[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 13 (Tuesday, January 21, 1997)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 2988-2989]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-1366]


40 CFR Part 194
RIN 2060-AE30

Opportunity To Present Oral Testimony on the DOE's Compliance 
Certification Application for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant; Notice 
of Public Hearings

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION: Notice of public hearings.


SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to certify 
whether or not the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will comply with 
EPA's environmental radiation protection standards for the disposal of 
radioactive waste (40 CFR part 191). The WIPP is being constructed by 
the Department of Energy (DOE) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, as a 
potential repository for the safe disposal of transuranic radioactive 
waste. Pursuant to the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act of 1992, as amended, 
EPA must certify that the WIPP will comply with EPA's radioactive waste 
disposal standards, as well as other applicable environmental laws and 
regulations, before DOE may commence disposal of radioactive waste at 
the WIPP.
    EPA will determine whether the WIPP will comply with EPA's disposal 
standards based on the application submitted by the Secretary of 
Energy. DOE's Compliance Certification Application was received by the 
EPA on October 29, 1996. EPA is reviewing the application and has 
requested supplemental information from DOE. Copies of the application 
and the letter from EPA to DOE requesting additional information are 
available for review at each of EPA's WIPP docket locations (see 
Supplementary Information for specifics). The Administrator will make a 
determination as to the completeness of the application in the near 
future and will notify the Secretary of Energy, in writing, when the 
Agency deems the application ``complete.'' EPA will evaluate the 
``Department's'' application in determining whether the WIPP will 
comply with the Agency's radioactive waste disposal standards. EPA 
requests public comment on all aspects of the DOE's application.

DATES: EPA will conduct public hearings to receive comments on the 
Department of Energy's (DOE) Compliance Certification Application for 
the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, NM on February 19, 
from Noon to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; in Albuquerque, 
NM on February 20 from noon to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 
p.m.; and in Santa Fe, NM from Noon to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 
9:00 p.m.
    Testifiers are requested to pre-register. Contact Rafaela Ferguson, 
EPA, by telephone or fax at (202) 233-9362 or (202) 233-9649 with the 
following information: Name/Organizational Affiliation (if any)/
address/hearing date, location, time(s) available to testify, and a 
daytime telephone number. Individual speakers will be allocated 5 
minutes and individuals testifying as the official representative or 
spokesperson on behalf of groups and organizations will be allocated 10 
minutes for an oral presentation exclusive of any time consumed by 
questions from the government panel and answers to these questions. In 
order to guarantee an opportunity to testify, requests must be received 
by February 14, 1997. Speakers not registered in advance may register 
at the door and will be scheduled to testify, if openings are still 
available and time permits.

ADDRESSES: EPA's public hearings to accept comments on DOE's Compliance 
Certification Application will be held on February 19, at the Pecos 
River Village Conference Center, Room #5, 302 South Canal Street, 
Carlsbad, NM; on February 20, at the Albuquerque Convention Center, 
Cochiti/Taos Room, 401 Second Street, NW, Albuquerque, NM; and on 
February 21, at the Sweeney Convention Center, Room #1, 201 W. Marcy, 
Santa Fe, NM.
    Information on EPA's radioactive waste disposal standards (40 CFR 
Part 191), the compliance criteria (40 CFR Part 194), and DOE's 
compliance certification application is listed under Dockets No. R-89-
01, A-92-56, and A-93-02, respectively, and is available for review at 
the following three EPA WIPP docket locations in New Mexico: in 
Carlsbad at the Municipal Library, Hours: Mon-Thu, 10-9, Fri-Sat, 10-6, 
and Sun 1-5; in Albuquerque at the Government Publications Department, 
Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, Hours: Mon-Thu, 8-9, Fri, 
8-5, Sat-Sun, 1-5; and in Santa Fe at the Fogelson Library, College of 
Santa Fe, Hours: Mon-Thu, 8-12 Midnight, Fri, 8-5, Sat, 9-5, and Sun, 
1-9. For purposes of judicial review, EPA's official docket for all 
rulemaking activities under the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Land 
Withdrawal Act, as amended, is located in Washington, DC in the Air 
Docket, Room M1500, Mailcode 6102, U.S. EPA, 401 M Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20460.

    Note: The dockets in New Mexico only contain major items from 
the official docket (WDC) plus all those documents added to the 
official docket since October 1992 when the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act 
was enacted.

    As provided in 40 CFR part 2, a reasonable fee may be charged for 
photocopying docket materials.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rafaela Ferguson, Office of Radiation 
and Indoor Air, (202) 233-9362 or call EPA's 24-hour toll-free WIPP 
Information Line, 1-800-331-WIPP.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The U.S. Department of Energy is developing 
the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad in southeastern 
New Mexico as a deep geologic repository for disposal of transuranic 
(TRU) radioactive waste. TRU wastes are materials containing elements 
having atomic numbers greater than 92 in concentrations greater than 
100 nanocuries of alpha-emitting TRU isotopes, with half-lives greater 
than twenty years, per gram of waste. Most TRU wastes are items that 
have become associated with the production of nuclear weapons, e.g., 
rags, equipment, tools, and contaminated organic and inorganic sludges.
    On October 30, 1992, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Land 
Withdrawal Act (Pub. L. 102-579) was enacted, and on September 23, 
1996, the Act was amended. Among other things, the Act, as amended, 
specifies the terms and conditions for the DOE's activities at the WIPP 
and the regulatory requirements which apply throughout various stages 
of the repository's development including the requirement that before 
beginning disposal of radioactive wastes at the WIPP, DOE must 
demonstrate that the WIPP will comply with the Environmental Protection 
Agency's (EPA) radioactive wastes disposal standards, e.g., 
``Environmental Standards for the Management and Disposal of Spent 
Nuclear Fuel, High-Level and Transuranic Radioactive Wastes'' (40 CFR 
Part 191).

[[Page 2989]]

    Under the Act, as amended, EPA is required to develop criteria for 
the Administrator's certification of compliance with the 40 CFR part 
191 disposal standards. On February 11, 1993, EPA published an Advance 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 58 FR 8029, in the Federal Register 
requesting information and comments pertinent to the development of the 
compliance criteria.
    On January 11, 1995, EPA Administrator Carol Browner signed the 
proposed compliance criteria rule. The 90-day public comment period 
began on January 30, the date the proposed compliance criteria rule 
notice appeared at 60 FR 5766 in Part II of the Federal Register, and 
ended on May 1, 1995. EPA opened a second public comment period on 
August 1, which ended on September 15, 1995 (60 FR 39131). EPA issued 
final compliance criteria on February 9, 1996, at 61 FR 5224-5245, 
approximately one year after prosposal in the Federal Register. On 
March 29, 1996, EPA issued the Compliance Application Guidance (CAG) 
which provided DOE with specific guidelines regarding the format and 
content of the compliance certification application and a clear 
description of the information that EPA would need to make its 
certification decision. The guidance provided in the CAG is within the 
framework established by 40 CFR parts 194 and 191 and under the 
authority of the WIPP Land Withdrawl Act, as amended. On November 15, 
1996, EPA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in 
the Federal Register at 61 FR 58499-58500, entitled ``Decision to 
Certify Whether the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Complies With the 40 
CFR Part 191 Disposal Regulations and the 40 CFR Part 194 Compliance 
Criteria.'' The WIPP Land Withdrawal Act, as amended, requires the DOE 
to demonstrate compliance with EPA's disposal standards and to submit 
an application for certification of WIPP's compliance to the EPA 
Administrator. In submitting such an application, the DOE must meet the 
requirements of the EPA compliance criteria that will be used by the 
Agency to certify whether or not the WIPP complies with the radioactive 
waste disposal standards.
    If EPA decides that the WIPP meets its radioactive waste disposal 
standards, then DOE may proceed with the opening of the WIPP. Following 
the opening of the facility and throughout its operational phase, DOE 
will be required to submit a re-certification application to EPA every 
five years. The Agency will review this application and determine 
whether the WIPP remains in compliance with the disposal standards. The 
public will be permitted to inspect and comment on any re-certification 
application. By law, all public comments must be considered by the 
Agency prior to making a final decsion on WIPP's continued operation.

    Dated: January 15, 1997.
Rob Brenner,
Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation.
[FR Doc. 97-1366 Filed 1-17-97; 8:45 am]