NRC Folds Waste Committee into Safeguards Group

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided to merge its nuclear waste and materials advisory committee with its committee on reactor safeguards to reflect changing workloads and technical challenges.

The merger anticipates increasing need for expertise in health physics, waste management, and earth sciences in the agency's licensing reviews for new reactors, the mixed-oxide nuclear fuel fabrication facility and facilities related to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

"The commission has benefited immensely from the expertise and advice of the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste and Materials," NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein said. "We thank these eminent scholars and will continue to draw on their assistance as a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards."

The commission established the nuclear waste committee in 1988 to provide advice on high-level and low-level waste issues. Previously, this function was performed by the waste management subcommittee of the safeguards committee.

The water and materials committee's role has concluded in recent years as the NRC's low-level waste and decommissioning programs matured. Also, the committee's activities in high-level waste have decreased as the Department of Energy and the NRC have resolved most key technical issues in DOE's plans for a high-level waste repository; any remaining issues will be addressed in the license application, expected later this year. If and when DOE submits its license application, Its members would be designated as adjudicatory advisers to support the commission, limiting their interaction with agency staff.

The commission has directed Frank Gillespie, executive director of the advisory committees, to draft a transition plan to implement the merger, including disposition of topics currently before the waste and materials committee and whether those topics should continue under the new subcommittee. Until the transition plan is implemented, the committee will continue to meet under the direction of Michael Ryan, the current committee chairman.

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