Subject: 64FR27826A Order To Exempt Envirocare of Utah, Inc. From Certain NRC Licensing Requirements for Special Nuclear Material
Date: 21 May 1999 06:34:59 -0400
Organization: Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
Lines: 316
Message-ID: <64FR27826A@us.govnews.org>
Posting-number: Volume 64, Issue 98, Page 27826A
[Federal Register: May 21, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 98)]
[Notices]               
[Page 27826-27828]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr21my99-119]

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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 40-8989]

 
Order To Exempt Envirocare of Utah, Inc. From Certain NRC 
Licensing Requirements for Special Nuclear Material

Background

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the Commission) is 
issuing an Order pursuant to section 274f of the Atomic Energy Act to 
Envirocare of Utah, Inc. (Envirocare) from certain NRC regulations. The 
exemption will allow Envirocare, under specified conditions, to possess 
waste containing special nuclear material (SNM), in greater mass 
quantities than specified in 10 CFR part 150, at Envirocare's low-level 
waste (LLW) disposal facility located in Clive, Utah, without obtaining 
an NRC license pursuant to 10 CFR part 70. NRC has previously published 
an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact 
in the Federal Register. In addition, a description of the operations 
at the facility and staff's safety analysis for the exemption are 
discussed in a Safety Evaluation Report (SER), which is available in 
the public docket room.

Order

I.

    Envirocare of Utah, Inc. (Envirocare) operates a low-level waste 
disposal facility in Clive, Utah. This facility is licensed by the 
State of Utah, an NRC Agreement State, under a 10 CFR part 61 
equivalent license (UT 2300249). In 1988, Envirocare began accepting 
naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) waste. In 1992, 
Envirocare began accepting very low activity, low-level waste (LLW) 
primarily generated during the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. 
Envirocare's State of Utah radioactive materials license (RML) has been 
amended to permit disposal of other types of LLW. Envirocare is also 
licensed by Utah to dispose of mixed radioactive and hazardous wastes 
(MW). In addition, Envirocare has an NRC license to dispose of waste 
containing 11(e)2 byproduct material. The MW and 11(e)2 byproduct 
material are disposed of in separate disposal cells from the LLW. The 
MW and LLW streams may contain quantities of special nuclear material 
(SNM).
    Envirocare receives wastes by rail and truck. Separate storage and 
disposal facilities exist for the LLW and MW. Envirocare's method of 
disposal is to remove the waste from its container or dump bulk waste 
into lifts and compact the material. Subsequent lifts of material are 
placed above completed lifts. The waste streams are diverse and vary 
from contaminated soils and debris from decommissioning facilities to 
dry active waste (DAW) and resins from operating facilities.
    In addition to disposing of mixed waste, Envirocare also has 
capabilities to treat mixed waste prior to disposal. This treatment 
typically includes chemically stabilizing of hazardous constituents by 
mixing the waste with various reagents, and micro- and macro-
encapsulation of waste with low density polyethylene plastic. The 
applicable hazardous waste regulations require bench scale treatability 
studies prior to treating the bulk of the waste.

II

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 70.14, ``the Commission may * * * grant such 
exemptions from the requirements of the regulations in this part as it 
determines are authorized by law and will not endanger life or property 
or the common defense and security and are otherwise in the public 
interest.''
    Section 70.3 of 10 CFR Part 70 requires persons who own, acquire, 
deliver, receive, possess, use, or transfer SNM to obtain a license 
pursuant to the requirements in 10 CFR Part 70. Section 10 CFR 150.10 
exempts persons in Agreement States, who possess SNM in quantities not 
sufficient to form a critical mass, from Commission-imposed licensing 
requirements and regulations. The method for calculating a quantity of 
SNM not sufficient to form a critical mass is set forth in 10 CFR 
150.11. Therefore, Envirocare is currently limited by regulation and 
its State of Utah license to possess SNM in quantities set out in 10 
CFR 150.10 and 150.11. The SNM possession limits in the regulation and 
license, as they relate to LLW disposal facilities, apply to above-
ground possession prior to disposal. Therefore, once the SNM is 
disposed of, the possession limits no longer apply.
    In response to an inspection by the State of Utah which determined 
that Envirocare had exceeded its Agreement State license limits for the 
possession of U-235, NRC conducted its own

[[Page 27827]]

inspection of the facility. As a result of this inspection, NRC issued 
a Confirmatory Order (Order), dated June 25, 1997, which required 
Envirocare to reduce its possession of SNM to the amounts prescribed in 
10 CFR 150.11 and Envirocare's Agreement State license, and to submit a 
compliance plan (CP) for meeting 10 CFR 150.10 and 150.11 to NRC for 
approval. Condition 3 of the Order required Envirocare to include all 
SNM in the restricted area at the site in applying the limitations in 
10 CFR 150.10 and 150.11. Envirocare submitted a CP dated July 23, 
1997, which was approved by NRC in a letter, dated August 1, 1997. 
Under the provisions of the CP, all waste containing SNM with the 
exception of waste ``in transport'' which is located within the 
restricted area at Envirocare's site is subject to the limitations in 
10 CFR 150.10 and 150.11. However, trucks containing SNM waste can 
proceed directly to the disposal cell and would be considered ``in 
transport'' and not in Envirocare's possession. This condition is 
applicable provided that the waste was disposed of on the same calendar 
day as arrival, and that the amount of SNM in any individual truck did 
not exceed the limits in 10 CFR 150.11. When NRC approved the CP on 
August 13, 1997, Condition 3 of the Order was revised to incorporate 
the terms of the CP.
    When Envirocare submitted its July 23, 1997, CP, it noted that 
application of the ``in transport'' approach to rail shipments and 
shipments disposed on the same day they are received would greatly 
assist operational flexibility at no risk to public health and safety. 
Based on consultation with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 
the NRC has concluded that the ``in transport'' approach would not 
apply to rail shipments. However, the staff believes the circumstances 
warrant some action to provide Envirocare the needed flexibility 
without undue risk to public health and safety. The NRC staff has been 
informed that, in order to accommodate possession limits, rail 
shipments containing SNM waste are being transferred to trucks in Salt 
Lake City, Utah, for transport to the Envirocare disposal facility. In 
response to questions raised in a letter from the State of Utah, NRC 
accompanied DOT on an inspection of the Salt Lake City rail yard and to 
the carriers facilities. DOT concluded that the process observed met 
DOT's requirements; however, NRC staff concluded that the process 
resulted in an increased number of trips, leading to a slightly higher 
probability of a transportation accident. Prior to the Order and CP, 
these shipments were transported by rail directly to the site. Thus the 
Order and CP have led to increased waste handling and the increased 
possibility of container rupture and resultant spillage in a 
metropolitan area.

III

    NRC staff has reviewed the current shipping practice and considers 
it to be less desirable from a health and safety standpoint than having 
the rail cars proceed directly to the site. However, Condition 3 of the 
Order and the CP, as they now stand, effectively preclude many rail 
cars containing SNM from being brought onto the Envirocare site. 
Envirocare would need to obtain a license or an exemption from the NRC 
under 10 CFR part 70 that would permit it to possess the SNM in the 
cars on the site. Such SNM might well exceed the limits in 10 CFR 
150.10 and 150.11, as well as the limits of the State of Utah license.
    In this instance, the staff believes that the appropriate action is 
to issue Envirocare an exemption. Specifically, Envirocare would be 
exempted from the requirements of 10 CFR part 70, including the 
requirements for an NRC license in 10 CFR 70.3, for SNM within the 
restricted area at Envirocare's site, provided that:
    1. Concentrations of SNM in individual waste containers must not 
exceed the following values at time of receipt:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Maximum     Measurement
                Radionuclide                  concentration  uncertainty
                                                 (pCi/g)       (pCi/g)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
U-235a......................................         1900           285
U-235b......................................         1190           179
U-235c......................................          160            24
U-235d......................................          680           102
U-233.......................................       75,000        11,250
Pu-236......................................          500            75
Pu-238......................................       10,000         1,500
Pu-239......................................       10,000         1,500
Pu-240......................................       10,000         1,500
Pu-241......................................      350,000        50,000
Pu-242......................................       10,000         1,500
Pu-243......................................          500            75
Pu-244......................................          500           75
------------------------------------------------------------------------
a For uranium below 10 percent enrichment and a maximum of 20 percent
  MgO of the weight of the waste.
b For uranium at or above 10 percent enrichment and a maximum of 20
  percent MgO of the weight of the waste.
c For uranium at any enrichment with unlimited MgO or beryllium.
d For uranium at any enrichment with sum of MgO and beryllium not
  exceeding 49 percent of the weight of the waste.

    The measurement uncertainty values in column 3 above represent the 
maximum one-sigma uncertainty associated with the measurement of the 
concentration of the particular radionuclide.
    The SNM must be homogeneously distributed throughout the waste. If 
the SNM is not homogeneously distributed, then the limiting 
concentrations must not be exceeded on average in any contiguous mass 
of 145 kilograms.
    2. Except as allowed by notes a, b, c, and d in Condition 1, waste 
may not contain ``pure forms'' of chemicals containing carbon, 
fluorine, magnesium, or bismuth in bulk quantities (e.g., a pallet of 
drums, a B-25 box). By ``pure forms,'' it is meant that mixtures of the 
above elements such as magnesium oxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium 
fluoride, bismuth oxide, etc. do not contain other elements. These 
chemicals would be added to the waste stream during processing, such as 
at fuel facilities, or treatment such as at mixed waste treatment 
facilities. The presence of the above materials will be determined by 
the generator, based on process knowledge or testing.
    3. Except as allowed by notes c and d in Condition 1, waste 
accepted may not contain total quantities of beryllium, hydrogenous 
material enriched in deuterium, or graphite above one percent of the 
total weight of the waste. The presence of the above materials will be 
determined by the generator, based on process knowledge, physical 
observations, or testing.
    4. Waste packages may not contain highly water soluble forms of 
uranium greater than 350 grams of uranium-235 or 200 grams of uranium-
233. The sum of the fractions rule will apply for mixtures of U-233 and 
U-235. Highly soluble forms of uranium include, but are not limited to: 
uranium sulfate, uranyl acetate, uranyl chloride, uranyl formate, 
uranyl fluoride, uranyl nitrate, uranyl potassium carbonate, and uranyl 
sulfate. The presence of the above materials will be determined by the 
generator, based on process knowledge or testing.
    5. Mixed waste processing of waste containing SNM must be limited 
to stabilization (mixing waste with reagents), micro-encapsulation, and 
macro-encapsulation using low-density polyethylene.
    6. Envirocare shall require generators to provide the following 
information for each waste stream:
Pre-Shipment
    1. Waste Description. The description must detail how the waste was 
generated, list the physical forms in the waste, and identify uranium 
chemical composition.

[[Page 27828]]

    2. Waste Characterization Summary. The data must include a general 
description of how the waste was characterized (including the 
volumetric extent of the waste, and the number, location, type, and 
results of any analytical testing), the range of SNM concentrations, 
and the analytical results with error values used to develop the 
concentration ranges.
    3. Uniformity Description. A description of the process by which 
the waste was generated showing that the spatial distribution of SNM 
must be uniform, or other information supporting spatial distribution.
    4. Manifest Concentration. The generator shall describe the methods 
to be used to determine the concentrations on the manifests. These 
methods could include direct measurement and the use of scaling 
factors. The generator shall describe the uncertainty associated with 
sampling and testing used to obtain the manifest concentrations.
    Envirocare shall review the above information and, if adequate, 
approve in writing this pre-shipment waste characterization and 
assurance plan before permitting the shipment of a waste stream. This 
will include statements that Envirocare has a written copy of all the 
information required above, that the characterization information is 
adequate and consistent with the waste description, and that the 
information is sufficient to demonstrate compliance with conditions 1 
through 4. Where generator process knowledge is used to demonstrate 
compliance with conditions 1, 2, 3, or 4, Envirocare shall review this 
information and determine when testing is required to provide 
additional information in assuring compliance with the conditions. 
Envirocare shall retain this information as required by the State of 
Utah to permit independent review.
At Receipt
    Envirocare shall require generators of SNM waste to provide a 
written certification with each waste manifest that states that the SNM 
concentrations reported on the manifest do not exceed the limits in 
Condition 1, that the measurement uncertainty does not exceed the 
uncertainty value in Condition 1, and that the waste meets conditions 2 
through 4.
    7. Sampling and radiological testing of waste containing SNM shall 
be performed in accordance with the Utah Division of Radiation Control 
license Condition 58.
    8. Envirocare shall notify the NRC, Region IV office within 24 
hours if any of the above conditions are violated. A written 
notification of the event must be provided within 7 days.
    9. Envirocare shall obtain NRC approval prior to changing any 
activities associated with the above conditions.
    Considering that this exemption will permit Envirocare to exceed 
the SNM possession limits in 10 CFR part 150 which will be in direct 
conflict with the Confirmatory Order dated June 25, 1997, the 
Confirmatory Order is hereby rescinded when this Order becomes 
effective. Moreover, the provisions in Envirocare's CP will no longer 
be in effect.
    The licensing requirements in 10 CFR part 70 apply to persons 
possessing greater than critical mass quantities (as defined in 10 CFR 
150.11). The principle emphasis of part 70 is criticality safety and 
safeguarding SNM against diversion or sabotage. The NRC staff believes 
that criticality safety can be maintained by relying on concentration 
limits, under the specified conditions. Section 150.11 establishes the 
quantities of SNM considered not sufficient to form a critical mass. 
The concentration limits in this notice are considered as an acceptable 
alternative to the definition provided in Sec. 150.11, thereby assuring 
the same level of protection. Moreover, storing the SNM within the 
Envirocare restricted area will increase the security and safeguarding 
of the SNM.
    Therefore, the Commission concludes that this proposed exemption 
will have no significant radiological or nonradiological environmental 
impacts.

IV

    Based on the above evaluation, the Commission has determined, 
pursuant to 10 CFR 70.14, that the exemption of above activities at the 
Envirocare disposal facility is authorized by law, and will not 
endanger life or property or the common defense and security and are 
otherwise in the public interest. Accordingly, by this Order the 
Commission hereby grants this exemption. The exemption will become 
effective after the State of Utah has incorporated the above conditions 
into Envirocare's RML.
    Pursuant to the requirements in 10 CFR part 51, the Commission has 
published an EA for the proposed action wherein it has determined that 
the granting of this exemption will have no significant impacts on the 
quality of the human environment. Copies of the EA and SER are 
available for public inspection at the Commission's Public Document 
Room, located at 2120 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037.

    Dated at Rockville, MD., this 7th day of May 1999.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Carl J. Paperiello,
Director, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 99-12905 Filed 5-20-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P