[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 35 (Wednesday, February 22, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 10401-10403]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-4090]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 35 / Wednesday, February 22, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 10401]]



NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

10 CFR Part 61

RIN-3150-AI92
[NRC-2011-0012]


Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Issues

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Public meeting; request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) 
plans to conduct a public meeting to discuss possible revisions to the 
regulatory framework for the management of commercial low-level 
radioactive waste (LLW). The purpose of this public meeting is to 
gather information and receive feedback from stakeholders and other 
interested members of the public concerning specific proposed revisions 
to the Commission's LLW regulations. Consistent with Commission 
direction, the NRC staff plans to hold a series of three public 
meetings in 2012 on the proposed revisions to Commission's LLW 
regulations. This is the first of those public meetings.

DATES: The first public meeting will be held on March 2, 2012, in 
Phoenix, Arizona. Comments on the issues and questions presented in 
Section V of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document 
should be submitted by July 31, 2012.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held on March 2, 2012, from 8 
a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marriott Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 50 
East Adams Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85004. The NRC will accept written 
comments at the public meeting and welcomes active participation from 
those attending. You may access information and comment submissions 
related to this document, which the NRC possesses and is publicly-
available, by searching on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket ID 
NRC-2011-0012. You may submit comments by the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2011-0012. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: (301) 492-
3668; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov.
     Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, 
Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration, 
Mail Stop: TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, 
DC 20555-0001.
     Fax comments to: RADB at 301-492-3446.
    For additional direction on accessing information and submitting 
comments, see ``Accessing Information and Submitting Comments'' in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael P. Lee, Ph.D., Office of 
Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 
(301) 415-6887; email: Mike.Lee@nrc.gov; or Tarsha Moon, Office of 
Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 
(301) 415-6745; email: Tarsha.Moon@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2011-0012 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information regarding this document. You may 
access information related to this document, which the NRC possesses 
and is publicly-available, by the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web Site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2011-0012.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly-available documents online in the NRC 
Library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the 
search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and then select ``Begin Web-
based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's 
Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-(800) 397-4209, (301) 
415-4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. The ADAMS accession 
number for each document referenced in this document is provided the 
first time that a document is referenced.
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

B. Submitting Comments

    Please include Docket ID NRC-2011-0012 in the subject line of your 
comment submission, in order to ensure that the NRC is able to make 
your comment submission available to the public in this docket.
    The NRC cautions you not to include identifying or contact 
information in comment submissions that you do not want to be publicly 
disclosed. The NRC posts all comment submissions at http://www.regulations.gov as well as entering the comment submissions into 
ADAMS, and the NRC does not edit comment submissions to remove 
identifying or contact information.
    If you are requesting or aggregating comments from other persons 
for submission to the NRC, then you should inform those persons not to 
include identifying or contact information in their comment submissions 
that they do not want to be publicly disclosed. Your request should 
state that the NRC will not edit comment submissions to remove such 
information before making the comment submissions available to the 
public or entering the comment submissions into ADAMS.

II. Background

    The Commission's licensing requirements for the disposal of LLW in 
near-surface [approximately the uppermost 30 meters (100 feet)] 
facilities reside in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 
CFR) Part 61, ``Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive 
Waste.'' These regulations were published in the Federal Register on 
December 27, 1982 (47 FR 57446). The rule applies to any near-surface 
LLW disposal technology, including shallow-land burial, engineered land 
disposal methods such as below-ground vaults, earth-mounded concrete 
bunkers, and augured holes. The regulations emphasize an integrated

[[Page 10402]]

systems approach to the disposal of commercial LLW, including site 
selection, disposal facility design and operation, minimum waste form 
requirements, and disposal facility closure. To lessen the burden on 
society over the long periods of time contemplated for the control of 
the radioactive material, and thus lessen reliance on institutional 
controls, 10 CFR Part 61 emphasizes passive rather than active systems 
to limit and retard releases to the environment.
    Development of the 10 CFR Part 61 regulation in the early 1980s was 
based on several assumptions as to the types of wastes likely to go 
into a commercial LLW disposal facility. To better understand what the 
likely inventory of wastes available for disposal might be, the NRC 
conducted a survey of existing LLW generators. The survey, documented 
in Chapter 3 of NUREG-0782, Draft 10 CFR Part 61 Environmental Impact 
Statement (DEIS), ``Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of 
Radioactive Waste'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML052590347)--revealed that 
there were about 37 distinct commercial waste streams consisting of 
about 25 radionuclides of potential regulatory interest. The specific 
waste streams in question were representative of the types of 
commercial LLW being generated at the time. Waste streams associated 
with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) nuclear defense complex 
were not considered as part of the survey, since disposal of those 
wastes, at that time, was to be conducted at the DOE-operated sites. 
Over the last several years there have been a number of developments 
that have called into question some of the key assumptions made in 
connection with the earlier 10 CFR Part 61 DEIS, including:
     The emergence of potential LLW streams that were not 
considered in the original 10 CFR Part 61 rulemaking, including large 
quantities of depleted uranium (DU), and possibly incidental wastes 
associated with the commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel;
     The DOE's increasing use of commercial facilities for the 
disposal of defense-related LLW streams; and
     Extensive international operational experience in the 
management of LLW and intermediate-level radioactive wastes that did 
not exist at the time 10 CFR Part 61 was promulgated.
    The developments previously described will need to be considered if 
the staff undertakes a revision of 10 CFR Part 61. Waste from the 
Nation's defense programs has been managed by DOE and is not subject to 
regulation under 10 CFR Part 61. Instead, DOE has relied on Order 435.1 
to specify the disposal requirements for this waste. The current 
version of this Order has been in place for about 11 years and applies 
to management of radioactive waste within the DOE complex. Like 10 CFR 
Part 61, Order 435.1 places a heavy emphasis on performance assessment 
as part of its radioactive waste management decision-making. The DOE 
recently started a comprehensive revision of Order 435.1, which it 
plans to complete sometime in 2012.

III. Recent Commission Direction to the NRC Staff

    In a March 18, 2009, staff requirements memorandum (SRM) SRM-SECY-
08-0147,\1\ the Commission directed the NRC staff to proceed with a 10 
CFR Part 61 rulemaking to specify a requirement for a site-specific 
analysis for the disposal of large quantities of DU including the 
technical requirements for such an analysis, and to develop a guidance 
document for public comment that outlines the parameters and 
assumptions to be used in conducting such site-specific analyses. In a 
second SRM, SRM SECY-10-0043,\2\ the staff was also directed to include 
blended LLW streams as part of this rulemaking initiative. Following 
the solicitation of early public input in 2009 (74 FR 30175; Docket ID 
NRC-2009-0257), the NRC staff subsequently developed a technical basis 
document for the rulemaking amendment (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML111040419), shared it with the NRC Agreement States, and proceeded to 
develop a proposed rulemaking package. In connection with the 
rulemaking effort, the NRC staff also proposed a two-tier approach for 
evaluating compliance with 10 CFR Part 61's overall system performance 
objectives: An assessment that extends to 20,000 years as well as an 
assessment that extends beyond 20,000 years to the time of peak dose. 
In May 2011, the NRC staff sought public feedback (76 FR 24831) on the 
preliminary proposed rulemaking language (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML111150205), as well as the technical basis for the time of compliance 
recommendation (ADAMS Accession No. ML111030586) after these materials 
were made publicly available. (See http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking/potential-rulemaking/uw-streams.html.) Later in 
2011, the staff also briefed the Advisory Committee on Reactor 
Safeguards (ACRS) on the preliminary proposed rulemaking language for 
which a Committee Letter Report dated September 22, 2011 (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML11256A191) was issued to the Commission.
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    \1\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/srm/2008/2008-0147srm.pdf.
    \2\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/srm/2010/2010-0043srm.pdf.
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    More recently, in a SRM, dated January 19, 2012,\3\ the Commission 
provided additional direction to the NRC staff concerning this 
particular rulemaking. Specifically, the NRC staff was directed to 
amend the existing draft rulemaking to include the following:
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    \3\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/comm-secy/2011/2011-0002comgeawdm-srm.pdf.
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     Allowing licensees the flexibility to use ICRP dose 
methodologies in a site-specific performance assessment for the 
disposal of all radioactive waste.
     A two tiered approach that establishes a compliance period 
that covers the reasonably foreseeable future and a longer period of 
performance that is not a priori and is established to evaluate the 
performance of the site over longer timeframes. The period of 
performance is developed based on the candidate site characteristics 
(waste package, waste form, disposal technology, cover technology and 
geo-hydrology) and the peak dose to a designated receptor
     Flexibility for disposal facilities to establish site-
specific waste acceptance criteria based on the results of the site's 
performance assessment and intruder assessment.
     A compatibility category for the elements of the revised 
rule that establish the requirements for site-specific performance 
assessments and the development of the site-specific waste acceptance 
criteria that ensures alignment between the States and Federal 
government on safety fundamentals, while providing the States with the 
flexibility to determine how to implement these safety requirements.
    In the January 2012 SRM, the Commission also directed the NRC staff 
to engage stakeholders and other members of the interested public to 
discuss and finalize the NRC's approach to address the matters raised 
by the Commission. The Commission also noted that it would reserve 
judgment on the regulatory form these elements should take in any final 
rule following NRC staff evaluation of stakeholder input. Accordingly, 
the NRC staff plans to hold a series of three public meetings in March, 
May, and July 2012 on the proposed revisions to 10 CFR Part 61. After 
completion of the public outreach campaign, the staff will prepare an

[[Page 10403]]

amended technical basis document and commence with the rulemaking. 
Changes will also need to be made to any 10 CFR Part 61 performance 
assessment companion guidance document to address the recent June 2012 
direction. The completion date for submittal of a revised rulemaking 
package is currently July 19, 2013.
    The Commission also directed the staff to gather information on the 
options presented in SECY-10-0165, dated December 27, 2010,\4\ 
concerning the staff's approach to a risk-informing 10 CFR Part 61. 
Previously, the NRC staff sponsored an earlier workshop on SECY-10-
0165, on March 4, 2011 (76 FR 10810). The staff intends to seek the 
public's views on earlier stakeholder comments received as well as 
other proposals for a risk-informed revision of 10 CFR Part 61.
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    \4\ See http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/secys/2010/secy2010-0165/2010-0165scy.pdf.
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IV. Emerging Issues Concerning Part 61

    The NRC staff has also conducted other activities related to 10 CFR 
Part 61. These include revisions to the Commission's LLW Volume 
Reduction Policy Statement (76 FR 50500; August 15, 2011); and the 
Concentration Averaging Branch Technical Position (76 FR 4739; January 
26, 2011). Through the course of those stakeholder interactions, the 
staff received comments and suggestions relevant to the more 
comprehensive revision of 10 CFR Part 61. For example, stakeholders 
have recommended changes that would lengthen the period of 
institutional controls and allow a site-specific intruder assessment. 
Some stakeholders have questioned basic fundamental tenets of 10 CFR 
Part 61 including the need to protect the inadvertent intruder. The 
staff intends to seek the public's views on these and other stakeholder 
comments.

V. NRC Public Meeting

    The purpose of this public meeting is to gather information from 
stakeholders and other interested members of the public concerning the 
rulemaking proposals identified by the Commission in its January 2012 
SRM. This overall approach is consistent with NRC's openness policy and 
is consistent with the type of public outreach initiative originally 
used by the NRC staff to develop 10 CFR Part 61. The March 2, 2012, 
public meeting will be organized into three parts. In the first part, 
the NRC staff will seek public feedback on the pros and cons of the 
four technical issues specifically identified by the Commission in its 
January 2012 SRM. In the second part, the staff will identify other 
technical issues identified by stakeholders bearing on the 10 CFR Part 
61 rule and seek public feedback on the merits of these (additional) 
changes that have been suggested in connection with other on-going LLW 
regulatory initiatives. In the third session, the staff will seek 
public feedback on the options proposed in SECY-10-0165 and accept 
other proposals for a comprehensive revision of 10 CFR Part 61.
    The public meeting will be held on March 2, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 4 
p.m. at the Marriott Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 50 East Adams 
Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85004. Pre-registration for this meeting is 
not necessary. Members of the public choosing to participate in this 
meeting remotely can do so in one of two ways--online, or via a 
telephone (audio) connection. Instructions for remote participation in 
this meeting follow.
    Interested members of the public can also participate in this 
meeting via webinar. The webinar meeting registration link can be found 
at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/191710105. After registering, 
instructions for joining the webinar (including a teleconference number 
and pass code) will be provided via email. All participants will be in 
``listen-only'' mode during the presentation. Participants will have a 
chance to pose questions either orally after the presentation or in 
writing during the webinar.
    To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the 
meeting, or call the following number and enter the access code:
    Call-in toll-free number (US/Canada): 1-888-942-8392, access code: 
8568781.
    The agenda for the public meeting will be noticed no fewer than ten 
(10) days prior to the meeting on the NRC's Public Meeting Schedule Web 
site at http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/index.cfm. 
Subsequent public meetings are tentatively planned for Dallas, Texas, 
on May 15, 2012 and late July in Rockville, Maryland.
    Comments may be sent to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section 
of this document.
    Questions about participation in the public meetings should be 
directed to the points of contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section of this document.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 15th day of February 2012.
    For the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Andrew Persinko,
Deputy Director, Environmental Protection and Performance Assessment 
Directorate, Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, 
Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management 
Programs.
[FR Doc. 2012-4090 Filed 2-21-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P