Summary: H.R.13650 — 95th Congress (1977-1978)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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House agreed to Senate amendment with amendment (10/14/1978)

(House agreed to Senate amendment with amendments)

Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act - =Title I: Remedial Action Program= - Directs the Secretary of Energy to designate uranium processing sites at or near specified locations and to complete remedial action at such sites before the Secretary's authority terminates under this Title. Directs the Secretary to designate within one year all other processing sites which require remedial action to eliminate or minimize health environmental hazards after consulting with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the affected States, and, in the case of Indian lands, the appropriate Indian tribes and the Secretary of the Interior. Directs the Secretary to: (1) assess the potential health hazard from the residual radioactive materials at designated processing sites; and (2) establish priorities for carrying out remedial action at each site.

Authorizes the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with affected States to perform remedial actions at each designated processing site within such State. Requires such State to: (1) obtain the written consent from the owners of the designated processing site authorizing the remedial action and releasing the United States from any liability; and (2) assure that the Department of Energy, the NRC, and the EPA have a permanent right of entry to the processing site.

Authorizes the Secretary, in certain circumstances, to provide for the reimbursement of the actual costs incurred for remedial action by the owner of a processing site.

Requires the affected State to acquire the processing site and the site for disposal of the radioactive residual materials if determined appropriate by the Secretary and the NRC, with consideration given to the prevention of windfall profits.

Directs the State to notify the subsequent purchaser of a processing site of the nature and extent of residual radioactive materials removed from such site. Permits the State to sell, transfer, or retain any sites with the concurrence of the Secretary and the NRC. Provides that title to the residual radioactive materials and the disposal sites be transferred to the Secretary upon completion of the remedial action. Authorizes the Commission to requires the Secretary or other Federal agency having custody of such property and minerals to undertake such monitoring, maintenance, and emergency measures necessary to comply with the Atomic Energy Act, pursuant to licenses, rules, or orders issued by the Commission.

Requires the State to reimburse the United States from the proceeds of the sale of a processing site. Authorizes the Secretary to dispose of subsurface minerals as long as it will not disturb the depository site.

Authorizes the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with affected Indian tribes similar to the Federal-State agreements. Requires the Secretary to make full use of any qualified members of such Indian tribes in performing remedial actions or continued monitoring or maintenance respecting residual radioactive materials associated with any site subject to such agreements.

Permits the Secretary to acquire land for the permanent disposition of residual radioactive materials after consulting with the affected State. Allows the Secretary of the of the Interior to transfer public lands available for such purposes.

Authorizes the Secretary of Energy to pay 90 percent of the actual costs of remedial action at designted processing sites, except in the case of Indian lands, where the Secretary will pay the entire cost.

Authorizes the Secretary to select and perform the remedial action in accordance with EPA general standards, with: (1) the full participation of States which pay part of the cost; (2) the concurrence of the NRC; and (3) consultation, as appropriate, with Indian tribes and the Secretary of the Interior.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) evaluate the mineral concentration of the residual radioactive materials at each designated processing site; (2) determine if recovery is practicable; and (3) enter into contracts for recovery of the minerals. Requires the person recovering the minerals to pay the cost of recovery and to share the profits with the Secretary, such share not exceeding the total amount paid by the Secretary for carrying out remedial action. Requires such person, after paying such share to the Secretary, to pay a share of the profits, as determined by the Secretary, to the State in which the recovered materials are located.

Provides for civil penalties for violation of this Title, any cooperative agreement, or any rule prescribed under this Act. Directs all parties to encourage public participation.

Terminates the remedial action program seven years after the EPA standards are promulgated. Requires the Secretary, in consultation with other agencies, to submit annual reports to Congress concerning the status of actions taken. Directs the Secretary to report by July 1979 to Congress the location of residual radioactive materials or other radioactive wastes. Requires the Secretary to avoid duplication of previous or ongoing studies and to utilize all information available from other departments and agencies of the United States respecting such subject matter in preparing such reports. Directs such agencies to cooperate with the Secretary in preparing such reports and to furnish necessary information. Requires the Administrator, in consultation with the NRC, to report to Congress by Janurary 1, 1980, identifying the location and potential health, safety, and environmental hazards of uranium mine wastes together with recommendations, if any, for a program to eliminate such hazards.

Directs the Commission, in cooperation with the Secretary, to ensure that any relevant information, other than trade secrets and other proprietary information otherwise exempted from mandatory disclosure under any other provision of law, obtained from the conduct of each of the remedial actions autorized by this Title and the subsequent perpetual care of those residual radioactive materials is documented systematically, and made publicly available conviently for use.

Prohibits any funding for remedial action at active mill tailing sites.

Directs the Attorney General to determine the identity and legal responsibility of past owners of the designated processing sites and report to Congress. Directs the Attorney General to take appropriate action to require reimbursement from such past owners.

=Title II: Uranium Mill Tailings Licensing and Regulation= - Amends the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to require that specified licenses issued under such Act for activities resulting in the production of by-product material have terms assuring that prior to termination of such licenses, (1) the licensee shall comply with the Commission's requirements relating to termination, and (2) ownership of by-product materials and their disposal sites shall be transferred without cost to the United States.

Directs the Commission to require by rule, regulation, or order that, prior to the termination of any such license issued three years after the enactment of this Act, title to the land, including any interests therein, (other than land owned by the United States or by a State) which is used for the disposal of any by-product material shall be transferred to the United States or the State in which such land is located, at the option of such State, unless the Commission determines that such transfer is not necessary or desirable to protect the public health, safety, or welfare for to minimize or eliminate danger to life or property.

Directs the Commission to permit the use of surface or subsurface estates, or both, of such transferred land, providing the person who transferred such land with the right of first refusal of such use, if such use would not endanger the public health, safety, welfare or environment.

Directs the Secretary of Energy, or any Federal agency designated by the President, to assume title and custody of such by-product material and land transferred to the United States, maintaining such material and land so as to protect the public health and safety and the environment. Directs States to do likewise in the case of material and land transferred to them.

Authorizes the Commission, before the termination of any such license issued prior to three years after the enactment of this Act, to require such transfers to the United States or the appropriate State, as may be necessary to protect the public health, welfare, and the environment.

Stipulates that such transfers: (1) shall not relieve any licensee of liability for any fraudulent or negligent prior acts; and (2) shall be carried out without cost, other than administrative or legal costs, to the United States or a State.

Exempts lands held in trust for, or owned subject to a restriction against alienation imposed by the United States by, any Indian tribe from such provisions concerning transfers. Requires licensees, in the case of such lands, to enter into arrangements with the NRC to assure long-term maintenance and monitoring by the United States.

Authorizes the Commission to terminate or suspend all or any part of its agreement with the State if the State has not complied with any of the requirements of this section.

Requires States having authority to regulate by-product materials under an agreement with the Commission to adopt and enforce: (1) standards for the protection of public health and safety from hazards associated with such material; (2) provisions allowing for public notice and public participation in licensing and rulemaking actions; and (3) requirements for the preparation of a written environmental analysis, to be made available to the public prior to approval of any construction activity relating to by-product material, such analysis to include: (a) assessment of the radiological and nonradiological impacts to the public health of the activities to be conducted pursuant to such license; (b) assessment of any impact on any waterway and groundwater resulting from such activities; (c) consideration of alternatives, including alternative sites and engineering methods, to such activites, and (d) consideration of the long-term impacts, including those of decommissioning, decontamination, and reclamation, associated with such activities. Prohibits any major construction prior to compliance with such written environmental impact analysis. Directs the State to transfer to the United States upon termination of a license, any amounts collected by the State from the licensee for reclamation, maintenance and monitoring of the by-product material.

Authorizes the Commission to retain authority under such Federal-State agreements with respect to determining licensee's compliance with applicable standards and requirements prior to termination of licenses for by-product materials. Requires the Commission to review the regulatory programs of affected States after three years. Continues for three years State control over tailings.

Authorizes the Commission to promulgate, implement, and enforce regulations governing Federal custody of disposal sites and the activities of the Department of Energy.

Provides for civil penalties for violation of rules or orders of the Commission.

Prohibits the transfer or reception in interstate commerce, manufacture, production, transfer, acquisition, ownership, possession, import or export of any by-product material, except under specified authorizations.

Authorizes the Administrator of EPA to issue, and to periodically revise, generally applicable standards and criteria for the protection of the environment from radiological and nonradiological environmental hazards associated with residual radioactive materials, by-product materials, and their disposal located at inactive tailings sites and depository sites.

Requires that such standards for nonradiological hazards be consistent with certain provisions of the Solid Waste Disposal Act for the protection of human health and the environment. Stipulates that neither the Atomic Energy Act nor the Solid Waste Disposal Act require a permit issued by the Administrator for the processing, possession, transfer, or disposal of by-product material. Authorizes the Administrator to periodically revise such standards and criteria. Requires the Commission and any State permitted to exercise such authority to apply such standards, within three years of revision, to licenses for by-product material.

Permits judicial review of such rules upon petition in the United States Court of Appeals.

Directs the Commission in its licensing activities and States exercising certain authority under the Atomic Energy Act to implement and enforce such standards in accordance with specified sections of such Act.

Stipulates that nothing in such Act applicable to by-product material shall affect the authority of the Administrator under the Clean Air Act or the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

Authorizes appropriations to carry out the provisions of this Act.

Makes technical and conforming amendments to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Requires the Commission to consolidate licenses and licensing procedures under other authorities contained in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

=Title III: Study and Designation of Two Mill Tailings Sites in New Mexico= - Directs the NRC, in consultation with the U.S. Attorney General and the Attorney General of the State of New Mexico, to study two specified mill sites in New Mexico and determine whether the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended by this Act, provides effective regulation and control of these sites. Authorizes the Secretary to enter into agreements with New Mexico for remedial action at these sites if the NRC determines that such law is inadequate. Requires such designation to be reported to Congress.