Northwest Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management

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Northwest Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Compact
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Formation date: 1985
Member jurisdictions: 8
Issue(s): Waste
Compact website

The Northwest Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Compact is an interstate compact among Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The compact ensures multi-state cooperation regarding the proper management and disposal of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW).

History

In the late 1970s, there were three LLRW disposal facilities in the United States. Governors in two of the host states, Nevada and Washington, temporarily closed their facilities to waste from other states, citing growing concerns that their states were disproportionately burdened with the nation's waste.

On the recommendation of the National Governors' Association, Congress passed the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act in 1980, shifting the responsibility of waste disposal back to individual states. The aim was to spur the development of smaller, regional facilities, which is precisely what was achieved by the Northwest Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management and eight other regional waste disposal compacts.[1]

Text of the compact

The legislature of each member state passes the laws with certain modifications, but the core of the legislation remains the same.

Article I: Policy and Purpose

The party states recognize that low-level radioactive wastes are generated by essential activities and services that benefit the citizens of the states. It is further recognized that the protection of the health and safety of the citizens of the party states and the most economical management of low-level radioactive wastes can be accomplished through cooperation of the states in minimizing the amount of handling and transportation required to dispose of such wastes and through the cooperation of the states in providing facilities that serve the region. It is the policy of the party states to undertake the necessary cooperation to protect the health and safety of the citizens of the party states and to provide for the most economical management of low-level radioactive wastes on a continuing basis. It is the purpose of this compact to provide the means for such a cooperative effort among the party states so that the protection of the citizens of the states and the maintenance of the viability of the states’ economies will be enhanced while sharing the responsibilities of radioactive low-level waste management.

Article II: Definitions

As used in this compact:

  1. "Facility" means any site, location, structure or property used or to be used for the storage, treatment or disposal of low-level waste, excluding federal waste facilities.
  2. "Low-level waste" means waste material which contains radioactive nuclides emitting primarily beta or gamma radiation, or both, in concentrations or quantities which exceed applicable federal or state standards for unrestricted release. Low-level waste does not include waste containing more than 10 nanocuries of transuranic contaminants per gram of material, nor spent reactor fuel, nor material classified as either high-level waste or waste which is unsuited for disposal by near-surface burial under any applicable federal regulations.
  3. "Generator" means any person, partnership, association, corporation or any other entity whatsoever which, as a part of its activities, produces low-level radioactive waste.
  4. "Host state" means a state in which a facility is located.

Article III: Regulatory Practices

Each party state hereby agrees to adopt practices which will require low-level waste shipments originating within its borders and destined for a facility within another party state to conform to the applicable packaging and transportation requirements and regulations of the host state. Such practices shall include:

  1. Maintaining an inventory of all generators within the state that have shipped or expect to ship low-level waste to facilities in another party state.
  2. Periodic unannounced inspection of the premises of such generators and the waste management activities thereon.
  3. Authorization of the containers in which such waste may be shipped and a requirement that generators use only that type of container authorized by the state.
  4. Assurance that inspections of the carriers which transport such waste are conducted by proper authorities and appropriate enforcement action is taken for violations.
  5. After receiving notification from a host state that a generator within the party state is in violation of applicable packaging or transportation standards, the party state will take appropriate action to assure that such violations do not recur. Such action may include inspection of every individual low-level waste shipment by that generator.
  6. Each party state may impose fees upon generators and shippers to recover the cost of the inspections and other practices under this Article. Nothing in this Article shall be construed to limit any party state’s authority to impose additional or more stringent standards on generators or carriers than those required under this Article.

Article IV: Regional Facilities

  1. Facilities located in any party state, other than facilities established or maintained by individual low-level waste generators for the management of their own low-level waste, shall accept low-level waste generated in any party state if such waste has been packaged and transported according to applicable laws and regulations.
  2. No facility located in any party state may accept low-level waste generated outside of the region comprised of the party states, except as provided in Article V.
  3. Until such time as paragraph (2) of this Article takes effect as provided in Article VI, facilities located in any party state may accept low-level waste generated outside of any of the party states only if such waste is accompanied by a certificate of compliance issued by an official of the state in which such waste shipment originated. Such certificate shall be in such form as may be required by the host state and shall contain at least the following:
    • (a) The generator’s name and address;
    • (b) A description of the contents of the low-level waste container;
    • (c) A statement that the low-level waste being shipped has been inspected by the official who issued the certificate or by an agent of the official or by a representative of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and found to have been packaged in compliance with applicable federal regulations and such additional requirements as may be imposed by the host state; and
    • (d) A binding agreement by the state of origin to reimburse any party state for any liability or expense incurred as a result of an accidental release of such waste, during shipment or after such waste reaches the facility.
  4. Each party state shall cooperate with the other party states in determining the appropriate site of any facility that might be required within the region comprised of the party states, in order to maximize public health and safety while minimizing the use of any one party state as the host of such facilities on a permanent basis. Each party state further agrees that decisions regarding low-level waste management facilities in the region will be reached through a good faith process which takes into account the burdens borne by each of the party states as well as the benefits each has received.
  5. The party states recognize that the issue of hazardous chemical waste management is similar in many respects to that of low-level waste management. Therefore, in consideration of the State of Washington allowing access to its low-level waste disposal facility by generators in other party states, party states such as Oregon and Idaho which host hazardous chemical waste disposal facilities will allow access to such facilities by generators within other party states. Nothing in this compact shall be construed to prevent any party state from limiting the nature and type of hazardous chemical or low-level wastes to be accepted at facilities within its borders or from ordering the closure of such facilities, so long as such action by a host state is applied equally to all generators within the region comprised of the party states.
  6. Any host state may establish a schedule of fees and requirements related to its facility to assure that closure, perpetual care, and maintenance and contingency requirements are met, including adequate bonding.

Article V: Northwest Low-Level Waste Compact Committee

The governor of each party state shall designate one official of that state as the person responsible for administration of this compact. The officials so designated shall together comprise the Northwest low-level waste compact committee. The committee shall meet as required to consider matters arising under this compact. The parties shall inform the committee of existing regulations concerning low-level waste management in their states and shall afford all parties a reasonable opportunity to review and comment upon any proposed modifications in such regulations. Notwithstanding any provision of Article IV to the contrary, the committee may enter into arrangements with states, provinces, individual generators or regional compact entities outside the region comprised of the party states for access to facilities on such terms and conditions as the committee may deem appropriate. However, it shall require a two-thirds vote of all such members, including the affirmative vote of the member of any party state in which a facility affected by such arrangement is located, for the committee to enter into such arrangement.

Article VI: Eligible Parties and Effective Date

  1. Each of the following states is eligible to become a party to this compact: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. As to any eligible party, this compact shall become effective upon enactment into law by that party, but it shall not become initially effective until enacted into law by two states. Any party state may withdraw from this compact by enacting a statute repealing its approval.
  2. After the compact has initially taken effect pursuant to paragraph (1) of this Article any eligible party state may become a party to this compact by the execution of an executive order by the governor of the state. Any state which becomes a party in this manner shall cease to be a party upon the final adjournment of the next general or regular session of its legislature or July 1, 1983, whichever occurs first, unless the compact has by then been enacted as a statute by that state.
  3. Paragraph (2) of Article IV of this compact shall take effect on July 1, 1983, if consent is given by Congress. As provided in Public Law 96-573, Congress may withdraw its consent to the compact after every five-year period.

Article VII: Severability

If any provision of this compact, or its application to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, all other provisions of this compact, and the application of all of its provisions to all other persons and circumstances, shall remain valid; and to this end the provisions of this compact are severable.

See also

External links

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References