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Low-Activity Radioactive Waste
Waste Management: 

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Improving the Safe Management and Disposal of 'Low-Activity' Radioactive Wastes

ANPR (Federal Register version)(PDF) (33 pp, 248K About PDF)

Low-Activity Radioactive Waste

What is EPA Considering?

EPA has developed an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to ask the public for opinions and information on a wide variety of issues related to disposal of waste containing low concentrations of radioactive material, 'low-activity' radioactive waste. At this time, 'low-activity' itself is a concept but would be more precisely defined by methods such as those described in the ANPR.

We are exploring a number of regulatory and non-regulatory ways to minimize storage and ensure the sufficient and safe disposal capacity for 'low-activity' radioactive wastes in the future while assuring environmental and public health protection. In general, we believe that radioactive waste disposal could be improved by a consistent approach based on the risk to public health and the environment presented by the material in question, rather than its origin or statutory definition. We are not proposing regulatory language or a specific regulatory approach at this time. Instead, we want to hear the public’s ideas on scientific and policy issues before deciding whether to develop a regulation. Because this action affected the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its Agreement States as well as Department of Energy facilities, we worked with them in developing the ANPR.

Background

Present regulation of 'low-activity' radioactive waste is inconsistent, often based on the origin of the waste. Besides inconsistent regulation, cost and availability of disposal affect the way low-activity wastes are managed. We believe that certain types of disposal facilities, particularly hazardous waste landfills permitted under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), may be able to offer appropriate protection for disposal of low-activity radioactive wastes. Among the wastes that could be addressed as 'low-activity' are mixed (chemically hazardous and radioactive) wastes, wastes containing natural radioactivity, cleanup wastes, and other low-level radioactive waste.

We believe that identifying additional options for safe disposal of these and other 'low-activity' radioactive wastes, with the appropriate regulatory controls, has the potential to provide a number of benefits:

What is Included in EPA’s ANPR?

We focus on concepts to ensure protective disposal of 'low-activity' radioactive wastes, including:

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