Page images
PDF
EPUB

This position agreement does not appear to agree with the DOE
position stated by you and Under Secretary Myers that the Government
"should take responsibility for the cleanup." It is obvious that
the three agencies were concerned in 1966 about adverse effects.

(a) We request a copy of all letters, memoranda, etc., leading up to

and subsequent to this Agreement. Please have EPA search their
old Federal Water Pollution Control Administration files as well.

(b) When did the Government change this joint position and why?

(c)

What effort was made as a result of this agreement to have the
States take this responsibility?

Answer:

The "Joint Federal Agency Position Regarding Control of Uranium Mill Tailings" which was furnished to the Committee by Union Carbide Corporation was consistent with the AEC's attitude toward mill tailings in 1966. We are providing a copy of the May 6, 1966, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the Committee on Public Works, United States Senate, on the Problem of Radioactive Water Pollution in the Colorado River Basin. The statement of Dr. Peter A. Morris, Director, Division of Operational Safety of the AEC appearing on pages 15-20, reflects AEC attitudes at that time. He notes (page 20) that AEC contracts do not deal with the question of tailings management, and concludes that evidence at that time does not support a conclusion that uranium tailings piles represent a radiation hazard to the environment. He class if ied them as a nuisance, but saw no mechanism by which a hazard might develop

Shortly thereafter, the investigation of use of tailings for construction purposes in Grand Junction, Colorado, began to develop factual data on radiation exposure levels in these structures. The principal hazard was found to be a combination of direct gamma radiation, and radon gas and its decay products. The studies showed that radon, which is the initial product of the radioactive disintegration of radium, diffused readily through concrete floors into the enclosed space of the building. The daughter products of radon are solids, which largely remain within the lung when inhaled. This pattern of exposure was not anticipated by anyone.

Studies of radiation exposures in the vicinity of tailings piles up to 1966 were largely concerned with stream pollution, and with particulate matter blown from tailings piles being an inhalation hazard. It was largely to control these exposure pathways that AEC, HEW and DOE offered to provide advice and assistance under the agreement signed in 1966.

The results of the efforts made under this agreement are described in detail in the Phase I and II reports on the inactive sites. They are far from satisfactory.

The engineering assessment reports just completed contain the results
of detailed examinations of the radiological conditions at each site,
and an identification and evaluation of the more important exposure
pathways. Present and future public exposure levels are calculated.
We believe the set of reports constitutes the most comprehensive study
of the public health significance of the inactive tailings sites
published so far. They reveal that the two major exposure sources
are the radon gas which emanates continuously into the atmosphere
around the site, and direct gamma radiation both from the tailings
piles and windblown material in their general vicinity.

[ocr errors]

(a) We are not aware of any letters, memoranda, etc., leading up to

or subsequent to this agreement relating thereto.

(b) As noted above, change in Government attitude came about as new

evidence at Grand Junction and other sites indicated that radiation
exposures were more significant than earlier studies had indicated.
The passage of NEPA has also resulted in closer controls being
Instituted over uranium milling operations. The growing number of
lung cancer cases among U.S. uranium miners has added to the concern.
The principal source of exposure of these miners is the inhalation
of the radon daughters.

(c)

To our knowledge this agreement has not really been implemented by the signatories except in the normal context of license activities. In effect it constitutes an agreement among three Federal agencies that the responsibility for mill tailings should belong to others who were not signers of the agreement.

9. Question:

Please provide to us a statement showing what revenues the public land
States received in the form of royalties or other payments under the
Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 from uranium production, etc.,

for supply to the U.S. under contract?

Answer:

We are advised that uranium is not a mineral subject to the Mineral
Leasing Act of 1920.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Polls city, Texas

2,445

1,840

Ray Point, Texas

Riverton, Wyoming

6,400

6,000

Total ulo Riverton (rounded)
Total w/Riverton (rounded)

$80,000

$124,000 $130,000

$86,000

N'NETY FIFTH CONGRESS

ROOM 320
HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING ANNEX NO. 2

PHONE (202) 225-1090

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

O O DINELL, MICH., CHAIRMAN
DOWOLONTINGER, MY. CLARENCE J. DROWN, OHIO
KORONT (0) KURVEGDR, TOL CARLOS J. MOORNCAD, CAUF.
MUL DU INO.

JAMO M. COLLINS, TU
MMONY TOY MO YET.COM. W. MENSON MOORE,
TO GARMEL TEX.

DAVE STOCKMAN, MICK.
OMOS MU, NY.

EDWARD , MADIGAN, ILL DANO L LATTOMOS IL, VA. SAMUEL L. DEVINE, ONIO TOT LA COLA

(ex ornicio) NONCE MALORE, NJ. DWMO LM, MASL DOVO VALORO PA NONTATO meg STAGE W. VA

(pc ornao)

SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND POWER

OTHE

COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20515

October 5, 1978

The Honorable John F.. O'Leary
Deputy Secretary
Department of Energy
Forrestal Building
1000 Independence Avenue, S. W.
Washington, D. C. 20545

Dear Mr. O'Leary:

Your October 4, 1978 letter concerning H. R. 13650, indicates that your understanding of the "present situation", relative to the bill, is that there are "four substantive areas of disagreement between the provisions of the bill reported" by the Commerce Committee and the Senate Committees.

In the first place, your analysis of the "present situation" is inaccurate. As of this moment, there are a number of specific differences between the House and the two Senate Committees. Our staff and that of the House Interior Committee have not yet met to discuss such differences, simply because, until Tuesday of this week, the House had not acted on H. R. 13650 and because our staff has been working on the National Energy Act legislation.

We have, however, seen a "wish list" of changes that your staff showed us last week, before the House acted on H. R. 13650. Strangely enough, that list is identical to one shown to us by a Senator and includes your "Attachment II". When that Senator briefly mentioned it to me, he indicated that the DOE supported those changes. That list apparently had been prepared by your staff without consultation with me or any member of our Subcommittee staff. It generally ignored our Committee's action on the bill. Your staff was then informed that they should stop trying to "broker" changes between the House and the Senate on this bill.

I want to reiterate that point for now and in all future cases. I will not countenance interference of this type in negotiations between the House and the Senate. If we ever need the Department of Energy to negotiate for us with the Senate, we will advise you.

When you and I briefly discussed this bill about a week ago in my office, all I urged was that the Administration make it clear to the Senate, just as you have to the House, that it did not support the 100 percent funding proposed by that body. I advised you that I would not support this legislation at that funding level. That continues to be my position and I have seen little persuasive evidence that it should be otherwise.

I have made a serious effort to obtain enactment of this bill because I believe it is meritorious, as currently drafted by the House. But the bill is not, in my judgment, so important that I will adopt any changes just to get a bill enacted. I am deeply concerned about its cost and any precedent it may establish and about the adequacy of the regulatory program. Unless I am fully satisfied that the costs are reasonable, that no undesirable precedents are being established, and that the regulatory program to be administered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the States is adequate and even-handed, I will not support final passage of this bill or a companion version in the NRC authorization passed by the Senate.

In regard to Attachment I, I do not agree with that suggestion. The legislative-type hearing you suggest is undesirable, and would set a precedent for other legislation which I find objectionable. As you correctly observe, no NRC license is now required for remedial action. The license requirement only applies after such action is completed and responsibility for the site has been transferred to the United States.

No one in the Senate has thus far raised the hearing problem that you mention. The Senate concerns, as I understand them, are quite different. They do not want DOE to be ordered by the NRC to spend further money on these sites beyond normal maintenance and monitoring without a new authorization from Congress. I fully agree with that concern and hope to work out an amendment with the Senate to meet it, if necessary.

In the case of Attachment II, I once again find it strange that the DOE is suggesting changes to amendments that relate to matters under the jurisdiction of the NRC and not the DOE. That independent agency must be allowed to formulate its own judgments. It does not need the DOE to speak for it. Even more serious is your support of an amendment that changes the House bill without consulting this Committee and the Interior Committee, particularly when it eliminates the NEPA language adopted by

In any

our Committee. That suggestion is clearly not welcomed by me.
event, it is a provision that we will discuss with the Senate to see
what, if any, accommodations can be made by all Members concerned.

As to the merits, I fail to understand why a mill which is located in a non-agreement State should be faced with requirements emanating from the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 that are different than those required for a mill located in an agreement State. The accident of location should not be controlling from the standpoint of competition or public health and safety.

I strongly suggest that you let the House and Senate work out this legislation within the few days left to us. I assure you that our Committee, working closely with Chairman Udall's Committee, will seek to get the best bill possible. I presume that the Senate shares the same objectives.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »