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Laws We Use: Overview

Laws

Some laws, such as the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, address radioactive contaminants only as part of the much larger problem of exposure to environmental contaminants. Other laws, such as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Land Withdrawal Act, directly address EPA's role in the disposal of radioactive waste.

Since it was established in 1970, EPA's radiation protection program has evolved as each of the laws we use was passed and put to work.

On this page:


Atomic Energy Act

The AEA gives EPA authority to establish standards and guidance to regulate radioactive materials from the production of nuclear energy.

summary | full text*| putting the AEA to work:

guidance: federal guidance

standards:
* full text of the AEA is not available electronically

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Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act

UMTRCA directs EPA to set generally applicable public health and environmental standards for the cleanup and disposal of contaminants at closed uranium and thorium mill tailings sites. The standards limit air emissions and address soil and groundwater contamination at both operating and closed facilities.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimer

Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act

The LLRWPA requires each state to provide disposal facilities for commercial low-level waste generated within its borders. It also encourages states to work together to develop regional disposal facilities.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimer| Radiation Protection at EPA: The First 30 Years [EPA 402-B-00-001], August 2000

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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Land Withdrawal Act

The WIPP LWA sets aside the land for developing and building a transuranic radioactive waste repository. It also requires EPA to set disposal standards, establish compliance criteria and a process to certify that the WIPP facility is technically able to meet the standards. EPA must reevaluate the WIPP every five years during its 35-year operation to determine if it continues to meet the standards and should be recertified.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimerputting the WIPP LWA to work

Nuclear Waste Policy Act

The NWPA provides the basis for the current national program for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in deep geologic repositories (e.g., Yucca Mountain).

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimer putting the NWPA to work

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Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act

The NWPAA designates Yucca Mountain as the only site under consideration for the deep geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. It directs the Department of Energy to phase out activities at other potential sites.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimer putting the NWPAA to work

Energy Policy Act

EnPA directs EPA to develop standards that protect the public from releases of radioactive materials in the Yucca Mountain repository. The EnPA also directed EPA to sponsor a study by National Academy of Sciences to provide recommendations on reasonable standards for protection of the public. The standards must be based on and consistent with NAS's recommendations in the study report.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimer putting the EnPA to work

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Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act is the comprehensive federal law that regulates air emissions of specific hazardous air pollutants from area, stationary, and mobile sources.

summary | full text | putting the CAA to work:

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Indoor Radon Abatement Act

The IRAA establishes a long-term goal that indoor air be

as free from radon as the ambient air outside buildings. The law authorize funding for radon-related activities at the state and
federal levels.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimerputting the IRAA to work

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Safe Drinking Water Act

The SDWA amends the Public Health Service Act. It directs EPA to develop a number of standards and processes:

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimerputting the SDWA to work:

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Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act

The MPRSA controls disposal in U.S. territorial waters. It authorizes EPA to issue permits and promulgate regulations. Disposal is permitted only when it will not degrade or endanger human health, welfare, ecological systems, the marine environment, or the economy. MPRSA specifically prohibits ocean disposal of high-level waste.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimer putting the MPRSA to work

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Clean Water Act

The CWA provides EPA the authority to protect rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other bodies of water in the United States from pollution.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimer putting the CWA to work:

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Public Health Service Act

The PHSA provides EPA the authority to monitor environmental radiation levels and to provide technical assistance to the states and other federal agencies in planning for and responding to radiological emergencies.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimerputting the PHSA to work:

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Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

RCRA provides EPA the authority to regulate hazardous wastes from "cradle-to-grave." Areas of regulation include waste minimization, generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimerputting RCRA to work:

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Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

CERCLA provides broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment, and to assure permanent cleanup of contaminated sites listed on the National Priority List.

summary | full text Exit EPA Disclaimerputting CERCLA to work:

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