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Now, ought we to have you folks down at EPA lay out actual standards before we commence the program of remedially dealing with the milltailing question as regards inactive sites and also as regards the question of active sites?
Mr. Rowe. Yes, sir, I think so.
Mr. DINGELL. How long will it take for you to get something for us?
Mr. Rowe. I think for the inactive mills that immediately after the legislation is passed, we would be able to promulgate a proposed rule for the inactive mills and hold hearings on it and have environmental analysis of it.
Mr. FINNEGAN. You could do that all in 180 days?
Mr. RowE. Yes, sir, because I think we have all the information
Mr. FINNEGAN. Including an impact statement?
Mr. DINGELL. Do you have any objection, then, that that should be mandated?
Mr. RowE. No, sir, we do not. We think we can meet that.
Mr. FINNEGAN. You said a little while ago it could be for active as long as there was interim standards.
Mr. RowE. I think we could, yes, sir, set interim standards for active mills in 180 days. But I would not want to suggest that we would have all the technical information for a final deliberation in 180 days. There is no way I think that could be done. I think we have to wait until some of the remedial actions on the 22 sites are completed to see how effective they are.
Mr. FINNEGAN. OK. I think the chairman is concerned about the timing, and that is a concern I have. I think you are really optimistic in both cases that you can do that in 180 days, unless you can identify people and funds to do the job within that period of time.
Mr. Rowe. I can not only do that for you, sir; they have been available; they have been worked on for the past 3 years-
Mr. FINNEGAN. On phosphates.
Mr. Rowe. Which is directly applicable to the milltailings situation. The hard parts of the work, namely, the determination of the health impact and what these implications are, have been done, and they are directly applicable to the case for milltailings.
Mr. FINNEGAN. What if there is a contested hearing?
Mr. Rowe. Sir, we expect to go through hearings on the phosphate in the same way.
Mr. FINNEGAN. What kind of hearings are you talking about?
Mr. Rowe. Once we propose the phosphate standard, we expect to have hearings on these.
Mr. FINNEGAN. But in the legislation before you there is a contested hearing provision where there is opportunity for people to cross-examine, and so forth. It is not quite the informal legislativetype hearings where people just make statements?
Mr. Rowe. Well, EPA, according to this process, is following the same types of hearings we always have, which would be legislativetype hearings.
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Mr. FINNEGAN. Your testimony, then, is clear that as far as EPA's position is concerned, for the inactive operations and for the active as far as interim rule, that you can promulgate them finally within 180 days after enactment and the-
Mr. Rowe. With present resources, yes, sir.
Mr. FINNEGAN. With the present resources; no further increase in funds or personnel?
Mr. Rowe. That is correct, sir.
Mr. DINGELL. Gentlemen, I have to go down to the full committee. There is a vote going on down there that I cannot avoid, so the committee will stand in recess for 5 minutes while I run down there, and I will get back as quick as I can.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Mr. Chairman, I wanted to ask you whether you had any comments to make concerning section 275 language at page 27 of the bill and how EPA would set standards and how they would apply to sites, either active or inactive.
Mr. HENDRIE. Yes, Mr. Finnegan, I would like to comment.
It seems to me the language I now read in H.R. 13650 under section 206 of the bill is an appropriate definition. I believe the language has been drawn largely from the Reorganization Plan of 1970 which assigned to the EPA the authority for radiological health protection in the sense of the establishment of ambient standards, generally applicable standards for the protection of health and it now comes down to NRC, from AEC to regulate under those general standards and to lay specific requirements for licensing upon the facilities that we license to make sure that each of those facilities then meets the general standards.
It seems to me that the language, as laid out here, defines that in a way which is compatible with the Reorganization Plan 3 and that makes clear their authority to establish those generally applicable standards and at the same time also makes clear that, as you come inside the site boundary and begin to talk about features of the particular facility being licensed, that that becomes then the proper province of the NRC to deal with specific license provisions, means, methods, and so on to meet EPA's ambient standards at the site.
The language which you read a while ago to Mr. Rowe, I was a little concerned. It seemed to me that might lead to, in effect, a mixing of the two jurisdictions and a confusion of the interface between us by in effect bringing EPA down into the facility, the specific provisions that ought to be made in licensing a facility and I think that would indeed be undesirable in the statute language.
I would give a vote for the language now in that section 206.
Mr. FINNEGAN. I am not sure I totally agree with your interpretation of the language, that it is limited to outside the boundaries, as I understand what you are saying.
I agree with you that paragraph 2, line 21, is limited to outside the boundaries but I don't think paragraph 1 is. As a matter of fact, at least the structure of the language in paragraph 1 is a separate paragraph and it lies both within and outside the boundaries and I think could be interpreted as allowing EPA to set standards that apply to the sites themselves and going down to how much earth and everything else you are concerned about.
Is it your desire that the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 apply to such standards only outside the boundaries and therefore anything within the sites to meet those standards would be done through the NRC—through its own rulemaking or licensing process?
Mr. HENDRIE. That is the way I would both prefer that the arrangement be set up and would feel it would be an important feature in making clear the jurisdictions between the two agencies.
I think as we come within site boundaries and begin to deal with specific aspects of facilities that you are very much into the NRC licensing domain and it is desirable that the interface beween the agencies be outside that specific licensing.
On our difference in reading subsection (a)(1), I will have to give you legal precedence, Mr. Finnegan. I am not a lawyer and can only say it seemed to our people that it read off the preceding language, the EPA shall, by rule, promulgate and so on-generally applicable criteria and standards, such standards shall apply to these sites. I didn't quite read it that way.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Mr. Rowe, do you have any comments?
Mr. Rowe. Yes; I agree with Mr. Hendrie. Our intention is to work outside the site boundary. The problem we see in some of the wording is that in the long-run what do we mean by a site boundary? After it is abandoned and there is no longer institutional control, we have trouble defining what is a site boundary. Thus, from the long-range planning aspect of setting such standards, there are some questions; but I am not sure we couldn't live with the language.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Does that include from the nonradiological side too? You want to set outside the boundaries?
Mr. GALPIN. The problem is, at the time you dispose of this material, you put it in a stabilized manner and that area of land no longer has a discernible fence or boundary or may not have. We are interested in setting criteria and standards for protection of the general public, not for those people who are occupationally exposed in this context. Therefore, I think you would prefer something that connotated that we were talking about locations where there would be potential exposure to members of the general public.
Mr. FINNEGAN. You are also in agreement that generally paragraphs 1 and 2 should be prefaced by the idea it means outside the boundaries.
Mr. GALPIN. As I say, in that case I don't know what the boundaries mean. Therefore, I would prefer it be replaced by us setting standards at locations where there may be exposure to members of the general public.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Well, what does that mean?
Mr. GALPIN. It means that any place there is access by members of the general public, the EPA standard would be applicable.
Mr. FINNEGAN. What about the workers?
Mr. RowE. I should comment our existing uranium fuel cycle standards do cover the operation of mills and NRC licensing regulations under those standards are being developed now to meet existing standards.
Mr. HENDRIE. I wanted to comment with regard to nonradiological hazards, I certainly have no objection to the kind of language that appears in here about EPA setting standards, but I was going to comment if there were no such language it would be the Commission's intent to regulate the hazardous nonradiological, but hazardous aspects of these tailings under our NEPA authorities and in a way that would be compatible with the EPA standards, so I think we are fully in agreement on those things, that whether the statute specifically says do it that way or not, that would be the NRC's intent.
Mr. FINNEGAN. I point out to you, Mr. Rowe, that in section 107, the inactive, you always refer to outside the boundaries of the processing site and disposal site so if your objection is to the inactive, that seems to apply here too.
Mr. GALPIN. Yes, sir, it does.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Why does NRC believe it will take 3 years to implement the regulatory provisions of the bill? Do all the Commissioners agree on that point?
Mr. HENDRIE. I should note Commissioner Gilinsky thinks 2 years is enough time. A good part of the time is connected with allowing our agreement States a reasonable chance to work with us in fixing up their agreements, first, and, second, I think it may require some—it could even require some legislation in some States to allow them to meet what this legislation would require in agreement with NRC before it could apply to the mill. A certain amount of time is necessary for that.
Let me look over my shoulder and make sure that is correct.
Counsel suggests new legislation in the States might not be necessary because he thinks that most States would have these things fall under the general police powers of the State. We also need a little time to get our own regulations in shape.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Does NRC or the States now license under the Atomic Energy Act all uranium mill operations that are in existence today?
Mr. HENDRIE. That are active now. I think we do.
Mr. HENDRIE. Let me make sure about the States. Certainly anything not in an agreement State we regulate. That is the law of the land, the Atomic Energy Act.
Let me make sure an agreement State couldn't let slide. OK. The agreement States also have to, I guess under the comparability requirement, have to conform.
Mr. FINNEGAN. What is the term of those licenses?
Mr. FINNEGAN. Is it intended this legislation would apply to those licensed operations?
Mr. HENDRIE. Surely.
Mr. FINNEGAN. When would it apply to those people? Would it apply at the end of the license term or in midterm?
Mr. HENDRIE. I think as the bill is drafted we would start getting ready to make license amendments to conform to the intent of the legislation here and the requirements, to be effective at the 3-year point, I assume.
Mr. FINNEGAN. That gets us back to the 3-year issue then. Shouldn't the bill require that the person seeking the license, or the person who needs to comply with this, have to file an application for it, say within 18 months after enactment? I see several problems. One problem is when EPA sets standards.
Second, in the 3-year time you could take up a large part of the time waiting for EPA and at the same time develop your own rule. In the meantime, the potential licensees, both existing and new ones, would only have a few months left to finally file an application. Doesn't there have to be some deadline?
Last, if it is a 5-year license, why would you require them to do it now and not wait until the license renewal?
Mr. HENDRIE. I suppose in fact the legislation could be written so you would pick up these requirements on facilities as their current license expired and what that would do would depend on the way you write it, but I suppose that means you might be implementing the requirements over some period like 3 years from enactment, maybe out to about 5, which would correspond to a license that had been issued just before the enactment, for instance, and I expect that wouldn't be unreasonable either.
We have been thinking in terms of going ahead at the 3-year mark, going ahead and getting the licenses amended to meet requirements here. It obviously means we have to begin talking to licensees some time ahead.
Actually I would think fairly soon after enactment of the bill, so people know what is coming and what is going to be required and licensees could think about what they want to do about these requirements.
Mr. FINNEGAN. We have received some testimony from Mr. Gleason of the American Nuclear Energy Council who has suggested retroactive application of NRC criteria could place an economic hardship on mill operators and could possibly disrupt production.
The uncertainty could be removed from the legislation by grandfathering existing mills. Do you agree with that?
Mr. HENDRIE. If you grandfather the existing mills—that is, everything up to enactment—then that means we are going to have something like 115 or 120 million tons of tailings out there on which the control is only through conditions which we in the last few years have been putting on mill licenses making the mill operator say, "Well, we promised to do thus and so with the pile when we were through” and we make that a condition on their getting a license.
I am not sure that all of the 115 or 120 million tons of tailings out there are subject to those kinds of conditions. I don't think they
I think probably more than half of the existing milltailings stacks will not fall in situations where we already have conditions on the licensees.
What that means is, down the line you are going to be looking at another remedial tailings program. The present one is looking at about 25 million tons and you would be looking at one for 50 to 75 million tons.