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1 Introduction This study was initiated by the National Academies' Board on Radioactive Waste Management (the Board), which observed that statutes and regulations aciministerec! by the state and federal agencies that control low-activity wastes have clevelopect in an act hoc manner over almost 60 years. They usually reflect the waste's origin from national defense, nuclear power, inclustrial, institutional, or natural sources rather than its radio- logical hazard. Consistencies in the regulatory patchwork or its application have led to very restrictive controls for some low-activity wastes but the relative neglect of others. The purpose of this interim report is to provide an overview of current regula- tions and management practices, in conformance with items 1 and 2 of the project's task statement (see Sidebar I.~. ~ developing the overview, the committees has sought to identify gaps and inconsistencies that would suggest areas for significant improvements. This initial fact-finding phase of the project led the committee to the findings that con- clucle this report. The committee will address item 3 of the task statement anal provide recommendations in its final report. WHAT ARE LOW-ACTIVITY RADIOACTIVE WASTES? ~ initiating this study, the Board used the term "low-activity waste" to denote a spectrum of radioactive materials declared as wastes from a variety of national defense and private sector activities.2 These low-activity wastes generally contain lower levels of radioactive material and present less of a hazard to public and environmental health than either spent nuclear fuel or high-level waste from chemical processing of spent fuel, both ~ The Committee on Improving Practices for Regulating and Managing Low-Activity Radio- active Waste is referred to as "the committee" throughout this report. Short biographies of the committee members are given in Appendix F. 2 The Board intended the term "low-activity waste" to be more inclusive than "low-level waste," which has a specific definition under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (~see Chapter 2~. The term "low-activity waste" has sometimes been applied to the lower activity fractions of Depart- ment of Energy (DOE) tank waste The committee does not use the term in this sense. 7

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SIDEBAR 1.1 TASK STATEMENT The objective of this study is to evaluate options for improving practices for regulating and man- aging low-activity radioactive waste in the United States. The study will focus on the following three tasks: 1. Using available information from public domain sources, provide a summary of the sources, forms, quantities, hazards, and other identifying characteristics of low-activity waste In the United States; 2. Review and summarize current policies and practices for regulating, treating, and disposing of low-activity waste, including the quantitative (including risk) bases for existing regulatory sys- tems, and identify waste streams that are not being regulated or managed in a safe or cost effective manner; and 3. Provide an assessment of technical and policy options for improving practices for regulating and managing low-activity waste to enhance technical soundness, ensure continued protection of public and environmental health, and increase cost effectiveness. This assessment should include an examination of options for utilizing risk-informed practices for identifying, regulating, and managing low-activity waste irrespective of its classification. of which are highly hazardous and tightly regulated.3 However, low-activity wastes may contain naturally occurring or other long-lived radionucTides at well above background levels, and it may represent a significant chronic (and, in some cases, an acute) hazard to public and environmental health.4 Given this broact charter, the committee sought to develop a concise list of cate- gories that would include low-activity wastes from essentially all sources,s yet by focus- ing on their inherent racliological properties rather than their origins, emphasize gaps and inconsistencies between their current regulation ant! management ant! their actual radio- logical properties. The committee agreed that the following is an instructive and inclusive categorization of the wastes to be acidressec3: Wastes containing types and quantities of radioactive materials that fall well within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) classification system for low-level waste, e.g., Class A, B. and C (see Chapters 2, 3 and Appendix B). These include wastes from nuclear utilities, other industries, meclicine, and research, which are clisposecl in USNRC-licensed, commercially operated facilities ("commercial low-level waste"), and similar wastes produced and disposer} at Department of Energy (DOE) sites ("clefense low-lever wasted. Slightly radioactive solid materials debris, rubble, and contaminated soils from nuclear facility decommissioning and site cleanup. They arise in very large volumes but 3 See Disposition of High-Level Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: The Continuing Societal and Technical Challenges (NRC, 2001a) and One Step at a Time: The Staged Development of Geo- logic Repositories for High-Level Radioactive Waste (NRC, 2003~. Transuranic wastes, which are controlled by the DOE, are addressed in several other National Research Council reports (NBC, 2001b, 2002b, 2002c) and are not included in this study. 4 See Health Effects of Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR V (ARC, 1990~. s The committee did not include waste containing only short-lived radioactivity (on the order of a year or less), which simply decays away during storage. These wastes do not present long- term management or disposal challenges. Interim Report

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produce very low or practically undetectable levels of radiation. They fall at the very bottom of USNRC Class A (the lowest of the classes). Discrete sourcesout-of-service radiation sources and associated materials from industrial, medical, and research applications. Although clefined by statute as low-level waste, they may emit high enough levels of radiation to cause acute effects in humans or serious contamination inciclents. 6 Larger sources may exceed USNRC Class (I (the hi ah est of the classes). ~ c,. ~ - Uranium and thorium ore processing wastes. These wastes have been produced in large volumes from the recovery of uranium and thorium for nuclear applications. Their racliological hazards arise not only from the radioactive uranium and thorium isotopes, but also from their radioactive decay proclucts, especially radium, which can mid inks drinking water, and radon, which is a gas. NT~11 ~~ : ~ ~ ~ _ 1 1 1~ 1 ~ . ~^ FUJI my_ JO Guy o~i~;u~-~-~ng anu ~ecnno~og~ca~y enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM ant! TENORM) wastes. These wastes arise coinciclentally from the recovery of natural resources (extraction of rare earth minerals and other mining opera- tions, oil, and gas) and water treatment. Like uranium and thorium wastes, they arise in large volumes ant! their radiological hazards result from uranium, thorium, and their ra- ctioactive decay products, radium and raclon. As will be ctiscussec3 later in this report, wastes in the first four categories fall uncler the Atomic Energy Act, which provides authority for their control by federal agen- cies. Wastes in the first three categories all meet the statutory definition of low-level waste, although their physical and racliological properties, ant! hence their hazards, vary greatly. Wastes in the last two categories are similar in their physical and radiological properties, but the fecleral government has regulatory authority over the former and the states have allthoritv over the latter Table 1 1 cil~;~= +~ :__ _, of low-activity wastes. ~ developing its overview of current inventories, regulations, ant! management practices for this interim report (parts 1 ant! 2 of the task statement), the committee en- countered a massive amount of literature on federal and state regulations, inventory (lata, and management practices. This report does not attempt to replicate the (retailed informa- tion already available; rather, the report summarizes the information that lect to the com- mittee's findings and points to possible improvements in Chit nv`~rn]] red ~1.~ __ _~_ _ 1 ~ ~ . . . . A_ J ~ _. 4~V1- ~~1 ~a~llllllall4~;) 111~ ~1111111~ ~ ~~l~o~lzatlon APPROACH TO THE TASK STATEMENT r ~ rat All ~= I Able v ~ Al All 1 ~8,ulalu1 y ~ Ll US LUl U~ wnlcn one committee will examine in its final report (part 3 of the task statement). Information Sources The main sources of information for this interim report inclucled: 6 For completeness, radium sources and accelerator-produced material can be included in this category although they do not meet the statutory definition of low-level waste (see Chapter 2~. Interim Report 9

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~ ~- .5 En o , N us ~1 G ^~ .~ .~ o V 10 ~ <^ ~ ~ (Q ~ ~ j ~ ~ E ~ ~ 3 E E ~ ~ E .= b ~ 5 3 To ~ ~ ~ o 80- == ^ ~ o ~ ~^ ~ e~ Cal C3 ~ ~ := 'Use . ~ b ,~ &~ l o Is a' ~ 3= au C) .e . to ~ o I 3 I, -4 Cd to -m 3 ~ ~ ~ =o ~ ^-_ Cal o ~ o C E o ._ To _ ._ ~D O ~D ~d = ~ ao ~ ~ T~, i # 2 1 U. E -'' ~ E .g CO O a., ' - a., O ,= ~ . ~ e ~ a, . C. CQ .0 ~; ~ C~ ~; ._, ~ ~ O a' U, C~ ,< a = O g._ CO _, au ~ O O .~ : 5 ~ V c ~ ~ ~ e 3 c: 5 ~^ 2 ~ E ~ 3 ~ ~ ~ ~ == ~ - 4, ~ ~ E ~ ~ E ~ m^ ~ ~ ~ == E 2 E ~ ~ 2^ 5 .5 ~ ~ o,5 .s ~ ~ o o ~ ~ ~ 3 c ~ o ~t ~ E ~ ~ ' - - - - - - - - - - Interim Report

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Information-gathering meetings and site visits, Previously published studies, and Internet material. First-hand information was provided to the committee at five infon~ation- gathering meetings and three site visits. This information was presented by the study sponsors, representatives of other regulatory and operating organizations, local officials, and members of the public (see Appendix A). The committee held its first information- gathering meeting in Washington, D.C. on December 4-5, 2002, to receive presentations from study sponsors and comments from other interested individuals. Information- gathering and site visits included Richiand, Washington (Hanford and U.S. Ecology), on February 6-7, 2003, and Salt Lake City, Utah (Envirocare of Utah), on April 16-17, 2003. Four committee members visited FUSRAP7 sites near St. Louis, Missouri, on May 12, 2003. A final information-gathering meeting was held in Washington, D.C. on June 12, 2003. The following published studies served as cornerstones for the committee's de- liberations and findings: Risk-Based Classification of Radioactive and Hazardous Chemical Wastes was published in 2002 by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). This report found that the existing patchwork system of regulations is inconsis- tent and becoming increasingly complex. It presents the NCRP's recommendations for a waste classification system that would apply to any waste containing radionuclides or hazardous chemicals (NCRP, 2002J. The Disposition Dilemma. Controlling the Release of Solid Materials from Nu- clear Regulatory Commission-Licensed Facilities was published in 2002 by the National Academies' Board on Energy and Environmental Systems. This study was requested by the USNRC to inform rulemaking on disposition of very-Iow-activity wastes, mainly steel and concrete from commercial nuclear reactor decommissioning. The study found that the USNRC's current approach of case-by-case clearance decisions was protective of public health, but inconsistently applied. The study recommencled use of a dose-based standard in evaluating disposition options (NRC, 2002a). Evaluation of Guidelines for Exposures to Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials was published in ~ 999 by the National Academies' Board on Radiation Effects Research. This stucly was requested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and reflected the agency's awareness of the hazards of NORM and attempts to develop regulatory guiclelines. The study found that differences among existing guidelines were baser! on policy judgments rather than on scientific information (NRC, 1999a). United States of America National Report. Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safer of Radioactive Waste Management summa- rizes policies, practices, regulations, and inventory of all declared wastes in the United States. The report was preparer! by the DOE, EPA, USNRC, and State Department to meet reporting requirements of the Joint Convention, which was ratified and signed by President Bush in April 2003 (DOE, 20031. 7 Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (see Chapter 3~. Interim Report 11

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The committee also used information from the Manifest Information Manage- ment System (MIMS) that provides data on waste sent to commercial disposal facilities over past 12 years (http://mims.apps.em.cloe.gov) and the Central Internet Database (CID) that provides information on DOE wastes (http://cid.em.cloe.gov). Outline of this Report The committee itself had difficulty in comprehending the many complicated stat- utes and regulations that apply to Tow-activity wastes. The committee therefore felt it would be useful to begin this interim report by describing these statutes and regulations in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 summarizes low-activity waste inventories, hazards, and manage- ment and disposal practices according to the present regulatory system. Chapter 4 gives the committee's views and fencings with illustrative examples. 12 Interim Report