Cleaning Up the Remains of Nuclear Facilities:

A Multibillion Dollar Problem

EMD-77-46: Published: Jun 16, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1977.

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The disposal of nuclear facilities has become a special problem because of the growing number of these facilities and the radioactivity associated with them. The Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have the chief responsibilities in this matter with help from the Environmental Protection Agency and the states.

ERDA, which is responsible for disposing of, or decommissioning, its own facilities, has not compiled relevant details for assessing problems, and facilities in need of decommissioning have been accumulating. NRC, responsible for regulating private users of nuclear materials, has done little to plan for decommissioning, and does not require owners of nuclear facilities, except for uranium mills, to develop plans or make financial provisions for future decommissioning. Thus, the state governments can be asked to pay for these problems. Only seven states require bonding or advance accumulation of funds for decommissioning. Before a strategy for meeting these problems is developed, basic questions must be answered pertaining to costs, methods of decommissioning, standards and limits for radiation levels, and the role of the states. A proposed bill directing ERDA to study decommissioning comprehensively is a possible vehicle for providing this information.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should designate NRC as the lead federal agency for overall decommissioning strategy. ERDA should continue research and development efforts to find alternatives, expand its present program, and plan for future decommissioning. NRC should plan for decommissioning at the time of licensing, determine acceptable radiation levels, and encourage states to follow its lead in adopting comprehensive planning.


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