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Low-Activity Radioactive Waste
Waste Management: 

What's Next?

Low-Activity Radioactive Waste

What is happening now that the public comment period is over?

EPA is evaluating comments to help determine how to proceed. In some cases, it may be necessary for us to contact commenters so that we can better understand their comments. In other cases, multiple commenters have agreed on the overall goal, but disagreed on the best way to achieve it. Other commenters have identified additional technical or regulatory analyses that they believe EPA should perform. It will take some time for us to sort through, understand, and address all of the comments.

In addition, other organizations are conducting studies that may influence EPA's decision, such as the recent National Academy of Science's Improving the Regulation and Management of Low-Activity Radioactive Wastes.

When will EPA decide what to do?

Since July of 2004, we have been focused on amending our Yucca Mountain standards. Many of the resources that would have been evaluating comments and determining our next steps have been shifted to this work. We anticipate that the Yucca Mountain standards rulemaking will remain a higher priority throughout 2007. When we are able, we do intend to continue to explore low-activity waste disposal options.

I’m still not sure what an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” or “ANPR,” is. Did a regulation go into effect in 2004, when the comment period ended?

No changes have resulted from the ANPR. An ANPR is a way for regulatory agencies to obtain public input on ideas and concepts, particularly when the agency is not certain of the need for new regulation or the best way to construct one.

We issued the ANPR on “low-activity” waste in order to present ideas that might lead to improvements in managing these wastes. We wanted to see whether the problems we perceived actually exist and whether there are actions we can take that would help improve the situation. Potential actions include a rulemaking, issuing guidance, or some combination. There is always the possibility that we will take no action.

The comments we received will help us determine what to do next. If we decide that a rulemaking is the best course of action, the next step would be to issue a formal proposal that would explicitly define “low-activity” waste and other requirements. The public would also have a chance to comment on any such proposal.

Can I see comments that have been submitted?

Yes, all comments will be posted on the federal electronic docket system, Regulations.gov and be available to the public for viewing, printing, or downloading. The LARW Dockets page provides instructions on using Regulations.gov.

How do I find specific comments that I want to look at?

You can page through the comments using the buttons at the top and bottom of each page to reach a specific comment by number or page through,viewing 25 comments per page.

How will I know what EPA does with my comments?

As we examine the comments, we plan to summarize the comments and the perspectives we have heard on the many issues presented in the ANPR. As our analysis proceeds, we will decide on the best way to present these issues back to the public and other interested stakeholders. We will provide more information on this web site as that process develops.

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