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Waste Management: 

Roles of the Federal Agencies

Yucca Mountain Standards

Several federal agencies are responsible for one or more aspects of the proposed geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada:

The responsibilities of each agency is described briefly below. If you have questions or need more information, please contact us.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for developing site-specific standards for Yucca Mountain, Nevada. These standards protect public health and the environment from harmful exposure to the radioactive waste which would be stored and disposed in the proposed underground geologic repository. EPA’s standards address all environmental pathways: air, ground water, and soil.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for implementing the standards developed by EPA. NRC is also responsible for determining whether DOE can meet the standards, which is a prerequisite to opening the repository.

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Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy is responsible for the construction, management, and operation of the potential geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

DOE follows Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations to ensure the safety and health of workers on-site. DOE is working with the Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey on site characterization issues and activities.

If the site is licensed and approved to accept radioactive waste, DOE would obtain a license, construct, operate, monitor, and close the repository.

Before any waste could be transported to the site, DOE would route the carriers using Department of Transportation and Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for determining whether DOE will receive the necessary licenses to dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the potential Yucca Mountain repository.

Now that EPA's standards are finalized, NRC will revise its regulations to be consistent with EPA's standards.

If the Yucca Mountain site is approved to accept waste, shipments by NRC licensees to the site would be made in accordance with NRC and DOT transportation regulations. NRC is the approving authority for safeguard and security (theft and sabotage protection) of spent-fuel transportation.

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Department of Transportation

If waste transportation to Yucca Mountain is authorized, the Department of Transportation would be charged with ensuring that waste carriers comply with routing regulations and guidelines. Radioactive waste carrier drivers must be trained and retrained each year to tackle a variety of transport conditions and situations, including rough terrain and severe weather conditions. Drivers must complete a First Responders Course, to help them prepare for incident prevention and response. Additional emergency response support is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Administration which assists state and local governments in developing emergency response plans.

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Mine Safety and Health Administration/ Department of Labor

The Mine Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of underground workers at the Yucca Mountain facility. MSHA provides technical assistance and consultation services and conducts on-site safety and health visits at the facility.

  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA):
    Safety and Health Information
    This site provides information about various
    aspects of the MSHA mine safety.
  • MSHA Information
    This page provides links to historical and
    planning information for MSHA.

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