EPA Considering Proposal to RCRA Landfill Low-Level Nuclear Wastes

Date: February 25, 2008

Source: News Room

The EPA is said to be reconsidering a controversial proposal that may open hazardous waste landfills to low-level radioactive waste by regulating them under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA). The plan addresses Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concerns about diminishing disposal capacity for these wastes and the increasing cost to decommission nuclear facilities. A big concern is whether RCRA landfills housing low-level nuclear waste could later be used for new construction and development. Currently, most low-level nuclear waste is disposed of at NRC-licensed facilities, but some states allow its disposal in RCRA landfills on a case-by-case basis. The agency's plan would establish a uniform national policy. Pressure is building from the NRC and the nuclear industry to find alternative locations, especially with the impending partial closure of a major facility in Barnwell, SC next July. However, environmentalists and others are concerned that RCRA landfills could leak low-level radioactive waste into surrounding soil and groundwater; and, that radiation from the waste could boost the volatility of other hazardous materials in the landfill, thus increasing potential health risks.

For more information on the US EPA, visit: www.epa.gov.

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