40 CFR § 192.20 - Guidance for implementation.

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§ 192.20 Guidance for implementation.

Section 108 of the Act requires the Secretary of Energy to select and perform remedial actions with the concurrence of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the full participation of any State that pays part of the cost, and in consultation, as appropriate, with affected Indian Tribes and the Secretary of the Interior. These parties, in their respective roles under section 108, are referred to hereafter as “the implementing agencies.” The implementing agencies shall establish methods and procedures to provide “reasonable assurance” that the provisions of Subparts A and B are satisfied. This should be done as appropriate through use of analytic models and site-specific analyses, in the case of Subpart A, and for Subpart B through measurements performed within the accuracy of currently available types of field and laboratory instruments in conjunction with reasonable survey and sampling procedures. These methods and procedures may be varied to suit conditions at specific sites. In particular:


(1) The purpose of Subpart A is to provide for long-term stabilization and isolation in order to inhibit misuse and spreading of residual radioactive materials, control releases of radon to air, and protect water. Subpart A may be implemented through analysis of the physical properties of the site and the control system and projection of the effects of natural processes over time. Events and processes that could significantly affect the average radon release rate from the entire disposal site should be considered. Phenomena that are localized or temporary, such as local cracking or burrowing of rodents, need to be taken into account only if their cumulative effect would be significant in determining compliance with the standard. Computational models, theories, and prevalent expert judgment may be used to decide that a control system design will satisfy the standard. The numerical range provided in the standard for the longevity of the effectiveness of the control of residual radioactive materials allows for consideration of the various factors affecting the longevity of control and stabilization methods and their costs. These factors have different levels of predictability and may vary for the different sites.

(2) Protection of water should be considered on a case-specific basis, drawing on hydrological and geochemical surveys and all other relevant data. The hydrologic and geologic assessment to be conducted at each site should include a monitoring program sufficient to establish background groundwater quality through one or more upgradient or other appropriately located wells. The groundwater monitoring list in Appendix IX of part 264 of this chapter (plus the additional constituents in Table A of this paragraph) may be used for screening purposes in place of Appendix I of part 192 in the monitoring program. New depository sites for tailings that contain water at greater than the level of “specific retention” should use aliner or equivalent. In considering design objectives for groundwater protection, the implementing agencies should give priority to concentration levels in the order listed under § 192.02(c)(3)(i). When considering the potential for health risks caused by human exposure to known or suspected carcinogens, alternate concentration limits pursuant to paragraph 192.02(c)(3)(ii) should be established at concentration levels which represent an excess lifetime risk, at a point of exposure, to an average individual no greater than between 10−4 and 10−6.

Table A to § 192.20(a)(2) - Additional Listed Constituents

Nitrate (as N)
Combined radium-226 and radium-228
Combined uranium-234 and uranium-238
Gross alpha-particle activity (excluding radon and uranium)

(3) The plan for remedial action, concurred in by the Commission, will specify how applicable requirements of subpart A are to be satisfied. The plan should include the schedule and steps necessary to complete disposal operations at the site. It should include an estimate of the inventory of wastes to be disposed of in the pile and their listed constituents and address any need to eliminate free liquids; stabilization of the wastes to a bearing capacity sufficient to support the final cover; and the design and engineering specifications for a cover to manage the migration of liquids through the stabilized pile, function without maintenance, promote drainage and minimize erosion or abrasion of the cover, and accommodate settling and subsidence so that cover integrity is maintained. Evaluation of proposed designs to conform to subpart A should be based on realistic technical judgments and include use of available empirical information. The consideration of possible failure modes and related corrective actions should be limited to reasonable failure assumptions, with a demonstration that the disposal design is generally amenable to a range of corrective actions.

(4) The groundwater monitoring list in Appendix IX of part 264 of this chapter (plus the additional constituents in Table A in paragraph (a)(2) of this section) may be used for screening purposes in place of Appendix I of part 192 in monitoring programs. The monitoring plan required under § 192.03 should be designed to include verification of site-specific assumptions used to project the performance of the disposal system. Prevention of contamination of groundwater may be assessed by indirect methods, such as measuring the migration of moisture in the various components of the cover, the tailings, and the area between the tailings and the nearest aquifer, as well as by direct monitoring of groundwater. In the case of vicinity properties (§ 192.01(l)(2)), such assessments may not be necessary, as determined by the Secretary, with the concurrence of the Commission, considering such factors as local geology and the amount of contamination present. Temporary excursions from applicable limits of groundwater concentrations that are attributable to a disposal operation itself shall not constitute a basis for considering corrective action under § 192.04 during the disposal period, unless the disposal operation is suspended prior to completion for other than seasonal reasons.


(1) Compliance with § 192.12(a) and (b) of subpart B, to the extent practical, should be demonstrated through radiation surveys. Such surveys may, if appropriate, be restricted to locations likely to contain residual radioactive materials. These surveys should be designed to provide for compliance averaged over limited areas rather than point-by-point compliance with the standards. In most cases, measurement of gamma radiation exposure rates above and below the land surface can be used to show compliance with § 192.12(a). Protocols for making such measurements should be based on realistic radium distributions near the surface rather than extremes rarely encountered.

(2) In § 192.12(a), “background level” refers to the native radium concentration in soil. Since this may not be determinable in the presence of contamination by residual radioactive materials, a surrogate “background level” may be established by simple direct or indirect (e.g., gamma radiation) measurements performed nearby but outside of the contaminated location.

(3) Compliance with § 192.12(b) may be demonstrated by methods that the Department of Energy has approved for use under Pub. L. 92-314 (10 CFR part 712), or by other methods that the implementing agencies determine are adequate. Residual radioactive materials should be removed from buildings exceeding 0.03 WL so that future replacement buildings will not pose a hazard [unless removal is not practical - see § 192.21(c)]. However, sealants, filtration, and ventilation devices may provide reasonable assurance of reductions from 0.03 WL to below 0.02 WL. In unusual cases, indoor radiation may exceed the levels specified in § 192.12(b) due to sources other than residual radioactive materials. Remedial actions are not required in order to comply with the standard when there is reasonable assurance that residual radioactive materials are not the cause of such an excess.

(4) The plan(s) for remedial action will specify how applicable requirements of subpart B would be satisfied. The plan should include the schedule and steps necessary to complete the cleanup of groundwater at the site. It should document the extent of contamination due to releases prior to final disposal, including the identification and location of listed constituents and the rate and direction of movement of contaminated groundwater, based upon the monitoring carried out under § 192.12(c)(1). In addition, the assessment should consider future plume movement, including an evaluation of such processes as attenuation and dilution and future contamination from beneath a disposal site. Monitoring for assessment and compliance purposes should be sufficient to establish the extent and magnitude of contamination, with reasonable assurance, through use of a carefully chosen minimal number of sampling locations. The location and number of monitoring wells, the frequency and duration of monitoring, and the selection of indicator analytes for long-term groundwater monitoring, and, more generally, the design and operation of the monitoring system, will depend on the potential for risk to receptors and upon other factors, including characteristics of the subsurface environment, such as velocity of groundwater flow, contaminant retardation, time of groundwater or contaminant transit to receptors, results of statistical evaluations of data trends, and modeling of the dynamics of the groundwater system. All of these factors should be incorporated into the design of a site-specific monitoring program that will achieve the purpose of the regulations in this subpart in the most cost-effective manner. In the case of vicinity properties (§ 192.01(l)(2)), such assessments will usually not be necessary. The Secretary, with the concurrence of the Commission, may consider such factors as local geology and amount of contamination present in determining criteria to decide when such assessments are needed. In cases where § 192.12(c)(2) is invoked, the plan should include a monitoring program sufficient to verify projections of plume movement and attenuation periodically during the extended cleanup period. Finally, the plan should specify details of the method to be used for cleanup of groundwater.

[48 FR 602, Jan. 5, 1983, as amended at 60 FR 2867, Jan. 11, 1995]