A number of Federal and State regulatory agencies have jurisdiction over the former Western New York Service Center (WNYNSC) site. They include the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). In arriving at a Preferred Alternative, these and other agencies formed a Core Team to address scientific and technical issues leading up to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Decommissioning Plan. The regulatory role of each agency is described in greater detail below.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): The NRC has the authority to regulate radioactive materials and facilities throughout the United States under the Atomic Energy Act. The NRC licensed construction and operation of the nuclear fuel reprocessing facility at the WNYNSC site and retains direct responsibility for that license. The NRC issued the license to the Nuclear Fuel Services Company (NFS), as operator, and to NYSERDA’s predecessor agency as owner. NFS’ obligations were terminated under amendments to the license following passage of the West Valley Demonstration Project Act. NYSERDA’s responsibilities under the license are being held in abeyance while the Department of Energy is conducting the demonstration project.
The West Valley Demonstration Project Act and a Memorandum of Understanding between DOE and NRC define NRC’s unique roles and responsibilities with respect to activities conducted by DOE at the WVDP. These have included reviewing plans for waste solidification – the vitrification process. They also include reviewing safety analysis reports, consulting with DOE on waste form and containers, and prescribing decontamination and decommissioning criteria for project facilities.The NRC issued its Final Policy Statement for West Valley on February 1, 2002.
The NRC has delegated a portion of its authority to regulate certain radioactive materials and non-DOE facilities to states through the “Agreement State Program.” New York has been an NRC Agreement State since 1962 and has regulatory authority for the State-Licensed Disposal Area (SDA). NYSDEC and NYSDOH are the designated regulatory agencies under the program. The NRC retains responsibility for ensuring that the New York Agreement Program is compatible with the corresponding NRC program and adequately protects public health and safety.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), and the Clean Water Act (CWA), EPA is responsible for regulating hazardous waste, air emissions, and discharges into waters of the United States. Like the NRC, EPA has delegated responsibility to certain states, including New York, for many of these regulatory programs. However, new or changing requirements continue to be administered by EPA in authorized states. EPA retains regulatory authority over new requirements until a state’s program is modified to address them.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC): Under state law, NYSDEC has authority to regulate the release of pollutants to the environment within New York State. EPA has authorized NYSDEC to exercise regulatory authority for hazardous waste, nonradiological sources of air emissions, and discharges into waters. Under the Agreement State Program with NRC, NYSDEC has authority for regulating discharges of radioactive material to the environment.
New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH): Under New York law, NYSDOH is responsible for regulating occupational safety in non-federal industrial facilities where radioactive materials are received, possessed and used (including commercial low-level radioactive waste management facilities). NYSDOH regulates public drinking water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act. County health departments administer this program for NYSDOH. The agency also conducts state-wide environmental radiation monitoring with emphasis on major nuclear facilities including the WNYNSC site.