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Envirocare of Utah, Inc.; Order Modifying Exemption From Requirements Relative to Possession of Special Nuclear Material

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Start Preamble

Envirocare of Utah, Inc., (Envirocare) operates a low-level waste (LLW) disposal facility in Clive, Utah. This facility is licensed by the State of Utah, an Agreement State. Envirocare is also licensed by Utah to dispose of mixed radioactive and hazardous wastes. In addition, Envirocare has a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license to dispose of byproduct material as defined in 10 CFR part 40.

Section 70.3 of 10 CFR part 70 requires persons who own, acquire, deliver, receive, possess, use, or transfer special nuclear material (SNM) to obtain a license pursuant to the requirements in 10 CFR part 70. The licensing requirements in 10 CFR part 70 apply to persons in Agreement States possessing greater than critical mass quantities as defined in 10 CFR 150.11.

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.”

On May 24, 1999, the NRC transmitted an Order to Envirocare of Utah, Inc. The Order was published in the Federal Register on May 21, 1999 (64 FR 27826). The Order exempted Envirocare from certain NRC regulations and permitted Envirocare, under specified conditions, to possess waste containing SNM in greater quantities than specified in 10 CFR part 150, at Envirocare's LLW disposal facility located in Clive, Utah, without obtaining an NRC license pursuant to 10 CFR part 70. The methodology used to establish these limits is discussed in the 1999 Safety Evaluation Report (SER) that supported the 1999 Order.

On January 30, 2003, the NRC revised the Order to (1) Include stabilization of liquid waste streams containing SNM; (2) include the thermal desorption process; (3) change the homogenous contiguous mass limit from 145 kg to 600 kg; (4) change the language and SNM limit associated with footnotes “c” and “d” of Condition 1 to reflect all materials in Conditions 2 and 3; and (5) omit the confirmatory testing requirements for debris waste. The revised Order was published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2003 (68 FR 7399).

Envirocare, in a letter dated July 8, 2003, proposed that NRC amend the 2003 Order to: (1) Include additional SNM concentration limits to Condition 1 of the Order, including limits for SNM with and without magnesium oxide and limits for additional enrichments of uranium-235; (2) revise the limits in Condition 1 to be in units of gram of SNM per gram of waste rather than the current units of pCi of SNM per gram of waste; and (3) increase the limits of plutonium isotopes and uranium-233 to allow for greater flexibility in accepting liquid SNM waste. In addition, Envirocare has requested an evaluation of three new waste treatment technologies. The NRC is evaluating Envirocare's request in two phases. This Start Printed Page 74987modification of the Order addresses the revisions to the table in Condition 1, to include criticality-based concentration limits without magnesium oxide. Phase two will be subject to a separate evaluation and revision of the Order.

A principal emphasis of 10 CFR part 70 is criticality safety and safeguarding SNM against diversion or sabotage. The staff considers that criticality safety can be maintained by relying on concentration limits, under the conditions specified below. Safeguarding SNM against diversion or sabotage is not considered a significant issue because of the diffuse form of the SNM in waste meeting the conditions specified. These conditions are considered an acceptable alternative to the criticality definition provided in 10 CFR 150.11, thereby assuring the same level of protection. The staff reviewed safety aspects of the proposed action (i.e., granting Envirocare's request) in the Safety Evaluation Report, dated September 23, 2003. The staff concluded that additional conditions were required to maintain sufficient protection of health, safety, and the environment. The exemption conditions would be revised as follows:

1. Concentrations of SNM in individual waste containers must not exceed the following values at time of receipt:

RadionuclideMaximum concentration with MgO (g SNM/g waste)Maximum concentration without MgO (g SNM/g waste)
U-235 a8.6E-49.9E-4
U-235 b5.4E-46.2E-4
U-235 c1.2E-51.2E-5
U-235 d3.1E-43.1E-4
U-235 e7.3E-57.3E-5
U-2337.7E-64.7E-4
Pu-2391.6E-72.8E-4
Pu-2413.5E-92.2E-4
a for uranium below 10 percent enrichment. Column 1 considers a maximum of 20 percent of the weight of the waste of materials listed in Condition 2. Column 2 considers that materials in condition 2 are not present in bulk quantities.
b For uranium at or above 10 percent enrichment. Column 1 considers a maximum of 20 percent of materials listed in Condition 2 of the weight of the waste of materials listed in Condition 2
c For uranium at any enrichment with unlimited quantities of materials listed in Conditions 2 and 3
d For uranium at any enrichment with sum of materials listed in Conditions 2 and 3 not exceeding 45 percent of the weight of the waste
e For uranium at any enrichment with unlimited MgO or beryllium

Plutonium isotopes other than Pu-239 and Pu-241 do not need to be considered in demonstrating compliance with this condition. When mixtures of these SNM isotopes are present in the waste, the sum-of-the-fractions rule, as illustrated below, should be used.

The concentration values in Condition 1 are operational values to ensure criticality safety. Where the values in Condition 1 exceed concentration values in the corresponding conditions of the State of Utah Radioactive Material License (RML), the concentration values in the RML, which are averaged over the container, may not be exceeded. Higher concentration values are included in Condition 1 to be used in establishing the maximum mass of SNM for non-homogeneous solid waste and liquid waste. The measurement uncertainty values should be less than or equal to 15 percent of the concentration limit, and 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 600 kilograms of waste.

2. Except as allowed by notes a, b, c, and d in Condition 1, waste must 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, d, and e in Condition 1, waste accepted must 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 must 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. Waste processing of waste containing SNM will be limited to stabilization (mixing waste with reagents), micro-encapsulation, macro-encapsulation using low-density and high-density polyethylene and thermal desorption.

When waste is processed using the thermal desorption process, Envirocare shall confirm the SNM concentration following processing and prior to returning the waste to temporary storage. Start Printed Page 74988

Liquid waste may be stabilized provided the SNM concentration does not exceed the SNM concentration limits in Condition 1. For containers of liquid waste with more than 600 kilograms of waste, the total mass of SNM shall not exceed the SNM concentration in Condition 1 times 600 kilograms of waste. Waste containing free liquids and solids shall be mixed prior to treatment. Any solids shall be maintained in a suspended state during transfer and treatment.

6. Envirocare shall require generators to provide the following information for each waste stream:

Pre-shipment

a. Waste Description. The description must detail how the waste was generated, list the physical forms in the waste, and identify uranium chemical composition.

b. 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.

c. 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.

d. Manifest Concentration. The generator must 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 must 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 must be performed in accordance with the following: one sample for each of the first ten shipments of a waste stream; or one sample for each of the first 100 cubic yards of waste up to 1,000 cubic yards of a waste stream, and one sample for each additional 500 cubic yards of waste following the first ten shipments or following the first 1,000 cubic yards of a waste stream. Sampling and radiological testing of debris waste containing SNM ( that is exempted from sampling by the State of Utah) can be eliminated if the SNM concentration is lower than one tenth of the limits in Condition 1.

8. Envirocare shall notify the NRC, Region IV office within 24 hours if any of the above conditions are not met, including if a batch during a treatment process exceeds the SNM concentrations of Condition 1. 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.

Based on the staff's 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 is otherwise in the public interest. Accordingly, by this Order, the Commission grants an exemption subject to the stated conditions. The exemption will become effective after the State of Utah has incorporated the above conditions into Envirocare's radioactive materials license. In addition, at that time, the Order transmitted in January 2003 will no longer be effective.

Pursuant to the requirements in 10 CFR part 51, the Commission has prepared an Environmental Assessment for the proposed action and has determined that the granting of this exemption will have no significant impacts on the quality of the human environment. This finding was noticed in the Federal Register on October 16, 2003 (68 FR 59645).

The request for the modifying the Order are available for inspection at NRC's Public Electronic Reading Room at <http://www.nrc.gov/​reading-rm/​adams.html> ML031950334. Staff's Environmental Assessment and Safety Evaluation Report may be obtained at the above web site using ML032691442 and ML032680942. Any questions with respect to this action should be referred to Anna H. Bradford, Environmental and Performance Assessment Branch, Division of Waste Management, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001. Telephone: (301) 415-5228, Fax: (301) 415-5397.

Start Signature

Dated at Rockville, Maryland this 16th day of December, 2003.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Martin J. Virgilio,

Director, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.

End Signature End Preamble

[FR Doc. 03-31875 Filed 12-24-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7590-01-P