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Government for further direct financial support. In separating the responsibilities of the States and the Federal Government, it would appear that the language of the Act also would encourage the States and compact regions to develop financially independent means for their low-level waste management activities.
Question: Does the proposed budget affect the responsibilities assigned to DOE for reporting to Congress on the programs of the low level waste program?
Answer: Section 7(b) of the Act requires the Department to prepare an annual report to the Congress that would include (1) the progress of States to develop disposal facilities; (2) the practices of the industry to manage, store, treat, transport and reduce the volume of low-level radioactive waste; and (3) project storage and disposal requirements for the following year. In order to perform the latter parts of this requirement, the Department would have to collect from the private sector information not currently available and would also have to expand its data base capabilities. For the first annual report, the Department is planning to report only on the progress of the States and regions in developing new disposal capacity and to provide information about low-level waste shipped to disposal facilities. The other features of the annual report on generator and industry practices require time to acquire information from the industry and to expand our analytical and data base capabilities. This information shall be included in future reports as resources permit and information can be obtained.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR KASTEN
Question: Mr. Rusche, have you a has anyone from DOE been in contact with Mr. George Friedrich, a prospector in the wolf River batholith regian, who has found that the batholith is covered with extremely fractured rock with water freely flowing through these fractures?
Answer: To the best of our knowledge, no DOE personnel or contractors have been in contact with George Friedrich.
Question: Have you had the opportunity to speak with Ken VanDyke, a member of "Working for Independence from Nuclear Danger" (WIND), who claims that DOE's data is flawed and incomplete? He cites the example of DOE's failure to mention most of the 240 lakes and 47 rivers and streams in Waupaca alone?
Answer: DOE believes that Mr. VanDyke made this or a similar comment at a recent briefing in Wisconsin and it will be considered in the finalization of the Area Recommendation Report.
Questia: In addition, has DOE addressed the concern of Robert Halstead, State Energy Policy Analyst, that current high radiation levels in the batholith could result in even higher levels in the event of the siting of a nuclear waste repository?
Answer: At a number of briefings, statements were made by Robert Halstead and others that Wisconsin has higher background radiation due to fall-out from past nuclear weapons testing. The extent and level of this background radiation compared to other States is not part of the present analyses.
Same portions of the batholith, in South Central Shawno and North Central Waupaca Counties are known to have had exploration for uranium and berylium in the.past. Although these areas have been investigated since the 1950's no commercial deposits have been identified. The background radiation for the rest of the batholith compared to other crystalline rocks in the world has not been evaluated. Naturally occurring radiation in the rock body will be examined during the area phase investigation. At the same time, the environmental effects of siting a repository in the batholith will be evaluated.
Second Repository Site Selectia Process
Question: How swiftly will DOE delist Wisconsin's Wolf River Batholith Site upon further evidence of DOE data gaps, misinformation and DOE's failure to follow its own site selection criteria?
Answer: The deferral or disqualification of the Wolf River Batholith Site, if warranted, could occur at either of two decision points: (1) the finalization of the Draft Area Recommendation Report (ARR) or (2) during the area characterization phase (19871991).
Question: What legal options has DOE provided for property owners and Indian Tribes?
Answer: After the President selects a candidate site the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will identify what areas will need to be purchased by DOE, and what areas may be leased. Decisions regarding the purchase or lease of other areas on the site will be made in consultation with States, Indian Tribes, and affected parties. DOE's policy is to minimize intrusion on landowners, as much as possible. Whether DOE purchases or leases the land, the Department will attempt to reach voluntary agreements with landowners and avoid condemnation proceedings, if possible.
First Repository Site Selection Process
Question: At what stage of the site selection process is DOE with regard to the Western site?
Answer: On December 20, 1984, DOE issued draft environmental assessments (EAS) for the first repository which proposed that site characterization activities be conducted at three of the nine candidate sites: Deaf Smith County, Texas; Hanford, Washington; and Yucca Mountain, Nevada. An extensive public comment period and numerous public briefings and hearings in the affected States produced over 20,000 comments on the draft EAs. Final EAs are being prepared to address these comments and are to be issued in April 1986 for the five sites being nominated by the Secretary of Energy as suitable for site characterization. Concurrent with the nomination, the Secretary of Energy will recommend to the President for selection three of the nominated sites for characterization. In 1991, upon completion of detailed site characterization, the President will select the preferred site as the location for development as the first repository.
Consultation and Cooperation Agreement
Question: One of the stated purposes of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 is the definition of a relationship between the Federal and State governments with respect to the disposal of nuclear waste. Why has DOE declined to negotiate a consultation and cooperation agreement with the State of Wisconsin?
Answer: The Department has agreed to begin informal discussions now, although the Department is not required to do so at this time under the NWPA. If Wisconsin is identified as containing a potentially acceptable site in the final Area Recommendation Report, the points agreed upon during these discussions could be incorporated into a formal consultation and cooperation agreement.
Question: DOE has taken over five years of research and hard work through the Crystalline Repository Project to identify 12 proposed potentially acceptable sites. Why has DOE refused to extend the 90 day comment period so that States and Indian Tribes can respond in a competent and responsible manner? Since DOE has been way off its schedule in the site selection process, and since it is highly unlikely that DOE will issue this report a schedule, why won't DOE accommodate the needs of the affected States and Indian Tribes by formally extending the April 16 deadline?
Answer: DOE believes that the 90-day comment period is appropriate for several reasons. The draft ARR presents the results of the application of a formal screening methodology to an established data base. Together, the Final Region-to-Area Screening Methodology for the Crystalline Repository Project (issued in April 1985) and the Final Regional Characterization Reports (issued in September 1985) comprise the core of information used for regional screening. These documents were reviewed by the States prior to finalization and full consideration was given to all comments received.
To aid in this process, DOE provided the States with computer access to the regional data base in October 1985. The purpose of this early access was to provide the States with the ability to rapidly review DOE screening results and the data utilized in identifying candidate areas for further study.
The 90-day public comment period is consistent with the time for public review afforded other comparable decision documents, including the draft Environmental Assessments supporting the proposed nomination of sites in connection with the first repository program. However, as in the case of the draft Environmental Assessments, we will consider late comments to the maximum extent feasible.
Question: What types of precautions are in place to address repository-related accidents?
Answer: At this point, we are in the early stages of repository design; there are no facilities currently in place. As the repository design develops, we will concurrently evaluate potential accidents and provide mitigating capabilities in the facility design, as appropriate.
We believe that mitigation of repository related accidents will involve two processes. First, if a design can be modified so as to prevent the occurrence of an accident, this will be done, provided the modification does not inhibit the operation of the system component. Second, procedures and training may be a more effective tool to prevent or mitigate accidents. In some cases, a combination of design and procedures may be the most appropriate action. In any event, as the repository design progresses, we will evaluate what actions are appropriate in order to establish the needed precautions to address repository related accidents.
Question: Are firefighters equipped to handle fires at nuclear installations or contain spills?
Answer: All licensed nuclear power plants must comply with regulations related to firefighting. Specifically, the following regulations apply:
Assuming compliance with these regulations, each facility is equipped to handle fires. In regard to spills at nuclear power facilities plant, operating procedures are normally used to specify the process for handling spills.
We expect that similar regulations and procedures, appropriate for a repository, will be in place by the time a repository becomes operational.
Question: In the tragic event of an accident, will the Federal Government accept full and unlimited liability?
Answer: DOE holds the view, and we are operating with the recognition, that the present Price-Anderson coverage is applicable to the Department's high-level nuclear waste activities. The Price-Anderson indemnity system provides indemnification of States and local governments, in addition to DOE contractors, for any public liability resulting from a nuclear incident. With respect to whether the present limitation is adequate for any incident involving nuclear waste, we refer to the original intent of Price-Anderson. Congress stipulated an upper limit of assured funds to be provided on a rapid basis if needed. If an incident occurred involving damages in excess of that amount, Congress reserved for itself the responsibility to take whatever action is deemed necessary and appropriate to protect the public. We concur in this approach for the waste program activities.