Thinking Through the Rethinking Report

by Edward C. Taylor, TRW Environmental Safety Systems Inc, Vienna, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


Congressional action in late 1992 set aside the existing standards for post-closure safety of a possible repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must develop new standards based on yet-to-be-completed studies by the National Academy of Sciences. It is not clear when there will be a new standard, and we cannot know what the National Academy studies will reveal. However, we can assess the possible impact by extrapolating a 1990 National Academy position statement that was based on their review of the regulatory features of the high-level radioactive waste disposal program. The analysis here proceeds from basic principles recommended in the position statement, and it develops the implied approach to demonstrating safety. The approach has the desired characteristics proposed in the position statement, but it also depends on and continues what the Department of Energy is already doing at the Yucca Mountain candidate repository site. Its new features are in its approach to organizing the post-closure safety demonstration, and these features are consistent with current planning principles at the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project Office. We conclude that if in fact the site is safe, and if the new regulations are consistent with the 1990 National Academy position statement, then these principles can lead to reasonable assurance of safety.

Subject Headings: Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Environmental Protection Agency | Geology | Safety | Legislation | Standards and codes | Nevada | United States

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