Department of Energy
Nevada Operations Office
P.O. Box 98518
Las Vegas, NV 89193-8518

November 21, 1997

Mark W. Frei, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Waste Management, DOE/HQ (EM-30)


As you know, we have entered into discussions with the state of Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) concerning Joint Oversight of Low-Level Waste Operations at the NTS. At the direction of Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, Alvin L. Alm (EM-1), DOE\NV has undertaken this initiative as a model to other sites within the DOE complex. Our intentions about this initiative were conveyed in a letter to EM-30 staff, dated July 29, 1997, concerning DOE/NV budgets, the WM PEIS, and the adoption of DOE Order 435.1

During these discussions with the NDEP, a critical issue has surfaced concerning the degree to which DOE can delegate regulatory oversight authority to a state agency under the Atomic Energy Act. The NDEP's position is that regulatory authority exists with DOE, similar to that authority existing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NDEP is also of the opinion that DOE has full authority to delegate this oversight authority to individual states, along with permitting, enforcement, and penalty authority. We have been informed that an analysis of this regulatory authority has been undertaken by EM-30

In order for these discussions with the state of Nevada to move forward, as directed by EM-1, it is imperative that DOE/NV be provided a determination by DOE/HQ whether a delegation of oversight authority to the state of Nevada is within the bounds of DOE's authority. EM-30 and GC recommendations concerning this joint oversight process will allow DOE\NV to proceed with the development of a complex-wide process.

Should you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Stephen A. Mellington, Acting Deputy Assistant Manager for Environmental Management at (702) 295-2123, or Ken M.Small, Waste Management Division, at (702) 295-1933.

Carl P. Gertz, Acting Assistant Manager
for Environmental Management


cc: P.J. Liebendorfer, NDEP, Carson City, NV



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