Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate amended (03/29/1996)

Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1996 - Amends the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to revise it and rename it the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1996.

Instructs the Secretary of Energy to: (1) develop and operate an integrated management system for the storage and permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste; (2) store spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste by no later than November 30, 1999, at designated facilities pursuant to certain interim storage facility contracts; (3) provide for the transportation of such wastes (including procuring all systems and components necessary to transport such fuel and waste among facilities composing the Integrated Management System established by this Act); (4) pursue expeditiously the development of each component of the integrated management system; and (5) engage private sector participation to the greatest extent possible in the implementation of this Act.

Shields the United States from any financial liability for the Secretary's failure to meet acceptance or emplacement deadlines under this Act.

Establishes an integrated management system for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, including its storage, transportation, and disposal.

Sets a deadline by which the Secretary must develop the capability to commence rail to truck intermodal transfer from the mainline rail line at Caliente, Nevada, to the interim storage facility site. Instructs the Secretary to acquire lands and rights-of-way along the "Chalk Mountain Heavy Haul Route" necessary to commence such intermodal transfer.

Requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Caliente and Lincoln County, Nevada, to advise the NRC regarding intermodal transfer and to facilitate on-site representation.

Directs the Secretary to offer to enter into a prescribed benefits agreement with Lincoln County, including a payment schedule, and the conveyance of specified Federal lands to such County.

Prescribes procedural guidelines for the availability by November 30, 1999, of: (1) transportation readiness for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from sites designated by the contract holders to mainline transportation facilities; (2) public education programs for States, local governments, and Indian tribes through whose jurisdiction the Secretary plans to transport substantial amounts of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste; and (3) interim storage facilities.

Prescribes requirements for a permanent repository and for land withdrawal of the interim storage facility and Yucca mountain sites.

Proscribes construction activities at the Yucca mountain site before October 1, 1998. Mandates cessation of all but termination activities at the Yucca site and the undertaking of specified activities (including design and licensing) to establish an alternative interim storage facility and repository if the Yucca mountain site is considered unsuitable.

Requires the Secretary to report to the Congress on alternatives for the permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

Establishes the Office of Nuclear Waste Disposal Research to implement research, development, and demonstration activities on alternative technologies for the treatment and disposal of high-level nuclear radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

Instructs the Secretary to establish a university-based Nuclear Waste Disposal Consortium involving academic institutions, national laboratories, the commercial nuclear industry, and other organizations to investigate and report to the Congress on the technical and institutional feasibility of alternative technologies for the treatment and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

Prescribes contract guidelines for the Secretary to accept title and transport, store and dispose of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste for a fee. Prescribes a fee schedule for electricity generated by civilian nuclear power reactors and spent nuclear fuel used to generate electricity in a civilian nuclear power reactor. Provides that payment of a one-time fee on either spent nuclear fuel used to generate electricity in a civilian nuclear power reactor, or the high-level radioactive waste derived from it relieves the responsible party from further financial obligation to the Federal Government for its long-term storage or permanent disposal. Mandates annual fee reviews, and adjustment proposals to the Congress if appropriate.

Sets forth advance contract prerequisites for utilization or production facility license renewals under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

Continues the Nuclear Waste Fund and the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) issue a final rule establishing the appropriate portion of the costs of managing high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel allocable to the interim storage or permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste from atomic energy defense activities and spent nuclear fuel foreign research reactors; and (2) advise the Congress annually of the amount of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from atomic energy defense activities requiring management in the integrated spent nuclear fuel management system.

Prescribes a prioritization scheme for the allocation of funds: (1) to components of the integrated management system; and (2) from the Nuclear Waste Fund.

States that actions authorized by this Act shall be governed solely in accordance with the provisions of specified statutes.

Grants the United States courts of appeals original and exclusive jurisdiction over civil actions under this Act. Prescribes guidelines for NRC licensing hearings.

Prohibits the Secretary from conducting site-specific activities for a second repository unless the Congress has specifically authorized and appropriated funds therefor.

Requires the NRC to promulgate regulatory guidelines for: (1) financial assurances for low-level radioactive waste site closures; and (2) training and qualification of civilian nuclear powerplant personnel.

Delineates an emplacement schedule for contract holders' spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Prescribes guidelines under which a contract holder may execute an emergency relief contract for interim storage and conditioning of spent nuclear fuel.

States that the Secretary's acceptance of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste constitutes a transfer of title to the Secretary.

Authorizes the Secretary to establish a Decommissioning Pilot Program to decommission and decontaminate the sodium-cooled fast breeder experimental test-site reactor located in northwest Arkansas. Prohibits the Nuclear Waste Fund from being used for such Pilot Program.

Continues the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. Authorizes appropriations. Terminates the Board not later than one year after the beginning of the disposal of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste in the repository.