Review of New York State Low-Level Radioactive Waste Siting Process

Committee to Review New York State's Siting and Methodology Selection for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal

Board on Radioactive Waste Management

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1996



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--> Review of New York State Low-Level Radioactive Waste Siting Process Committee to Review New York State's Siting and Methodology Selection for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Board on Radioactive Waste Management Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1996

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--> NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by the Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this study was provided by the New York State Department of Health under Contract No. C-010778. All opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the New York State Department of Health. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 96-69080 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05539-3 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Cover art entitled “Variations on a Theme,” ©1994, by Edith Socolow. An artist of experience and many credits, Edith Socolow creates images of land and sea. Her landscapes are exaggerated or partially obscured and left for the observer to interpret. Ms. Socolow resides in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Printed in the United States of America

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--> COMMITTEE TO REVIEW NEW YORK STATE'S SITING AND METHODOLOGY SELECTION FOR LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL SUSAN WILTSHIRE, Chair, JK Research Associates Inc., Hamilton, Massachusetts ROBERT J. AHRENS, National Soil Survey Center/U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service, Lincoln, Nebraska GLORIA ANDERSON, League of Women Voters of California, Crestline CHARLES BASKERVILLE, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain RANDY L. BASSETT, University of Arizona, Tucson LYNDA L. BROTHERS, Davis Wright Tremaine, Seattle, Washington HALINA BROWN, Clark University, Worchester, Massachusetts GAIL CEDERBERG, Consultant, Colts Neck, New Jersey JOHN CROES, Science Applications International Corporation, Oak Ridge, Tennessee WILLIAM P. DORNSIFE, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg JOHN E. EBEL, Weston Observatory, Boston College, Weston, Massachusetts WILLIAM FREUDENBURG, University of Wisconsin, Madison ROBERT D. HATCHER, JR., The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville and Oak Ridge CAROL HORNIBROOK,* Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California JANET JOHNSON, Shepherd Miller, Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado LINDA L. LEHMAN, L. Lehman & Associates, Inc., Prior Lake, Minnesota ROBERT MEYER, Keystone Scientific, Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado DELLA ROY, Pennsylvania State University, University Park MIKLOS D.G. SALAMON,† Colorado School of Mines, Golden LEONARD C. SLOSKY, Slosky & Company, Inc., Denver, Colorado ARTHUR A. SOCOLOW, Pennsylvania Geological Survey (retired), Gloucester, Massachusetts NRC Staff INA B. ALTERMAN, Study Director (through 6/95) KEVIN D. CROWLEY, Study Director (since 6/95) CHARLES MEADE, Senior Staff Officer REBECCA BURKA, Senior Project Assistant ELIZABETH M. LANDRIGAN, Project Assistant ERIKA L. WILLIAMS, Project Assistant SCOTT A. HASSELL, Intern Consultant CINDY M. MONACO *   Resigned due to other professional commitments. †   Resigned due to change in scope of report.

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--> BOARD ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT MICHAEL C. KAVANAUGH, Chair, ENVIRON Corporation, Emeryville, California B. JOHN GARRICK, Vice-Chair, PLG, Inc., Newport Beach, California JOHN F. AHEARNE, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, and Duke University, Research Triangle Park and Durham, North Carolina JEAN M. BAHR, University of Wisconsin, Madison SOL BURSTEIN, Wisconsin Electric Power, Milwaukee (retired) ANDREW P. CAPUTO, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C. MELVIN W. CARTER, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta (emeritus) PAUL P. CRAIG, University of California, Davis (emeritus) MARY R. ENGLISH, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville ROBERT D. HATCHER, JR., The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville and Oak Ridge DARLEANE C. HOFFMAN, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California JAMES H. JOHNSON, JR., Howard University, Washington, D.C. CHARLES McCOMBIE, NAGRA, Wettingen, Switzerland ROBERT MEYER, Keystone Scientific, Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado PRISCILLA P. NELSON, University of Texas, Austin D. KIRK NORDSTROM, U.S. Geological Survey, Boulder, Colorado D. WARNER NORTH, Decision Focus, Inc., Mountain View, California PAUL SLOVIC, Decision Research, Eugene, Oregon BENJAMIN L. SMITH, Independent Consultant, Columbia, Tennessee NRC Staff KEVIN D. CROWLEY, Director (from 6/96) CARL A. ANDERSON, Director (through 5/96) ROBERT S. ANDREWS, Senior Staff Officer KARYANIL T. THOMAS, Senior Staff Officer THOMAS E. KIESS, Staff Officer SUSAN B. MOCKLER, Research Associate LISA J. CLENDENING, Administrative Assistant ROBIN L. ALLEN, Senior Project Assistant REBECCA BURKA, Senior Project Assistant DENNIS L. DUPREE, Senior Project Assistant PATRICIA A. JONES, Project Assistant ANGELA R. TAYLOR, Project Assistant ERIKA L. WILLIAMS, Project Assistant JOSHUA A. CHAMOT, Intern

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--> COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES M. GORDON WOLMAN, Chair, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas, Austin JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. PERRY L. McCARTY, Stanford University, California JUDITH E. McDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Princeton University, New Jersey RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN K. SILBERGELD, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida NRC Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director GREGORY SYMMES, Reports Officer JAMES MALLORY, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate SUSAN SHERWIN, Project Assistant

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--> The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is interim president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and of advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are the chairman and interim vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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--> Preface In 1986, the New York State Legislature enacted the New York State Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Act. Among its provisions was the establishment of a commission charged with identifying a site in the state for a low-level waste disposal facility. To carry out its work, the Sitting Commission developed a stepwise technical screening process based on consideration of factors such as surface and ground water hydrology, geologic properties, demographic issues, land use patterns, and socioeconomic concerns. The screening process was designed to select sites for more detailed analysis of their suitability for hosting a potential repository. By June 1990 it was clear that the siting process had reached an impasse due to local opposition. Consequently, the New York State Legislature made broad changes to the 1986 State Act calling for, among other provisions, the creation of an independent technical and scientific panel to review the work of the Siting Commission, as described in Chapter 1 of this report. The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency first requested the National Research Council (NRC) to review New York State's siting process in March of 1990, prior to the above-mentioned legislative changes. A proposal was submitted by the NRC at that time. When the July 1990 legislation explicitly defined the panel's role, New York State developed a derailed scope of work for the panel that extended beyond the scope of the first NRC proposal. The new legislation also designated the New York State Department of Health as the agency responsible for supporting the independent scientific and technical review panel. In June of 1992 the Department of Health invited the NRC to submit a revised proposal. In April 1993 the Board on Radioactive Waste Management was contracted by the Department of Health to undertake the review; and subsequently, the Committee to Review New York State's Siting and Methodology Selection for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal (hereafter referred to as the "committee") was formed. The committee was asked by the Department of Health to review the scientific, technical, and procedural approaches used by the Siting Commission. The committee was directed to review and comment on the criteria, methodology, procedures, and decision process used by the Siting

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--> Commission to select potential low-level radioactive waste disposal sites and was asked to address eight specific technical questions (see Chapter 8). A complete statement of task is given in Appendix B of this report. The committee held its first meeting in January 1994, entering a polarized situation in which it seemed that all sides expected the committee's report to justify their positions. During our review, it became increasingly obvious that the process we were reviewing would not continue in its current form. Indeed, the New York State Legislature voted to end the activities of the Siting Commission in 1995, leaving the committee to wonder whether its work had any relevance beyond providing criticism or justification for past actions. There are, however, many lessons from our review that could help others responsible for siting potentially controversial facilities. This report, therefore, is designed not only to respond to the questions posed by New York State, but also to make explicit the more general lessons that we hope will assist others. The committee held a series of open meetings to obtain information from members of the public, representatives of affected counties, New York State agency staff, and the Siting Commission members and staff. For many people, discussing the siting process brought back painful memories and emotions. The Siting Commission had worked diligently at a process that it had undertaken in good faith to reach a result—siting a low-level waste facility—that it believed was important for the welfare of New York State. Citizens and officials of the affected areas, in turn, felt they had been forced to defend the interests and future health and well-being of their communities against a misguided, state-imposed process. Concerned about the very different interpretations of the process and the strong opinions held by various participants, we worked very hard to be objective about what we heard and read, and to be fair in what we wrote. The committee appreciates the help it received from many New York State agencies and citizens. The New York State Department of Health, the agency sponsoring the study, and Steve Gavitt, our liaison with the department, provided supportive guidance and assistance to the committee throughout our review. Siting Commission members and staff cooperated willingly in providing information. They tried to understand our questions and answer them as accurately as possible given the passage of time since the work being reviewed had been carried out. Department of

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--> Environmental Conservation staff were also helpful. Citizens and officials of Cortland and Allegany countries provided valuable comments to the committee that helped us better understand what had occurred from their perspective. The committee also thanks the New York State Geological Survey, in particular, Robert Fakundiny, state geologist, who participated in several of our meetings. The committee is grateful for the aid of able and dedicated National Research Council staff. Ina Alterman helped during the formation of the committee and assisted us during the initial phases of our work. Charles Meade performed the herculean task of taking many pages of material written by a committee of 18 and turning it into a coherent, nonrepetitive draft. Kevin Crowley then refined the text and helped the committee clearly articulate its conclusions. Rebecca Burka kept the work well organized and the committee well cared for. Liz Landrigan and Scott Hassell assisted in the earlier stages of our project. Erika Williams assembled the many tables, figures, appendixes, and references; went through the report in great detail to check the numerous facts and figures; and assisted the committee with the preparation of the executive summary. We also appreciate the help of Cindy Monaco, former coordinator of the Cortland County Low-Level Radioactive Waste Office, who served as consultant to the committee. In this capacity she helped us identify additional information from affected countries and citizens and, through her experience in New York State, was able to provided some of the background history of citizens' involvement in the process. Finally, I am personally very grateful for a fine committee whose members worked diligently and cheerfully to reach agreement in spite of viewing issues from a diverse set of disciplines and a wide ranges of experiences. It was a pleasure to serve as ringmaster for such a capable group. Susan Wiltshire, Chair

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--> Contents     Executive Summary   1     Review of the Siting Process,   1     Discussion,   6     Lessons to Be Learned,   8 1   Introduction   10     Work Plan,   14     Scope and Organization of This Report,   15 2   Federal and State Low-Level Radioactive Waste Acts   17     Federal LLRW Policy Act of 1980,   17     Federal LLRW Amendments Act of 1985,   20     New York State LLRW Management Act of 1986,   23     Regulatory Requirements,   31     Analysis and Discussion,   33 3   Overview of the Siting Process   35     Siting Plan,   35     Analysis and Discussion,   47 4   Statewide Exclusionary Screening   49     Screening Criteria,   49     Data Sources,   52     Screening Results,   53     Public Participation,   56     Analysis and Discussion,   57 5   Candidate Area Identification   58     Exclusionary Screening,   60     Initial Preference Screening,   60

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-->     Comparative Preference Analysis,   65     Public Participation,   70     Analysis and Discussion,   71     Summary,   84 6   Potential Sites Identification   87     GIS Screening,   90     Qualitative Map Assessments,   92     Field Surveys,   92     Rescreening Using All Criteria,   93     Site Characterization,   94     Volunteer and Offered Sites,   95     Contributed Information   96     Sensitivity Analyses,   98     Public Participation,   98     Analysis and Discussion,   101     Summary,   121 7   Discussion and Conclusions   126     External Causes,   126     Internal Causes,   128     Lessons to Be Learned,   134 8   Responses to Questions in Statement of Task   141     Question 1,   141     Question 2,   142     Question 3,   143     Question 4,   143     Question 5,   144     Question 6,   146     Question 7,   147     Question 8,   148     References   150

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-->     Appendixes         A List of Acronyms and Abbreviations   A.1     B Statement of Task   B.1     C Biographical Sketches of Committee Members   C.1     D List of Presenters to the Committee   D.1     E List of Materials Reviewed   E.1     F The Committee's Questions to New York State   F.1     G Classification of Wastes   G.1     H Federal and New York State Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Acts   H.1     I Tables of Exclusionary and Preference Criteria   I.1     J Quality Assurance Documents   J.1     K Examples of Windshield Survey Forms   K.1

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