[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 16 (Friday, January 24, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 4102-4104]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-01291]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 16 / Friday, January 24, 2014 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 4102]]


10 CFR Part 61

RIN 3150-AI92

Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Rulemaking and Strategic 
Assessment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Regulatory Program

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Public workshop.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans to conduct 
a public workshop to discuss proposed revisions to its Low-Level 
Radioactive Waste (LLRW) disposal regulations and gather information on 
an update to the NRC's 2007 Strategic Assessment of the LLRW regulatory 
program from stakeholders and other interested members of the public. 
The staff is also seeking comments on developments that would affect 
the LLRW regulatory program in the next 5-7 years, including changes to 
the national landscape in the LLRW area that would affect licensees and 
sited States in the context of safety, security, and the protection of 
the environment. The NRC will accept written comments at the public 
workshop and welcomes active participation from those attending.

DATES: The public workshop will be held on March 7, 2014, from 8:00 
a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (registration begins at 7:30 a.m.) in Phoenix, 

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2011-0012 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You 
may access publicly-available information related to this action by the 
following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2011-0012. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-287-
3422; email: [email protected]. For technical questions, contact 
the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly-available documents online in the NRC 
Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the 
search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and then select ``Begin Web-
based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's 
Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-
4737, or by email to [email protected]. The ADAMS accession number 
for each document referenced in this notice (if that document is 
available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is 
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.
    The public workshop will be held at the Renaissance Phoenix 
Downtown Hotel, 50 East Adams Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85004. The phone 
number for the hotel is 1-602-333-0000. The public workshop will be 
held immediately following the 2014 Waste Management Conference.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melanie C. Wong, telephone: 301-415-
2432, email: [email protected], or Tarsha Moon, telephone: 301-415-
6745; email: [email protected]. Both of the Office of Federal and 
State Materials and Environmental Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

I. Background

Revisions to LLRW Disposal Regulations

    The Commission's licensing requirements for the disposal of LLRW in 
near-surface [the uppermost 30 meters (100 feet)] facilities reside in 
part 61 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), 
``Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive Waste.'' 
These regulations were published in the Federal Register on December 
27, 1982 (47 FR 57446). The regulations emphasize an integrated systems 
approach to the disposal of commercial LLRW, including site selection, 
disposal facility design and operation, minimum waste form 
requirements, and disposal facility closure. To lessen reliance on 
institutional controls, 10 CFR Part 61 emphasizes passive rather than 
active systems to limit and retard releases to the environment.
    Development of the 10 CFR Part 61 regulations in the early 1980s 
was based on several assumptions as to the types of wastes likely to go 
into a commercial LLRW disposal facility. To better understand what the 
likely inventory of wastes available for disposal might be, the NRC 
conducted a survey of existing LLRW generators. The survey, documented 
in Chapter 3 of NUREG-0782, ``Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
[DEIS] on 10 CFR Part 61 Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of 
Radioactive Waste'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML052590347), revealed that 
there were 37 distinct commercial waste streams consisting of 25 
radionuclides of potential regulatory interest. The specific waste 
streams in question were representative of the types of commercial LLRW 
being generated at the time. Waste streams associated with the U.S. 
Department of Energy's (DOE's) nuclear defense complex were not 
considered as part of the survey, since disposal of those wastes, at 
that time, was to be conducted at the DOE-operated sites. Over the last 
several years, there have been a number of developments that have 
called into question some of the key assumptions made in connection 
with the earlier 10 CFR Part 61 survey, including:
     The emergence of potential LLRW streams that were not 
considered in the original 10 CFR Part 61 rulemaking, including large 
quantities of Depleted Uranium (DU), and possibly incidental wastes 
associated with the commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel;
     The DOE's increasing use of commercial facilities for the 
disposal of defense-related LLRW streams; and
     Extensive international operational experience in the 
management of LLRW and intermediate-level radioactive wastes that did 
not exist at the time 10 CFR Part 61 was promulgated.
    In its March 18, 2009, Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) SRM-
SECY-08-0147,\1\ ``Response to

[[Page 4103]]

Commission Order CLI-05-20 Regarding Depleted Uranium'' (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML090770988), the Commission directed the NRC staff to 
proceed with a rulemaking to amend 10 CFR Part 61 to specify a 
requirement for a site-specific analysis for the disposal of large 
quantities of DU including the technical requirements for such an 
analysis, and to develop a guidance document that outlines the 
parameters and assumptions to be used in conducting such site-specific 
analyses. In a second SRM, SRM-SECY-10-0043,\2\ ``Blending of Low-Level 
Radioactive Waste'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML102861764), the Commission 
directed the staff to include blended LLRW streams as part of this 
rulemaking initiative. Following the solicitation of early public input 
on June 24, 2009 (74 FR 30175), the NRC staff developed a regulatory 
basis document to support a proposed rule (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML111040419), shared it with the NRC Agreement States, and developed a 
proposed rulemaking package. In an SRM, dated January 19, 2012,\3\ SRM-
COMWDM-11-0002/COMGEA-11-002, ``Revision to 10 CFR Part 61'' (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML120190360), the Commission provided additional 
direction to the NRC staff concerning this particular rulemaking. 
Specifically, the Commission directed the NRC staff to amend the 
existing draft proposed rulemaking package to include the following:

    \1\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/srm/2008/2008-0147srm.pdf.
    \2\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/srm/2010/2010-0043srm.pdf.
    \3\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/comm-secy/2011/2011-0002comgeawdm-srm.pdf.

     Allowing licensees the flexibility to use International 
Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) dose methodologies in a 
site-specific performance assessment for the disposal of all 
radioactive waste.
     Developing a two-tiered approach that establishes a 
compliance period that covers the reasonably foreseeable future and a 
longer period of performance that is not a priori and is established to 
evaluate the performance of the site over longer timeframes. The period 
of performance is developed based on the candidate site characteristics 
(waste package, waste form, disposal technology, cover technology, and 
geo-hydrology) and the peak dose to a designated receptor.
     Adding flexibility for disposal facilities to establish 
site-specific waste acceptance criteria based on the results of the 
site's performance assessment and intruder assessment.
     Establishing a compatibility category for the elements of 
the revised rule that establish the requirements for site-specific 
performance assessments and the development of the site-specific waste 
acceptance criteria that ensures alignment between the States and 
Federal Government on safety fundamentals, while providing the States 
with the flexibility to determine how to implement these safety 
    On July 18, 2013, the NRC staff submitted a revised draft proposed 
rule and guidance for Commission review and approval, SECY-13-0075, 
``Proposed Rule: Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal (10 CFR Part 61) 
(RIN 3150-A192)'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML13129A268). The draft proposed 
rule would update the existing technical analysis requirements for 
protection of the general population (i.e., performance assessment); 
add a new site-specific technical analysis for the protection of 
inadvertent intruders (i.e., intruder assessment); add a new analysis 
for certain long-lived LLRW; and revise the technical analyses required 
at closure.
    The draft proposed rule would also add a new requirement to develop 
criteria for the acceptance of LLRW for disposal based on either the 
results of these technical analyses or on the existing LLRW 
classification requirements. This would facilitate consideration of 
whether a particular disposal site is suitable for future disposal of 
DU, blended LLRW, or any other previously unanalyzed LLRW stream. 
Additionally, the draft proposed rule would facilitate implementation 
and better align the requirements with current health and safety 

Update to the 2007 Strategic Assessment of the LLRW Regulatory Program

    In 2007, due to developments in the national program for LLRW 
disposal, as well as changes in the regulatory environment, the NRC's 
LLRW program faced new challenges and issues. New technical issues 
related to protection of public health and the environment and security 
emerged. These challenges and issues included (1) need for greater 
flexibility and reliability in LLRW disposal options; (2) increased 
storage of Class B and Class C LLRW because of the potential closing of 
the Barnwell, South Carolina disposal facility to out-of-compact waste 
generators; (3) the potential need to dispose of large quantities of 
power plant decommissioning waste, as well as DU from enrichment 
facilities; (4) increased safety concerns; (5) need for greater LLRW 
program resources than were available; (6) increased security concerns 
related to storing LLRW in general and sealed radioactive sources in 
particular; and (7) potential for generation of new waste streams (for 
example, by the next generation of nuclear reactors and the potential 
reemergence of nuclear fuel reprocessing in the United States).
    Based on these challenges and issues, the NRC staff conducted a 
Strategic Assessment of the NRC's LLRW regulatory program. Based on 
extensive stakeholder input during meetings, the NRC staff received a 
variety of activities to be included in the Strategic Assessment and 
evaluated them based on the overall strategic objectives for ensuring 
safety, and security, and other factors. From these solicited 
activities, the NRC staff developed a list of 20 activities responsive 
to identified programmatic needs. These activities were assigned 
priorities of high, medium, or low and ranged from narrowly focused 
activities such as updating LLRW storage guidance to broader activities 
such as suggesting legislative changes to Congress to improve the 
national LLRW program.
    The NRC staff published the Strategic Assessment in late 2007 \4\ 
in SECY-07-0180, ``Strategic Assessment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste 
Regulatory Program'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML071350299). The Strategic 
Assessment identified and prioritized the NRC staff's activities to 
ensure that the LLW program continued to: (1) Ensure safe and secure 
LLRW disposal; (2) improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and 
adaptability of the NRC's LLRW regulatory program; and (3) ensure 
regulatory stability and predictability, while allowing flexibility in 
disposal options.

    \4\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/secys/2007/secy2007-0180/2007-0180scy.pdf.

    Since 2007, the NRC staff has completed several high priority 
activities identified in the 2007 Strategic Assessment, including 
updating guidance for LLRW storage, evaluating the disposal of DU and 
the measures needed to ensure its safe disposal, and developing a 
procedure for the review of low-activity waste disposal in Resource 
Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) facilities not licensed by the 
NRC. In addition, the NRC staff continues to work on the revisions to 
10 CFR part 61 and the 1995 Concentration Averaging and Encapsulation 
Branch Technical Position.
    After 6 years, much progress has been made in completing several 

[[Page 4104]]

identified in the 2007 Strategic Assessment as described above. In 
addition, the national LLRW program continues to evolve. To set the 
direction for the NRC's LLRW regulatory program in the next several 
years, the NRC staff will begin developing a new Strategic Assessment 
of the NRC's LLRW program. The new assessment will provide 
opportunities for stakeholder engagement.

II. NRC Public Workshop

    The purpose of this public workshop is to discuss the status of an 
on-going rulemaking effort to revise 10 CFR part 61 and gather 
information on the update to the 2007 Strategic Assessment of the NRC's 
LLRW regulatory program from interested members of the public. This 
overall approach is consistent with the NRC's openness policy. The 
March 7, 2014, public workshop will be organized into two parts. In the 
first part, the NRC staff will discuss the status of the proposed 
revisions to 10 CFR part 61. In the second part, a panel of invited 
experts will discuss developments that would affect the LLRW regulatory 
program in the next 5-7 years, including changes to the national 
landscape in the LLRW area that would affect licensees and sited States 
in the context of safety, security, and the protection of the 
    Following each of the two parts of the workshop, interested members 
of the public will have an opportunity to pose questions and comment.
    Pre-registration for this workshop is not necessary. Members of the 
public choosing to participate in this workshop remotely can do so in 
one of two ways-- online by webinar or via a telephone (audio) 
connection. This audio is the bridge line ID: 1-800-779-7381, passcode: 
    For those interested members of the public that wish to attend the 
workshop remotely by Webinar, the Webinar workshop registration link 
can be found at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/482915697. The 
Webinar ID is 482-915-697. After registering, instructions for joining 
the Webinar (including a teleconference number and pass code) will be 
provided via email. All participants will be in ``listen-only'' mode 
during the presentation. Participants will have a chance to pose 
questions either orally after the presentation or in writing during the 
    To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the 
workshop, or call the following number and enter the access code:
    Call-in toll-free number (US/Canada): 1-800-779-7381. The access 
code is 8375324.
    The agenda for the public workshop will be noticed no fewer than 10 
days prior to the workshop on the NRC's Public Meeting Schedule Web 
site at http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/index.cfm.
    Questions about participation in the public workshop should be 
directed to the point of contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section of this document.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 14th day of January 2014. For 
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Aby Mohseni,
Deputy Director, Environmental Protection and Performance Assessment 
Directorate, Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, 
Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management 
[FR Doc. 2014-01291 Filed 1-23-14; 8:45 am]