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Proposed Rule

Central Characterization Project Waste Characterization Program Documents Applicable to Transuranic Radioactive Waste From the Argonne National Laboratory-East Site Proposed for Disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION:

Notice of availability; opening of public comment period.

SUMMARY:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, or “we”) is announcing an inspection for the week of September 9, 2002, at the Argonne National Laboratory-East (ANL-E). With this document, we also announce availability of Department of Energy (DOE) documents in the EPA Docket, and solicit public comments on the documents available in the docket for a period of 30 days. The following DOE documents, entitled “CCP-PO-001—Revision 4, 5/31/02—CCP Transuranic Waste Characterization Quality Assurance Project Plan” and “CCP-PO-002—Revision 4, 5/17/02—CCP Transuranic Waste Certification Plan,” are available for review in the public dockets listed in ADDRESSES. We will consider public comments received on or before the due date mentioned in DATES. In accordance with EPA's WIPP Compliance Criteria, we will conduct an inspection at ANL-E to verify that, using the systems and processes developed as part of the DOE Carlsbad Office's central characterization project (CCP), DOE can characterize TRU waste at ANL-E properly, consistent with the Compliance Criteria.

DATES:

EPA is requesting public comment on the documents. Comments must be received by EPA's official Air Docket on or before September 16, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be submitted to: EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Air and Radiation Docket, Docket No. A-98-49, EPA West, Mail Code 6102T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460. The DOE documents are available for review in the official EPA Air Docket in Washington, DC, Docket No. A-98-49, Category II-A2, and at the following three EPA WIPP informational docket locations in New Mexico: in Carlsbad at the Municipal Library, Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 am-9 pm, Friday-Saturday, 10 am-6 pm, and Sunday 1 pm-5 pm; in Albuquerque at the Government Publications Department, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, Hours: vary by semester; and in Santa Fe at the New Mexico State Library, Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm.

As provided in EPA's regulations at 40 CFR part 2, and in accordance with normal EPA docket procedures, if copies of any docket materials are requested, a reasonable fee may be charged for photocopying. Air Docket A-98-49 in Washington, DC, accepts comments sent electronically or by fax (fax: 202-260-4400; e-mail: a-and-r-docket@epa.gov).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Rajani D. Joglekar, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, (202) 564-7734. You can also call EPA's toll-free WIPP Information Line, 1-800-331-WIPP or visit our Website at http://www.epa/​gov/​radiation/​wipp.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

DOE is operating the WIPP near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico as a deep geologic repository for disposal of TRU radioactive waste. As defined by the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act (LWA) of 1992 (Public Law 102-579), as amended (Public Law 104-201), transuranic (TRU) waste consists of materials containing elements having atomic numbers greater than 92 (with half-lives greater than twenty years), in concentrations greater than 100 nanocuries of alpha-emitting TRU isotopes per gram of waste. Much of the existing TRU waste consists of items contaminated during the production of nuclear weapons, such as rags, equipment, tools, and sludges.

On May 13, 1998, EPA announced its final compliance certification decision to the Secretary of Energy (published May 18, 1998, 63 FR 27354). This decision stated that the WIPP will comply with EPA's radioactive waste disposal regulations at 40 CFR part 191, subparts B and C.

The final WIPP certification decision includes conditions that (1) prohibit shipment of TRU waste for disposal at WIPP from any site other than the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) until the EPA determines that the site has established and executed a quality assurance program, in accordance with §§ 194.22(a)(2)(i), 194.24(c)(3), and 194.24(c)(5) for waste characterization activities and assumptions (Condition 2 of appendix A to 40 CFR part 194); and (2) prohibit shipment of TRU waste for disposal at WIPP from any site other than LANL until the EPA has approved the procedures developed to comply with the waste characterization requirements of § 194.22(c)(4) (Condition 3 of appendix A to 40 CFR part 194). The EPA's approval process for waste generator sites is described in § 194.8. As part of EPA's decision-making process, the DOE is required to submit to EPA appropriate documentation of quality assurance and waste characterization programs at each DOE waste generator site seeking approval for shipment of TRU radioactive waste to WIPP. In accordance with § 194.8, EPA will place such documentation in the official Air Docket in Washington, DC, and informational dockets in the State of New Mexico for public review and comment.

EPA will perform an inspection of the TRU waste characterization activities Start Printed Page 53331performed by the DOE's Central Characterization Project (CCP) staff at the Argonne National Laboratory-East (ANL-E) in accordance with Condition 3 of the WIPP certification. We will evaluate the adequacy, implementation, and effectiveness of the CCP technical activities contracted by the ANL-E for characterization of the disposal of retrievably-stored debris waste at the WIPP. The overall program adequacy and effectiveness of CCP/ANL-E documents will be based on the following DOE-provided documents: (1) CCP-PO-001—Revision 4, 5/31/02—CCP Transuranic Waste Characterization Quality Assurance Project Plan and (2) CCP-PO-002—Revision 4, 5/17/02—CCP Transuranic Waste Certification Plan. EPA has placed these DOE-provided documents pertinent to the ANL-E inspection in the public docket described in ADDRESSES. The documents are included in item II-A2-40 in Docket A-98-49. In accordance with 40 CFR 194.8, EPA is providing the public 30 days to comment on these documents. The inspection is scheduled to take place the week of September 9, 2002.

EPA will inspect the following technical elements for characterizing retrievably-stored TRU debris and solid waste: data validation and verification, acceptable knowledge, nondestructive assay (NDA-WIT and APNEA), Digital Radiography/Computed Tomography, visual examination, and data tracking and reporting via the WIPP Waste Information System.

If EPA determines as a result of the inspection that the proposed CCP waste characterization processes and programs used at ANL-E adequately control the characterization of transuranic waste, we will notify DOE by letter and place the letter in the official Air Docket in Washington, DC, as well as in the informational docket locations in New Mexico. A letter of approval will allow DOE to ship transuranic waste from ANL-E to the WIPP. The EPA will not make a determination of compliance prior to the inspection or before the 30-day comment period has closed.

Information on the certification decision is filed in the official EPA Air Docket, Docket No. A-93-02 and is available for review in Washington, DC, and at three EPA WIPP informational docket locations in New Mexico. The dockets in New Mexico contain only major items from the official Air Docket in Washington, DC, plus those documents added to the official Air Docket since the October 1992 enactment of the WIPP LWA.

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Dated: August 9, 2002.

Robert Brenner,

Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation.

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[FR Doc. 02-20864 Filed 8-14-02; 8:45 am]

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