40 CFR Appendix C to Part 191, Guidance for Implementation of Subpart B
[Note: The supplemental information in this appendix is not an integral part of 40 CFR part 191. Therefore, the implementing agencies are not bound to follow this guidance. However, it is included because it describes the Agency's assumptions regarding the implementation of subpart B. This appendix will appear in the Code of Federal Regulations.]
The Agency believes that the implementing agencies must determine compliance with §§ 191.13, 191.15, and 191.16 of subpart B by evaluating long-term predictions of disposal system performance. Determining compliance with § 191.13 will also involve predicting the likelihood of events and processes that may disturb the disposal system. In making these various predictions, it will be appropriate for the implementing agencies to make use of rather complex computational models, analytical theories, and prevalent expert judgment relevant to the numerical predictions. Substantial uncertainties are likely to be encountered in making these predictions. In fact, sole reliance on these numerical predictions to determine compliance may not be appropriate; the implementing agencies may choose to supplement such predictions with qualitative judgments as well. Because the procedures for determining compliance with subpart B have not been formulated and tested yet, this appendix to the rule indicates the Agency's assumptions regarding certain issues that may arise when implementing §§ 191.13, 191.15, and 191.16. Most of this guidance applies to any type of disposal system for the wastes covered by this rule. However, several sections apply only to disposal in mined geologic repositories and would be inappropriate for other types of disposal systems.
Consideration of Total Disposal System. When predicting disposal system performance, the Agency assumes that reasonable projections of the protection expected from all of the engineered and natural barriers of a disposal system will be considered. Portions of the disposal system should not be disregarded, even if projected performance is uncertain, except for portions of the system that make negligible contributions to the overall isolation provided by the disposal system.
Scope of Performance Assessments. Section 191.13 requires the implementing agencies to evaluate compliance through performance assessments as defined in § 191.12(q). The Agency assumes that such performance assessments need not consider categories of events or processes that are estimated to have less than one chance in 10,000 of occurring over 10,000 years. Furthermore, the performance assessments need not evaluate in detail the releases from all events and processes estimated to have a greater likelihood of occurrence. Some of these events and processes may be omitted from the performance assessments if there is a reasonable expectation that the remaining probability distribution of cumulative releases would not be significantly changed by such omissions.
Compliance with § 191.13. The Agency assumes that, whenever practicable, the implementing agency will assemble all of the results of the performance assessments to determine compliance with § 191.13 into a “complementary cumulative distribution function” that indicates the probability of exceeding various levels of cumulative release. When the uncertainties in parameters are considered in a performance assessment, the effects of the uncertainties considered can be incorporated into a single such distribution function for each disposal system considered. The Agency assumes that a disposal system can be considered to be in compliance with § 191.13 if this single distribution function meets the requirements of § 191.13(a).
Compliance with §§ 191.15 and 191.16. When the uncertainties in undisturbed performance of a disposal system are considered, the implementing agencies need not require that a very large percentage of the range of estimated radiation exposures or radionuclide concentrations fall below limits established in §§ 191.15 and 191.16, respectively. The Agency assumes that compliance can be determined based upon “best estimate” predictions (e.g., the mean or the median of the appropriate distribution, whichever is higher).
Institutional Controls. To comply with § 191.14(a), the implementing agency will assume that none of the active institutional controls prevent or reduce radionuclide releases for more than 100 years after disposal. However, the Federal Government is committed to retaining ownership of all disposal sites for spent nuclear fuel and high-level and transuranic radioactive wastes and will establish appropriate markers and records, consistent with § 191.14(c). The Agency assumes that, as long as such passive institutional controls endure and are understood, they: (1) Can be effective in deterring systematic or persistent exploitation of these disposal sites; and (2) can reduce the likelihood of inadvertent, intermittent human intrusion to a degree to be determined by the implementing agency. However, the Agency believes that passive institutional controls can never be assumed to eliminate the chance of inadvertent and intermittent human intrusion into these disposal sites.
Consideration of Inadvertent Human Intrusion into Geologic Repositories. The most speculative potential disruptions of a mined geologic repository are those associated with inadvertent human intrusion. Some types of intrusion would have virtually no effect on a repository's containment of waste. On the other hand, it is possible to conceive of intrusions (involving widespread societal loss of knowledge regarding radioactive wastes) that could result in major disruptions that no reasonable repository selection or design precautions could alleviate. The Agency believes that the most productive consideration of inadvertent intrusion concerns those realistic possibilities that may be usefully mitigated by repository design, site selection, or use of passive controls (although passive institutional controls should not be assumed to completely rule out the possibility of intrusion). Therefore, inadvertent and intermittent intrusion by exploratory drilling for resources (other than any provided by the disposal system itself) can be the most severe intrusion scenario assumed by the implementing agencies. Furthermore, the implementing agencies can assume that passive institutional controls or the intruders' own exploratory procedures are adequate for the intruders to soon detect, or be warned of, the incompatibility of the area with their activities.
Frequency and Severity of Inadvertent Human Intrusion into Geologic Repositories. The implementing agencies should consider the effects of each particular disposal system's site, design, and passive institutional controls in judging the likelihood and consequences of such inadvertent exploratory drilling. However, the Agency assumes that the likelihood of such inadvertent and intermittent drilling need not be taken to be greater than 30 boreholes per square kilometer of repository area per 10,000 years for geologic repositories in proximity to sedimentary rock formations, or more than 3 boreholes per square kilometer per 10,000 years for repositories in other geologic formations. Furthermore, the Agency assumes that the consequences of such inadvertent drilling need not be assumed to be more severe than: (1) Direct release to the land surface of all the ground water in the repository horizon that would promptly flow through the newly created borehole to the surface due to natural lithostatic pressure - or (if pumping would be required to raise water to the surface) release of 200 cubic meters of ground water pumped to the surface if that much water is readily available to be pumped; and (2) creation of a ground water flow path with a permeability typical of a borehole filled by the soil or gravel that would normally settle into an open hole over time - not the permeability of a carefully sealed borehole.