United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 89-13: Alternative Waste Management Procedures in Case of Denial of Access to Low-Level Waste Disposal Sites

                                  UNITED STATES
                          NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                             WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                                February 8, 1989

                                   IN CASE OF DENIAL OF ACCESS TO LOW-LEVEL 
                                   WASTE DISPOSAL SITES


All holders of NRC specific licenses.


This information notice is being provided to inform addressees of important 
recent and potential future events concerning restrictions on disposal of 
low-level radioactive waste, and to suggest actions to minimize possible 
adverse consequences of these events if licensed activities involve the need 
to dispose of radioactive waste.  It is expected that recipients will review 
this information for applicability to their activities and consider action, 
as appropriate.  However, suggestions contained in this information notice 
do not constitute NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written 
response is required.

Description of Circumstances: 

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-240, 
the Act) established a series of milestones, incentives, and penalties 
designed to assure that States and Regional Compacts without low-level 
radioactive waste disposal facilities make timely progress toward development 
of such facilities. States and Regional Compacts which do not meet the 
milestones specified in the Act can be subject to penalties such as higher 
disposal costs, and may even-tually be denied access to currently operating 
burial sites.

The most recent milestone under the Act was on January 1, 1988.  This 
milestone required non-sited Regional Compacts (those not affiliated with the 
currently-sited States of Nevada, South Carolina, and Washington) to identify 
a host state, develop a siting plan, and delegate legal implementing 
authority.  States not affiliated with a Regional Compact were required to 
develop a siting plan and provide for delegation of authority as well.  

In January of 1988, the U.S. Department of Energy and the sited States of 
Nevada, South Carolina, and Washington determined that the States of New 
Hampshire and Vermont were in noncompliance.  On December 19, 1988, the State 
of Washington 

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                                                            February 8, 1989 
                                                            Page 2 of 4 

informed the States of New Hampshire and Vermont that effective January 1, 
1989, waste originating in those States would be denied access to the regional 
disposal facility located near Richland, Washington.  Similar action is 
anticipated by the States of South Carolina and Nevada. 

On January 31, 1989, the Governor of Michigan issued a letter to the members 
of the seven-State Midwest Interstate Compact in which he stated that he was 
halting the siting process for a disposal facility in Michigan.  As a result, 
the State of Washington has denied access to waste originating from the State 
of Michigan.  Similar action is anticipated by the States of South Carolina 
and Nevada.  At this time, it does not appear that any immediate action will 
be taken to deny access to the other members of the Midwest Compact (Indiana, 
Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin). 


Denial of access to disposal sites could disrupt licensed operations which 
generate waste by preventing licensees from shipping waste from their faci-
lities.  This, in turn, could cause regulatory and safety problems such as 
exceeding authorized possession limits due to the accumulation of waste, in-
adequate waste management capability, or inadequate waste storage facilities.  
It is suggested that licensees monitor the progress of their States or 
Regional Compacts in meeting milestones specified in the Act.  Licensees in 
States for which it appears milestones will not be met may need to prepare for 
the possi-bility of severe restrictions on disposal of radioactive waste.  
Licensees in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Michigan may wish to consider actions 
now to miti-gate the potential impact of loss of disposal capability.  
Following are examples of suggested actions to be considered: 

1.   Review your current NRC license and license application, particularly 
     possession limits and procedures and requirements for waste processing, 
     storage, and disposal to determine if changes need to be made for 
     increased storage of waste.

2.   Determine how much of your waste goes to a licensed burial site either 
     directly or indirectly through a "waste broker."  

3.   Evaluate potential safety problems and technical difficulties which might
     result if radioactive waste remains in storage at your facilities for 
     long periods of time; e.g., package deterioration, inventory control, 
     fire hazards, etc. 

4.   Review alternatives to minimize generation of waste shipped to burial 
     grounds; for example:  
     a.   Carefully segregating long-lived radioactive waste from short-lived 
          and non-radioactive waste.  

     b.   Stopping unnecessary work which generates waste.  
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                                                            February 8, 1989 
                                                            Page 3 of 4 

     c.   Changing processes, procedures, or radionuclides to reduce volume 
          of generated waste.  

     d.   Using volume reduction techniques, such as compaction.

5.   Review alternative waste management and disposal methods; for example:  

     a.   Transfer of unneeded sealed sources to their respective 

     b.   Disposal of biomedical wastes in accordance with 10 CFR 
          Section 20.306.  

     c.   Decay-in-storage.  

     d.   Incineration.  

     e.   Interim storage pending transfer to a licensed burial site if access 
          is restored in the future.  

6.   For waste management measures which are not currently authorized by your 
     NRC license, consider requesting an amendment to your license to 
     authorize additional waste management actions in the event of restricted 
     access to burial grounds.  Examples would be amendments to authorize 
     increased pos-session limits, decay-in storage, incineration, or use of 
     interim storage facilities.  

The above suggestions would not be a permanent solution to waste burial 
restrictions, but would better assure that licensees have contingency plans in 
place to avoid safety violations and to minimize disruption of licensed 

A number of parties have inquired about the granting of emergency access under
the provisions of Section 6 of the Act.  On February 3, 1989, NRC issued a new 
rule, 10 CFR Part 62, in the Federal Register (54 FR 5409) which establishes 
criteria and procedures to be used in determining whether emergency access 
should be granted.  These criteria and procedures, consistent with 
Congressional intent, view the granting of emergency access as a last resort.  
Therefore, waste generators should be aware that only under the most limited 
and rare circumstances would generators be granted such access. 

Questions about license requirements and license amendments should be directed
to the appropriate NRC licensing office, either in one of the Regional Offices 
or in Washington, D.C.  Questions on low-level radioactive waste policy issues
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                                                            February 8, 1989 
                                                            Page 4 of 4 

should be directed to:  Paul Lohaus, Chief, Operations Branch, Division of 
Low-Level Waste Management and Decommissioning, Mail Stop 5E4, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555, Phone: (301) 492-3345.  No 
specific action or written response is required by this information notice. 

                                   Richard E. Cunningham, Director 
                                   Division of Industrial and 
                                     Medical Nuclear Safety 
                                   Office of Nuclear Material Safety 
                                     and Safeguards 

                                   Charles E. Rossi, Director 
                                   Division of Operational Events Assessment 
                                   Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation 

Technical Contact:  Paul Lohaus, NMSS 
                    (301) 492-3345

1.  List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices 
2.  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices 
.                                                            Attachment 2 
                                                            IN 89-13
                                                            February 8, 1989
                                                            Page 1 of 1

                             LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED
                             NRC INFORMATION NOTICES
Information                                  Date of 
Notice No._____Subject_______________________Issuance_______Issued to________

89-12          Dose Calibrator Quality       2/9/89         All NRC medical
               Control                                      licensees.

89-11          Failure of DC Motor-Operated  2/2/89         All holders of OLs
               Valves to Develop Rated                      or CPs for nuclear
               Torque Because of Improper                   power reactors.
               Cable Sizing

89-10          Undetected Installation       1/27/89        All holders of OLs
               Errors In Main Steam Line                    or CPs for BWRs.
               Pipe Tunnel Differential
               Temperature-Sensing Elements
               at Boiling Water Reactors.

89-09          Credit for Control Rods       1/26/89        All holders of OLs
               Without Scram Capability                     or CPs for test and
               in the Calculation of the                    research reactors.
               Shutdown Margin

89-08          Pump Damage Caused by         1/26/89        All holders of OLs
               Low-Flow Operation                           or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors.

89-07          Failures of Small-Diameter    1/25/89        All holders of OLs
               Tubing in Control Air, Fuel                  or CPs for nuclear
               Oil, and Lube Oil Systems                    power reactors.
               Which Render Emergency Diesel
               Generators Inoperable

89-06          Bent Anchor Bolts in          1/24/89        All holders of OLs
               Boiling Water Reactor                        or CPs for BWRs 
               Torus Supports                               with Mark I steel 
                                                            torus shells. 

89-05          Use of Deadly Force by        1/19/89        All holders of OLs
               Guards Protecting Nuclear                    for nuclear power
               Power Reactors Against                       reactors.
               Radiological Sabotage

OL = Operating License
CP = Construction Permit 
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015