The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW) and GTCC-Like Waste. A 120-day public review and comment period will run from February 25 through June 27, 2011.
GTCC LLRW consists of a small volume of low-level radioactive waste generated throughout the United States as the result of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Agreement State licensed activities, including production of electricity from nuclear power plants; the production and use of radioisotopes for diagnostics and treatment of cancer and other illnesses; oil and gas exploration; and other industrial uses. “GTCC-like” waste consists of DOE owned or generated LLRW and potential non-defense transuranic waste which is similar to GTCC LLRW and for which there is currently no available disposal capability. GTCC LLRW and GTCC-like waste does not include spent nuclear fuel or high-level waste.
The Draft EIS analyzes potential environmental impacts from constructing and operating a new facility or facilities for the disposal of GTCC and GTCC-like wastes, as well as the impacts of using an existing facility.
Several disposal methods were evaluated, including: deep geological repository, intermediate depth boreholes, enhanced near surface trenches, and above grade vaults. Disposal locations analyzed include the Hanford Site in Washington; Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho; the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), and the WIPP vicinity in New Mexico; the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site) in Nevada; and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The Draft EIS also evaluates generic commercial disposal sites in four regions of the U.S., as well as a no action alternative.
DOE does not have, and did not identify, a “preferred alternative” for the disposal of GTCC and GTCC-like waste. DOE will include a preferred alternative in the Final EIS based on the analysis in the Draft EIS and public comments received. The preferred alternative could be a combination of two or more alternatives, based on the characteristics of the waste and other key factors. Before DOE makes a final decision on a disposal method or location, DOE must submit a report to Congress that includes a description of the alternatives under consideration and await action by Congress.
Nine public hearings are scheduled (three meetings are scheduled in New Mexico and one in each of the following states – South Carolina, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Washington, D.C. ). The Washington public meeting will be held on May 17 in Pasco and the Oregon Public meeting will be held on May 19 in Portland.
For questions about public participation, including submitting comments, or for further information on the GTCC LLRW EIS, please contact:
Office of Technical and Regulatory Support (EM-43)
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20585–0119