United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 87-03: Segregation of Hazardous and Low-Level Radioactive Wastes

                                                      SSINS No. 6835 
                                                         IN 87-03      

                                UNITED STATES
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                              January 15, 1987

                                   RADIOACTIVE WASTES 


All NRC licensees. 


This notice is provided to inform all licensees who generate low-level 
radioactive waste that their internal controls should be sufficient to 
preclude inclusion of nonradioactive hazardous wastes (as defined by EPA 
regulations) in low-level radioactive waste to be disposed of at low-level 
waste disposal sites. It is suggested that recipients review this notice for 
applicability to their facilities. Suggestions contained in this information 
notice do not constitute NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or 
written response is required. 

Description of Circumstances: 

During a recent state inspection at the Richland, Washington waste disposal 
site, an inspector discovered a drum leaking elemental mercury. This 
suggests that some licensees who generate waste are not fully complying with 
their responsibility to ensure that wastes which are not radioactive, but 
may contain other hazardous wastes, are segregated at the point of 
generation and disposed of properly. In this particular instance the waste 
package contained elemental mercury and mercury compounds, which are 
hazardous wastes, and trash along with small amounts of radioactive waste. 
The licensee could have easily segregated the wastes, but either had no 
procedures for doing so or did not implement them. The licensee's failure to 
segregate the wastes was discovered at the disposal facility during routine 
inspection of waste shipments before burial. Subsequently, the licensee was 
denied future access to the site, pending demonstration that adequate 
corrective measures were in place. Revised procedures that were reviewed by 
the State of Washington and implemented by the licensee, have allowed the 
licensee access to the site. 


The three currently operating low-level radioactive waste disposal sites are 
at Barnwell, South Carolina; Beatty, Nevada; and Richland, Washington. 
According to the 10 CFR 61.52(a)(11), only wastes containing or contaminated 
with radioactive material may be disposed of at such a facility. These sites 
are not authorized to receive and dispose of hazardous waste under the 


                                                           IN 87-03 
                                                           January 15, 1987 
                                                           Page 2 of 2 

Protection Agency's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) 
regulations. Licensees who generate low-level radioactive waste should 
review their procedures for waste management to ensure that actions have 
been implemented to segregate hazardous waste from low-level radioactive 

No specific action or written response is required by this information 
notice. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact the 
Regional Administrator of the appropriate regional office or this office. 

                         Edward L. Jordan, Director
                         Division of Emergency Preparedness
                           and Engineering Response
                         Office of Inspection and Enforcement

Technical Contact:  Sher Bahadur, NMSS
                    (301) 427-4495

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