DOE Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement for Disposal of Greater-Than-Class C Waste

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that evaluates the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed development, operation, and long-term management of one or more disposal facilities for greater-than-class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive waste (LLRW).

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 assigned the responsibility for the disposal of GTCC LLRW to the federal government. DOE’s Office of Environmental Management was designated as the specific office responsible for GTCC LLRW disposal. DOE remains committed to disposing of the GTCC LLRW.

The Department evaluated five alternatives in the Final EIS for the disposal of the GTCC LLRW and DOE-owned GTCC-like waste. The preferred alternative for the disposal is the Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, and/or land disposal at generic commercial facilities. The land disposal conceptual designs could be altered to provide the optimal application at a given location.

GTCC LLRW has radionuclide concentrations exceeding the limits for Class C LLRW as established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. GTCC waste is generated commercially. GTCC-like radioactive waste is owned or generated by DOE and has characteristics similar to GTCC LLRW. GTCC-like waste consists of LLRW and non-defense-generated transuranic waste.

The Final EIS is not a decision on GTCC LLRW waste disposal. Prior to making a final decision on which disposal alternative(s) to implement, which will be included in a Record of Decision, the Department will submit a Report to Congress on disposal alternatives for GTCC LLRW and await action by Congress as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.