This Web page contains general information on radioactive mixed waste, and provides links to proposed and promulgated rules pertaining to the management of mixed waste:
- What is Mixed Waste?
- Mixed Waste Rule - Final and Proposed Rulemakings
- Information Collection Requests (ICRs)
- Storage, Treatment, Transportation and Disposal of Mixed Waste
For more information on the generation, treatment, and disposal of mixed waste, visit EPA's Mixed Waste Program.
Mixed waste contains both radioactive and hazardous waste components. As a result, both treatment and regulation are complex. Mixed wastes are regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). In general, the requirements of RCRA and AEA are consistent and compatible. However, in cases where requirements of the two acts are found to be inconsistent, the AEA takes precedence.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) regulate the radioactive portion of mixed waste under AEA authority, while EPA regulates the hazardous waste portion of mixed waste under RCRA authority.
Most commercially-generated (i.e., non-DOE) mixed waste is classified as low-level mixed waste (LLMW). LLMW is waste that contains low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) and hazardous waste. LLRW is defined as any radioactive waste that is not high-level radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel, or byproduct material. LLMW is generated commercially in all 50 states at industrial, hospital, and nuclear power plant facilities in a number of processes such as medical diagnostic testing and research, pharmaceutical and biotechnology development, pesticide research, and nuclear power plant operations.
The US DOE produces three types of mixed waste:
- Low-level mixed waste (LLMW) - results from research, development, and production of nuclear weapons. An estimated 226,000 cubic meters (m3) of DOE LLMW will require management over the next 20 years.
- High-level mixed waste (HLW) - results from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel and irradiated targets from reactors. These wastes often contain highly-corrosive components, organics, or heavy metals that are regulated under RCRA. DOE has about 399,000 m3 of HLW stored in large tanks at four locations across the U.S.
- Mixed transuranic waste (MTRU) - contains radioactive elements heavier than uranium and a hazardous waste component. MTRU is primarily generated from nuclear weapons fabrication, plutonium bearing reactor fuel fabrication, and spent fuel reprocessing.
The US DOE is currently self-regulating and its orders apply to DOE sites and contractors. As mandated by the Federal Facilities Compliance Act (FFCA), which was signed into law in October 6, 1992, DOE has developed Site Treatment Plans to handle its mixed wastes under the review of EPA and authorized states.
EPA's Mixed Waste Rule, finalized on May 16, 2001, provides increased flexibility to generators and facilities that manage low-level mixed waste (LLMW) and technologically-enhanced, naturally-occurring, and/or accelerator-produced radioactive material (NARM) containing hazardous waste. LLMW is exempt from some RCRA storage and treatment regulations, and LLMW or eligible NARM from RCRA hazardous waste transportation and disposal regulations. These wastes are exempt from RCRA Subtitle C requirements, including permitting, provided they meet specific conditions. The exempt wastes must then be managed as radioactive waste in accordance with NRC or NRC Agreement State Regulations.
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. SeeEPA's PDF pageto learn more.
May 16, 2001
- Final Rule: Storage, Treatment, Transportation, and Disposal of Mixed Waste || Final Rule (PDF) (50 pp, 134K)
- RCRA Docket Index of Documents for Mixed Waste Final Rule (PDF) (3 pp, 6K)
- Environmental Fact Sheet: Low-Level Mixed Waste Conditionally Exempt from Hazardous Waste Regulation (PDF) (2 pp, 14K)
November 19, 1999
- Proposed Rule: Storage, Treatment, Transportation, and Disposal of Mixed Waste || Proposed Rule (PDF) (39 pp, 703K)
March 1, 1999
- Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Approach to Reinventing Regulations of Storing Mixed Low-level Radioactive Waste
Supporting materials and public comments for these notices are available through the electronic public docket and comment system, Regulations.gov. To find materials in older dockets no longer open for comment, use the Advanced Search feature.
April 26, 2004
Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Storage, Treatment, Transportation and Disposal of Mixed Wastes (Docket number: RCRA-2004-0002) || Proposed Collection (PDF) (2 pp, 60K)