The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed a Trump administration decision involving use of nuclear materials. On June 30, the EPA announced that it was “withdrawing, revoking and rescinding” its conditional approval of The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) request to approve the use of phosphogypsum (PG) in road construction. PG is a radioactive byproduct of fertilizer production and is regulated by the EPA. This action follows the EPA’s earlier announcement that it is reviewing a Trump administration decision on cleanup standards for radionuclide-contaminated effluent at a Tennessee Superfund site, which we reported on. Together, the two decisions confirm that the EPA continues to scrutinize prior agency decisions and to more strictly regulate radioactive materials.
KEY TRENDS IN LAW AND POLICY REGARDING
NUCLEAR ENERGY AND MATERIALS
NUCLEAR ENERGY AND MATERIALS
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a site-specific review that has broader implications for Superfund site cleanups with radionuclide contamination. The EPA is reviewing a Trump-era decision on the applicability of water quality regulations for radionuclide-contaminated effluent from a Tennessee Superfund site. This review could result in reversing the prior determination that the Clean Water Act’s (CWA’s) technology-based effluent limits do not apply. If the EPA reverses this decision, it could signal that the EPA is looking to impose more stringent standards for the cleanup and discharge of radionuclide-contaminated water at other sites.
A panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on May 22 issued an order upholding a trial court’s dismissal of the long-running Cooper v. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. lawsuit.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) revised regulations regarding the medical use of byproduct material became effective on January 14, 2019—six months after being published in final form, and nearly a decade after the proposed rulemaking. See Medical Use of Byproduct Material—Medical Event Definitions, Training and Experience, and Clarifying Amendments, 83 Fed. Reg. 33,046 (July 16, 2018).
The New York Times recently published an important article discussing the tightening supply and uncertain future of MO-99, a short-lived medical isotope widely used for medical diagnostics in the United States and worldwide.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently put the final nail in the coffin of a nearly 10-year proposed rulemaking effort that would have required licensees to remediate residual radioactivity resulting from licensed activities during facility operation, rather than at license termination as required by the current rules.
Commission Significantly Reduces Scope of Proposed Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Rule Revisions
Since 2010, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff has been working on revisions to 10 C.F.R. Part 61, Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of (Low-Level) Radioactive Waste. The original effort was intended to focus on potential impacts from anticipated disposal of large quantities of depleted uranium (DU), which is considered a “unique waste stream,” from uranium enrichment facilities. But over the course of the last seven years, the Staff’s concerns over other possible unique waste streams grew, and so did the scope of the proposed changes to Part 61.
On September 26th, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an interesting order in the ongoing Navy sailor suit, Cooper et al. v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc., seeking the US Department of State’s views on the pending appeal.