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In 1981, the NRC published a Policy Statement regarding the volume
• The need for a volume reduction policy;
• Suggested volume reduction techniques;
• That NRC would take expeditious action on requests for licensing of volume reduction systems; and
• The need for waste generators to minimize the quantity of waste produced.
The NRC issued the Policy Statement in response to a General Accounting Office (now U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)) report that recommended that NRC take this step to help preserve disposal facility space (GAO, 1980). The Policy Statement was issued when disposal space was scarce since two of the three operating low level radioactive waste (LLRW) disposal sites had been threatening to close, and one had recently reduced the annual amount authorized for disposal by half. Further, volume reduction techniques were not yet in widespread use and NRC`s Policy Statement was meant to encourage the use of these techniques.
On April 7, 2010, staff published SECY-10-0043, “Blending of Low-Level Radioactive Waste” and addressed the Policy Statement in response to stakeholder comments that large-scale blending may not be consistent with the Policy Statement because it would enable licensees to avoid the use of an available volume reduction technology. In the blending paper, staff stated in Option 2:
The staff believes that the Policy Statement could be updated to recognize the progress that has been achieved, and to acknowledge that other factors may be used by licensees in determining how best to manage their LLRW. Specifically, the Policy Statement could be revised to acknowledge that volume reduction continues to be important, but that risk-informed, performance-based approaches to managing waste are also appropriate in managing LLRW safely and that volume reduction should be evaluated in this light.
In the Staff Requirements Memorandum for SECY-10-0043, the Commission approved Option 2, which included the staff's proposed changes noted above. Consequently, a revised Policy Statement on Volume Reduction and Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management is being published for public comment.
In 1981, the Commission published a Policy Statement (46 FR 51100; October 16, 1981) regarding the volume reduction of LLW. On April 7, 2010, the NRC staff published SECY-10-0043 “Blending of Low-Level Radioactive Waste” in which it recommended updating the Policy Statement to acknowledge that volume reduction continues to be important, but that risk-informed, performance-based approaches to managing waste are also needed to safely manage LLRW. The Commission approved the staff's recommendation thus the Policy Statement is being revised.
The Commission recognizes the substantial progress made by licensees in reducing volumes of LLRW for disposal since the publication of the 1981 Volume Reduction Policy Statement. Nuclear industry groups have also played a central part in this effort by encouraging volume reduction practices among their members. Widespread use of these volume reduction practices has resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of LLW produced by licensees. The Commission recognizes that the high cost of disposal has been a factor, along with lack of disposal access, in the increased use of volume reduction techniques.
The Commission continues to believe that volume reduction is an important component in the management of LLW; a continued focus on volume reduction will extend the operational lifetime of the existing commercial low-level disposal sites and reduce the number of waste shipments.
Administrative controls and operational enhancements are the foundation of a successful radioactive waste management program. Therefore, the Commission encourages licensees to continue to adopt procedures that will reduce the volume of waste being transferred to disposal facilities. Additionally, as currently required by Title 10 of the
The Commission also recognizes that volume reduction is only one aspect of an effective radioactive waste management program. While the Commission continues to favor the disposal of LLRW over storage, it recognizes that licensees may manage waste in a variety of ways, consistent with NRC regulations and guidance. In addition to ensuring public health and safety, licensees should consider operational efficiency, reductions in occupational exposures, security, and cost in determining how best to manage LLRW. As part of their radioactive waste management strategies, licensees should consider all means available to manage waste in a manner that is secure and protects public health and safety, such as:
• Waste minimization.
• Short-term storage and decay.
• Long-term storage.
• Use of the alternate disposal provision contained in 10 CFR 20.2002.
• Use of waste processing technologies.
• Use of licensed disposal facilities.
The Commission understands that limited disposal access means that many licensees will be forced to store at least some of their LLW. Agreement State and NRC licensees must continue to ensure waste is safely and securely managed. However, disposal is considered the safest and most secure long-term management approach.
This Policy Statement does not contain new or amended information collection requirements that are subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501
The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a request for information or an information collection requirement unless the requesting document displays a currently valid OMB control number.
Based on the comments received in both written and electronic form, the Commission will then be in a better position to proceed with the issuance of a final Policy Statement. The final Policy Statement, when issued by the Commission, will be published in the
For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.