Need for Greater Regulatory Oversight of Commercial Low-Level Radioactive Waste
EMD-78-101: Published: Aug 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Aug 16, 1978.
- Full Report:
Nuclear power plant operations generate the greatest volume of low-level radioactive wastes. Because of a lack of adequate burial space on the east coast, there is a need for federal policy to encourage utilities to reduce waste volumes. Waste-treatment systems installed in nuclear power plants to handle low-level wastes have experienced operational difficulties resulting in increasing the potential for unnecessary exposures to nuclear power plant workers and unplanned releases to the environment.
Recommendation for Executive Action
Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.
Recommendation: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should: (1) require that waste-treatment-system performance, operability, operator training, and management control be assessed to a greater extent than is currently being done during its licensing and inspection efforts; (2) establish a system for monitoring the performance and reliability of waste-treatment systems in operation to ensure that poor performing systems are not used in new plants and that releases and exposures are kept to the lowest level reasonably achievable; (3) revise existing procedures to ensure that major changes to waste-treatment systems are reviewed and approved by NRC in a timely manner prior to implementation by the utilities; (4) determine on a priority basis the safety of the contractor mobile waste-solidification system currently being used to ensure that there are no unanswered safety questions; (5) consider the chemical composition of low-level waste when approving the design of waste systems and evaluate their effects on the performance of waste-treatment systems in operation; and (6) undertake a study aimed at minimizing waste volumes being generated at existing plants.