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Regulatory Issues - USA (2000 - 2003)   flag

(last updated 3 Jun 2005)

This page provides information on recently published rules or rules under development, covering the operation and decommissioning of uranium mines and mills and the management of uranium mine wastes and mill tailings.

> see also:


> for more recent issues, see Current Regulatory Issues - USA

EPA requests comment on Approaches to an Integrated Framework for Management and Disposal of Low-Activity Radioactive Waste

Under the heading "Is it Feasible to Dispose Other Low-Activity Radioactive Wastes (LARW) in Waste Landfills?" the discussion also covers "pre-UMTRCA byproduct materials" not regulated by the NRC. ("Pre-UMTRCA byproduct materials" are tailings or wastes produced by the extraction or concentration of uranium or thorium from any ore processed primarily for its source material content that NRC has concluded are outside its jurisdiction under section 11e.(2) of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). The Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) cleanups address much of the pre-UMTRCA byproduct material.)

EPA Issues Request for Comment on 'Low-Activity' Radioactive Waste EPA release Nov. 18, 2003

for details, see: Low-Activity Radioactive Waste (U.S. EPA)

see also: Documents open for public comment (U.S. EPA), Docket ID: OAR-2003-0095

see also:
Federal Register: November 18, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 222) p. 65119-65151 (download full text )
Federal Register: March 12, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 49) p. 11826-11828 (download full text )

The Comment Period has been extended by two months until May 17, 2004.

> See also related NIRS Alert (Dec. 2003) · NIRS comment


Utah proposes to use alternative groundwater protection standards for uranium mills and mill tailings

On August 4, 2004, the NRC approved Utah's proposal to use alternative groundwater protection standards for uranium mills and 11e.(2) byproduct material disposal facilities.

Federal Register: September 7, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 172) p. 54164-54165 (download full text )

On Oct. 24, 2003, NRC issued a further notice, announcing that the two documents referenced in the August notice, i.e., NUREG-0706, Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Uranium Milling (September 1980), and EPA 520/1-83-008, Final Environmental Impact Statement for Standards for the Control of Byproduct Materials from Uranium Processing (September 1983), have been placed into NRC's document system (ADAMS).
The comment period had been extended through November 24, 2003.

Federal Register: October 24, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 206), p. 60885-60886 (download full text )

On Aug. 27, 2003, the U.S. NRC issued a Notice and opportunity for public hearing on Utah's proposal to use alternative groundwater protection standards for uranium mills and 11e.(2) byproduct material disposal facilities.

Federal Register: August 27, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 166) p. 51516-51518 (download full text )

> See also documents posted at Utah DEQ Division of Radiation Control - Uranium Mills
> See also NRC Ruleforum


DOE amends rule on Reimbursement for Costs of Remedial Action at Active Uranium and Thorium Processing Sites

Federal Register: June 3, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 106) p. 32955-32958 (download full text )


DOE issues Notice of Intent To Release Information About Uranium Mines and Properties in the United States to Other Federal Agencies

Federal Register: May 19, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 96) p. 27031-27033 (download full text )

Comments must be filed by June 13, 2003.


House approves legislation comprising $30 million grant for uranium mining industry

On April 11, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Energy Policy Act of 2003 (bill H.R. 6 ). The bill contains provisions for a US$10 million per year, three-year cost-shared research and development programme for the uranium mining industry:
"SEC. 14029. COOPERATIVE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AND SPECIAL DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS FOR THE URANIUM MINING INDUSTRY.

(a) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Energy $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006 for--
(1) cooperative, cost-shared agreements between the Department of Energy and domestic uranium producers to identify, test, and develop improved in situ leaching mining technologies, including low-cost environmental restoration technologies that may be applied to sites after completion of in situ leaching operations; and
(2) funding for competitively selected demonstration projects with domestic uranium producers relating to--
(A) enhanced production with minimal environmental impacts;
(B) restoration of well fields; and
(C) decommissioning and decontamination activities.
(b) DOMESTIC URANIUM PRODUCER- For purposes of this section, the term `domestic uranium producer' has the meaning given that term in section 1018(4) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (42 U.S.C. 2296b-7(4)), except that the term shall not include any producer that has not produced uranium from domestic reserves on or after July 30, 1998, in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming."


Wyoming drops requirement to restore groundwater to pre-mining conditions after uranium in-situ leaching

On January 17, 2003, the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council approved changes to Water Quality Division (WQD) Chapter 8 Rules and Regulations, relaxing the groundwater standards for uranium in-situ leach mines. The requirement to restore groundwater to pre-mining conditions after uranium in-situ leach mining is dropped.

> for details, see Wyoming Dept. of Env. Quality - Current Events


NRC to develop proposed regulation on control of slightly radioactive solid materials

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is developing a proposed regulation on the control of slightly radioactive solid materials originating at licensed nuclear facilities using an expanded participatory approach.

The NRC staff will seek broad public participation and engage diverse viewpoints in the development of the regulation. It will consider a wide range of alternatives for the proposed rule, including the following:

  1. continued use of the current approach to control the release of slightly contaminated solid material on a case-by-case basis;
  2. recycling of slightly contaminated - but acceptably safe - solid materials, which could include recycle into consumer products;
  3. release of material restricted to only certain uses or destinations, such as industrial uses or landfills, where the potential for public exposure is small; and
  4. no release of such material for other uses, thus requiring permanent disposal."
(emphasis added)

> View NRC release Nov. 6, 2002
> View NRC Rulemaking: NRC Examination of its Approach for Control of Solid Materials at Licensed Facilities

> View related Release by Public Citizen (Nov. 8, 2002)

On Feb. 28, 2003, NRC issued a Request for comments on the scope of the proposed rulemaking and a notice of workshop.
Federal Register: February 28, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 40) p. 9595-9602 (download full text )
A workshop was held on May 21-22, 2003.
> View NRC release March 10, 2003

In August 2003, NRC released the final report (the complete report was only made available in Oct. 2004, however):
Radiological Assessments for Clearance of Materials from Nuclear Facilities , U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NUREG-1640, June 2003:

"This report provides a complete description of calculations and their results estimating potential annual doses, normalized to a unit concentration, to an individual following the clearance of specific materials. These materials are scrap iron and steel, copper, aluminum, and concrete rubble from licensed nuclear facilities. Clearance means the removal of radiological controls by the licensing authority. [...]"

On March 4, 2004, NRC published a summary of the over 2,600 public comments received on the Feb. 28, 2003, Request for comments:
> Download Summary and Categorization of Public Comments on Controlling the Disposition of Solid Materials (NUREG/CR-6682, Supplement 1), March 2004
> View Public Comments (long list - 950k HTML)
> View/Download NIRS Public Comment June 30, 2003: MS Word · HTML · PDF (with complete list of assigners)

On March 31, 2005, NRC staff requested Commission approval for publication of a related Proposed Rule.
> Download Rulemaking Issue Notation Vote SECY-05-0054 (March 31, 2005) (6.7MB PDF)

On June 1, 2005, the NRC disapproved the staff request to publish the Proposed Rule and defered the rulemaking "based on the fact that the Agency is currently faced with several high priority and complex tasks, that the current approach to review specific cases on an individual basis is fully protective of public health and safety, and that the immediate need for this rule has changed due to the shift in timing for reactor decommissioning.".
> Download Staff Requirements Memorandum June 1, 2005 (PDF)

> See also:


NRC Proposes Changes to Regulations on Decommissioning Funding

The current amounts of financial assurance that nuclear materials licensees must provide are based on decommissioning cost estimates that are about 15 years old. Studies done for the NRC show that decommissioning costs have increased substantially. The agency is therefore proposing to raise all specified amounts by 50 percent.

> View Federal Register: October 7, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 194) p. 62403-62410 (download full text )

The comment period expires December 23, 2002.

> View NRC release September 27, 2002
> View related NRC Rulemaking Forum


NRC issues final NUREG on design of erosion protection for long-term stabilization

"Finalization of NUREG-1623
The final version of NUREG-1623, "Design of Erosion Protection for Long-Term Stabilization," was published and distributed last week. This NUREG provides guidance applicable to a wide range of NRC licensees, including the uranium mills and sites that have site decommissioning management plans. This effort involved a multi-year task in which the Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards (FCSS) staff developed new criteria for the design and placement of erosion protection. A wide range of stakeholders commented on the NUREG and FCSS staff conducted public workshops to introduce the new guidance and design concepts. FCSS estimates that the revised design criteria have resulted in more than 20 million dollars in savings to NRC licensees and the Department of Energy." (NRC Weekly Information Report - Week Ending September 20, 2002)

> See also: NRC soliciting comments on Draft Standard Review Plan for Reclamation of Title II uranium tailings (1999)

> Download NUREG-1623 "Design of Erosion Protection for Long-Term Stabilization" (coming sooner or later) · alternate source: ADAMS (image scan only)


ATSDR issues draft interaction profile for mixtures containing uranium for comment

Federal Register: September 26, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 187) p. 60685-60686 (download full text ):
"[...] The purpose of an interaction profile is to evaluate data on the toxicology of the ''whole'' priority mixture (if available) and on the joint toxic action of the chemicals in the mixture in order to recommend approaches for the exposure-based assessment of the potential hazard to public health. [...]"

Comments must be received on or before November 30, 2002.

> Download Draft Interaction profile for cyanide, fluoride, nitrate, and uranium


N.M. court rules uranium mines are covered by state law, ensuring cleanup

The New Mexico state Court of Appeals, in a unanimous ruling issued on Sept. 9, 2002, said the New Mexico Mining Act applied to uranium mines that operated before 1993, when the law took effect. The decision reversed a 2000 ruling by a district court in Santa Fe, which concluded that uranium ore wasn't covered by the mining law.
Ted Apodaca, special assistant attorney general who handled the case for the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said the appeals court decision was "very significant" because it ensured that older uranium mines would be cleaned up.
The case involved three closed uranium mines in northwestern New Mexico, which had been operated in the 1970s and 1980s by United Nuclear Corporation. The Northeast Church Rock mine is northeast of Gallup. The St. Anthony Mine is on the Cebolleta Land Grant near Laguna Pueblo. The Section 27 mine is northwest of Grants. The company's leases for the mines ended in 1988 and 1993.
The state Mining Act went into effect in 1993, and requires permits for hard-rock mining operations and reclamation of mining sites. The law applied retroactively to mines that had operated for at least two years between January 1970 and June 1993.
The state Mining and Minerals Division cited the company in 1995 for failing to submit mine site assessments and permit applications, which is a step that could have lead to plans for cleaning up erosion and pollution at the open pit mines. The state Mining Commission upheld the agency's order, and the company took the case to the district court. Judge Daniel Sanchez, agreeing with arguments by the company, ruled that uranium ore was regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and therefore was exempt from the state mining law. The federal government, for example, regulates uranium mills and processing facilities.
The Court of Appeals concluded that "unrefined and unprocessed ore produced at the three sites" is not regulated by the NRC and that uranium ore, "at the time of its extraction from the earth by conventional mining techniques," is covered by state law. The court upheld the notices of violation against the company. (azcentral Sept. 10, 2002)


NRC seeks public comment on proposed rule regarding very low levels of certain radioactive material

Federal Register: August 28, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 167) p. 55175-55179 (download full text ):
"SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to amend its regulations to require NRC approval for transfers from licensees of low-concentrations of source material (less than 0.05 percent by weight) to persons exempt from licensing. The object of this proposed action is to ensure that the regulations regarding transfers of materials containing low concentrations of source material are adequate to protect public health and safety."
Submit comments by November 12, 2002.

> View NRC Release August 26, 2002
> View NRC Rulemaking Forum

> See also: NRC issues Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct Materials


NRC invites comments on Draft NUREG-1761 re Radiological Surveys for Controlling Release of Solid Materials

Federal Register August 28, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 167), p. 55280 (download full notice )

> Download Draft NUREG-1761


NRC invites comments on Draft NUREG-1720 re License Termination Rule

> Draft NUREG-1720, Re-evaluation of the Indoor Resuspension Factor for the Screening Analysis of the Building Occupancy Scenario for NRC's License Termination Rule


NRC releases revised Regulatory Guides on Occupational Exposures in Uranium Recovery Facilities

Federal Register May 15, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 94), p. 34735 (download full notice )
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued revisions to two guides in its Regulatory Guide Series. [...]

Revision 1 of Regulatory Guide 8.30, ``Health Physics Surveys in Uranium Recovery Facilities,'' describes guidance acceptable to the NRC staff on health physics surveys at uranium recovery facilities. These health physics surveys are used in protecting workers at uranium recovery facilities from radiation and the chemical toxicity of uranium.

Revision 1 of Regulatory Guide 8.31, ``Information Relevant to Ensuring that Occupational Radiation Exposures at Uranium Recovery Facilities Will Be As Low As Is Reasonably Achievable,'' provides guidance on design criteria and administrative practices that are acceptable to the NRC staff for maintaining occupational exposures as low as is reasonably achievable (ALARA) in uranium recovery facilities."

> Download NRC Regulatory Guides - Occupational Health (Division 8)

> See also: NRC Releases Draft Regulatory Guides on Occupational Exposures in Uranium Recovery Facilities for Comment


DOE issues draft guide for Control and Release of Property with Residual Radioactive Material

Control and Release of Property with Residual Radioactive Material for use with DOE 5400.5, Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment, DOE G 441.1-XX (Draft, 04/05/2002, EH)
[The Guide provides DOE's guidance for the control and release of property that may contain residual radioactive material.]
> View HTML (126k) · Download PDF (793k)

Comments on the Guide are due June 4, 2002.


NAS National Research Council criticizes NRC's radioactive materials recycling policy

> View NAS announcement (March 21, 2002)

> View full report online: The Disposition Dilemma: Controlling the Release of Solid Materials from Nuclear Regulatory Commission-Licensed Facilities (2002)

> View related Public Citizen release, March 21, 2002

> See also: NRC developing rule for Control of Solid Materials from Licensed Facilities


GAO criticizes EPA Radon Rule for Drinking Water

"EPAs analysis of the national annual costs of complying with its proposed radon drinking water rule has several limitations that, if corrected, would likely increase EPAs best estimate of these costs. [...] Correcting these errors and including the mixed water systems alone would increase EPAs estimate by about 20 percent, from about $121 million to about $145 million."

DRINKING WATER - Revisions to EPAs Cost Analysis for the Radon Rule Would Improve Its Credibility and Usefulness, GAO-02-333, February 2002
> Download GAO report (PDF)

> see also:
EPA proposes standard for Radon in drinking water


EPA establishes 2.22 g/l uranium in tap water preliminary remediation goal for Superfund

After having promulgated a drinking water standard for uranium of 30 micrograms per litre (view details), the U.S. EPA now has established a Preliminary Remediation Goal (PRG) for Superfund of 2.22 micrograms uranium-238 per litre of tap water.
> See Radionuclide Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) for Superfund

> See also: Uranium ingestion: current standards
> See also: U.S. EPA Radionuclide Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) for Superfund Electronic Calculator


NRC presents revised Standard Review Plan for Reclamation Plans for Title II Uranium Mill Tailings Sites

see announcement of the Draft plan in Federal Register February 5, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 24), p. 5348 (download full notice )

On November 15, 2002, NRC staff issued the finalized NUREG for Commission approval.
See: SECY-02-0204 (November 15, 2002) - UPDATE OF URANIUM RECOVERY GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS (2M PDF)

The Final Report was released in August 2003:
> Download NUREG-1620 Rev. 1 .
> See also Notice of Availability in Federal Register: August 25, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 164) p. 51040-51043 (download full text )

> See also: 2000 news


NRC presents revised Standard Review Plan For In Situ Uranium Extraction License Applications

see announcement of Draft plan in Federal Register February 5, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 24), p. 5347-5348 (download full notice )

On November 15, 2002, NRC staff issued the finalized NUREG for Commission approval.
See: SECY-02-0204 (November 15, 2002) - UPDATE OF URANIUM RECOVERY GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS (2M PDF)

The Final plan was released in August 2003:
> Download NUREG-1569 Rev. 1
> See also Notice of Availability in Federal Register: August 25, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 164) p. 51034-51040 (download full text )

> See also: 1997 news


EPA issues directive on uranium standards for groundwater at Superfund sites

This memorandum addresses the use of uranium standards in 40 CFR Part 141 (MCLs) and 40 CFR Part 192 (UMTRCA) when setting remediation goals for ground waters that are current or potential sources of drinking water at CERCLA sites. > See also: EPA promulgates final rule for Radionuclides in Drinking Water


NRC denies National Mining Association petition for rulemaking to wave licensing fees for uranium mines

Federal Register notice July 3, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 128) p. 44573-44577
"SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is denying a petition for rulemaking (PRM-170-5) submitted by the National Mining Association (NMA). In its petition, NMA asked the NRC to conduct a rulemaking that would establish the basis for waiving all licensing and inspection fees and annual fees imposed on uranium recovery licensees, or alternatively, to waive the fees associated with a contemplated rulemaking that would develop requirements for licensing uranium and thorium recovery facilities. In support of its petition the NMA argues that because of adverse economic conditions, the requested fee relief is in the public interest since it would help ensure the continued viability of a domestic uranium recovery industry.
The NRC is denying the petition because the circumstances outlined by the petitioner do not qualify the uranium recovery industry for a ''public interest'' fee exemption. Further, with extremely limited exceptions, the NRC does not base its fees on the economic circumstances of particular licensees or classes of licensees. Moreover, the Commission does not envision instituting a rulemaking proceeding to establish a new regulation for licensing uranium and thorium recovery facilities."

> View Federal Register notice Nov. 2, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 213) p. 55604-55607
> View text of the petition for rulemaking
> View related documents or provide comments: NRC Ruleforum


NRC seeks comment on Draft Research Program Plan: Radionuclide Transport in the Environment

"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research is preparing a research program plan on radionuclide transport in the environment and is seeking public comments on the plan. The radionuclide transport research program is intended to provide data and computational tools to assess the effect on public health and safety and the environment from nuclear materials that may enter the environment from NRC-licensed activities. The technical issues examined include source-term characterization; the effectiveness of engineered and natural containment systems surrounding the radioactive material; multi-phase flow of water, including episodic infiltration, into and through the environment; the transport of radioactive material through the geosphere; the transport of radioactive material through the biosphere; and estimating exposures of members of the public to radiation from these materials. Results from the radionuclide transport research program are intended to be generically applicable to NRC licensing activities including the decommissioning of facilities, disposal of uranium mill tailings, low- level radioactive waste disposal, and high-level radioactive waste disposal."
The NRC will consider all written comments received before November 30, 2001.
> View Federal Register notice Oct. 18, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 202) p. 52952
> Download Research Plan


NRC releases Draft Environmental Review Guidance for Licensing Actions Associated with non-reactor facilities

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is announcing, for public comment, the availability of a draft document "Environmental Review Guidance for Licensing Actions Associated with NMSS Programs" (NUREG-1748). This document provides guidance for the planning and implementation of National Environmental Policy Act requirements for all non-reactor facilities, e.g., those which fabricate nuclear fuel, dispose high-level radioactive waste, fabricate sources, etc."
Comments received by September 30, 2002, will be considered.
> View Federal Register notice Oct. 18, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 202) p. 52951-52952
> Download Draft NUREG-1748


Development of Multi-Agency Radiological Laboratory Analytical Protocols Manual

Draft Manual for Public Comment

"NRC staff participated with staff from other Federal agencies in developing a Multi-Agency Radiological Laboratory Analytical Protocols (MARLAP) manual. The Federal agencies that participated with the NRC in developing the MARLAP manual included: the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. MARLAP provides guidance for the planning, implementation, and assessment phases of those projects requiring laboratory analysis of radionuclides. The public comment version of the MARLAP document recently was finalized, based on completion of an internal inter/intra-agency review of the document. [...] "
(NRC Weekly Information Report for the Week Ending August 17, 2001)

Comments received by December 15, 2001 will be considered.

Federal Register notice Aug. 31, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 170) p. 45972-45974
MARLAP website


Revision of NRC Procedure for Termination of Uranium Milling Licenses in Agreement States

Availability of Final Revision

Federal Register: Jan. 27, 2003 (Vol. 68, No. 17) p. 3901-3902 (download full text ):
"SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is announcing the availability of a final revision of the Office of State and Tribal Programs (STP) Procedure SA-900: ``Termination of Uranium Milling Licenses in Agreement States,'' and an analysis of comments: ``Responses to Comments on the Draft Revision of STP Procedure SA- 900.'' The procedure describes the NRC review process for making determinations that all applicable standards and requirements have been met prior to Agreement State uranium milling license termination."
> Download Revised STP Procedure SA-900 (180k PDF)

Availability of Draft Revision

Federal Register: Oct. 4, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 193) p. 62274-62275 (download full text ):
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is announcing the availability of a draft revision of the Office of State and Tribal Programs (STP) Procedure SA-900: Termination of Uranium Milling Licenses in Agreement States for review and comment. The procedure describes the NRC review process for making determinations that all applicable standards and requirements have been met before Agreement State uranium milling license termination. Stakeholder's comments are requested on the draft revised procedure before NRC issues the final procedure."

> see also:

> for details, see: STP Web site - U Mill License Termination


Harmonization of regulations for radioactive and chemical hazards?

Potential Study on Harmonization of Chemical and Radioactive Hazards

"National Research Council Meeting on Potential Study on Harmonization of Chemical and Radioactive Hazards

On November 28, 2000, staff from the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS), the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, and the Deputy Executive Director for Materials, Research and State Programs (RES) participated in a Meeting of the National Research Council on a potential study of harmonization of technical concepts and practices for regulating radioactive and chemical hazards." [...]
"Some of the potential issues for such a study included: (1) the need to define "harmonization" (e.g., whether it includes risk assessment, risk management, risk communication, and/or regulation); (2) existing problems that result from a lack of harmony; (3) obstacles to achieving harmony; and (4) the benefits that might result from greater uniformity in regulation. The National Research Council will prepare a draft work scope for consideration by federal agencies and others, and for possible funding." (NRC Weekly Information Report for the Week Ending Dec. 1, 2000)


NRC denies petitions requesting that the NRC assert jurisdiction over FUSRAP material

On December 13, 2000, the U.S. NRC denied 2.206 petitions by Envirocare of Utah and the Snake River Alliance requesting that the NRC assert jurisdiction over the disposal of mill tailings from Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP ) sites.

> view Directors Decision DD-00-06


EPA promulgates final rule for Radionuclides in Drinking Water, including uranium standard of 30 micrograms per litre

Federal Register: Dec. 7, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 236) p. 76707-76753 (download full text Note: since the greek mu () character does not display in the text version when viewed in a browser, download of the PDF version is recommended, but some mu's are missing still):
"SUMMARY: Today, EPA is finalizing maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs), maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), and monitoring, reporting, and public notification requirements for radionuclides. Today's rule is only applicable to community water systems. Today's rule includes requirements for uranium, which is not currently regulated, and revisions to the monitoring requirements for combined radium-226 and radium-228, gross alpha particle radioactivity, and beta particle and photon radioactivity. Based on an improved understanding of the risks associated with radionuclides in drinking water, the current MCL for combined radium-226/-228 and the current MCL for gross alpha particle radioactivity will be retained. Based on the need for further evaluation of the various risk management issues associated with the MCL for beta particle and photon radioactivity and the flexibility to review and modify standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the current MCL for beta particle and photon radioactivity will be retained in this final rule, but will be further reviewed in the near future." [...]

"With today's rule, EPA is promulgating a uranium MCL of 30 g/L. The SDWA generally requires that EPA set the MCL for each contaminant as close as feasible to the MCLG, based on available technology and taking costs to large systems into account. The 1996 amendments to the SDWA added the requirement that the Administrator determine whether or not the quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits of an MCL justify the quantifiable and non-quantifiable costs based on the Health Risk Reduction and Cost Analysis (HRRCA) required under section 1412(b)(3)(C). The 1996 SDWA amendments also provided new discretionary authority for the Administrator to set an MCL that is less stringent than the feasible level if the benefits of an MCL set at the feasible level would not justify the costs (section 1412(b)(6)). This final rule establishing an MCL for uranium of 30 g/L is the first time EPA has invoked this new authority." [emphasis added]

Note: the proposed rule of 1991 had included an MCL for uranium of 20 g/L, and the provisional guideline value established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998 is 2 g/L.

> See EPA announcement, rule text, and background documents (Dec. 7, 2000)

> See also:
EPA developing new rule for Radionuclides in Drinking Water
Uranium Toxicity

On January 18, 2001, EPA announced the availability of the Draft Implementation Guidance for Radionuclides (in drinking water), based on the new rule. Comments must be submitted on or before March 30, 2001. (Federal Register: Jan. 18, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 12) p. 4826 )
> Download Draft Implementation Guidance for Radionuclides, December 2000

"The US nuclear industry has taken legal action against plans to establish new standards for public drinking water, saying they could impose unwarranted restrictions on nuclear facilities in particular, the planned Yucca Mountain final repository.
The industry has filed a petition with the US court of appeals for the district of Columbia circuit, seeking review of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to establish maximum contaminant levels for radionuclides in drinking water. It argues that the EPA did not follow legally-required procedures and did not base the final rule on the best available scientific evidence, as required by law." (NucNews Jan. 22, 2001)

On February 26, 2003, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld EPA's rule setting limits on the permissible level of radionuclides in drinking water.

"PER CURIAM: The petitioners—the City of Waukesha and its water utility customer Bruce Zivney, trade associations Nuclear Energy Institute (‘‘NEI’’) and National Mining Association (‘‘NMA’’), and advocacy group Radiation, Science & Health (‘‘RSH’’)—seek review of regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (‘‘EPA’’) pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1970 (‘‘SDWA’’ or ‘‘Act’’), 42 U.S.C. §§ 300f et seq. The challenged regulations establish standards governing radionuclide levels in public water systems. Specifically, they set the maximum contaminant level goal (‘‘MCLG’’) and the maximum contaminant level (‘‘MCL’’) for radium-226 and radium-228, naturally occurring uranium, and various beta/photon emitters. Petitioners contend the regulations violate the SDWA and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq., (‘‘APA’’) because in setting the radionuclides standards EPA did not (1) properly conduct required cost-benefit analyses; (2) use the ‘‘best available science’’ to determine the appropriate MCLGs and MCLs; or (3) adequately respond to comments submitted during the rulemaking. For its part, EPA contests petitioners’ standing to challenge the regulations and defends the standards on the merits. We conclude that all petitioners except RSH have standing and that EPA complied with the requirements of the SDWA and the APA." (excerpt from Court Opinion)
> View EPA release Feb. 26, 2003
> Download Court Opinion: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit: No. 01-1028, City of Waukesha v. EPA (PDF)


NRC Draft Rulemaking Plan - Domestic Licensing of Uranium and Thorium Recovery Facilities - 10 CFR Part 41

NRC discontinues rulemaking efforts

On May 29, 2001, the NRC decided to discontinue the 10 CFR Part 41 rulemaking efforts.
> View Staff Requirements Memorandum SECY-01-0026

 

NRC considers alternatives for rulemaking

Given the decline of the U.S. uranium mining industry, the NRC is considering alternatives to the new rulemaking action initiated in 1999 for regulating this industry. The alternatives include:
  1. rulemaking by an Agreement State working group,
  2. NRC staff continues the rulemaking process (the original approach),
  3. the rulemaking is discontinued, and existing guidance is updated.
> View SECY-01-0026 (February 15, 2001)

> Download Comments on the Draft Rulemaking Plan (41 pages, 2.8M PDF)
Contents: State of Colorado - p.2, State of Washington - p.5, State of Utah - p.7, State of Wyoming - p.22, Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, Inc. - p.23, National Mining Association - p.25, Rio Algom Mining Corp. - p.30, State of New Mexico - p.34/36

> Download "Proposal for a Pilot Program to Test Rulemaking Activities Under an Alliance Concept" , National Materials Working Group, March 8, 2001 (6 pages, 300k PDF)

During a public meeting with the NRC, the U.S. uranium mining industry requested a temporary exemption from licensing fees, due to the low uranium price.
> View transcript of Public Meeting on Rulemaking and Guidance Development for Uranium Recovery Industry (April 10, 2001)

 

NRC issues Interim Guidance on waste disposal in uranium mill tailings and on alternate feed for uranium mills

NRC issued the following interim guidances as attachments to NRC Regulatory Issue Summary 2000-23, Recent Changes to Uranium Recovery Policy (November 30, 2000):

 

NRC seeks comments

NRC would appreciate your review and comments on the draft Rulemaking Plan no later than October 25, 2000.
> NRC Technical Conference
> View Draft Rulemaking Plan

> see details


DOE Seeks Comment on Directives for Release of Scrap Metals

"The directives would require the DOE to ensure that potentially contaminated materials are properly inspected before being considered for release from DOE sites. They would also require DOE sites to involve the local public in the decision making process. Under the new directives, scrap metals would not be released for recycling if they contain detectable radioactive contamination."
The public comment period will end December 4, 2000.
> DOE Release Oct. 6, 2000
> Link to proposed directives

> see also: DOE to prepare PEIS on disposition of scrap metal from enrichment plants and other sources


NRC Releases Draft Regulatory Guides on Occupational Exposures in Uranium Recovery Facilities for Comment

DG-8026 Health Physics Surveys in Uranium Recovery Facilities.
(Proposed Revision 1 to Regulatory Guide 8.30)
Comments will be most helpful if received by December 15, 2000.
> View Federal Register Notice Oct 5, 2000
> Download DG-8026 (208k PDF)

DG-8027 Information Relevant to Ensuring that Occupational Radiation Exposures at Uranium Recovery Facilities Will Be As Low As Is Reasonably Achievable.
(Proposed Revision 1 to Regulatory Guide 8.31)
Comments will be most helpful if received by December 15, 2000.
> View Federal Register Notice Oct 5, 2000
> Download DG-8027 (74k PDF)

> See also: NRC releases revised Regulatory Guides on Occupational Exposures in Uranium Recovery Facilities


NRC developing approach for using risk information in the nuclear materials regulatory process

NRC to hold Public Meeting on the Use of Risk Information in the Regulatory Process of Uranium Recovery facilities

The meeting will be held on June 13, 2001, in Denver, Colorado.
> View Federal Register Notice, May 9, 2001

Background Information

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff is developing an approach for using risk information in the nuclear materials regulatory process. As part of this effort, the NRC staff has developed a draft plan for using risk-informed approaches in the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS).

NRC Risk Assessment homepage
> View Plan for Using Risk Information in the Materials and Waste Arenas: Case Studies (Federal Register Notice, Nov 7, 2000)
> View SECY-99-100 "Framework for Risk-informed Regulation in the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards" March 31, 1999


NRC finalizes Standard Review Plan for Title II Uranium Mill Tailings Reclamation Plans

Federal Register: July 26, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 144) p.46023 (download full notice ):
"SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has published the Final Standard Review Plan for Review of a Reclamation Plan for Mill Tailings Sites Under Title II of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (NUREG-1620). An NRC source and byproduct material license is required under the provisions of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 40 (10 CFR part 40), Domestic Licensing of Source Material, in conjunction with uranium or thorium milling, or with byproduct material at sites formerly associated with such milling. An applicant for a new reclamation plan, or for the renewal or amendment of an existing license, is required to provide detailed information on the facilities, and procedures to be used, and if appropriate, an environmental report that discusses the effect of proposed operations on public health and safety and on the environment. This information is used by Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff to determine whether the proposed activities will be protective of public health and safety and the environment. The standard review plan provides guidance to NRC staff for the review of reclamation plans while ensuring consistency and uniformity among the staff reviews. Each section in the review plan provides detailed review guidance on subject matter required in a standard reclamation plan. The review plan is intended to improve the understanding of the staff review process by interested members of the public and the uranium recovery industry. The final version includes updates based on public comment on the draft Standard Review Plan for the Review of a Reclamation Plan for Mill Tailings Sites Under Title II of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act."

Standard Review Plan for the Review of a Reclamation Plan for Mill Tailings Sites Under Title II of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act, NUREG-1620, May 2000
> Download NUREG-1620 (446k PDF)

(see also 1999 news)


NRC favors more flexibility in the disposal of other wastes in mill tailings impoundments

> View: Staff Requirements Memorandum SECY-99-0012 (July 26, 2000)

> View also 1999 news


NRC disapproves exemption of certain wastes produced during in situ leaching of uranium deposits from NRC regulation

> View: Staff Requirements Memorandum SECY-99-0013 (July 26, 2000)

> View also 1999 news


GAO criticizes differing NRC and EPA radiation and site cleanup standards

On July 14, 2000, the U.S. General Accounting Office released a report reviewing current U.S. radiation standards. The report looks in particular into the impacts of the differing NRC and EPA radiation standards on cleanup cost of contaminated sites.

United States General Accounting Office: RADIATION STANDARDS - Scientific Basis Inconclusive, and EPA and NRC Disagreement Continues, Report to the Honorable Pete Domenici, U.S. Senate, June 2000, GAO/RCED-00-152
> Download full report (1.3M PDF)


NRC releases Draft SRP for Groundwater Cleanup at Title I Uranium Mill Tailings Sites

Draft Standard Review Plan for the Review of DOE Plans for Achieving Regulatory Compliance at Sites with Contaminated Ground Water under Title I of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (SR 1724)
Comments have to be submitted by October 10, 2000.

Federal Register: July 11, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 133), p. 42735 (download full text ):
"SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is announcing the availability of, and requesting comments on, NUREG-1724, ''Standard Review Plan for the Review of DOE Plans for Achieving Regulatory Compliance at Sites with Contaminated Ground Water under Title I of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act.''
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is conducting ground-water corrective actions under the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Groundwater Project. This Standard Review Plan will provide guidance to NRC staff performing safety and environmental reviews of ground-water quality compliance activities conducted by the DOE under Title I of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act.
The purpose of this Standard Review Plan is to ensure the quality and uniformity of NRC staff reviews of site-specific documents describing DOE plans for achieving regulatory compliance at sites with contaminated groundwater. The standard review plan is written to cover a variety of site conditions and plans. Each section provides a description of the areas of review, review procedures, acceptance criteria, and an evaluation of findings."

> View Abstract and Download SRP NUREG-1724


EPA amends standards for radionuclide emissions from Federal Facilities

EPA has issued a final rule to amend subparts H and I of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants 40 CFR Part 61:

Federal Register: Sep 9, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 174) p. 57159-57169 (download full text ):

"This action amends the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs), which regulate the air emissions of radionuclides other than radon-222 and radon-220 from facilities owned or operated by the Department of Energy (DOE) (Subpart H) and from Federal Facilities other than Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensees and not covered by Subpart H (Subpart I). [...]
Today's action amends 40 CFR Part 61, subparts H and I to require the use of ANSI/HPS N13.1-1999 for all applicable newly constructed or modified facilities. Today's action also imposes additional inspection requirements on existing facilities subject to subparts H and I of 40 CFR Part 61."
> See also: Federal Register: May 9, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 90) p. 29933-29939 (download full text ):


EPA developing new rule for Radionuclides in Drinking Water

Federal Register: April 21, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 78) p. 21575-21628 (download full text ):
"SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations to limit the amount of radionuclides found in drinking water on July 18, 1991. In general, the proposal revised current National Primary Drinking Water regulations (NPDWR); a NPDWR was proposed for uranium which is unregulated. Since that time, new information has become available which the Agency is considering in finalizing these proposed regulations. In addition, the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) contained provisions which directly affect the 1991 proposed rule.
This document presents additional information relevant to the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs), the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), and monitoring requirements contained in the 1991 proposal. EPA is seeking public review and comment on these new data. The Agency is also soliciting comments on several implementation options that are being evaluated for inclusion in the final regulations.

DATES: Written comments should be postmarked or delivered by hand by June 20, 2000."

> view background documents (EPA)

For uranium, which has not been regulated so far, an MCL of 20 g/L had been proposed in 1991. Now, three options are being considered: 20, 40, and 80 g/L.

The current standard for radium is an MCL of 5 pCi/L (0.185 Bq/L) for Ra-226 and Ra-228 combined. The 1991 proposal would have allowed for 20 pCi/L (0.74 Bq/L) for each of the two nuclides. The current proposal is to maintain the current MCL.

> see also:
EPA proposes standard for Radon in drinking water
Uranium Toxicity


NRC developing rule for Control of Solid Materials from Licensed Facilities

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed the staff to request the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Energy and Environmental Systems to conduct a 9-month study and provide recommendations on possible alternatives for the control of slightly contaminated radioactive materials originating at licensed nuclear facilities. In addition, the agency has scheduled public meetings at its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, on May 3 and 9, 2000, to discuss this issue. (NRC News Release April 12, 2000 )

NRC Background information · NRC Rulemaking homepage
NUREG-1640, Vols. 1 & 2, Radiological Assessments for Clearance of Equipment and Materials from Nuclear Facilities (draft report for comment)
NUREG/CR-6682, Summary and Categorization of Public Comments on the Control of Solid Materials, September 2000

Federal Register: June 30, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 125) p. 35090-35100: Release of Solid Materials at Licensed Facilities: Issues Paper, Scoping Process for Environmental Issues, and Notice of Public Meetings (view full text )

> See also: NRC to develop proposed regulation on control of slightly radioactive solid materials


EPA Science Advisory Board to discuss uranium mining TENORM

The Radiation Advisory Committee (RAC) of the US EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) will meet on Tuesday, April 25 through Thursday, April 27, 2000. The meeting is open to the public.
from Federal Register: April 6, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 67) p. 18095-18096 (download full notice ):
"During the meeting the RAC also intends to draft its advisory on Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM). The Agency is asking the RAC's advice on the adequacy of EPA's proposed approach for characterizing TENORM, and whether EPA is appropriately applying this approach in the technical report for uranium mining TENORM which is under development. The charge questions to be answered include, but are not limited to the following:
(a) Is EPA's general approach for characterizing TENORM in a given technical report adequate;
(b) Has the general approach been appropriately applied for uranium mining TENORM?; and
(c) Is the risk assessment approach, as outlined, adequate for evaluating risks from uranium mining TENORM? In particular, have the key exposure scenarios been considered?"

> See also EPA SAB project description:
Project 00-021 Review of Draft Uranium Mining TENORM Technical Report


NRC issues Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct Materials

Federal Register: January 20, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 13) p. 3259 (download full notice ):
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued draft NUREG-1717, ``Systematic Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct Materials.'' This report is an assessment of potential radiation doses associated with the current exemptions for byproduct and source material in Title 10, of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Doses were estimated for the normal life cycle of a particular product or material, covering distribution and transport, intended or expected routine use, and disposal using dose assessment methods consistent with the current requirements in 10 CFR Part 20. In addition, assessments of potential doses due to accidents and misuse were estimated. Also presented is an assessment of potential radiological impacts associated with selected products containing byproduct material that currently may only be used under a general license and may be potential candidates for exemption from licensing requirements.
Licensees, Agreement States and all other interested parties are encouraged to submit comments and relevant data on this report. Comments and suggestions on this NUREG should be submitted by June 30, 2000, to assist the staff in developing the final NUREG-1717." [...]
> Download final report NUREG-1717 (2001)


> for older issues, see Regulatory Issues - USA: (1995 - 1997) · (1998 - 1999)

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