Summary: H.R.3809 — 97th Congress (1981-1982)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (12/20/1982)

(Measure passed Senate, amended)

Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 - Provides that this Act shall not apply to atomic energy defense activities or to facilities connected with such activities.

Requires that within two years after enactment of this Act the President shall evaluate the use of repositories to be developed under subtitle A of this Act for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste resulting from atomic energy defense activities and shall arrange for such use, unless the President finds that the development of a repository exclusively for waste from atomic energy defense activities is required. Subjects such a repository to licensing requirements and to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requirements for the establishment of repositories.

Provides that this Act shall apply to repositories not used exclusively for high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel from atomic energy defense activities, research and development activities of the Secretary of Energy, or both.

Title I: Disposal and Storage of High-Level Radioactive Waste, Spent Nuclear Fuel, and Low-Level Radioactive Waste - Requires the Secretary to notify the State in which, or the Indian tribe on whose reservation, a repository for high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel from atomic energy defense activities or from research and development activities of the Secretary is proposed to be located. Entitles the State or Indian tribe involved to rights of participation and consultation with respect to the development of such a repository.

Subtitle A: Repositories for Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel - Requires the Secretary, within 180 days after enactment of this Act, to issue general guidelines for the recommendation of repository sites. Sets forth the contents of such guidelines.

Requires the Secretary, following the issuance of the guidelines and consultation with affected States, to nominate at least five sites which are suitable for site characterization for selection of a repository site for the permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. Requires the Secretary to recommend to the President by January 1, 1985, three of the nominated sites for characterization as candidate sites. Provides that by July 1, 1989, the Secretary shall nominate five more sites and recommend to the President three sites from the five which are suitable for a second repository site.

Requires that each candidate site nomination be accompanied by an environmental assessment and a basis for the recommendation. Directs the Secretary to notify the Governor of the State in which a site is located or the Indian tribe on whose reservation a site is located. Requires the Secretary to hold public hearings to inform the residents of the area in which a site is located of the proposed nomination of such site and to receive their comments before nominating any site.

Requires the Secretary to use available scientific information to evaluate any nominated sites. Prohibits new preliminary borings or excavations at any such site unless the Secretary certifies that information available from other sources is inadequate to satisfy the requirements of this Act.

Requires the President to: (1) review each candidate site recommendation; (2) either approve or disapprove the recommendation within 60 days; and (3) transmit such decision to the Secretary and to the appropriate Governor or Indian tribe. Provides that the President's failure to approve or disapprove a candidate site within the 60-day period or to invoke authority to delay the determination shall be considered an approval.

Provides that this Act shall not prohibit the Secretary from continuing ongoing or presently planned site characterization at Department of Energy sites for which the location of the principal borehole was approved by August 1, 1982, provided that an environmental assessment is prepared and made available to the public before shafts are sunken at any such site. Prohibits the continuation of site characterization at any such site unless such site is recommended as a candidate site and approved by the President.

Requires the Secretary to carry out site characterization activities at each candidate site approved by the President. Requires the Secretary to submit to the NRC and to either the State in which a candidate site is located or the Indian tribe on whose reservation such a site is located for review, before beginning site characterization activities: (1) a general plan for site characterization activities; (2) a description of the possible packaging for the high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel to be emplaced in the repository; and (3) a conceptual repository design that takes into account likely site-specific requirements. Directs the Secretary to make the required site characterization plan available to the public and to hold public hearings on it. Provides for the Secretary to report periodically to the NRC and to the appropriate State or Indian tribe during the conduct of the site characterization activities. Restricts the Secretary's use of radioactive materials during site characterization activities.

Requires the Secretary to notify the appropriate State or Indian tribe of a decision to recommend approval of a candidate site upon completion of the public hearings and of the site characterization activities. Authorizes the Secretary to submit such recommendation to the President 30 days or more after such notification. Sets forth procedural requirements with respect to such recommendation.

Directs the President to recommend to Congress one repository site by March 31, 1987, and a second repository site by March 31, 1990. Permits a 12-month extension of the deadlines for such recommendations if, before March 31, 1986, for the first site and March 31, 1989, for the second site, the President: (1) decides it is necessary; and (2) sends a report to Congress stating the reasons for the extension. Requires recommendation of another site for a repository if Congress disapproves the President's first recommendation.

Directs the Secretary to submit a construction license application for a repository to the NRC and to the appropriate State or Indian tribe if the President's site recommendation becomes effective. Requires the NRC to submit to Congress a status report on such application within one year after its submission by the Secretary and annually thereafter until the construction authorization is granted. Requires the NRC to issue a final decision on the first such application by January 1, 1989, and on the second such application by January 1, 1992, or three years after an application is submitted (plus any authorized extension under this Act), whichever occurs later. Requires that the NRC approval of the first such application limit the amount of spent fuel containing over 70,000 metric tons of heavy metal and the amount of solidified high-level radioactive waste which may be emplaced in the first repository and in any monitored retrievable storage facility located within 50 miles of the first repository until such time as a second repository is in operation.

Directs the Secretary to prepare and update a project decision schedule showing the optimum way to attain the operation of the repository within the time periods specified in this subtitle. Sets forth procedural requirements for Federal agencies which cannot, or fail to, comply with deadlines in the project decision schedule.

Requires that a final environmental impact statement accompany any recommendation by the Secretary for site approval by the President. Requires that the environmental impact statement be adopted by the NRC in connection with the issuance of the construction authorization and license for such repository.

Makes a site designation effective 60 days after the President recommends such site to Congress, unless the affected Governor or Indian tribe submits to Congress a notice of disapproval of the site designation. Provides that if a notice of disapproval is submitted, a site designation shall not be effective unless Congress passes a resolution of repository siting approval.

Authorizes the affected Governor or Indian tribe to submit to Congress a notice of disapproval within 60 days after the President submits a site recommendation to Congress.

Requires the Secretary to identify those States with one or more potentially acceptable repository sites and to notify the States and any affected Indian tribe within a specified time about such sites.

Directs the Secretary to make grants to each State in which a candidate site for a repository is approved under this Act and to each Indian tribe on whose reservation such a site is approved under this Act, to enable such States and Indian tribes to: (1) determine the potential economic, social, public health and safety, and environmental impacts of the repository; (2) develop a request for impact assistance; (3) monitor, test, evaluate, or research the site characterization programs; (4) provide their residents with information on site characterization activities; and (5) request information from, and make recommendations to, the Secretary with respect to activities under this Act. Limits the grants to Indian tribes to 100 percent of the tribes' costs with respect to such activities.

Requires the Secretary to provide financial and technical impact assistance, upon request, to any State in which, or to any Indian tribe on whose reservation, there is a site for which the NRC has authorized repository construction. Sets forth reporting requirements with which a State or Indian tribe seeking such assistance must comply.

Requires the Secretary to make additional grants to States and local governments in areas where a repository site is approved and to Indian tribes on whose reservation a repository site is approved. Requires that such grants be equal to amounts the States, local governments, and Indian tribes would receive if they were authorized to tax site characterization activities and the development and operation of the repository. Provides for the payment of such grants each fiscal year until such activities, development, and operation are terminated at the site concerned.

Sets forth time periods after which Federal grants and impact assistance to States and Indian tribes shall not be available. Provides that such Federal assistance shall be paid out of the Nuclear Waste Fund established by this Act.

Requires the Secretary to notify the Governor of the State in which is located an Indian reservation on which a repository site is designated whenever the Secretary is required by this Act to notify or consult with the Indian tribe concerned.

Requires that information with respect to the siting, establishment, and operation of a repository be provided upon written request to the appropriate State or Indian tribe. Directs the Secretary to consult and cooperate with the Governors of affected States and with affected Indian tribes to resolve State and tribal concerns regarding the public health and safety, environmental, and economic impacts of any repository. Requires the Secretary to enter into binding written agreements with affected States and Indian tribes under which such information shall be provided and such consultation and cooperation shall be carried out.

Sets forth requirements with respect to judicial review of agency actions pursuant to this subtitle.

Provides for expedited issuance (to the extent permitted by law) of Federal authorizations required under this subtitle with respect to site characterization of a site or the construction or initial operation of a repository. Exempts NRC authorizations from such requirements.

Requires the promulgation of: (1) Environmental Protection Agency standards for the protection of the general environment from offsite releases from radioactive material in repositories; and (2) NRC technical requirements and criteria for reviewing applications for repository construction authorizations, repository operating licenses, and repository closure and decommissioning authorizations.

Requires repositories constructed on sites approved under this Act to be designed to permit the retrieval of spent nuclear fuel placed in them.

Provides that delivery, and acceptance by the Secretary, of high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel at a repository constructed under this Act shall constitute a transfer of title to the waste or spent fuel.

Requires the Secretary to give full consideration to the effect of any acquisition of water rights required by the establishment of a repository.

Terminates the authority under this subtitle wih respect to judicial review and expedited authorizations at the time a repository developed under this subtitle is licensed to receive and possess high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

Subtitle B: Interim Storage Program - Directs the Secretary, the NRC, and other Federal officials to encourage and expedite the effective use of available storage and necessary additional storage at civilian nuclear reactor sites.

Requires the NRC to establish procedures for licensing technology approved by the NRC for use at civilian nuclear reactor sites.

Sets forth the procedural rules which shall govern NRC hearings on applications for licenses or license amendments, filed after the enactment of this Act, to expand spent nuclear fuel storage capacity at civilian nuclear reactor sites.

Directs the Secretary to provide up to 1900 metric tons of storage capacity for spent nuclear fuel from civilian nuclear reactors. Authorizes the Secretary to contract with an owner or generator of spent nuclear fuel to provide storage capacity for the spent fuel if: (1) adequate storage capacity cannot be provided at the nuclear reactor site where the spent fuel is being generated or at any other nuclear reactor site owned by such person; and (2) such person is pursuing licensed alternatives to Federal storage capacity.

Provides that the provision of 300 or more metric tons of storage capacity at any one Federal site shall require the preparation of an environmental impact statement. Requires the Secretary to prepare and publish: (1) an environmental assessment of the probable impacts of the provision of less than 300 metric tons of storage capacity at a Federal site that requires the modification or expansion of any facility at the site; and (2) a discussion of the actions that can be undertaken to avoid such impacts. Makes such an assessment subject to judicial review.

Requires the Secretary to notify any State in which is located a potentially acceptable site or facility for interim storage of spent fuel and any affected Indian tribe of any intended investigation of such site or facility. Directs the Secretary to keep the State and the affected Indian tribe informed with respect to such investigation. Requires the Secretary to notify the State and the affected Indian tribe at the time such site or facility is selected but before any site-specific work or alterations occur. Provides that the Secretary shall negotiate with the State and the affected Indian tribe to establish a cooperative agreement under which the State and the tribe shall have the right to participate in a process of consultation and cooperation in all stages of the planning, establishment, operation, and closure of storage capacity at such site or facility.

Requires the Secretary to notify the appropriate State or Indian tribe if 300 or more metric tons of storage capacity are to be provided at any Federal site. Authorizes the State or Indian tribe to submit to Congress a notice of disapproval, with respect to the provision of such storage capacity, within 60 days after being notified by the Secretary. Provides that if such a notice of disapproval is submitted to Congress, the proposed provision of 300 or more metric tons of storage capacity at the site involved shall be disapproved unless Congress passes a resolution approving it. Requires the removal of spent nuclear fuel stored under the interim storage program as soon as practicable after a repository developed under this Act becomes available. Directs the Secretary to report annually to Congress on plans to provide storage capacity under this Act.

Requires the NRC to establish procedures and criteria for determining the adequacy of spent nuclear fuel storage capacity available to owners or generators of spent nuclear fuel.

Requires that interim storage contracts provide that the Government will: (1) take title at the civilian nuclear reactor sites to the spent fuel which cannot be stored onsite; (2) transport the spent fuel to a federally owned and operated interim away-from-reactor storage facility; and (3) store such fuel in the facility pending further processing, storage, and disposal.

Requires the Secretary to submit to Congress a report establishing fees, calculated annually, for storage of spent nuclear fuel. Requires persons entering into storage contracts with the Secretary to pay a pro-rated portion of the storage costs involved. Prohibits the storage of spent nuclear fuel generated or owned by a Federal agency in storage capacity provided under this Act unless the agency transfers to the Secretary an amount equal to the fees required of any party to a storage contract.

Establishes in the Treasury the Interim Storage Fund which shall consist of: (1) receipts from storage contracts; (2) appropriations made by Congress to the fund; and (3) any unexpended balances available on the enactment of this Act for functions or activities related to the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. Authorizes the Secretary to use the fund to cover the costs of the interim storage program, including: (1) the development, licensing, operation, and decommissioning of interim storage facilities; (2) administrative costs; (3) design, operation, and construction costs of interim facilities; (4) the cost of transportation of spent nuclear fuel; and (5) annual impact assistance payments to State and local governments to mitigate social or economic impacts caused by the establishment and operation of an interim storage facility.

Makes the transportation of spent nuclear fuel under this Act subject to licensing and regulation by the NRC and by the Secretary of Transportation. Requires the Secretary to use private industry to the fullest extent possible in each aspect of such transportation. Authorizes the use of direct Federal transportation services only if private industry is unable or unwilling to provide such transportation at reasonable cost.

Subtitle C: Monitored Retrievable Storage - Requires the Secretary to submit to Congress a proposal for Federal construction of one or more monitored retrievable storage facilities for high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. Requires that an environment assessment accompany such proposal. Subjects any facility authorized pursuant to this subtitle to licensing by the NRC. Limits the issues which the NRC may consider in reviewing the first licensing application filed by the Secretary. Directs the Secretary to make annual impact aid payments from the Interim Storage Fund to the appropriate local governments upon receipt of congressional authorization to construct such a facility.

Prohibits the construction of a monitored retrievable storage facility in any State where a site is being considered for development as a repository or has been selected for repository construction.

Makes the development of any monitored retrievable storage facility subject to the process of consultation with and participation of affected States and Indian tribes.

Subtitle D: Low-Level Radioactive Waste - Requires the NRC to ensure that licensees providing for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste provide adequate financial arrangements to permit disposal site closure and reclamation of sites, structures, and equipment. Authorizes the Secretary to assume title and custody of low-level radioactive waste and the disposal site, upon the owner's request and after termination of the disposal license, if: (1) the NRC's requirements for site closure, decommissioning, and decontamination have been met by the licensee involved; (2) such title and custody will be transferred to the Secretary without cost to the Government; and (3) Federal ownership and management of the site will protect the public health and safety and the environment. Requires the Secretary to assume title and custody of: (1) low-level radioactive waste which is the result of a licensed activity to recover zirconium, hafnium, and rare earths from source material and; (2) its disposal site, upon the request of the owner of the site, after the site has been decontaminated and stabilized and after the owner has arranged for the long-term maintenance and monitoring of the site.

Title II: Research, Development, and Demonstration Regarding Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel - Authorizes the Secretary, within six months after enactment of this Act, to issue general guidelines for the selection of a site for a test and evaluation facility. Authorizes the Secretary, within one year after enactment of this Act and following promulgation of such guidelines, to identify three or more sites, at least two of which shall be in different geologic media and at least one of which shall be in media other than salt. Provides that the Secretary shall give preference to sites in media that retard aqueous transport of radionuclides.

Requires that all sites so identified be more than 15 statute miles from towns with populations of more than 1,000, unless sites contained high-level radioactive waste prior to identification. Requires that each site identification be supported by an environmental assessment. Directs the Secretary to notify the appropriate State or Indian tribe when a site has been identified. Permits the identification of other sites beyond the one-year period.

Authorizes the Secretary to select a site for expanded siting research activities within 30 months after the Secretary has completed site identifications. Directs the Secretary to hold at least one public meeting in the vicinity of identified sites to discuss the activities to be conducted and receive residents' views within six months after site identifications are completed and before siting research activities are begun. Restricts the Secretary's use of radioactive materials during siting research activities.

Authorizes the Secretary to take title to the high-level radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel, and other radioactive material emplaced in a test and evaluation facility.

Grants a State or Indian tribe notified of a test and evaluation facility site identification affecting it the right to participate in a process of consultation and cooperation from the time of such identification throughout the life of the facility. Authorizes the Secretary to enter into written agreements with such a State or Indian tribe to expedite the consultation and cooperation process.

Requires Federal agency cooperation in the preparation of necessary reports and the mission plan required by this Act.

Requires the Secretary to begin construction of a test and evaluation facility within 64 months of the enactment of this Act to carry out research and provide a demonstration of the technology for geologic disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nulcear fuel. Sets forth the design requirements for such facilities. Requires the Secretary to begin an in situ testing program at such facility within 88 months after enactment of this Act.

Provides for the use of existing Department facilities for conducting generically applicable tests with respect to packaging, handling, and emplacement technology for solidified high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from civilian nuclear activities.

Requires the NRC to carry out a continuing review and analysis of the activities under this title to evaluate the public health and safety impacts of the test and evaluation facility. Directs the NRC to report to the President, the Secretary, and Congress on such activities.

Requires the Secretary to prepare an environmental impact statement before conducting tests with radioactive materials at the test and evaluation facility. Requires the NRC to concur in the decontamination and decommissioning of the facility if it is not located at a repository site. Limits the in situ testing program if the facility is not located at a candidate or repository site. Sets forth the termination date for the facility. Requires the Secretary to remove radioactive material from the facility site as soon as the facility is found to be unsuitable for continued operations.

Provides for the Secretary to establish a demonstration program, in cooperation with the private sector, for the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel at civilian nuclear reactor sites. Directs the Secretary to undertake also a cooperative program with civilian nuclear reactors to encourage the development of technology for spent nuclear fuel rod consolidation in existing reactor water storage basins. Requires the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with the utilities involved to carry out such programs. Authorizes the establishment of a research and development program for the dry storage of up to 300 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel at Federal facilities. Requires the Secretary to provide spent nuclear fuel for such program from spent nuclear fuel received by the Secretary for storage under subtitle B of this Act. Limits the Federal contribution to the demonstration program to 25 percent of the total costs. Requires the remaining program costs to be covered by the utilities involved or by the Secretary from the Interim Storage Fund. Restricts the use of Department research, development, or demonstration facilities under this title without congressional authorization.

Requires the Secretary to pay 100 percent of the costs incurred by a State or Indian tribe which engages in any activity pursuant to a consultation and cooperation agreement with respect to the test and evaluation facility. Requires a State receiving such payment to pay at least one-tenth of such amount to the local governments within the jurisdictional boundaries of which the site involved is located.

Provides for the Secretary to report to Congress on the research and development activities necessary to develop the proposal for monitored retrievable storage facilities.

Requires the Secretary to continue and accelerate a research and development program on alternative means and technologies for the permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste from both civilian nuclear activities and Federal research and development activities.

States that it shall be the policy of the United States to cooperate with and provide technical assistance to non-nuclear weapon states in the field of spent fuel storage and disposal. Requires the Secretary and the NRC to publish a joint notice in the Federal Register with respect to such policy. Requires that such notice be updated and reissued annually for five succeeding years. Provides that following publication of such notice, the Secretary of State shall inform the governments of non-nuclear weapon states and the organizations operating nuclear power plants in such states of the U.S. cooperation and technical assistance program and shall solicit their participation in such program. Requires the President to include in the budget presentations for the State Department and the NRC for FY 1984 through 1989 funding requests for an expanded cooperation and technical assistance program.

Title III: Other Provisions Relating to Radioactive Waste - Requires the Secretary to prepare a mission plan which shall provide an informational basis for carrying out the repository program and the research, development, and demonstration program required under this Act. Requires that the mission plan include scientific, technical, and economic information with respect to repository siting and construction, the test and evaluation facility, and solidification and packaging of high-level radioactive waste spent nuclear fuel. Directs the Secretary to submit a draft mission plan to the States, Indian tribes, the NRC, and other appropriate Government agencies for their comments. Provides for the Secretary to submit the mission plan to the appropriate congressional committees after reviewing any comments received and revising the plan as necessary. Requires that the plan be used at the end of the 30-day period following Congress' receipt of the plan. Requires the Secretary to report to Congress annually on the progress made toward implementation of the plan.

Authorizes the Secretary to enter into contracts with the owners or generators of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel of domestic origin for the acceptance of title, transportation, and disposal of such waste and spent fuel. Specifies the fees which shall be paid under such contracts. Requires the Secretary to: (1) establish fee collection and payment procedures; and (2) annually review the amount of such fees to determine whether they will provide sufficient revenues to offset the costs of the radioactive waste disposal activities under titles I and III of this Act. Provides that any adjusted fee proposed by the Secretary pursuant to such review shall be transmitted to Congress and shall become effective 90 days after its receipt, unless either House of Congress adopts a resolution disapproving it. Prohibits the NRC from issuing or renewing a license for an individual to use a utilization or production facility unless such individual has entered into, or is negotiating with the Secretary for, a disposal contract. Prohibits the disposal of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste by the Secretary in any repository constructed under this Act, unless the owner or generator of such spent fuel or waste has entered into a disposal contract by a specified date. Permits the assignment of the rights and duties of a party to a disposal contract with transfer of title to the spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste involved. Prohibits the disposal of any high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel generated or owned by a Federal agency in a repository constructed under this Act, unless the agency transfers to the Secretary for deposit in the Nuclear Waste Fund an amount equal to the fees required of any party to a disposal contract.

Establishes in the Treasury a Nuclear Waste Fund which consists of: (1) receipts from disposal contracts; (2) appropriations made by Congress to the fund; and (3) any unexpended balances available on the enactment of this Act for functions or activities related to high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel disposal. Limits the use of such fund to radioactive waste disposal activities under titles I and III of this Act.

Directs the Secretary to study, and report to Congress on, alternative approaches to managing the construction and operation of all civilian radioactive waste management facilities.

Establishes within the Department of Energy an Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management to carry out the functions of the Secretary under this Act. Requires the Director of the Office to report annually to Congress on the activities and expenditures of the Office. Requires the Comptroller General to make an annual audit of the Office and report the results to Congress.

Requires the Secretary to report to Congress on whether the test and evaluation facility will be located at a repository site. Requires that site selection and development of the facility be conducted according to the requirements of title I of this Act relating to repository site selection and development if the facility is to be located at a repository site. Prohibits the Secretary from commencing construction of any test and evaluation facility at such a site until the NRC has issued a repository construction authorization for the site involved and the site designation is effective. Prohibits the conversion of a test and evaluation facility into a repository, unless site selection and development of the facility complied with the requirements of title I of this Act relating to repository site selection and development.

Requires the NRC to establish training and qualification requirements for civilian nuclear power plant operators, supervisors, technicians, and other operating personnel and to report to Congress on its actions with respect to this program.