The Governor's Letter

BACKGROUND On June 30, 1997 Governor Bob Miller sent the following letter to DOE Assistant Secretary Alvin Alm. The letter outlines the Governor's proposal to initiate a shared regulatory overshight process for the disposal of Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLW) at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) in Southern Nevada. The NTS is being considered as as a regional or centralized disposal site for LLW in DOE's recently released Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).

Capitol Complex
Carson City, Nevada 89710
(702) 687-4486
Fax: (702) 687-4486
June 30, 1997
    Mr. Alvin L. Alm
    Assistant Secretary for Environmental management
    U.S. Department of Energy
    Washington D.C. 20585
    Dear Secretary Alm:
    Thank you for responding to the State of Nevada's proposal concerning the prospect of joint federal/state regulatory oversight of low-level waste operations at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). Since the NTS is now being used as a disposal site for many DOE facilities, and given that forthcoming federal decisions will likely increase this activity per DOE's Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), it is timely and appropriate to consider the concept of shared regulatory oversight proposed by my administration.

    In your letter of June 11, 1997, you mentioned that certain legal concerns must be addressed before considering state regulation of DOE activities in areas of nuclear safety. While I agree that we must proceed in a manner that does not jeopardize federal responsibilities, we nevertheless can begin by exploring reasonable alternatives that will allow state oversight of low-level waste management activities at the NTS. For example, to address federal supremacy issues, state oversight could be accomplished by adopting certain DOE orders as state regulations. As you know, this practice is presently used to delegate federal EPA program responsibilities to the states. Moreover, Nevada officials are aware that DOE is currently revising its waste management orders to be more consistent with other federal regulatory standards for radioactive waste management. I believe this action lends itself well to the concept of shared federal/state regulatory oversight, and it directly coincide with DOE's recent initiative favoring external regulation.

    I appreciate your willingness to discuss issues of importance to the State and to that end I would like to propose that representatives from my office contact DOE officials in Nevada and begin a process to develop a shared regulatory concept for NTS waste storage and disposal operations, as well as to begin a dialogue about issues of similar concern that have arisen as a result of the Waste Management PEIS.

    In a related matter, my representatives will be developing detailed comments on your national and site-specific 2006 cleanup plan, DOE's FY- 1999 budget for Environmental Management, and the Department's Final Waste Management PEIS. Because each of these initiatives will have potentially significant impacts in Nevada, we hope you give careful consideration to our concerns.

    Bob Miller

Robert R. Loux, NWPO
Lew Dodgion, Environmental Protection
Gerry Johnson, DOE/NV
John Thomasian,NGA

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