICHELE S. KELTON Technical Secretary


Opening Statement - Chairman Hornberger. . . . . 142
Final Radionuclide Transport Research Plan
Cheryl Trottier. . . . . . . . . . . . 144/159
John Randall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
William R. Ott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Site Recommendation - License Application: . . . 215
Path Forward
Adjourn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251

8:31 a.m.
come to order. This is the second day of the 134th
meeting of the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste.
My name is George Hornberger, Chairman of the ACNW.
The other members of the Committee present are Raymond
Wymer, Vice Chairman, John Garrick and Milton
Today, the Committee will, one, hear a
briefing from representatives of NRC's Office of
Nuclear Regulatory Research on the final research plan
on radionuclide transport in the environment; two,
discuss a draft of the Committee's 2002 action plan;
three, hear a presentation from the DOE on proposed
plans to move forward from the submission of the Yucca
Mountain Site recommendation; four, discuss a proposed
template to conduct an audit of the Yucca Mountain
Review Plan, Revision 2; and, five, continue its
discussion of proposed reports.
Howard J. Larson is the designated Federal
Official for today's initial session.
This meeting is being conducted in
accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory
Committee Act. We have received no written comments
or requests for time to make oral statements from
members of the public regarding today's sessions.
Should anyone wish to address the Committee, please
make your wishes known to one of the Committee staff.
It is requested that the speakers use one
of the microphones, identify themselves and speak with
sufficient clarity and volume so that they can be
readily heard.
The first item this morning is on the
final radionuclide transport research plan. I'm the
lead person, so I'll turn the meeting over to me.
MR. LARKINS: George? Before you get
started, can I make an announcement?
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Oh, I'm sorry; yes,
John, please.
MR. LARKINS: I'd like to very proudly
recognize one of our staff, Lynn Deering, who received
a meritorious award this year from the Agency, one of
the highest awards that can be bestowed on a staff
person in the area of, I guess, scientific excellence.
And we're very proud of Lynn. We get very few of
those awards in this Office, and so I think it's very
noteworthy that we recognize the contribution that
Lynn has made to the Committee and the Office over the
past several years.
MR. LARKINS: It's more than $25.
you have a tough act to follow now.
We've seen the draft of the radionuclide
transport plan, you'll recall, and we've had various
discussions at times. Bill Ott has updated us. But
I think now what has happened is that the public
commentary had ended. You all have assimilated the
public comments, and you're going to tell us sort of
the final disposition today. Cheryl?
MS. TROTTIER: Thank you. My name is
Cheryl Trottier. I'm the Chief of the Radiation
Protection Environmental Risk and Waste Management
Branch in the Office of Research. Thank you for
taking the time to hear about the plan today. We
wanted to come and tell you how we have been able to
move the plan from its draft stages into a final form.
We're going to speak to the issue of the
type of comments that we've received and how we
address the issue of project prioritization. The last
time we came before you was last summer, and one of
your recommendations was not to use the prioritization
process that we used in the Office that was activity-
based but to come up with a process for the individual
projects, which we've done, and I'll speak to that
later. Then the last thing is Bill Ott will briefly
go through the items that we have selected to fund for
this year on the basis of how they scored under the
With that, I think I'll turn it to John
Randall, who is going to speak to the public comments.
MR. RANDALL: What I'm going to do is go
over various recommendations about what we should with
the plan, from public commenters -- well, first off,
that's me, you know who I am. A little background:
You know we prepared a draft plan, and we presented it
to you last July, and we also put it out for public
comment, we coordinated it with the Division of Waste
Management, and we've also appeared before the Board
on Earth Sciences and Resources at the National
Academy of Sciences and their Committee on Geological
and Geotechnical Engineering. So we had some feedback
there also.
And the other major event where we saw a
lot of possible ideas for this plan was the workshop
that the ACNW held in November of 2001. And as I go
through this, you'll see that more ideas came out of
that workshop than we got from the other avenues that
we sought for feedback.
The comments that we received fall into
several categories, and I've summarized them this way:
We have research on regulatory issues, comments on
research prioritization -- actually, I'll comment on
those two things in reverse -- and then getting down
to the real stuff, the research topics fell into pre-
disposal area and several categories I call post-
disposal, and then there were other comments that
didn't fit any of that framework. Nevertheless, it
had some impact on how we do business.
And the research prioritization isn't what
we did, it's what people thought we should do. So
that's the spirit of this whole presentation. Some of
these things we are doing. There were recommendations
for leveraging. I think the former Commissioner
Rogers put it well when he said that if you have more
than one organization involved in a research program,
you get more credibility because there's more people
thinking that this area is an important area. Of
course, you also get good dollar value. And we have
picked that up in our prioritization scheme through
cost effectiveness in the Research Office, and their
scheme has leveraging -- cooperation with other
organizations is the term they used.
There were recommendations that we should
use PA to assess the impact of research topic on dose
assessment. We have that in our criteria. There were
suggestions about cost effectiveness, that's pretty
obvious; we have that. Probability of success, we
have incorporated that into the cost effectiveness.
Our cost effectiveness criteria has turned out to be
an umbrella for a lot of things. Availability of
institutions and facilities, we haven't explicitly put
that in our criteria, but obviously it's something you
have to think about when you want some work done.
Issues that have a high probability of
occurrence, high consequences and high uncertainty,
we've picked that up through dose impact and
uncertainty reduction in our criteria. The Research
Office's criteria picked it up through their safety
significant criterion. And there are others that we
don't have in there explicitly, but they're important:
timeliness, definitiveness, how well is the problem
defined, how much will it impact regulations, and also
one that -- need for basic data, thermodynamic data
for absorption comes to mind, and that is something
that we think matters and we'd like to pursue.
Research on regulatory issues, all of
these came from the ACNW workshop. Mr. Tinani
discussed possible issues related to advance reactors,
waste and decommissioning issues, and our staff has
actually has some input on the advanced reactor
research program plan along these very lines. So we
are responding to that need.
Adequacy of waste disposal regulations,
that's Marty Virgilio. Probably not something we can
do; more likely the Division of Engineering Research
can handle it. Risk significance greater than class
C low level, we can do it. We haven't done any
specifically on low level for several years. If the
Agency wants to do that, that's fine. We have to talk
about funding, and there are other items here: safety
goals for decommissioning, identification of
performance indicators for long-term waste disposal,
guidance on the meeting of reasonable expectation.
That's obviously high-level waste. EPA's words have
been adopted into Part 63. Maybe we can do something
there, anticipatory research, I don't know. That's
where we're restricted on high-level waste. We
haven't really developed anything in that area yet of
high-level waste.
I'll go quickly on this slide. These are
all ideas that came from the workshop. Let me say our
Branch, my team won't do any of them. They're all
projects that should be done in other branches and
other divisions than RES. Some of these things are
being looked at, especially in the Division of
Engineering and Research.
MR. LARSON: Is that true on your earlier
-- the viewgraph prior to this one too?
MR. RANDALL: No. No. There it's more of
a mixed bag. There are things there --
MR. LARSON: You're going to tell us which
ones you're going to do and the scope?
MR. RANDALL: That we should do.
MS. TROTTIER: Bill's going to do that.
MR. LARSON: Right.
MR. RANDALL: Yes. That's fine. Yes.
MR. LARSON: Because there's some we're
interested in.
MR. RANDALL: Speeding me along, which is
a good idea.
Now, there's a lot of topics here on post-
disposal. I don't want to go through them all, item
by item, or Bill won't have any time left. But you
see in this list there's some low-level waste, three
low-level waste items. That goes back to my remark
earlier, the Agency seems to have renewed interest in
low-level waste. That's fine, but we still need to
talk about funding.
And the characterization of low-level
waste radionuclides that aren't Part 61, that came
from an ACNW workshop, Dave Coker. That's something
we have in our plan. We didn't put it a high priority
on it, because we didn't think we could get the money,
but I think that's important if the Agency wants to
get more active in low-level waste.
Going over to engineered barriers, we have
picked up on some of these things. All of these are
also from the -- suggestions from the ACNW workshop.
They go to evaluation of entombment. We actually
started a project at the National Institute of
Standards and Technology to do just that. And the
Agency is still debating about whether to have a
rulemaking in improvement or if that will have impact
on the importance of this project. The utilities all
want this as an option for decommissioning, so I think
we should stick with it.
MR. LARSON: The Committee's going to hear
on the entombment proposed regulation in the June
meeting. Are you going to have anything to say from
your study?
MR. RANDALL: Not at this point. I know
that they're still kicking around whether to take
action, ranging from a full-blown rule to no action at
all. And I don't know what the decision is, it's
still up in the air.
MR. BAHADUR: Excuse me, John. This list
of topics under engineered barrier, and others that
you are showing us, I assume these are the summary of
the comments that you received from various sources.
MR. RANDALL: Well, these are from all
those sources that I listed earlier, and all these
happened to come from the -- again, from the ACNW
MR. BAHADUR: Okay. And --
MR. RANDALL: I just organized them.
MR. BAHADUR: And the Office of Research
has not put any filter on it in terms of putting them
in a priority.
MR. RANDALL: No, no.
MR. BAHADUR: You're just listing them
right now.
MR. RANDALL: Right. No, I'm just
listing. There's no priority here at all.
There are several high-level waste items
listed. Marty Virgilio talked to you in November
about possible areas for anticipatory high-level waste
that our office could do. We haven't fleshed any of
that out yet, and we need to talk about even getting
some funds just to do the planning. So at this point
it's still an idea that hasn't been implemented.
Move along to the next slide. This will
be a couple of slides coming up on transport. One
that got attention in several context was monitoring,
and we are developing a statement of work on
monitoring. And there are other areas that are
strictly high-level waste and one that jumps out at me
because of recent discussions I had with the NMSS
staff is matrix sorption which apparently is something
that DOE is now proposing it's a retardation mechanism
in the fractured matrix interactions. It seems to be
a fairly new idea, something we should check out.
Another transport slide, the big topic.
And a lot of people had ideas. So I'll go to one
thing on this slide: There was a suggestion from Dr.
Nordstrom at the ACNW workshop that geochemical
modeling should be done as an exercise with several
problems, several models and several modelers. Well,
we're doing it. We're involved with the OECD, NEI
sorption project, and that's what it is, it's all
these things. It's several problems, several models,
several modelers, and we're right in the middle of it
right now. The NRC has teams from its own staff, from
our project on sorption modeling at the US Geological
Survey and also staff from the Center for Nuclear
Waste Regulatory Analyses.
One other thing on this slide: There are
items on here that may look strange, because there are
some public comments that came in. For example, on
the plant uptake factors toward the end, the physical
and biological mechanisms for downward movement of
radionuclides in the soil came from professors at
Colorado State University.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Where did the first
one come from?
MR. RANDALL: Same place.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Anion sorption and
MR. RANDALL: That came from -- I have
notes here.
MR. RANDALL: Anyway, it came from the
workshop. I don't remember. Anyway, it did come from
the workshop.
Okay. Next is performance assessment and
this area of simple, understandable models based on
dominant risk contributors. This is something we did
years and years ago when we were doing the high-level
waste methodologies. We tried to simplify those
problems down to dominant flow pathways and dominant
risk contributors. And I think the suggestion, Number
3, about examining the effects on dose estimation and
removing time limits from performance assessment is
kind of unavoidable and somebody should do it, either
us or NMSS. That came from Dave Coker at your
And the area on the bottom, looking at the
advances in health physics, I think it's a good idea,
but it's not -- the team I'm in charge of wouldn't do
it, but the other team in our branch, headed by
Rosemary Hogan, would be the proper place for that.
And the last few slides are other
comments. Finally, somebody suggested a title that I
think isn't too bad. It came from former Commissioner
Rogers at the workshop. I think I'd remove the term,
"requirements," because that had special meaning at
the NRC, it's things you have to do. I'd call it
"needs." If you want to go toward a realistic base
for regulation, our plan I think does a good job of
outlining the needs to do that.
MR. LEE: John?
MR. LEE: What's the last item, please?
Last item, John? What's intended by that?
MR. RANDALL: That's just saying you can't
depend entirely on the numbers you get out of codes.
You have to temper anything that the codes tell you,
whether it's expert judgment and other lines of
research like natural analogs, which are the closest
thing you've got to long-term operating waste
facilities and the closest physical models to those
things. And research on performance confirmation,
that has a special meaning for high-level waste. It
could be used for any type of waste disposal.
Okay. The first item on the next slide
also goes to the question of analogs and physical
models, using closed waste and decommissioning sites
-- left out a conjunction there -- that could be
useful as analogs.
MR. WYMER: I didn't think that comment
was so much aimed at analogs as it was at getting
confirmatory data, John. That's the context which I
remember being discussed.
MR. RANDALL: Yes. Okay.
MR. BAHADUR: So you know, one of my
comments -- and I'm sorry I'm interrupting you in the
middle of your presentation -- when you take a list
like this which you have, it's a very nice effort to
look in the transcript of the workshop and also
sifting through it and then coming up with this list
of topics. The danger is when you write these topics
with no other explanation in front of it, it looks
like all these topics were discussed with similar
MR. RANDALL: No, they're not.
MR. BAHADUR: Which would not have been
the case because in the workshop sometimes a topic was
introduced, discussed for about 30 seconds and then
moved on.
MR. BAHADUR: And I think care should be
taken to make sure all the issues that we have listed
in here are not taken with the same weight.
MR. RANDALL: I think we also --
MR. BAHADUR: And my question earlier was
has the Office of Research put some sort of a filter
on these topics --
MR. RANDALL: Well, yes.
MR. BAHADUR: -- to put their engineering
judgment to see which of these should be research
topics and which should not be research topics.
MR. RANDALL: I think the things that I've
written down are all things that we should consider.
There are some that I dismissed. For example, one of
your consultants was from the WIPP site and just
listed a lot of things that mattered in salt, and I
didn't think we could use them, and so I didn't -- I
generally did not use that person's input. So I think
-- you know, we looked at all these things, and these
are things that are worth thinking about, and whether
we can do them or not is another matter. We are
giving them consideration.
MR. LARKINS: Those things which you said
are outside the purview of your group but may be good
ideas, are you going to pass those on to other --
MR. RANDALL: Yes, we can do that.
MR. LARKINS: organizations to look at and
MR. RANDALL: Yes. Yes. And the last
comment, that's a public comment from the Council on
Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals. And I don't
think we should do it, but I just give you an idea of
the range of comments.
And the last slide, here again these are
all from outside the workshop. The aquatic assistance
comment came from an individual at Savannah River.
The last three comments came from the Nuclear Energy
Institute, and I'm assuming they're the official
positions of the NEI. One individual wrote the
letter, but if they're anything like us, he couldn't
send me the letter without getting it through their
I think that the first item, which is the
second item on the slide, from the NEI, it's a good
idea, but we also have to guard our independence, so
there's a balance that has to be achieved there. We
certainly keep track of what we're doing, but we're
pretty careful about getting too close and being co-
I think the second remark about in-situ
monitoring, we're not going to try to develop
monitoring instruments. It's more of an evaluation of
what can be done. It's not our job to develop these
And I don't agree with the last slide. I
think -- well, especially the examples I listed,
colloid transport and releases by microbes, are things
that we ought to consider. And we put microbes down
as a lower priority item, but we did think it was
important enough to put them on the list. Maybe some
day when we have more money or microbes become more
important for some reason, we should consider them.
Okay. That's all I have to say.
MS. TROTTIER: You want to do the other?
MR. RANDALL: Yes. I'll turn it over to
MS. TROTTIER: No, you won't.
PARTICIPANT: Cheryl's up next.
MR. RANDALL: You're back?
MS. TROTTIER: Mine should come first.
There it is. I'm trying the high-tech version, so I
don't know how much confidence I have. All right.
John, go to the next slide.
All right. What I'm going to speak to is
how we ended up deciding on a project prioritization
scheme. As I said before, you did recommend that we
do this. So I put the team to the task of coming up
with factors to consider. The factors that they
developed are based on NRC's strategic plan, and I'll
go through those factors individually so that it's
clear. It's really very similar to the office level
system, because that's also based on a strategic plan.
So you won't find a radical difference, but I think,
hopefully, we've captured the points that are
different about a project versus an overall activity.
Initially, the team had developed seven
factors. The process was that they developed the
factors. John and I ended up doing the
prioritization, and then Bill went in and did QA check
on what we decided on. What we found in doing the
prioritization that the seven factors were too many.
I'll tell you what the other two were. One of them in
fact was public confidence. There was no way we could
discern a clear difference from one project to
another. In other words, they almost all scored the
same. So we felt that if a factor didn't vary, there
really was no point in considering it.
The other factor that we took out was a
factor called innovation, and the team felt this was
a very important factor, but in light of the other
factors that we had, it didn't seem to be a big driver
in whether or not we would fund it. So we ended up
with five factors instead of the seven that they
started with.
We also modified the scoring. The system
had originally been developed with a five-tiered
system in it. It's very hard when you're -- I mean
these are subjective evaluations. I mean there is no
way to do it without a certain amount of subjectivity,
and so having to grade between zero and five or one
and five was too difficult. So John and I ended up
using three factors, and so I'll talk a little bit
about them. But within each factor there were three
possible scores: a zero, a one or a two.
All right. You want to go to the next
slide then? This actually discusses the factors that
we used. The first one was the one we called dose
estimation impact. This is what really speaks to the
safety issue to us, and the three criteria within that
factor was no effect, a moderate effect or a strong
effect. And in doing that, we're looking at,
basically, levels like the 25 milirem standard for a
decommissioned site. That was our basis for whether
or not not addressing this issue could end up
resulting in people possibly exceeding the 100 milirem
dose limit. I mean that really was a strong effect
Now, again, because it's a subjective
thing, there's a judgment factor involved. Should
something be scored a one or a two? The difference
between moderate and strong is not that significant,
and that was one advantage of having somebody else go
in and do a QA check. We purposely did not ask the
team to do this, because I mean there's an inherent
human bias in your own interest level. So we felt
that it had to be some neutral group who would not --
who had some knowledge of what we were trying to
accomplish but who would not have that hopefully
built-in bias.
The next factor is the uncertainty
reduction factor. This is very similar to the
evaluation that's done office-wide. Here, again, the
components were no effect in uncertainty, something
that addressed modeling or experimental work or
something that addressed both modeling and
experimental. The team felt strongly that there's
more validity in research that addresses both the
modeling and the experimental work than in research
that just deals with one or the other. So that's how
it ended up getting a stronger score if both
components would be involved in the research.
The third factor was burden reduction.
There it was just whether it would increase it, be
neutral or decrease burden. And this was focused on
what the potential outcome would be for that factor.
This is the factor that had the most zeros with it,
because, you know, there were some types of research
which actually could end up increasing burden. There
were very few of our factors that had zero, but a few
did, but this one had -- this is a factor that had
more zeros than others.
Cost effectiveness, this was a -- we
scored it as whether it was low, moderate or high.
This builds on the leveraging issue. In other words,
if we have cooperative agreements with others, then
the cost effectiveness of doing this work is going to
be much higher than if NRC is sharing the whole cost
with it. So in those cases, cooperative effort scored
very high.
The last item was issue support. Again,
there it was whether it had support only within the
Office or -- I mean, yes, only support within the
Office of if it also had a user need. This is how we
addressed the concept of a user need in coming up with
these factors. And my view on this is, you know, this
is a first attempt, and we're going to use that -- we
did use it this year in our budget process. We're
going to welcome ideas about enhancements or problems
that people see in it, but it was what the team came
up with and what we felt comfortable moving forward
And then, do you want to go to the next
one? The result was that we ended up prioritizing 28
projects. Now --
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: -- interrupt just a
MS. TROTTIER: Yes. Sure. Yes.
scores, how many people? How many people did the
MS. TROTTIER: Two people. John and I, as
a team, did the ranking, and then Bill went in and
said this doesn't make sense or that doesn't make
sense. And so he just performed the QA function.
There may be better ways to do the ranking, but that's
how we did it this year.
MR. WYMER: You gave those equal weight,
is that right?
MS. TROTTIER: We didn't -- yes. In other
words, of those five factors, they were all viewed
equally, yes. We didn't put the first one, we didn't
raise that higher.
MR. WYMER: That's a little strange.
MS. TROTTIER: In fact, in the Agency's
strategic planning process, most offices do not score
safety that much higher. Research is one of the few
offices that does. But I think in NMSS and NRR the
other factors are scored pretty high. But here -- you
know, if something had no safety component and was
really high in some other area, we may look at it.
But most of the ones that ended up scoring high scored
high because they had a high safety component.
Okay. As John went through that long
list, you see we didn't have a list of like 50 or 60
projects; we had 28 projects. We had those that were
in the draft plan and then those that came out of our
public comments and the workshop that we felt needed
to be added.
The funding being provided for the top 16
was kind of my arbitrary decision. Knowing about how
much money is going to be available, I came up with a
guess as to how many project we could possibly fund.
And those were the ones that we expanded the write-ups
on. In other words, when you go back and look at the
draft plan, you'll see very short write-ups. Well, in
some cases that makes it very hard for the user office
and for others to really understand what are you going
to accomplish with that research. So I had the team
go back for those things where there were scores above
0.6, right, 0.6 is where we ended -- I cut it off at
0.6, where the write-ups are more complete. Now,
there's a couple of them that didn't get funding for
this year, but for next year there may be funding
Each year, we're going to -- I mean I glad
you guys encouraged us to do this. This was painful,
trust me, very painful. But it was a very useful tool
for us to develop. And now that we have it, people
will get more used to it, the process will improve
over time. Each year, I'll probably submit it in like
the summer time frame to the user offices for comment
and suggestion on other ideas that they could see we
might need. The team will continue to evolve. One of
the things we're adding to it this year is some high
level anticipatory waste research projects, try and
look out beyond where we are today with Yucca Mountain
into other issues.
MR. WYMER: Will Bill or somebody be
telling us what those projects are?
MS. TROTTIER: We haven't come up with
them yet. In other words, during high-level waste --
MR. WYMER: Anticipatory.
MS. TROTTIER: The 16, yes. He will talk
to the 16.
MR. WYMER: The anticipatory research is
what I'm interested in.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: But that's in the
MR. WYMER: That was the thrust of the
question. I wondered what his ideas were.
MS. TROTTIER: Say that again.
MR. WYMER: What I was interested in is
what anticipatory research areas that you identified.
MS. TROTTIER: And he's going to speak to
that. One thing I want to -- I will just say one
thing here about our anticipatory research. As a
group in research, I think we have the luxury of doing
more anticipatory research than other groups. When
you see this, you will see that a good share of our
work is anticipatory, and I like that component. It
gives the staff the ability to evaluate down the road,
beyond the point when the program office is
envisioning a need, and I think that's important for
the program, to be able to look out into the future.
MR. LARKINS: Cheryl, having gone through
this process, do you think it will enhance your
ability to justify these programs and make it more
transparent to management, agency heads as to why the
work is of value and should be done?
MS. TROTTIER: Yes. I do think it helps,
because it helps to articulate it in a fashion that
others outside the group understand, NMSS as well as
senior agency management. So I think it has been
MR. LARKINS: What about within Research?
MS. TROTTIER: Within Research, yes, also.
MS. TROTTIER: Okay. Next slide. Okay.
Now, what I alluded to before, we're going to continue
to move forward with this plan. Every year we will
put it out for public comment. I encourage the staff,
as they interact with the National Academies and
others to talk about the plan to solicit input from
others on ideas and I think a really important
component of this is the new MOU that we developed
last year. I mean that's a vehicle to not only share
resources but to share ideas. I hate the component of
the federal government that has every little agency
out there creating their own research projects and not
sharing. I think it's good that we have this vehicle
now, and it's hopefully going to expand and grow to be
a very valuable asset to this component of the
research program. And with that, I'll turn it over to
MR. BAHADUR: Cheryl, may I just ask one
process question here? This seems to be a major foot
forward in the direction that the radionuclide
transport projects don't have to be compared with the
other projects within the Office of Research to get
the money. But the impression I got is you had a pot
of money somewhere and then from there you gave the
money to this list of 28 projects, and when the money
ran out, that's where you draw the line?
MS. TROTTIER: No. What I'm basing it on
is my view of realism. My view of realism is that
we're not going to get $10 million next year in lieu
of the $4 million we got this year. So I just say,
you know, if we had been able to justify roughly $4
million, that's a reasonable assumption. If there
were some huge technical issue looming in front of us,
I think we could increase our budget. But if you look
at the fact that reality is that the NRC is not likely
to have enormous resource increases in the future to
cover this type of research, I think it's a reasonable
assumption to go on that. That was it. And I mean
the actual number that we prioritized and -- well, we
prioritized them all, but the actual number that we
enhanced the write-ups on did exceed by a small amount
that that we have funding for, so we have the
flexibility to address changes down the road.
MR. OTT: Okay. I'm going to go into
discussing the first 16 or perhaps we'll go to a
little shorter list. We'll see how the time goes. I
want to digress just for a couple minutes to mention
a couple of things that came up earlier and address
some of the questions from a different perspective.
Timing. We have a lot of projects right
now that are nearing conclusion this year and in the
beginning of next year, so in terms of implementation,
we'll probably be implementing most of these projects
over this year and the next year, not by the end of
this year. In terms of how things are going, maybe
it's a factor of the effort that we put into planning,
maybe not, but I think that during the reviews of the
budget in this particular year, we have actually had
less difficulty in supporting the work than we have in
years past. That's a positive sign. Whether it's due
to this work or not, I don't know; maybe it's due to
other things. But it's a realistic or it's a real --
MS. TROTTIER: May I interject? It
actually is due to Office level and division level
support. We have gotten a lot of that this year, and
it's been very helpful.
MR. OTT: And some of that may be due to
this planning effort. There was an observation on one
of those slides of John's that talked about the DOE's
25-year Vadose-Zone Program. I wanted to mention that
very specifically because we've had contacts from
Steven Coval at the I&L who's running that program for
DOE. He's very interested in our program. He's asked
us to come out. John's going to be on the program
spectrum. He's going to meet with John. He's asked
John to talk about the MOU. We're getting Steven
Coval to come in and perhaps attend our next Steering
Committee meeting so that we're actually establishing
an interface between that very large DOE effort and
the effort that we've got going on with the MOU.
All right. Let me go into the table.
There's a table in the plan which has all 28 projects
listed. They are listed by order of priority but
within groups. There is no distinction between
whether it's a -- no 0.8 is higher than any other 0.8.
The order in which they're listed is alphabetical, I
suspect. Somehow the computer program decided which
one it was going to put first and which one it was
going to put second. We did not put a rule on it.
MR. LARSON: Bill, when you looked at --
arrived at the 28, did you look and disposition each
of the 100 or so that John Randall talked about that
you got from public comments and from the workshop and
the rest of --
MR. OTT: The ideas that came from the
public comments would not necessarily categorize into
a 100 separate projects.
MR. LARSON: Well, but I mean --
MR. OTT: A lot of them overlap and a lot
of the concepts are included in here. What we did was
look through there to see if they were concepts that
we thought were important enough that they would
generate a separate research project. And in that
case, we may have added a couple, I'm not certain
exactly what the number is.
MR. LARSON: Yes, I know. I just --
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Twenty-eight out of
how many?
MR. OTT: Out of how many what?
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Well, you've got 28.
What did you start with?
MR. OTT: I don't know. I think the --
MR. RANDALL: Originally, we had about 35,
and I had my staff combine some of those. And that
got it down to 28, and the prioritization that Cheryl
and I did was on the 28. That was the start.
MR. LARSON: My question was, though, you
presented a whole long list of things at the workshop
and others, so did you consciously look at each one of
those and either roll them into something else or
dispose of them and say, "This isn't any good," or,
"We can't do it."
MR. RANDALL: Well, I listed some like
that, but we haven't done the whole job.
MR. OTT: Anything that jumped out at us
as being obviously significant we would have included.
So anything that's not in there is something that we,
at this point, would not be consider to be a first
order effect but a second order effect. And a lot of
those things are included as portions of the project.
MR. LARKINS: I think you mentioned or
John mentioned that they did pick up one or two, the
monitoring and some of the other issues. It seems
like those were the ones that sort of rose up out of
the group.
MR. WYMER: We can go back one -- if you
don't mind these interruptions, Bill --
MR. OTT: Not at all.
MR. WYMER: -- to go back one step, you
made a fairly fundamental first decision that you're
going to look at transport, and how did you arrive at
MR. OTT: That's the function of our
branch. It's our -- not our branch. It's some
function of that team, and it's what this particular
program was designed to look at, was generic
radionuclide transport issues.
MR. WYMER: But somebody said that is the
issue you should look at. Who did that?
MR. OTT: In terms of the 28?
MR. WYMER: No, in terms of --
MR. OTT: Oh.
MR. WYMER: -- the general --
MR. OTT: You'd have to go back and look
at the evolution of the Office. Ten years ago, what
we had was a low-level waste research program and a
high-level waste research program, and when the
funding for both of those or the support for both of
those disappeared in '95 or '96, there was the -- a
question was raised, should we maintain capability in
the waste disposal area?
MR. WYMER: Right.
MR. OTT: And the conclusion was we needed
to maintain a generic capability to look at these
issues, because they came up in decommissioning. We
were still getting involved in waste disposal issues,
and so it should have the capability to support the
user offices in the area of environmental transport.
That's how the program got defined.
MS. TROTTIER: I don't think Bill really
answered your question.
MR. WYMER: No, he didn't, actually.
MR. OTT: Oh, I didn't?
MS. TROTTIER: But do you understand? I
mean the issue is what we're looking at is the impacts
from material that ends up in the environment, and we
don't have a very good name for it. Phil Reed has
told a 1,000 times, stop calling it what we're calling
it, because it does lead to confusion. It's all of
the components that address the issue of material
being in the environment and its subsequent impact on
humans, okay? And it's just -- I actually like
Commissioner Rogers' proposal, I think it's a better
title. We've got to get "transport" out of the title,
because it looks like we're looking a piece and not
the whole --
MR. WYMER: Yes. That's the thing.
MS. TROTTIER: We are looking at the whole
picture, it's just a bad title.
MR. OTT: Okay.
MEMBER LEVENSON: Excuse me, though, I
have a slightly different question. We started out
with a list of issues, and now the rating is done on
specific projects. What's the relationship -- I mean
are there issues that have no projects because nobody
has proposed them? I'm not clear to me how you go
from issues to projects.
MS. TROTTIER: Okay. I think that
"issues" is probably a poor word also. It's really
the comments. What we were attempting to do was to
show you the breadth of comments that we received. In
those cases where an issue could really be identified
as something that a project should be written up on,
we did that. As we evolve through this year, we may
look at some of these comments in more detail and see
whether we need to propose issues for the coming year.
But at least what's in the plan now are the things
that were in there as a draft, and we addressed
comments that we felt were really significant and that
needed to get incorporated right away.
But all those comments that John went
through have not had a thorough rigorous analysis.
They've had probably mostly John's look and maybe a
few others. So they need more detailed evaluation
through this year to see if there are other things we
want to be adding.
MR. OTT: Any more? I'm going to tell you
how I'm going to propose to organize this. There are
20 pages in this thing, and I don't anticipate being
able to get through all of it. What I plan to do is
go through the projects that are rated 0.8 and 0.7 and
perhaps pick out a couple of the ones that are 0.6s.
That's basically the first two pages of the table. I
don't intend on going through the table unless you
actually want to discuss it. You can see how the
various -- how the scores tended to vary. The top two
projects, the ones that were rated 0.8s, got high
scores on those first two factors and a high score on
another factor. Most of the ones that are 0.7s got
high scores on a couple of factors.
You'll notice there's one on that first
page that got a zero for dose estimation impact, but
it's still rate fairly highly, and that's because it's
the FRAMES effort. It's the effort to put all these
models together into a self-consistent and user
friendly framework that allows you to be very flexible
in how you do things. And it's something the user
office rates very highly too. So there are various
reasons why these things rated where they were. It's
all there for you to look at. I don't want to go into
that in detail.
What we've tried to do, and here's where
I'm going to discuss a little bit about this
anticipatory versus user need question. I've put a
title on each one of the slides which corresponds to
the title that's listed in the plan, and under that is
a subtitle which says either "anticipatory" or "user
need" or "anticipatory/user need." Now, when it says
anticipatory/user need, what that means is that this
is probably work that we started or it's work that we
started without a user need, but because either the
success of the work or our interactions with the user
office, the user office has either endorsed it in the
user need, and there's a cover memo that endorses
certain things that aren't covered directly in user
need itself or it's directly listed in the user need
or it's something that we view as necessary to satisfy
the user need even though it's not directly listed in
the user need.
And you'll notice that there are a lot of
things that have that. And that's why this question
of user need versus anticipatory is a very fuzzy
concept, because things that start out as anticipatory
quite often are viewed in later years as valuable and
necessary by the user office and they support our
continue doing it. So I'm trying to at least take
credit for the fact that we did start something when
now we are continuing it and we do have user need
support for it. So that's what that top one
And this first project is a classic
example of this. This is the project that would
continue the work that we've been doing with the
University of Arizona and Pacific Northwest National
Laboratories. Now, the work at PNNL was directed at
parameter uncertainty and had various --
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Do you want John to
go to Slide 5?
MR. OTT: Oh, yes, five. I'm sorry about
that, John. Thank you, George. And each one of these
slides has issue and then it has solution. How are we
going to try and resolve the issue, and the issue is
what we're trying to address in the project. How is
the project going to try and address that?
Okay, I was at PNNL. PNNL, we always had
strong support for the PNNL work to do work on
parameter uncertainty. We didn't have a strong
support to look at conceptual model uncertainty. In
fact, for a long time, it was sort of -- you know,
they almost didn't want to hear about it. But I think
over the four years that we have funded the work at
University of Arizona and funded the workshop that the
National Academy held out in California, I think
there's been a growing appreciation for the
significance of the conceptual model issue, not only
within NRC but within the general public out there as
We do have a methodology for systemically
addressing this problem that will be finalized by
Shlomo Newman at the end of this year. And this work
would then follow on to both Shlomo's work and the
work that was done by PNNL and try and extend it and
apply it and test its validity in as many arenas as
They'll also try and add scenario
uncertainty to the mix of things that they're looking
at. In this particular project, there will be limited
opportunity for additional data collection. We will
try and use whenever possible existing data sets,
existing field sites to test the methodology and
explore the significance of this particular problem.
The next one is a new effort. We've been
talking about doing work on environmental pathway
models, particularly the parameters in those models,
for several years, primarily because the database that
supports these models goes back a long ways and there
are a lot of new analytical techniques out there that
may result -- if applied to a lot of this older data,
may result in changes in critical parameters in the
pathway models. One of the critical parts of this
project would be to first go back and look at that
existing database and target those areas where we feel
that the documentation is softest on these particular
MR. WYMER: Under that solution, that goes
back to something I mentioned when John gave his
presentation. One of the things that came out of the
workshop was a strong recommendation that you go to
existing sites.
MR. OTT: Right.
MR. WYMER: And this says conduct field
laboratory studies. It does not necessarily imply to
me that you're going to go to existing data that's
been obtained at sites that have already been -- had
samples taken on them and see whether or not you can
predict the results from your models. It seems to me
that's a useful adjunct to this.
MR. OTT: I think it's a very important
component of our program that whenever possible we do
go to field sites. I sat down and tried to calculate
the number of contaminated sites that we've gone to or
existing data sets that we've tried to use over the
years. You'll find out that the number of data sets
that we've gone to look at is far greater than the
number of data sets that we've actually used. And
that's, in many cases, because the data sets are
incomplete, they don't have a complete set of
information necessary to test a particular model.
So I think we do have the philosophy that
you're looking for in terms of trying to make maximum
use. But we also have a very critical eye at looking
at those data sets before we jump in. In particular,
the Naturita project that we have talked about, the
one at USGS, before we began that project, we looked
at ten different contaminated sites with various
owners and various locations.
And there are a lot of factors that go
into determining which particular sites you use. And
in this particular instance, we were looking for a
site that had varying chemical conditions across the
site as a prerequisite for being able to accomplish
the goals of the project.
One of Phil Reed's projects has been
looking at slags. I don't know how many total
companies they've contacted but I think it's on the
order of ten, and we actually had a number of these
where we would go up and negotiate up to the very end
and then have somebody come in and be concerned that
they were in the final stages of licensing, they
didn't want to rock the boat. The lawyers would get
in and they'd say, "Well, we just don't want to give
you access to the site."
So I mean this is something that's an
important component of our program, but it's not as
easy as just going out and saying we'll find a site
and do it. It's complicated and time consuming to
find appropriate sites. I think in this particular
instance, it's obvious that we're going to have to go
to sites that have contamination. We also have to go
to sites where conflicting variables don't cloud the
data so much that you can't understand it.
I don't know if there's anything more I
want to particularly say about that one. The next one
is the radionuclide sorption in soils. This is a
short title. The title on the slide was so long that
if I put it on here, I wouldn't have had room for the
issue or the solution. This is also a continuation of
existing work. We have been doing work with Sandia
National Laboratory looking at the fundamental basis
for the sorption process, and we've been looking with
USGS at an engineering approach to do a more realistic
view through surface complexation modeling.
Over the last two years, those projects
have been cooperating, and the Sandia work is now
contributing to providing a fundamental technical
basis for the parameters that are used in the surface
complexation models via the atomistic and molecular
modeling. It looks like it's succeeding. The Sandia
work is -- we'll do a final report on that within the
next few months. The USGS project is going to end
early next year. All indications are that we will be
able to demonstrate the feasibility of doing a more
realistic modeling of the sorption processes in that
chemically complex Naturita environment.
That was chosen because we felt that we
had sufficient data on uranium. We didn't have
sufficient data on other radionuclides and in other
particular environments. So the next step would be to
extend that work to other radionuclides and to other
environments. In particular, the initial Sandia work
focused on very simple clays and monovalent species,
cations. We would extend it to anions and go to more
complex contaminants and to more complex absorbing
substrates. So we would be increasing the complexity
of those particular processes that we're looking at
because we have shown success at the simpler levels.
MR. WYMER: How does this one relate to
the third from the end, which is retardation of
radionuclides in the environment? It seems to me
these are one rated in and one rated out.
MR. OTT: Well, no. They're both in.
And, essentially, one of the -- that's lower down on
the list.
MR. WYMER: It's not in within the 16.
MR. OTT: It's not in the 16. The 16 are
the ones we're working on right now to get going.
MR. WYMER: Okay. I just wondered about
the -- I mean these seem to be part of the same
MR. OTT: They are related. The
retardation problem is more complex than just
sorption. There are things like colloidal transport,
there's now emphasis coming up on things like nano
particles. Basically, we will work to make certain
that these projects are not overlapping but that the
one that looks at retardation looks at additional
factors and additional concerns. Okay? I can't give
you a better answer than that one right now because
that's one sort of down the list in terms of where
we're actually going to go.
The next one, this goes back to comments
we received from several areas that we need not
necessarily to reinvent the wheel all the time, that
there are people out there that are doing a lot of
work and that we need to make certain that we're aware
of that. This is one of the areas where EPA and DOE
particularly are doing a lot of work. The reactive
permeable and impermeable subsurface barriers are a
big component to what DOE is trying to use at many of
their sites. If you go out and visit Rocky Flats,
you'll find places out there where they have used
permeable subsurface barriers and impermeable
subsurface barriers to try and either contain or
isolate and remove contaminants. These are
technologies that we don't necessarily want to
develop, but we may wind up seeing at decommissioning
sites, so we need to be aware of what EPA and DOE are
There's another instance out at Frye
Canyon where DOE and EPA are cooperating on a research
project looking at the effect of various physical and
chemical barriers. I think there are five different
barrier types that are looked at there. That, by the
way, was one of our sites for -- alternatives for the
Naturita project, but it turned out to be too
complicated in that instance to work with the site,
which had all the other particular experiments going
on. And the competing interests of DOE and EPA just
became too complex to use it, which is why we went to
a site where we could do -- were going by ourselves.
This is one that won't cost us any money,
and we're doing it right now in terms of trying to
keep track of what's going on out there. So this is
one that actually isn't funded, it isn't not funded,
it's something that we're doing with staff time, so
it's resource supported.
MR. WYMER: Do you prepare summaries or
anything like that periodically on this work by
MR. OTT: We have not done that yet. It's
certainly an idea that we could look into. In fact,
it would be a very good idea.
We've already mentioned this one a little
bit. This is evaluating the use of the FRAMES system,
and I should told you the status on those first two.
We have a project on Page 5, we have a statement of
work in preparation. The project on Page 6, we have
a statement of work in preparation. The project on
Page 7, we have a statement of work in preparation.
The work on 8 doesn't need it. The work on FRAMES,
the statement of work has been completed, and we're
actually expecting a response back from the National
Laboratory. That will be going to one of the DOE labs
to work on that.
This is the issue of developing some kind
of a framework, a multimedia framework that will be
able to use modules that are specific to any given
problem so that the framework itself has to include a
large library of modules, a large library of data
that's been QA'd and is suitable for use with any one
of these modules.
MR. WYMER: Isn't that very similar to the
work under your MOU?
MR. OTT: This is part of the work under
the MOU.
MR. WYMER: Part of the work, okay.
MR. OTT: Okay. This particular SOW was
in fact coordinated with the people on the Working
Group on Frameworks. There are many frameworks out
there, and the MOU is going to be looking at a number
of them. Right now we have targeted the one on
FRAMES. The Corps of Engineers is using, the
Environmental Protection Agency is using it, and this
is a piece of the work, the continuing development.
This particular piece of it is going to be working at
incorporating the Corps of Engineers' groundwater
modeling system into FRAMES, which is something that
is desired by all three of those agencies. So this is
one area where there is active interagency
cooperation, and this is our piece of it for the
Move on. This is the work that we have
done in the past and we'll continue to work with the
Agricultural Research Service. It's being done out
here at the Beltsville Station. It's a very small
effort. It's funded, but the level of funding is
almost like a blip on the budget. We're trying to get
away from the fact that traditional analyses tend to
assume average recharge rates, while they're a very
strong episodic influence on the way recharge gets to
the -- can have a significant effect on the movement
of contaminants. We're trying to understand it
better, and we've got real-time monitoring out at
Beltsville using state-of-the-art information. There'
actually been cooperation between our Beltsville ARS
contractors and our PNNL contractors that we're
working parameter uncertainty in terms of providing
instrumentation, the state-of-the-art instrumentation
for testing out there at Beltsville. Two of our staff
members, Tom Nicholson and Ralph Cadey, actually
participate in the field measurements on this
particular project.
The next one is very specifically a user
need project. Argonne is developing a RESRAD-OFFSITE
code to deal with offsite contamination. They are
already incorporating many of the probablistic
features that we incorporated into RESRAD and RESRAD-
BUILD. There are other things that are needed in
order to make it useful for our Licensing staff.
Those characteristics are listed in their user need,
and we are -- I think we're preparing -- we're
preparing the SOW right now for this work, to do the
The next project is Page 12 now. We're
talking the integrated groundwater monitoring
strategy, and we have done work on near-surface
vadose-zone monitoring at -- I can't remember the
field site name right now. But, anyway --
MR. NICHOLSON: The Maricopa Site.
MR. OTT: Maricopa Site, right. And that
work was completed a couple of years ago, and we saw
a need to continue that work, extend it to the capital
area fringe and to prepare an integrated approach, an
integrated strategy for looking at monitoring from the
unsaturated zone through the capital area fringe to
the water table. This project would look at that, a
systematic look at ways to detect contamination before
it becomes a problem so that we have adequate time to
do remediation.
A lot of the traditional monitoring is to
look at wells. Well, if you detect it in a well, it's
already reached the water table. We're trying to look
at it and find ways of monitoring such that we can
detect failure, not necessarily by measuring
radionuclides but by measuring some failure of the
performance at the facility. So this project is going
to look at that integrated approach to a strategy for
monitoring. And this was a topic that was mentioned
in the workshop comments and in other places, but this
is something we've been working on for a number of
This is something that I think when we
started it was anticipatory. It was anticipatory
because in the beginning there was a very strong view
within the Agency that they wanted to be able to walk
away from sites. But I think public pressures and the
realities are coming -- people are beginning to
acknowledge that we need to confirm that these sites
will work the way they're supposed to, and it's better
to confirm that before the contamination reaches the
water table than after. So there's been a growing
support for this within the user office, and it is now
covered by the user need statement. So this is
another one of those areas where I think we were out
in front a little bit in terms of detecting the need,
but that need has been confirmed over the long run.
interrupt you?
MR. OTT: Sure.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: You hit the end of
your 0.8 and 0.7, and I was wondering if maybe we
might be better off going on to -- let time for some
MR. OTT: Sure.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: And if people have
questions on some of the remaining projects, they can
come up in questions.
MR. OTT: That would be good. I would
like to mention at least two others, which I had
marked back on the table. Let me get back to it.
This won't take but a second. I wanted to mention
performance of non-concrete barriers, which is in the
middle of the last page. This is essentially -- we've
looked a lot of concretes and entombment and things
like that, but there's increasing evidence that things
like geomembranes and traditional clay covers need a
lot more work, and this is the kind of thing that that
project is going to focus on.
And the very last one is the support for
interagency cooperative research. This is just --
this is something that is actually being done in
response to an interest that began with Deputy EDO in
terms of trying to establish an interagency agreement
on the kinds of parameters and parameter distributions
that you use. So those are just a couple things I
wanted to highlight from the 0.6. Go ahead.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Thank you. Milt, do
you have questions? Raymond?
MR. WYMER: I've asked my questions right
along. I want to make a comment, though, that I think
within the budgetary constraints you have this is a
very well-conceived program. It's a very fundamental
question, and I do think the title that -- something
like what Cheryl came up with is a little better than
limiting it just to transport.
MEMBER GARRICK: Yes. I wanted to ask if
the radionuclide transport research is driven more by
the problems associated with cleaning up sites than,
for example, the waste forms in waste repository
MS. TROTTIER: I'll speak to that. I
think in the context of support for where the
agencies' needs are right now, decommissioning is
probably our biggest emphasis. And as I mentioned
earlier, we will be proposing some anticipatory high-
level waste type work, but because we don't have any
low-level waste facilities under NRC license and we do
have a number of complicated decommissioning cases
that are constantly in front of the Agency, it seems
like the place where we really need to be putting our
research dollars.
MEMBER GARRICK: Yes. And what I was
really getting at is that it would seem that the
radionuclide transport questions that need to be
answered are driven by the nature of the source term.
And in your prioritization, I was kind of trying to
understand how you make that connection or whether
it's just a given situation.
MR. OTT: There is a project in there
that's called Source Term Characterization, I believe.
The problem with source term characterization is that
in the decommissioning world we have a lot of
different source terms.
MR. OTT: So it's difficult to focus down
on one until it becomes an issue. That was the case
with slags, and you'll recall we've had a significant
program looking at slags over the last few years. The
new source term project would look to where we think
the next significant issue is in terms of source term
and try to focus on that. What exactly that will be
I don't know right now. That particular project isn't
under the high priority development at this particular
time, because we haven't had a real indication of a
major problem right now. It's a given that you can't
evaluate dose unless you know what you've got to deal
with, and that includes not just the nature of the
source term but the distribution and the inventory,
and those are all factors that we need to be able to
MEMBER GARRICK: Yes. And I was curious
in the low-level waste arena, is there a provision in
the agreements with the states for feedback from the
states on R&D requirements?
MR. OTT: There's no set -- nothing set
out directly. We work through the Office of State
Programs to inform them of all our research. We've
sent to the Office of State Programs our plan, and
they've sent it out to the states to try and get
comments from the states. The system isn't as
efficient as we'd like, because it doesn't always get
to the right places in the states, because it goes
through the agreement program directors. We keep
trying to figure out better ways of getting to the
states, but we have not been successful yet.
MEMBER GARRICK: Yes. I seem to recall
when we wrote a letter many years ago on an adequate
low-level waste program, this was one of the areas
that we noted with some emphasis, namely that the NRC
still has a research role and that it seems that
there's quite an opportunity in the low-level waste
field for improvements in the waste form and
improvements in the storage concepts and monitoring
and a whole litany of things that could improve the
management thereof, and I was just very curious as to
whether or not there is any real activity there to try
to pinpoint requirements that would help that whole
MR. OTT: There's tended to be a natural
reluctance for the states to come to the federal
government and say, "We need information from you."
The other side of the coin is that there's been a
considerable evolution in the low-level waste business
over the last ten years, with volume reduction, with
brokers out there that are taking waste and compacting
and joining waste streams. I think our knowledge of
what's actually in the low-level waste burial
facilities in detail is much less now than it was ten
years ago.
MEMBER GARRICK: Yes. Kind of a final
comment that may or may not precipitate a question or
two: A few years ago, I was involved in a study that
was for the explicit purpose of coming up with a
methodology for identifying research requirements.
Now, that may be a little different than the issue
you're dealing with here of prioritization, but there
is quite a bit of overlap in the two problems.
One of the things that was concluded in
that review and that study was the critical importance
of the end state of the product that you were trying
to do the research on. And that's what got me to the
source term or to the waste form since that triggers
so much of what needs to be done downstream with
respect to radionuclide transport.
I was just very curious in your
prioritization, I didn't notice anything that really
provided a direct connection to either waste form or
end state of the waste or what have you, and I was
curious as to how you make that connection, and you
partially answered it earlier with your comment about
how you factor the source term into the prioritization
and the requirements identification part of the
But one of the things that's always at
issue here is how we tie all these pieces together and
whether or not downstream you're looking at a
retardation issue, for example, that's really relevant
to the waste forms that you're going to be primarily
dealing with. Had you given much consideration in
your five-factor formula or your five-factor
prioritization process to what I might call the end
state of the waste?
MR. OTT: I was going to say that the
prioritization system started out with deliberations
within the teams, so I think John might be the best
one to answer that question.
MR. RANDALL: I guess I don't understand
your question. The end state of the waste, meaning
the waste facility, long-term disposal?
MEMBER GARRICK: Well, there's a lot of
people that believe that the best way to eventually
get total control of radioactive waste management is
to get total control of the waste form.
MR. RANDALL: Yes. I don't think we
looked at it that way. Waste form was a given.
MEMBER GARRICK: Yes. Well, that's what
I was -- that's what I said at the outset, did you
start, more or less, from the point of view of a given
MEMBER GARRICK: -- of a certain source
term and proceed from there? Or how much of --
MR. RANDALL: Yes. I think that's the way
we characterized it.
MEMBER GARRICK: -- your effort is tied
into working with the people that are on the upstream
side of this problem, namely those that have something
to say about the form of the waste and therefore the
nature of the source term?
MR. RANDALL: We just took it as a given.
MEMBER GARRICK: Yes. Okay. All right.
Thank you.
MR. LEE: I didn't mean to interrupt.
I'll wait till later. Thank you.
another -- go ahead, Raymond.
MR. WYMER: It seems to me that you're
proceeding down a track that has at least two stages
to it. The first is understanding transport, which is
what you're doing, getting a better grip on modeling.
The second that you haven't addressed yet, which is
more difficult and you don't have enough money to get
at it right now, I don't suppose, that's the one of
amelioration of the problem. First, you know it's
happening, now how do you keep it from happening? And
you're doing a little work on barriers, at least
you're following the work on barriers. But it seems
to me that that's the natural follow-on for this kind
of research is being able to understand when somebody
comes in and says we're going to ameliorate this
problem by just following approach, either whether
it's messing around with the waste form initially or
putting some sort of a barrier in between or something
else that we haven't thought of yet. Seems to me that
it is a two-step process. I wonder if you think of it
in those terms.
MR. OTT: I don't think we necessarily
think of the problem in that term. I think we
acknowledge the fact that control and the solution to
a lot of the problems is going to be control, in terms
of things like barriers. And for that reason, we are
looking at being able to evaluate the effectiveness of
those barriers, and we're taking a very strong look at
the indications out there that a lot of the --
particularly the clay barriers tend to be failing,
primarily, apparently, because of desiccation.
We're not in the business of developing
new technologies. We'll keep our eye out to see what
technologies are proposed, because they might get
proposed in NRC applications.
MR. WYMER: Yes. That's the context I
think I tried to put it in is evaluating other
people's solutions.
MR. OTT: And I think we are trying to do
that, yes.
all, I wanted to compliment you on this effort and
thank you, really, because it really is helpful. It's
helpful to me in at least being able to follow some of
your thinking in terms of how you do prioritize and
make decisions. And the reason we had suggested that
you do this is that we have had trouble, as you know,
following this.
Now, having given you the compliment,
there's always a but. I'll characterize it and sort
of paraphrase an old joke that we all know. I could
have gone to Tom Nicholson and said, "Tom, why is it
you're sponsoring this hydrologic conceptual
modeling?" And Tom would say, "Because I think it's
And then I would say to Tom, "But, Tom, I
want a second opinion." And Tom would say, "Oh, I'll
give it a 0.8 rating." Now, I happen to agree with
Tom and so I don't have any problems with this, but a
skeptic might perceive a bit of circular logic here.
And my question really goes to the fact as to how you
may or may not have taken on board the very strong
advice that came from our ACNW workshop and that had
to do with external peer evaluation. And that's the
MS. TROTTIER: Okay. Very good question.
I do think we need to have some external peer
evaluation of the plan and how we prioritize the
projects. Have I solved that problem yet? No, but it
is something that is on my plate to do. We definitely
realize that we need to have someone outside of us do
it, and it's probably going to have to be someone we
pay. I mean I just can't -- you just can only get
volunteers to do so much. But we do recognize that
it's an important component. We have tried to solicit
a lot of volunteer help and not really succeeded, but
we will address this issue this year. We have got to
find a way to get a peer review, and I have a couple
of ideas that Bill and I have talked about, and we're
going to be pursuing them as to how to get an expert
panel to take a look at it, basically on a yearly
basis. I think we need to. And thank you for the
compliment. It really was a good exercise. We are
glad we did it, it is a useful tool, it will help the
program really down the years.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: It will certainly
help us. Other questions? Mike.
MR. LEE: Yes. Just a quick comment for
both Bill and Dr. Garrick. When the staff worked on
the low-level waste BTP, which is no longer the BTP,
we did get a comment from the State of New Jersey.
They were particularly interested in what NRC had done
in terms of concrete barrier performance. And in the
NUREG, we added a --
MR. LEE: I'm sorry. When the staff
worked on the low-level waste BTP, we did get a
comment from the State of New Jersey. They were
particularly interested in what NRC work had been done
in the area of concrete barrier performance, and we
prepared an appendix to the final document that
summarized that information, which principally relied
on NRC NUREGs that were supported by the Office of
I have just a quick question for Bill --
I'm sorry, John. I didn't see -- is NIST foresight
type of work still being supported, the concrete
performance work that Jake Philip was monitoring?
MR. OTT: No, not the foresight work in
particular. We moved onto the evaluation of
entombment. There is a proposal in the plan that's
giving low priority to evaluate or come up with ways
to model sorption, and concrete would be modification
of foresight, but we're not planning to do it.
MR. LEE: Okay. So is it -- all right.
MR. OTT: I would note that in doing the
work on entombment, one of the tools we'll consider
adapting is foresight.
MR. LEE: Okay.
MR. OTT: I think a lot of the entombment
concept uses concrete barriers.
MR. LEE: I was more concerned with just
the use -- performance of concrete barriers as a
barrier material.
MS. TROTTIER: We are doing that.
MR. LEE: Okay.
MS. TROTTIER: We have as follow-on work.
MR. LEE: I just didn't see it in the
MR. LEE: Okay. And just kind of generic
question. Bill, you mentioned the growing interest in
the use of geosynthetics and geomembranes as barrier
materials, and I know the National Academy of Sciences
about three or four years ago sponsored a workshop on
the use of barrier materials, and I think in
applications, disposal applications. The question I
had, I guess, is when you talk about taking advantage
of other organizations' or agencies' research, has any
thought been given to possibly meeting on an annual or
a biannual basis to kind of collect that information
and publish it?
MR. OTT: There is a --
MR. LEE: I know that Tom in the past has
been very good about having little mini-workshops in
areas that he's been covering, but in terms of a
broader net to look at the work that -- I know that
Survey is trying to get more involved in radionuclide
transport issues, but now that you're going to try to
interact with more federal agencies as well as the
labs, has any thought been given to trying to get all
that information together annually and at least trying
to publish it?
MR. OTT: The biggest actor in this right
now is the Department of Energy --
MR. LEE: Okay.
MR. OTT: -- because they've got disposal
sites all over the place, and they've got multiply
designs. Last year, there was a meeting at Savannah
River that was sponsored by the Department of Energy
on engineered barriers. We learned about it too late
to attend. I understand that it's supposed to be an
annual or a biannual event. If DOE is going to be
doing this in terms of documenting what's going on,
we'll essentially rely on that and try and make
certain we observe it and pass on any information from
it. We don't have any plans to do that ourselves
right now.
MR. NICHOLSON: If I could add my -- this
is Tom Nicholson. A year ago, David Daniels
organized, with our help and other people's help, a
mini-workshop at the National Academy of Sciences on
engineered system performance. And there were a lot
of people from both the private sector, the National
Labs and universities. Our staff, Jake and I in
particular, are working with Kerry Moore who's of the
National Academy of Sciences staff to organize an
effort in that regard, and we think that this
engineered system performance, which involves the
variety of materials you've talked about, is extremely
One of the biggest motivators in all that
is EPA, and EPA was very much involved at that meeting
about a year ago. So we're hoping to support that
work. We can't fund it all ourselves, but we're
hoping that DOE and EPA in particular and some of the
other groups will provide the funding for that effort.
And that could be one of the outcomes, Mike, of that
National Academy of Sciences Committee if it's formed
and allowed to perform is to talk about how does
information get passed out.
MR. LEE: Yes. That's basically my
motivation behind the comment is how -- it's a good --
I think it's an efficient way of using resources or
trying to take advantage of what other people are
doing. I think the economists call it the free rider
effect. But how would you make that happen? It seems
that a workshop or some kind of --
MR. OTT: Yes. Tom and Jake Philip have
been really effective at working with the National
Academy to do these kinds of things. I think there
needs to be a different component or another component
to answer your need, because something like a National
Academy study will essentially take a snapshot and
make recommendations, but somebody's going to have to
follow on. And, again, DOE and EPA are the biggest
actors in here, and we're going to have to figure out
a way of following that and communicating it to the
Licensing staff.
I think our time is about up. I wanted to
make one final observation about the planning process.
One of the biggest benefits is that we've done this
thing systematically and we've done it all at one
time. We haven't been going at it piecemeal in terms
of, "Hey, here's an idea, is it worth funding?"
Everything's been compared and compared at one time.
And whether there's a bias or not, the bias is one
that's reflected by the decision makers who
essentially have the oversight to the program. And to
that extent, I think it's been a fairly successful
effort. I think we're pleased that the projects that
are rated high are the ones that we would intuitively
think are the most important, and the ones that are
rated low are the ones that we think we don't have the
real push to do it right now. So I think we've been
MR. WYMER: Time may be up, but I want to
make one last comment anyway. One of your 28
projects, one you didn't choose, had to do with
thermodynamic properties, and I was pleased to see
that you avoided that, because it's a black hole for
money. But as you know, the NEA has an extensive
program, and I wondered if you had the opportunity to
make input into that program with respect to what they
look at?
MR. OTT: That's a good question. I know
some of our contractors are directly involved with it.
We aren't directly involved as a group branch. Jim
Davis, our USGS contractor, has been involved with the
people at NEA that are doing that and has provided
data to them on things like uranium and uranium
sorption, particularly stuff that came out of the
Alligator Rivers project. So the answer is yes and
no. Yes, probably at the contractor level and
probably no at the programmatic level.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Other questions or
MR. BAHADUR: Yes, one question.
MR. BAHADUR: It's just a quick
suggestion, Cheryl. In your five factors for the
prioritization, burden reduction is one of the
factors, but I see that you had difficulty in
evaluating it, mostly because all your project or most
of your projects are anticipatory. And the
anticipatory research becomes very difficult to
quantify or even qualify the burden reduction. My
suggestion would be to drop the burden reduction, and
if you want to have five factors, think about another
factor, such as leveraging resources. Because a
number of good projects in sciences of this kind can
be conducted in the Office of Research if the interest
lies elsewhere as well, and then you can pull up those
resources, and then you can see if by adding that as
a factor you can up the prioritization.
MS. TROTTIER: Well, that's what the cost
effectiveness factor was designed at doing. Those
things which were leveraged through others got higher
scores on that.
MR. BAHADUR: Okay. My mistake. I
thought the cost effectiveness was reflecting mostly
the success --
MR. BAHADUR: -- the possible success of
the project.
MR. BAHADUR: Then that should also be one
of the factors.
MS. TROTTIER: Okay. Thank you.
MS. HARRIS: I just want to follow up on
the question -- the comment that Ray had mentioned
during the discussion, the use of existing information
from license sites. And, you know, one of the
conditions in the workshop was to go to the data
because there's a wealth of information there. And
some of us know firsthand also that the numbers that
we use in transportation and flow need calibration
with data from existing sites. So this is an
important topic. The question, Bill, I have for you
is this: There are -- it's not easy and it's
difficult and so on and so forth. Number one, based
on your experience, how much leverage does the NRC
license give you to get information from the
licensees? And, number two, would you consider
writing to the licensing agencies at the NRC to
incorporate in future licenses some license conditions
to give you some more leverage?
MR. OTT: This could be a one-hour answer,
but I don't want the one-hour answer.
MS. HARRIS: You can just say yes.
MR. OTT: No and no? There is no
leverage, and I don't -- I think it would be an
absolute legal and administrative nightmare to try and
start putting in requirement of licenses that they
give research access. Phil has been the one that's
most active working with various companies, and he's
found a lot of people out there that are anxious to
help. Things get complicated when they get nervous,
sometimes when the lawyers get involved. We have
gotten very good cooperation from NMSS. We always
work through the Licensing Office when we're trying to
get access to an NRC-licensed site. We can't go talk
to these people unilaterally; you have to go through
the Licensing Office. When Jim Davis went to
Naturita, he had to work through the Department of
Energy, because the Department of Energy had access
and control of that site. He then also had to talk to
the Mauppins who are the residents that live
downstream, because he wanted to put wells on their
property. And I mean it can get very complicated
getting access not just to the primary site but the
locations off the primary site where you need to
collect data. So it's a case-by-case basis, and it's
not easy.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Thanks very much.
I think we're going to take our -- I'm sorry?
MR. REED: Yes. My name is Phil Reed. I
just want to amplify a little bit on one of the items
that I think Dr. Wymer raised with regards to this
pathways on Item 6 and also make a comment with regard
to the data that we are attempting to get from
The program described on Page 6 is
basically the food chain pathway type. It's designed
to provide concentration ratios for leafy vegetables
and rooted vegetables and things like that, as well as
animal coefficients and things of that nature. With
regard to actually visiting the sites, we have another
program that did not make it into the priorities, and
that is to essentially to validate our radionuclide
transport models by actually going out and getting
actual data from our licensing site as well as DOE.
And we've been working on this for a
couple years, and we actually have quite a bit of
data, particularly for fission products and
transuronics. In fact, if you go upstairs in one of
the rooms on the tenth floor, you'll see a room up
there that does have our plumes on them. And so the
effort here was to essentially take this data, combine
it with source term data and attempt to use our
performance assessment models to actually calculate
what we see, compare it with the field data.
I suspect the reason we didn't get it in
is because this is something that the staff probably
could do rather than having contractors do the work.
But we are making a serious attempt to contact the
licensees and attempt to get the actual field data
that people believe is very valuable that can be used
to validate the models.
Thank you all. We're going to break now.
(Whereupon, the foregoing matter went off
the record at 10:10 a.m. and went back on
the record at 1:00 p.m.)

(1:03 p.m.)
will come to order. This is a continuation of the
second day of the 134th meeting, and I assume that
Howard Larson is still the designated federal
official. He's still here.
He hasn't given up his designation.
Our session this afternoon, the first part
of the session, is basically an update, a path forward
on the site recommendation - license application. And
as we all know, things are in quite a state of flux,
and lots of things are politically sensitive. So we
thank Carol for coming and revealing every DOE secret
known to her.
Carol Hanlon, former employee of the --
-- formerly of DOE.
MS. HANLON: Do you think you'll be able
to hear me, or do I need the microphone? I probably
need the microphone.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: You actually need it
because of the recording.
MS. HANLON: Of course, I don't have a
pocket today, so we'll have to see how well that
MR. LARSON: You've just got to drag it
MS. HANLON: I think that's what's going
to happen.
I am, of course, Carol Hanlon, and it's my
pleasure to be here this afternoon and to speak with
you about the site recommendation, the path forward to
license application.
And as Dr. Hornberger has mentioned, we
are in a media race, so some things may not be as
clear or substantive or detailed as we'd like. But as
information evolves and as the process or the
situation becomes more clear, we'll be glad to give
you additional information.
So I'm going to speak with you today about
something of the current status and refresh our minds
as to the activities and the milestones that have gone
on in the past several months. As well I want to talk
to us about the activities that are undertaken in
anticipation of any potential license application,
such as the key technical activity efforts that we're
going through and a bit about the environmental impact
I as well want to talk to you about some
of the preparations we have done in the past toward a
license application, something about the interactions
that will continue during the prelicensing phase, and
a bit about our planning efforts.
So this information isn't new to you, but
we'll just go ahead and refresh it. There have been
a number of milestones, both regulatory, statutory,
and other milestones, that have been met, both by the
Department and by other agencies over the last several
months that lay the basis and the groundwork and the
foundation for us to be where we are and to proceed
toward any license application.
The first of those was in June 2001 when
the Environmental Protection Agency released its final
standard, 40 CFR 197. Following that, in November of
2001, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released its
regulation, 10 CFR 63. And the Department of Energy
released its siting guidelines, final revised siting
guidelines, 10 CFR 963.
In addition -- and I know that you all
have been following these very closely -- the
Department of Energy completed a process where it
supports the site recommendation and met the items
under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Section 114, for
provision of information. The science and engineering
report was completed. The site suitability evaluation
or the evaluation against the guidelines was
Comment summary documents and supplemental
summary documents from the hearing process were
completed. Final environmental impact statement was
released. And we had the total system performance
assessment for the site recommendation available.
In addition to the total system
performance assessment, we had other supplementary
performance assessment information and analyses. We
spoke with you about that last month in March when
Peter and Bill spoke about some of these documents.
Bill has briefed you on the science and performance
And we spoke about the letter reports,
including the ones that evaluate performance against
the standard, against 63, the uncertainty analyses,
and the technical update impact letter report.
Then we had a very robust public hearing
process. Between September 5th of last year and
December 12th, we had over 60 hearings. Those
hearings were held in 20 locations in Nevada and
California, and in the back of your brochure hopefully
there will be a listing of those, should you want a
little more information on them.
DOE personnel were also available at the
Yucca Mountain Science Center that you're familiar
with at Meadows Mall to receive comments during a
number of days between the -- almost every day between
-- during the first hearing period. There were over
-- at the hearings themselves, there were over 1,400
attendees and over 605 commentors spoke. We received
approximately 17,000 comments.
Secretary Abraham himself attended the
last Las Vegas hearing that was held on December 12th,
and he visited the Yucca Mountain site on January 7th.
Subsequently, on January 10th, Secretary
Abraham notified Governor Guinn of his intent to
recommend the Yucca Mountain site, and on
February 14th the Secretary did make that
recommendation and with the comprehensive basis
available and submitted it to President Bush, who has
also made it available to the public. President Bush
approved the recommendation and submitted it to
Congress on February 15th.
The State of Nevada has identified its
notice of disapproval. That was on April 8th of this
year. And the action is now before the Congress at
this point. Congress may pass a resolution of siting
approval during the first period of 90 calendar days
of continuous session after Nevada's notice of
I believe there are hearings being held
even tomorrow on some of these actions.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Carol, the 90 days
-- I mean, best guess is sometime middle to end of
MS. HANLON: In the July timeframe.
So if the Yucca Mountain site is
designated for development as a repository, then we
will submit an application for authorization to
construct the repository to the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission. DOE is reorienting its program from
developing the technical basis for a site
recommendation to developing and submitting a license
Now, of course, the objective of the
license application submittal is to be as complete and
defensible as possible and practicable following any
potential designation.
The committee is aware, and we have
briefed you previously on efforts that we have taken
to prepare for any potential license application. And
that includes ensuring our familiarity with the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission's not only 10 CFR 60,
but proposed 63 as it evolved and the final 63.
And we developed a proposed outline from
the most current license applications which had been
successfully submitted. And based on that, as well as
the requirements that had then existed in 10 CFR 60
and 63, the Department developed a proposed outline
for license application.
And somehow I have two bullets there that
say pretty much the same thing, so you can take your
pick on the grammar.
That outline was captured, along with a
proposed approach in the technical guidance document,
that was developed to reflect our proposed approach in
the content for a potential license application to
help us get ready for the situation in a timeframe
that was expeditious.
We've had several discussions that were
held with the NRC staff about the technical guidance
document and contents that we saw as being appropriate
for the license application. We've closely followed
the staff's development of the Yucca Mountain Review
Plan. We are developing comments on that, and we'll
have them submitted to the Commission staff prior to
the end of the comment period, which we believe is
June 29th of this year.
And if any license application is
submitted it will follow the structure and content of
this review plan, which is codified now in NUREG 1804.
MR. LARKINS: Carol, you said in there
that you developed a proposed outline for license
application based on the most current successful
license application submitted. What kind of license
application are you referring to?
MS. HANLON: Well, you know, when we
started working on that, John, it was about seven
years ago, and we were looking at the license
applications that had gone through, and we were also
looking at 60. And I tried to get that particular
piece of information and what the documents were, but
apparently it's lost in the files now. So --
MS. HANLON: We tried to be as current as
possible. Mike Voegele and others have been involved
in some of the licensing processes, and they chose
ones that they felt had been most successful and
actually most recent.
Moving on a little bit to an issue that I
know is of concern to you is key technical issue
resolution. There are, of course, either nine or ten
key technical issues, depending on how you count them
and whether you add the preclosure technical issue or
not. There's the resolution status classified as,
open, closed, or closed pending for those. And all
continue to be designated as closed pending.
The Department's intent is to address all
of the agreement items that have been agreed to in
those technical issues and the meetings by the time of
license application.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Carol, we've heard
some talk about the rebaselining effort leading to
negotiations on some of the agreements. But the
intent -- your last bullet, the intent to address all
agreement items still -- by license application is
still intact?
MS. HANLON: Yes, absolutely. And there
is a lot of discussion on that, and I think we heard
some discussion with the staff and what we will be
focusing on. But we just finished a meeting in Las
Vegas. Unfortunately, it occurred at the same time as
this one did.
It was on the 15th and 16th, and it was
going over the process in this year, fiscal year 2002,
of those agreement items that we would address at that
particular time, went through the binning for them and
the approach that would be used. That was apparently
a very successful meeting, and apparently the NRC
staff did agree that it was a valid approach in what
would be providing them with.
"addressed" doesn't equate to the word "closed."
MS. HANLON: It may not in all cases
equate to the word "closed." There may be some that
tail out into the construction authorization or
performance confirmation period.
And I've just given you here the agreement
summary. If you notice over in agreements complete,
there are 38 at this point. And there are a couple in
igneous activity, and I'm not sure of the other one,
that were closed as a bookkeeping effort yesterday.
So, actually, we have 40 closed now, and there are
also some duplications there as you're aware. And
perhaps the other -- well, I'll say that on the next
So this I wanted to give you -- I know
you've been interested in the process, so I wanted to
give you information on the upcoming technical
interactions, so that you could plan your schedule
around them. Tomorrow and the next day there will be
the management meeting. As I mentioned, 15th and 16th
was the planning meeting.
On April 25th and 26th of next week, we
were scheduled to have a preclosure safety analysis
guide meeting, and I think that's still on. Is there
anybody from NRC that wants to update us on that? I
heard there was some discussion on whether that was
evolving or not. But I have my tickets arranged for
next week to come back, so --
MR. LESLIE: This is Bret Leslie from the
MS. HANLON: Hi, Bret.
MR. LESLIE: As far as I know, this
meeting is still on. I know they're conducting
telephone conference calls today and tomorrow.
MS. HANLON: Right. Thanks, Bret. And
that's basically for the purpose of putting out and
giving a briefing to the NRC staff and the preclosure
team on how we intend to handle these preclosure
safety analyses and whether -- where other items will
be handled.
In late May, we'll have a criticality
technical exchange tentatively. That could go into
June. And as well, in mid June, there's a structural
deformation and seismicity Appendix 7. If you're
interested in any of those, I'll get you additional
details, so that you can --
VICE CHAIRMAN WYMER: Maybe you can answer
the question right off the top of your head. What are
the principal criticality issues? What are they with
respect to?
MS. HANLON: I'm sorry, Dr. Wymer. I
really -- criticality, I'm sorry, I can't identify
which ones those are. But I can get those back to
VICE CHAIRMAN WYMER: I'd like to know a
little bit about that if you can --
VICE CHAIRMAN WYMER: -- find it out.
MR. LARKINS: At some point, will the
committee be able to hear about this activity on the
15th and 16th, your binning process?
MS. HANLON: I have one slide. I can give
a little information to you and some things I can
leave with you today also.
MR. LARKINS: That would be good.
MS. HANLON: I put on the electronic
information exchange. That's in early May, and that's
for the process of identifying, you know, how we're
going to exchange information, the new electronic age.
I liked one thing that Leik said, the uploadable
And along with a site recommendation was
contained the environmental impact statement. That
has an evolution over the last several years, draft
being released in July '99, supplemental in May 2002,
and the final this year in February.
The NRC has been required by the Nuclear
Waste Policy Act to adopt, to the extent practical,
the Department's final environmental impact statement.
We had a positive letter from the Commission in
November, to the extent that it looked to them
possible to adopt that.
As well the Department is developing a
program to ensure that as the design evolves and other
-- and repository activities move forward that we
comply -- continue to ensure that we comply with the
National Environmental Policy Act. So the impact
statement is a document that we are likely to see more
Going back a bit to the team producing the
license application, it's really not a surprising
team. It's DOE headquarters as well as the Yucca
Mountain project, which we'll work with Bechtel SAIC
to produce not only the license application but the
environmental impact statement.
And the interactions that are going to
continue during the prelicensing include, of course,
our interactions and our briefings to the Advisory
Committee on Nuclear Waste, as we have done. As well
we'll continue to meet often with the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission in management meetings,
technical exchanges, Appendix 7s where the information
is exchanged, and with our onsite representatives.
So as well, you know, we do interact with
the Technical Review Board as well as on occasion the
National Academy of Science, peer review panels, and
with Congress in hearing opportunities, and so forth.
So that will continue.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Your academies, do
you have anything pending with the Board on
Radioactive Waste Management that would be
MS. HANLON: I'm not sure that we -- I
don't know of anything. I can look into it.
Duane, do you know of anything that we
have, national academies --
MR. LONDON: I don't think there's
anything at this point, but I --
MS. HANLON: Thanks, Duane. Duane is
joining us from Office of General Counsel here today.
So in moving forward our planning efforts,
as we move from the basis -- the technical basis for
the site recommendation into a potential planning for
any license application, the Department -- the project
approved the plan for fiscal year '02 and '03 on
March 13th.
And the work activities were prioritized
using a risk-informed performance-based approach. We
discussed that with you last time when Peter was here,
and he went through the approach that we had used with
The details, the precise details of the
work activities are still being developed, and that
will be submitted to us in June. The emphasis is on
key technical issues and the work that will be
required to resolve that, especially the ones that we
have identified as being most important from the risk
In planning the guidance for this, the
Department developed an overall strategic basis to
provide its perspective and guidance, and that will be
followed as project activities leading to the license
application are prepared and submitted.
MR. LEE: I'm sorry. Before you leave
that slide, Carol, the timing for the release of the
public availability of these plans is?
MS. HANLON: It's probably in the June
MR. LEE: Okay. Thank you.
MS. HANLON: So, again, the license
application which we submit to you we intend to be
complete to provide the information necessary to meet
NRC's requirements, and to address its guidance, as
well as transparent and traceable, provide
sufficiently detailed information and references, so
that independent technically -- let's just say
independent NRC reviewers can understand the basis for
DOE compliance. Some of these things snuck in without
me quite getting them all out.
MR. LARKINS: We want to make sure they're
technically qualified.
MS. HANLON: I'm more worried about us
being technically qualified, so that's --
I'm sure the staff is.
Also, defensible with the technical case
for compliance supported by the technical documents
and available information, and hopefully we've learned
lessons and we have gained maturity and experience
from the extensive process we've just gone through on
the site recommendation. I certainly feel older and
mature having gone through that.
Quality issues will be resolved and must
be resolved expeditiously, and measures taken to
prevent any recurrence. And, again, the basis that we
use for the site recommendation will take us into
license application as a basis and be augmented.
Technical work, which we'll do prior to
completion of the license application, will focus on
providing additional design-specific information and
confidence for refining the models or technical basis
elements to reflect the new design refinement or
enhance the compliance and safety case.
The focus will be on the development of
appropriate level of design documentation and analysis
for a license application for construction
authorization. And a total -- single total
performance assessment will be developed and
The models used for total system
performance assessment will, to the extent practical
-- and Peter, again, mentioned this last time. It was
his intent to reflect reasonable and credible
representations of anticipated behavior and
performance of both the natural as well as the
engineered barriers.
MEMBER GARRICK: What documentation will
be provided that will indicate the progress on the
last bullet? Because it's going to be some time
before there's a TSPA/LA, is it not?
MS. HANLON: Right. And, you know, the
first I think effort in that was the uncertainty
document that was done, as well as the guide that
Peter just made available last week.
MS. HANLON: I think I left you copies of
all of that. So that's the start. I think that it
will be updated, and I can find out other
documentation. But that was their startup.
MEMBER GARRICK: So what's your LA
schedule for the TSPA?
MS. HANLON: Well, our current LA schedule
is toward FY '04. That's what we're --
between the resolution of the agreements and perhaps
letter reports and other documents, those would be the
primary sources to look for to track what's going on
in the TSPA/LA?
MS. HANLON: Right. And, of course, as
our planning and our work activities develop, we will
develop a schedule for you and give you the briefing
on the exact schedule and the documents that you're
interested in.
MEMBER GARRICK: Okay. Thank you.
MS. HANLON: So as we mentioned
previously, I talked about the key technical
agreements. Those will be addressed in the context of
the licensing strategy. And depending on their
importance to the safety case, again, we are trying to
emphasize resource and effort based on the -- not only
the agreement but its importance to overall risk.
And in doing so -- and one of the
presentations given at the meeting in Las Vegas this
week was that each key technical issue -- each
technical issue agreement item was evaluated and
mapped into an appropriate risk-informed category for
resolution. And that was to ensure confirmation of
the required work scope to reach disposition.
I know that that's something that the
staff is interested in, as Bret mentioned yesterday,
and we're certainly interested in it.
And wherever possible, agreement items
will be closed prior to the license application.
In our interactions with the Commission,
you know, we have an emphasis on the completion of
documentation to address these key technical issues,
as well as resolution of preclosure, safety, and
design-detail issues, discussion of selected
methodologies for use in licensing, including the
topical reports that are already under NRC evaluation
and intended to go forward to seismic, and discussion
of the license application format and content as the
Yucca Mountain Review Plan goes final.
And we do have, as I mentioned, the
license support network. There is an effort to --
ongoing to allow DOE to acquire, develop, load, and
certify the operation of its electronic information
system. That certification must occur six months
prior to the license submittal.
MR. LEE: Carol?
MS. HANLON: Yes, sir.
MR. LEE: Just as a point of
clarification, the license application will be
MS. HANLON: I think so.
MR. LEE: Okay.
MEMBER GARRICK: There goes all our
computer by '04, gentlemen.
MS. HANLON: I was going to say you know
all those new machines that had all that storage that
we thought we were never going to use --
I'm not going to put it on mine.
So, in summary, we have had many
accomplishments during the past year. The site has
been recommended and selection has been completed.
And we are -- the designation is awaiting
Congressional action. And we are planning and
conducting other activities to support the development
of any potential license application.
Milt, I should apologize, because I see
that I overlooked that you're actually in charge of
this session. And I neglected to turn the meeting
over to you before Carol started.
MEMBER LEVENSON: Let me just turn it back
to you.
handle it from here on.
MEMBER LEVENSON: The schedule now is to
submit the license application late in '04, as I
understand it. Wasn't there, in the legislation, some
90-day thing about if Congress approves that DOE has
90 days to submit a license application? Or is that
not a relevant issue? Or was it that it couldn't be
submitted before 90 days? I'm a little confused as to
the relevance of that section.
MS. HANLON: Well, that is a confusing
topic. This is probably not the best way -- I am not
the person that should clarify that for you.
MS. HANLON: So, you know, that's a
subject that when we can we'll discuss with you, and
I'll certainly give you the details for the license
application as that schedule evolves. And we
certainly can't plan in detail any schedule until we
have the designation.
MEMBER LEVENSON: Okay. Ray, comments?
categorizing these remaining issues according to risk
significance. Is that right?
MS. HANLON: Right.
determine, then, how much effort will be put on them
in a descending order as you get less and less risk --
what I'm getting at is, does that mean that some of
the issues or subissues will really not be handled
exhaustively by the time of the license application?
MS. HANLON: No. I think that it will all
be handled adequately, and that's kind of the same
question that John had. And I put this slide up that
will show you a little bit about the process that
we're following --
MS. HANLON: -- in doing that. And all of
the agreement items were examined. We took all of the
universe of the agreement items, and, as you know,
there really aren't 293 separate agreements. For
housekeeping and bookkeeping, we duplicated a number
of them. And somebody can maybe catch me on this one.
I think there are about 60 to 80 duplications.
So we looked at all of those agreement
items, and we determined whether they were a
regulatory issue or not. And if they weren't, you
know, they were identified as a method for -- if they
were, they were looked at whether they were put in in
four areas -- whether the literal scope and timing of
the agreement could be accomplished. And there are
some that have already done so.
So if the literal scope was to be
accomplished, it was labeled one. The revised -- if
there was a slightly revised scope or a revised timing
more than usual, it was a two. With the risk-informed
basis to support resolution, it was -- where it would
have a risk-informed emphasis, it was labeled as a
three. And others, you know, things that -- that we
believe that there was a basis for resolution as a
result of a changed circumstance was labeled as a
Now, those changed circumstances often
times might be such items as we had already submitted
the same information in another document. There are
quite a number of those, and we are going to follow up
with a letter report.
So we categorized those in those four
bins, and we have just finished the 2002 work. I
think there were 79 of those, and I have a breakdown
that I can leave with you, so that you can see what
those were for 2002.
VICE CHAIRMAN WYMER: There's no intent,
then, to just drop or kick out or ignore any of these
KTI issues or subissues?
MS. HANLON: There is not --
VICE CHAIRMAN WYMER: They really don't
have any risk.
MS. HANLON: There is not. And as Bret
mentioned yesterday, although there may be some that
don't have a heavy risk emphasis, there are others
that are important because of the discussion they have
received earlier. So, basically, we're trying to
address them all and satisfy them.
know this, maybe not. I don't keep careful tabs on
budgets, but didn't -- what did the Yucca Mountain --
how did Yucca Mountain do in the budget process? Did
you get everything that you asked for or --
MS. HANLON: You know, and that's a
question I don't have the answer to. I'm not sure
what the budget was for this year. I can get back to
you on that.
but, I mean, the reason I ask is, as you go forward
with your plans, I guess it -- you have to be
sensitive to the fact that what Congress or the
President recommends that you get.
MS. HANLON: Right. Exactly. The amount
of resources we have, which is what makes the risk
prioritization activity and the planning even more
MEMBER GARRICK: The only question I have
is that on Exhibits 8 through 10, you had the
activities undertaken in anticipation of potential
license application. Can you indicate which of these
activities are dominating your resources at the
present time? Give some indication of what are the
major activities that are taking place right now.
MS. HANLON: Oh, I think that you could
easily say that the technical issues are dominating.
You know, the resolution of the technical issues are
dominating. We've basically completed a lot of, you
know, the familiarization with 63, and so forth, and
that planning. So working to get the information to
resolve the KTIs and to go forward is probably our
most dominant --
MEMBER GARRICK: Are there any agreements
that stand out as really taxing your resources?
MS. HANLON: Well, I've been -- you know,
I've been out of this for about 18 months while I was
managing the site recommendation, so I'm not as
familiar with it as I might be. But I think that I
have not heard of any that are really taxing us.
MEMBER GARRICK: Okay. All right. Thank
MS. HANLON: There are some that the
timing is moving out a bit.
MEMBER LEVENSON: Carol, I have a couple
of questions. One, the 260 or 70 or whatever is the
real number without duplications, arose from a review
of a -- sort of a standard design. As the actual
design proceeds, do you think that many of the
agreements are no longer relevant, and, therefore, you
don't have to respond because the design has changed
And the other side of that coin is, is the
-- do you think the design will change enough there
will be a bunch of new unanswered questions? Is the
design changing significantly?
MS. HANLON: Basically, when we put the
information in, we had a design that covered a range,
and that's still what we're looking at. And I think
that most of the agreements were tailored toward that
range. I'm not seeing any that would go away due to
an evolution.
I think that as we go forward and there
are some meetings that we have, we certainly look at
that. We're hoping that we close out issues rather
than have new issues. So I think that will --
MEMBER LEVENSON: So do you think that the
design evolution as it is occurring is still largely
within the range?
MS. HANLON: Yes, I do.
CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Along that line, and
speaking of closing out issues, do you think you've
closed out the issue of the cold versus hot repository
with the Technical Review Board?
MS. HANLON: No. I think that's probably,
you know -- we'll wait to see where that goes.
MEMBER LEVENSON: I guess I have to ask
you the "have you stopped beating your husband"
question. Since --
MS. HANLON: He's very tall. I have to --
-- to do that.
MEMBER LEVENSON: It's a long stick, I
know. I know. But since you were offered up on the
altar of talking about the path forward, you've
discussed half the question. That is, if Congress
approves this is the way you go forward, is there any
work on a plan B for what happens if Congress does not
approve? Since I think it's our -- we're not assuming
that everything is preordained.
MS. HANLON: There is not work on that.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act, however, has a very
specific path forward should it not occur, should
designation not occur. So we would follow that
expeditiously, I'm sure.
MEMBER LEVENSON: What is that?
MS. HANLON: Should it not be designated?
MS. HANLON: Then the Act calls for
evaluating what other steps would be taken not at that
MEMBER LEVENSON: But isn't there
legislation that says you're not -- Yucca Mountain is
the only site to be considered for a repository?
MS. HANLON: Well, you know, and, again,
we're getting into areas that I probably am not the
one to be answering the question. And if Duane wants
to pitch in here anywhere.
Basically, what we're looking at is the
situation at Yucca Mountain. And the Act says that
should this not be designated, it is incumbent on the
Department to say what its plan would be, and we're
not at that point yet.
Duane, did you want to add anything to
MR. LONDON: I think you've added -- I
think you've answered the question adequately.
MEMBER LEVENSON: You use to have a
microphone, and you have to identify yourself.
MR. LONDON: Duane London, Office of
General Counsel, DOE. I think that the question was
answered adequately. The Act is -- it's a step one,
two, three, sort of thing. It says that at this point
we are only to consider Yucca Mountain. If Yucca
Mountain is disapproved by Congress, then, as Carol
outlined, it explains what DOE is supposed to do.
MEMBER LEVENSON: Can you just summarize
very briefly what that is?
MR. LONDON: I don't think that this is
the time. I don't think we've really even considered
it at this point. We're just taking it by the
numbers, one, two, and three.
MEMBER LEVENSON: So this is one branch of
the path forward only we're talking about.
Okay. Any other questions? John?
MR. LARKINS: In your activities to risk-
inform the categories, besides risk, are you using
other metrics? And do you see this being meshed or
compared with or working with the staff on their risk
insights initiative?
MS. HANLON: Yes. I think, you know, that
that's one thing. We have tried to do it throughout
-- since the viability assessment when we had the
principal factors, you know, and you'll recall when we
were looking at areas we needed to concentrate on as
we move forward that we had the principal factors,
then we refined them in various documents, and we
carried them forward.
And I think that to a great extent we
retain the same principal factors from a risk-
informed, because we had been doing the performance
assessment all along, and we had the sensitivity
studies as well as the TSPA, which we felt pointed to
the items of most -- that contributed most to the
performance of the site. So we've had that, and we're
carrying that forward.
And I know Bret and his team have also
been doing that. I think as we went through the key
technical issue, the first series of technical
exchange also, we were all interested in the
performance aspect of it. I know we had PA people
there. I know the Commission had PA folks there. And
it will be interesting as we go forward to make sure
that our set have many areas of overlap and are as
closely meshed as possible.
MR. LARKINS: Are you using any metrics
other than risk?
MS. HANLON: There are probably one, but
basically we're looking at the performance of the
MR. HAMDAN: Carol --
MS. HANLON: Just one second, Latif. You
know, one thing that I want to say is we have to focus
on the performance of the natural barriers as well as
the engineered barriers. So it has been very
important as we look at these to be looking at the
contribution of all of the natural barriers that are
covered by the various key technical issues as well as
the engineered. So --
MR. HAMDAN: Carol, can you tell us how
the law suits or -- for instance, that have been filed
and others that may be filed in time to come, could
impact the schedule for the license application
MS. HANLON: You know, Latif, that would
require a crystal ball. And so we have some, and let
me see, are these my list? No, I have a list of the
ones that have been filed. I can give you those. And
in terms of a prognosis for them, it's -- it would be
inappropriate for me to speculate.
MR. HAMDAN: But, in general, we -- I
don't need specific. Will it affect it at all, or
not? I mean --
MS. HANLON: I'd still like not to
speculate, Latif.
MEMBER LEVENSON: Any other questions from
staff? Mike?
MR. LEE: Should Congress act favorably on
the site, I think it might be useful to have DOE come
back at a subsequent date to give us an update on
their plans.
MS. HANLON: And that's what I mentioned
at the beginning. You know, if -- I think that you'll
want to know about many of our planned activities as
well as the performance assessment, and so forth.
if the mid-July timing is correct, we should know by
the time we visit the site in September.
probably be the appropriate timing.
MEMBER GARRICK: I think we would want an
update in either case.
MS. HANLON: I'll call you right away.
MEMBER GARRICK: What's your e-mail
VICE CHAIRMAN WYMER: There won't be any
staff if it doesn't --
MEMBER LEVENSON: Well, I don't know. The
operating facilities, the staffs doubled and tripled
when they shut down. So --
MS. HANLON: So may I answer any more
MEMBER LEVENSON: Any other questions?
MR. LARKINS: I just have one quick one.
MR. LARKINS: You mentioned something
about providing comments on the YMRP.
MR. LARKINS: And that's going to be when?
MS. HANLON: Oh, I think the -- we just
said by the deadline. I understand the deadline --
and, again, the staff can correct me. Jeff?
MR. CIOCCO: Yes. I would like to make a
correction for the record that the close of the public
comment period is June 27th, 2002.
MS. HANLON: 27th?
MR. CIOCCO: Yes. Your slide 9. I'm Jeff
Ciocco, NRC staff.
MS. HANLON: We weren't exactly sure when
it was. But at any rate, we will get them to you.
Dan Cain is working on those even as we speak, so --
MEMBER LEVENSON: Any other comments?
MR. CIOCCO: I just had one other maybe
correction or modification.
MEMBER GARRICK: Identify yourself for the
MR. CIOCCO: I'm sorry. Jeff Ciocco with
the NRC staff. It was the tech exchange for the
electronic information exchange -- most likely pushed
back to either May 29th or the first week of June.
MS. HANLON: Oh, it's been moved again.
You know, and I just got off the phone.
Late-breaking news. Thank you, Jeff.
MR. CIOCCO: Well, I just got out of a
MS. HANLON: Jeff, if you just got out of
a meeting, maybe you can clarify the preclosure
meeting. Is that still next week? No.
MR. CIOCCO: We didn't discuss that.
MS. HANLON: Oh, okay. Thanks. End of
late-breaking news.
Thank you very much.
MS. HANLON: I look forward to speaking
with you again in the fall.
MEMBER LEVENSON: Mr. Chairman, it's all
What I think we'll do is take a very short
break. This will end our on -- recorded session, and
so I'll give a five-minute break for people to collect
their thoughts and papers and what not, and then we'll
(Whereupon, at 1:47 p.m., the proceedings
in the foregoing matter went off the

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