Appendix F The Committee's Questions to New York State

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES-NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL

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

Questions for the Siting Commission and/or the Department of Environmental Conservation August 22-23, 1994

I. Regulatory Issues

A. The Siting Plan
  1. What reviews were done by the Siting Commission (SC) to determine that the Siting Plan meets the intent of the regulations?
  2. What role and position did the DEC [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] take in the need to review and approve that the siting plan meets the regulation? Did SC ask for a formal interpretation by the DEC? Why didn't the DEC take a more pro-active role?
  3. Did the SC deviate from the siting plan?
    1. If yes, for which parts of the process? Are these deviations documented in any of the reports? If so, where?
    2. Did this include treatment of the volunteer (or offered) site at Taylor North? Inasmuch as the site contained mineral soils groups 1-4 (an exclusionary criterion at the site screening stage, Step 3), had a score below the cutoff, and did not have the community's approval, why did the commission maintain this as one of the sites?


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--> Appendix F The Committee's Questions to New York State NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES-NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL Committee to Review New York State's Siting and Methodology Selection for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Questions for the Siting Commission and/or the Department of Environmental Conservation August 22-23, 1994 I. Regulatory Issues A. The Siting Plan What reviews were done by the Siting Commission (SC) to determine that the Siting Plan meets the intent of the regulations? What role and position did the DEC [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] take in the need to review and approve that the siting plan meets the regulation? Did SC ask for a formal interpretation by the DEC? Why didn't the DEC take a more pro-active role? Did the SC deviate from the siting plan? If yes, for which parts of the process? Are these deviations documented in any of the reports? If so, where? Did this include treatment of the volunteer (or offered) site at Taylor North? Inasmuch as the site contained mineral soils groups 1-4 (an exclusionary criterion at the site screening stage, Step 3), had a score below the cutoff, and did not have the community's approval, why did the commission maintain this as one of the sites?

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--> Was the level of detail in the Siting Plan sufficient to guide adequately the selection of the five potential sites in Step 3? Were exclusionary variables used as preference factors later in the process? If so, when? Where is this documented? According to the site selection plan, preliminary performance assessment analyses would be done before selecting potential sites. It was stated specifically that a preliminary PA would be done for volunteered sites prior to selection of potential sites and reconnaissance evaluation. Were PAs done for the five potential sites? Where is this documented? B. Criteria Were all the exclusionary criteria derived from the regulations? Were factors used in the site selection process that are not specified in either the regulations or the site selection plan? If so, which were they, when were they applied, and why? What was the basis for: the existing mine exclusion? the nonattainment exclusion? the depth of geologic unit exclusion? Are all the exclusionary criteria included in the Siting Plan? Were the criteria for the ''windshield surveys'' documented anywhere? What guidelines were used for conducting them to assure consistency from site to site? Who developed the concept of a "fatal flaw" criterion? How is "fatal flaw" defined? Where in the site selection documents is this defined? What criteria were used to determine fatal flaws? What was the basis for the criteria? Where is this found in the site selection record?

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--> What authority did the DEC have to grant a variance if a fatal flaw existed? How well did the public understand this? C. Application of Criteria Exclusionary Criteria In the Step 1 exclusion process, 5 requirements are established for use (page 4-1, Excluded Lands Report). Were other factors like cost or ease of application considered? What are the differences in criteria for above/belowground disposal sites and for mined disposal sites? To what extent were the nonperformance-based exclusionary criteria used to reduce the number of potential sites (e.g., the criteria for nonattainment of air quality standards)? Preference Criteria Could a possible misinterpretation of 10 CFR 61 (61.50(a.5)) have steered the selection toward agricultural soils? The idea of the cited section of 10 CFR 61 (near-surface disposal method) was to allow fairly rapid downward movement of water through the soils to minimize contact time with the waste. This criterion seems to have been interpreted by the Siting Commission to mean good surface drainage away from the site. Is it possible that this difference in interpretation could have led to more runoff-prone clay-rich soils (i.e., agricultural soils) gaining preference over nonclay soils? Were the incremental distances or values used in avoidance criteria technically based (e.g. dose, other rationale)? Was stratigraphic complexity avoided because of the difficulty in modeling it? In the ROPSI [Report on Potential Sites Identification], the windshield survey seemed to identify certain criteria as "exclusionary," but actually, as the A, B, and C groupings were used, they are being applied as "preference" criteria. For instance, in the ROPSI (p. 4-40), A, B, and C ratings are based on the number of positive ratings. No PA [performance assessment] analyses appear to have been done to see if the negatives present would outweigh the positives. Nor does it appear that the effects of the negatives on meeting performance objectives were evaluated. This seems to be the case in the comparison of the above/belowground versus drift mines. Please explain. (See page 4-39 ROPSI.)

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--> Why were the A, B, C ratings not applied to the volunteered (or offered) sites? (Table 4-7, ROPSI) D. Quality Assurance Program What was the scope of the Quality Assurance [QA] Program? Who was responsible for implementation? Were there any independent reviews of the QA program? Where are they documented? E. Process and Procedures Why did the SC decide to complete site selection prior to selecting a disposal method, which they are now required to select first? Is this decision documented? Why didn't the SC do a full statewide exclusionary screening first? Apparently some of the exclusionary criteria were mapped statewide. Is this decision documented? What does the term "desiting" mean to the SC? Why did the SC choose the Intergraph GIS [Geographic Information System] system that was a Weston proprietary system? Were other systems considered? How did they plan to deal with the proprietary aspects of this problem? At which step did the change occur from using 1-mile grids to 40-acre grids for screening? How much area may have been lost in this transfer? Was the public aware of this process? What was the process to determine at what stage the various exclusionary and preference criteria would be applied? How was the public involved in this process? Were any changes made to when the different criteria were applied? If so, what was the justification? Where is this explained in the record? Although not specifically described in the site selection plan, sensitivity analyses of the impact of selected exclusionary criteria upon

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--> identification of potential sites were summarized in the ROPSI (Section 4). Where are the details of these analyses documented? What was the rationale for selection of the factors to be analyzed? F. Public Involvement Program What recommendations did the SC's pre-1990 citizen advisory committee make to the SC? How did the committee affect decisions made by the SC? What public input did the SC use in making decisions on the siting process and plan, siting criteria, weighting, etc.? Were any changes made as the result of public input in any area of the commission's plans, decisions, process, etc.? If so, please cite. What direction did the SC give staff regarding public involvement? How much time and attention were given to public involvement relative to the entire project? How were resources (time and money) allocated for the public involvement process? II. Technical Issues A. General Although the Groundwater Hydrology siting factor uses the terms "primary public water supply aquifer", and "principal aquifer," there is no definition of the term "aquifer." How is the term "aquifer" defined in the Siting Commission's usage: by permeability, degree of saturation, extent, etc.? What are the boundaries of the aquifer? How can the boundaries be determined without subsurface information? Did the Siting Commission have discretion to use products and maps produced by other agencies beside DEC and DOH [New York State Department of Health]? How was it decided which maps of aquifers were to be used such that, based on its extent, the aquifer would be considered exclusionary rather than preferential?

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--> As criteria were added with each phase of the site screening process, were the new criteria uniformly applied? As we understand it, certain criteria are exclusionary and constitute a fatal flaw. Do these same criteria become weighting factors later in the process, or are they always fatal flaws regardless of evaluation stage? If new information becomes available that is exclusionary with respect to a specific area or site, is it treated the same way as if it had been known from the beginning of the process? Why were active mines and other areas of mineral resource activity, such as oil and gas recovery or exploration, salt, etc., not exclusionary but were given only preferential status? Did the recent salt mine flooding result in reconsideration of preferred distances to these resource activities? Given the difficulties and extra work involved in screening and trying to select a site that would satisfy both above/belowground and mined facilities, why did the SC not consider selecting the disposal method before continuing to select a site? In selecting candidate areas and sites, why were potential mine areas/sites not selected separately from near-surface facility areas/sites? Why did the SC average the weighting factors for aboveground and belowground facilities? Would the results of weighting the above and belowground methods separately have changed the map of excluded areas? When the method is selected, will the original average or mean weighting factors be applied in the siting process, or will they develop new weighting factors? Why did the SC not distinguish between drift mines and deep mines in weighting and scaling values, but rather used the weights and scales for drift mines that were developed for deep mines? B. Depth of Mines Although the DEC defines "geologic unit" in the glossary accompanying Part 382 as "the geologic media in which an underground mined

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--> repository is constructed," some aspects of the siting regulation and the criteria with respect to mines are unclear. What is the rationale for the 30-m-depth minimum? As depth to a geologic unit can be spatially variable over very short distances, where could reliable statewide data for all areas of the state be obtained? How was screening done for the 30-m depth? Was an area eliminated if somewhere within its borders bedrock came within 30 m of the surface? How would this be determined? In the siting plan, criterion 4 for existing and new mine methods requires excluding "all abandoned mines and all geologic units that are less than or equal to 30 meters below the ground surface" (emphasis added). There are at least two interpretations: either eliminate mines less than 30 m from the surface, or eliminate bedrock that has some portion within 30 m of the surface. How did the SC interpret it? The above quotation is apparently a restatement of the regulation with the term "geologic unit" added. Where did this concept originate? Is this a Siting Commission addition and, if so, should it be a preference criterion? Does the rock type (geologic unit composition, e.g., limestone, granite, shale, etc.) play any role in the criterion? C. Ground Water Aquifers Although the Part 382 glossary defines "primary public water supply aquifer" and "principal aquifer" in nonquantitative terms, there are quantitative implications. In this context, how do you determine what is "highly productive," "substantial recharge," ''potentially abundant source of water,'' without quantitative guidelines? While we recognize that the aquifers considered in the regulations are unconsolidated non-bedrock deposits, when the criteria were applied later did they include depth limits, clear boundaries, appropriate scale, etc.? Why did DEC exclude bedrock aquifers from consideration in the regulations? Are there aquifer boundaries that cross geologic or lithologic boundaries? In other words, are they mapping alluvium and not aquifers?

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--> If you have a municipality using an alluvial aquifer in one small area, does it exclude all areas underlain by the alluvial formation? How would the exclusionary boundary be established? What size does a municipality have to be to determine that the aquifer is a primary or principal aquifer? Two ground water hydrology preferential criteria concern distances: criterion 12 refers to preferential distance from primary or principal aquifers, and criterion 13 considers distance from ground water discharge zones. Terms such as "adequate distance from" and "sufficiently long pathway" are used in the regulation and discussion but no quantitative measure is provided as guidance. What calculations or considerations led to the scaling of the distances of 1/2 mile, greater than 1/2 to 1, and greater than 1? On what basis were these distances determined to be "adequate'' or "sufficient''? Is all of Long Island underlain by the Long Island aquifer? If not, what parts of Long Island have a water supply different from that aquifer? What are the boundaries of the Long Island aquifer? D. Wetlands The Siting Plan makes reference to an executive order of 1977 and ECL [Environmental Conservation Law] Article 24 for the definition of freshwater wetlands. Since wetland definitions have been changing at the federal and state levels, please define wetlands as they have been used by the Siting Commission in the site screening process. What quantitative considerations were used, e.g., areal extent, duration of wet condition, etc.? Although wetlands are excluded pursuant to several cited laws and regulations, the exclusionary criterion 17 and preference criterion 18 (distance from wetlands) are applied only at Step 3 during potential site identification. In the Excluded Areas Report the rationale for applying these criteria during Step 3 rather than at an earlier step is that the wetlands are generally of small size. Please explain then the application of preference criterion 22 (location of facility relative to surface waters) during Step 2, if the wetlands areas are too small to identify during that stage of the screening process. Why are other wetlands preference criteria used only for comparison and not for screening? How do they differ in impact from criterion 22?

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--> E. Air Quality Nonattainment Areas Although DEC did not specifically include air quality in Part 382, the SC, following EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] guidelines for air quality standards, established exclusionary criterion 26. This exclusion was applied at Step 2, even earlier than wetlands, which is mandated by Part 382. Considering that, as stated in the EAR, "a low level radioactive waste facility is not expected to be a major source of air pollutants," except for "some fugitive dust" during construction, please explain why this criterion was: considered necessary by the Siting Commission; exclusionary, rather than preferential; applied at Step 2, such that it had the effect of excluding an entire county (Nassau) that may not have been excluded for any other reason. What data were used to determine that all of Nassau County did not meet EPA air quality standards? F. Population Density How was the population density calculation done? What data were used to determine population and areal extent that resulted in the exclusion of specific population centers and the inclusion of other areas? How were the preferential criteria for population density intervals and scale selected? G. Mineral Soil Groups 1-4 What calculations were done to determine the centroids? Why did DEC include soil groups 3 and 4 in the regulations? Why did DEC include regulations related to farms?

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--> NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES-NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL Committee to Review New York State's Siting and Methodology Selection for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Questions for the Siting Commission and/or the Department of Environmental Conservation September 1994 I. Regulatory Issues A. The Siting Plan Is the A, B, and C rating system in ROPSI (p. 4-40) properly documented in the Siting Plan? Are the criteria for the windshield surveys documented anywhere? What guidelines were used for conducting them to assure consistency from site to site? When was the incineration option, which apparently was the basis for the air attainment criterion, first included and discussed in the Siting Plan? B. Criteria Were all the exclusionary criteria derived from the regulations? Were criteria and procedures used in the site selection process that are not specified in either the regulations or the site selection plan? If so, where are they documented and what are their bases? [Examples—windshield survey criteria, nonattainment exclusion] Who developed the concept of fatal flaw criterion? (See Site Selection Plan, p. 2-3, Step 4.) How is fatal flaw defined? Where in the siting documents is this defined? What criteria were used to determine fatal flaws? What was the basis for the criteria? Where is this found in the site selection record?

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--> How well did the public understand this? C. Application of Criteria Exclusionary Criteria In the Step 1 exclusion process, five requirements are established for use (p. 4-1, Excluded Lands Report). Were other factors like cost or ease of application considered? What are the differences in criteria for above/belowground disposal sites and for mined disposal sites? To what extent were the nonperformance-based exclusionary criteria used to reduce the number of potential sites (e.g., the criteria for nonattainment of air quality standards)? Preference Criteria Could a possible misinterpretation of 10 CFR 61 (61.50(a.5)) have steered the selection toward agricultural soils? The idea of the cited section of 10 CFR 61 (near-surface disposal method) was to allow fairly rapid downward movement of water through the soils to minimize contact time with the waste. This criterion seems to have been interpreted by the Siting Commission to mean good surface drainage away from the site. Is it possible that this difference in interpretation could have led to more runoff-prone clay-rich soils (i.e., agricultural soils) gaining preference over nonclay soils? Were the incremental distances or values used in avoidance criteria technically based (e.g., dose, other rationale)? Was stratigraphic complexity avoided because of the difficulty in modeling it? In the ROPSI the windshield survey seemed to identify certain criteria as "exclusionary," but actually, as the A, B, and C groupings were used, they are being applied as "preference" criteria. For instance, in the ROPSI (p.4-40), A, B, and C ratings are based on the number of positive ratings. No PA analyses appear to have been done to see if the negatives present would outweigh the positives. Nor does it appear that the effects of the negatives on meeting performance objectives were evaluated. This seems to be the case in the comparison of the above/belowground versus drift mines. Please explain. (See p. 4-39, ROPSI.). Why did drift mines consistently score higher? Provide examples of sensitivity studies conducted at this phase.

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--> Why were the A, B, and C ratings not applied to the volunteered or offered sites? Explain how these ratings were used in the process? (Table 4-7, ROPSI). D. Quality Assurance Program How were the up-front planning and regulatory requirements identified and addressed before the actual work began? How were the quality assurance (QA) procedures (or other procedures) prioritized to ensure that early work would be documented and controlled by a systematic approach? How were the early siting requirements identified and how were personnel trained and qualified to document the activities that would stand up in later challenges by the regulators, among others? Describe present ownership of the quality program and how this ownership has changed since the program was first developed. E. Process and Procedures Why didn't the SC do a full statewide exclusionary screening first? Apparently, some of the exclusionary criteria were mapped statewide. Is this decision documented? What does the term "desiting" mean to the SC? Why and how did the SC decide to leave the sites in "limbo" (still under consideration)? Why did the SC choose the Intergraph GIS system that was a Weston proprietary system? Were other systems considered? How did they plan to deal with the proprietary aspects of this problem? At which step did the change occur from using 1-mile grids to 40-acre grids for screening? How much area may have been lost or gained in this transfer? Was the public aware of this process? What was the process to determine at what stage the various exclusionary and preference criteria would be applied? How was the public involved in this process? Were any changes made to when the different criteria

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--> were applied? If so, what was the justification? Where is this explained in the record? Focus on the application aspects. Although not specifically described in the site selection plan, sensitivity analyses of the impact of selected exclusionary and preference criteria upon identification of potential sites were summarized in the ROPSI (Section 4). Where are the details of these analyses documented? What was the rationale for selection of the factors to be analyzed? See question on A, B, and C criteria in Section C 2.d. What documentation establishes the basis for GIS data sets? What documentation establishes the application of these data sets? Is the GIS documentation adequate to establish that the best-available data has been used? Is there reasonable assurance that the results are reproducible? F. Public Involvement Program What recommendations did the SC's pre-1990 Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) make to the SC? How did the committee affect decisions made by the SC? How effective were CAC interactions with the SC? What were the difficulties under which the CAC operated? What public input did the SC use in making decisions on the siting process and plan, siting criteria, weighting, etc.? Were any changes made as the result of public input in any area of the commission's plans, decisions, process, etc.? If so, please cite. What direction did the SC give staff regarding public involvement? How much time and attention were given to public involvement relative to the entire project? How were resources (time and money) allocated for the public involvement process? What steps did you take to assure that public values could have an effect on the weighting of preference criteria? What were the factors that limited and/or facilitated your ability to include their input? DOH: How did DOH carry out its responsibility to inform the public about low-level waste?

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--> DOH: Have all stakeholders been identified and kept informed (minimally) and involved in the process? If not, why? Citizen groups have said that they received no information on the Siting Commission's decisions of January 1989 on volunteered/offered sites until much later. When were these decisions first made public, according to your records? What documentation, if any (news reports, letters of response), can you provide to this committee to clarify this discrepancy? (Note that citizens have claimed that no minutes from this meeting were made available until much later, so it would be valuable if this answer could go beyond the meeting minutes themselves.) Citizens in Cortland County expressed the view that their technical input was generally ignored—e.g., comments in the period between CAIR [Candidate Area Identification Report] and ROPSI that should have changed the favorability scores for specific Cortland County sites. Did the ROPSI fail to respond to this technical input? If so, why? If not, what changes were made in response to technical input from affected regions? II. Technical Issues A. General As criteria were added with each phase of the site screening process, were the new criteria consistently applied? As we understand it, certain criteria are exclusionary and constitute a fatal flaw. If so, which? Do these same criteria become weighting factors later in the process, or are they always fatal flaws regardless of evaluation stage? If new information becomes available at various stages that is exclusionary with respect to a specific area or site, is it treated the same way as if it had been known from the beginning of the process? Why were active mines and other areas of mineral resource activity, such as oil and gas recovery or exploration, salt, etc., not exclusionary but were given only preferential status? Did the recent salt mine flooding result in reconsideration of preferred distances to these resource activities?

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--> Given the difficulties and extra work involved in screening and trying to select a site that would satisfy both above/belowground and mined facilities, why did the SC not consider selecting the disposal method before continuing to select a site? In selecting candidate areas and sites, why were potential mine areas/sites not selected separately from near-surface facility areas/sites? At what stage in the site selection process does consideration of mining technologies become involved? Why did the SC average the weighting factors for aboveground and belowground facilities? Would the results of weighting the surface and subsurface mining methods separately have changed the map of excluded areas? When the method is selected, will the original average or mean weighting factors be applied in the siting process, or will they develop new weighting factors? Why did the SC not distinguish between drift mines and deep mines in weighting and scaling values? B. Ground Water/Aquifers SC: 1. Although the Part 382 glossary defines "primary public water supply aquifer" and "principal aquifer" in nonquantitative terms, there are quantitative implications. In this context, how do you determine what is "highly productive," "substantial recharge,'' "potentially abundant source of water," without quantitative guidelines (volume, thickness, areal extent of aquifers, nature of confining units)? SC: 2. Are there aquifer boundaries that cross geologic or lithologic boundaries? How are they delineated? SC: 3. If a municipality uses an alluvial aquifer in one small area, are all areas underlain by the alluvial formation also excluded? How would the exclusionary boundary be established? What size does a municipality have to be to determine that the aquifer is a primary or principal aquifer?

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--> DEC and SC: 4. Two groundwater hydrology preferential criteria concern distances: criterion 12 refers to preferential distance from primary or principal aquifers, and criterion 13 considers distance from groundwater discharge zones. Terms such as "adequate distance from" and "sufficiently long pathway" are used in the regulation and discussion, but no quantitative measure is provided as guidance. What calculations or considerations led to the scaling of the distances of 1/2 mile, greater than 1/2 to 1, and greater than 17 On what basis were these distances determined to be "adequate" or ''sufficient?" C. Wetlands SC and DEC: 1. The Siting Plan makes reference to an executive order of 1977 and ECL Article 24 for the definition of freshwater wetlands. Since wetland definitions have been changing at the federal and state levels, please define wetlands as they have been used by the Siting Commission in the site screening process. What quantitative considerations were used, e.g., areal extent, duration of wet condition, etc.? SC and DEC: 2. Although wetlands are excluded pursuant to several cited laws and regulations, the exclusionary criterion 17 and preference criterion 18 (distance from wetlands) are applied only at Step 3 during potential site identification. In the Excluded Areas Report the rationale for applying these criteria during Step 3 rather than at an earlier step is that the wetlands are generally of small size. Please explain then the application of preference criterion 22 (location of facility relative to surface waters) during Step 2, if the wetlands areas are too small to identify during that stage of the screening process. Why are other wetlands preference criteria used only for comparison and not for screening? How do they differ in impact from criterion 22? D. Other Criteria Air Quality Nonattainment Areas: What data were used to determine that all of Nassau County did not meet EPA air quality standards? Population Density: In choosing the scales and weights for population density criteria, did SC take into account the effect of the proposed site on future population density? Mineral Soil Groups 1-4: How were the centroids of the map unit delineations determined? Could these data be reproduced? If not, was any sensitivity analysis performed for replication?