NRC revisiting low-level radioactive waste reduction policy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to its policy statement on volume reduction of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW).

The proposed revisions would urge licensees to minimize the volume of waste they produce since such a focus will extend the operational lifetime of the existing commercial low-level disposal sites and reduce the number of waste shipments.

The revised policy statement, however, would also recognize that volume reduction is only one aspect of an effective program for managing radioactive waste.

According to the draft policy statement, licensees should consider all means available to manage waste in a manner that is secure, and protects public health and safety. Such means include waste minimization; short-term storage and decay; long-term storage; use of the alternative disposal provision in NRC regulations at 10 CFR 20.2002; use of waste processing technologies; and use of licensed disposal facilities.

About 96 percent of all LLRW is generated by nuclear power plants. The remainder is generated by fuel cycle facilities such as uranium enrichment plants, and materials licensees such as hospitals, research institutes and universities.

Public comments will be accepted through Sept. 14. They may be submitted through the federal government’s rulemaking website at www.regulations.gov, using Docket ID NRC-2011-0183; or by mail to Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, Mail Stop TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.