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Information Notice No. 94-23: Guidance to Hazardous, Radioactive and Mixed Waste Generators on the Elements of a Waste Minimization Program
UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION OFFICE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDS WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 March 25, 1994 Information Notice No. 94-23: GUIDANCE TO HAZARDOUS, RADIOACTIVE AND MIXED WASTE GENERATORS ON THE ELEMENTS OF A WASTE MINIMIZATION PROGRAM Addressees All NRC Licensees. Purpose The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is issuing this information notice to inform addressees subject to regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) interim final guidance to assist hazardous waste generators and others comply with the waste minimization certification requirements of RCRA sections 3002(b) and 3005(h). These licensees are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate EPA or State hazardous waste authority to determine if their activities are subject to the requirements of RCRA sections 3002(b) and 3005(h). In addition, this interim final guidance may be useful to radioactive waste generators who wish to develop or enhance a program to minimize the generation of radioactive and/or mixed waste (waste that contains both radioactive material and hazardous waste) at their facilities. It is expected that recipients will review this information notice for applicability to their activities and consider actions, as appropriate, to minimize waste generation. However, suggestions contained in this information notice are not new NRC requirements and no specific action nor written response is required. Description of Circumstances On May 28, 1993, EPA published, in the Federal Register (58 FR 31114), interim final guidance on what EPA would consider to constitute a "program in place" for compliance with the certification requirements of RCRA sections 3002(b) and 3005(h) (see Attachment 1). Section 3002(b) requires generators of hazardous waste to certify, on their hazardous waste manifests, that they have a waste minimization program in place to reduce the volume and quantity or toxicity of such waste to the degree determined by the generator to be economically practicable. Section 3005(h) requires owners and operators of facilities that receive a permit for the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste on the premises where such waste was generated, to make the same certification no less often than annually. EPA issued this interim guidance to fulfill a commitment it made in a report to Congress entitled, 9403160172.IN 94-23 March 25, 1994 Page 2 of 3 "The Minimization of Hazardous Waste," (EPA/530-SW-86-033) to provide additional information to generators on the meaning of the certification requirements placed in RCRA. Discussion In the past, the predominant practice used by facilities generating hazardous waste has been "end of pipe" treatment or land disposal of the waste. Congress established, in 1984, that the reduction or elimination of hazardous waste generation at the source (i.e., pollution prevention) should take priority over the management of hazardous wastes, after they have been generated. In 1990, Congress further clarified the role of pollution prevention by passing the Pollution Prevention Act (P.L. 101-508, 42 U.S.C. 13101, et seq.). In that Act, Congress stated that the national policy of the United States is that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible; pollution that cannot be prevented should be recycled in an environmentally safe manner whenever feasible; pollution that cannot be prevented or recycled should be treated in an environmentally safe manner whenever feasible; and disposal or other release into the environment should be employed only as a last resort, and should be conducted in an environmentally safe manner. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 established a series of milestones, penalties, and incentives to ensure that States make adequate progress toward being able to manage their low-level radioactive waste. However, to date, progress in developing additional radioactive waste disposal capacity has been slow. As such, some NRC licensees may be forced to store radioactive waste until this disposal capacity is developed. Since the early 1980's, NRC has issued guidance for those licensees that are contemplating storing their waste (see Attachment 2). In addition to developing storage capacity for their radioactive waste, some licensees may find that they can significantly reduce the amount of radioactive waste they generate and the cost of such waste by implementing effective waste minimization programs. The attached EPA guidance presents information on developing a comprehensive program to reduce hazardous waste that, in many situations, may be applicable to radioactive waste as well. The guidance discusses the elements of a waste minimization program and the benefits of the development and implementation of a successful program. Elements of a successful plan include: top management support; characterization of waste generation and waste management costs; periodic waste minimization assessments; appropriate cost allocation; encouragement of technology transfer; and program implementation and evaluation. The benefits of waste minimization include a potential reduction in waste disposal costs; reduction in the need for waste storage; reduction in worker radiation exposure; and improvement of the facility's public image. .IN 94-23 March 25, 1994 Page 3 of 3 In addition to the programmatic elements outlined in EPA's guidance, NRC believes that licensees may further reduce the amount of radioactive waste requiring ultimate disposal in a licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facility by employing procedures already allowed under NRC's regulations. These procedures include volume reduction by segregation, consolidation, compaction, extraction, or greater reliance on decay-in-storage in accordance with 10 CFR 20.2001. NRC believes that licensees can reduce their waste disposal costs and improve the manner in which they manage their waste by instituting a comprehensive waste management program that reduces the amount of waste at the source, recycles waste that must be produced, treats waste that cannot be prevented or recycled, and relies on disposal or other releases into the environment only as a last resort. This information notice requires no specific action or written response. If you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact the technical contact listed below. /s/'d by JTGreeves John T. Greeves, Director Division of Low-Level Waste Management and Decommissioning Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards Technical contact: Dominick A. Orlando, NMSS (301) 504-2566 Attachments: 1. EPA Guidance to Hazardous Waste Generators on the Elements of a Waste Minimization Plan 2. List of NRC Information Notices and Generic Letters on the Storage of Radioactive Waste 3. List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices 4. List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices .Attachment 2 IN 94-23 March 25, 1994 Page 1 of 1 NRC Information Notices and Generic Letters on the Storage of Radioactive Waste 1.Generic Letter 81-38: "Storage of Low-Level Radioactive Waste at Power Reactor Sites" 2.Generic Letter 85-14: "Commercial Storage at Power Reactor Sites of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Not Generated by the Utility" 3.Information Notice 89-13: "Alternative Waste Management Procedures in Case of Denial of Access to Low-Level Waste Disposal Sites" 4.Information Notice 90-75: "Denial of Access to Current Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities" 5.Information Notice 90-09: "Extended Interim Storage of Low-Level Radioactive Waste by Fuel Cycle and Materials Licensees" 6.Information Notice 93-50: "Extended Storage of Sealed Sources"
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