Critics alarmed by US nuclear agency’s bid to relax rules on radioactive waste. The federal agency providing oversight of the commercial nuclear sector is attempting to push through a rule change critics say could allow dangerous amounts of radioactive material to be disposed of in places like municipal landfills, with potentially serious consequences to human health and the environment. “This would be the most massive deregulation of radioactive waste in American history,” said Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear industry watchdog non-profit, about a proposal that would permit “very low-level” radioactive waste to be disposed of by “land burial”. Currently, low-level radioactive waste is primarily disposed of in highly regulated sites in Texas, Washington, South Carolina and Utah. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) also provides exemptions allowing “low-level waste” to be dumped in unlicensed disposal sites, but these exemptions are given only rarely, and are conducted with strict case-by-case protocols in place. The proposed “interpretive” rule change relaxes the rules surrounding how radioactive materials would be disposed of in unlicensed disposal sites “significantly”, said Hirsch. “If you dump radioactive waste in places that aren’t designed to deal with it, it comes back to haunt you. It’s in the air you breathe, the food that you eat, the water you drink,” he added.
Guardian 7th May 2020 read more »