Nuclear Waste Management Policy & Strategy

CRESP develops and demonstrates the appropriate use of methodologies for advancing and communicating comparative life-cycle risk, benefit to human health and ecological resources and cost assessment for risk-informed selection of different environmental restoration and nuclear waste management options. To do this, the Consortium:

  • Evaluates and provides comparative insights, analysis and best practices at former defense nuclear production sites;
  • Examines siting choices by analyzing existing or evolving technologies needed for each type of nuclear waste management facility; and
  • Assesses the evolving technical approaches to future fuel cycles, emphasizing the external technical, environmental, economic, social and policy considerations associated with implementation of nuclear waste facilities.

Lead Researchers

David Kosson, Vanderbilt University
Joanna Burger, Rutgers University
Michael Gochfeld, Rutgers University
Henry J. Mayer, Rutgers University
Jane B. Stewart, New York University
Richard B. Stewart, New York University

EM Sites Impacted

  • EM Complex-wide
  • Hanford Site
  • Oak Ridge Reservation
  • Energy Technology Engineering Center
  • Savannah River Site

Current Project Areas

DOE-EPA Coordination on Remediation Regulatory Issues

Project Objectives 
The objectives of the project are to assist DOE HQ in developing detailed regulatory briefing materials geared to supporting ongoing high-level interagency discussions on challenging remediation regulatory issues. These discussions are designed to tackle issues of complex-wide importance with respect to which DOE-EPA coordination should be increased and improved in order to ensure better risk-informed and cost-effective remedial decision making throughout the DOE Complex.  Issues covered by the project will include key remediation challenges arising under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Safe Drinking Water Act and associated EPA implementing regulations and policies, and will include examples at specific DOE sites that help illustrate these coordination challenges and identify precedential decisions at comparable NPL sites that could illuminate potential paths forward.  Specific issues covered in 2022-2023 will be determined in consultation with the DOE POC prior to startup of the project but may include: groundwater remedy selection and optimization; mercury contamination; waste characterization; risk assessment; waste disposal; future land use determinations; regulatory flexibility including CERCLA ARAR waivers; site protectiveness; media contamination; DNAPL contamination; and ARAR determinations.

Relevance and Impact to DOE
Ensuring risk-informed and cost-effective use of limited resources for site remediation that achieves protectiveness under governing federal laws is a high-priority for DOE complex-wide.  EPA is DOE’s national regulator with respect to site remediation through its regulations, guidance and policies implementing the major federal remediation laws.  DOE faces a multitude of challenges meeting EPA and state regulatory requirements at many of its sites, especially when remedial goals do not seem well aligned with the risks presented.  Examples include meeting MCL remediation goals at sites with highly-contaminated groundwater but robust institutional controls and no anticipated future groundwater users. To address these challenges and work towards practical solutions that meet statutory and regulatory goals, EPA and DOE have been conducting high-level discussions to raise, discuss and work to resolve key regulatory issues of complex-wide importance.   Having clear, well-researched briefing materials that include DOE site illustrations of important challenges and non-DOE NPL site precedents that suggest potential options for resolution will enable DOE to effectively communicate the challenges to EPA and facilitate development of mutually acceptable solutions.

EM Sites Impacted

  • EM Complex-wide
  • Hanford Site
  • Oak Ridge Reservation
  • Energy Technology Engineering Center
  • Savannah River Site

All Publications: Nuclear Waste Management Policy & Strategy, 2006-2019 (pdf)

Highlighted Publications & Reports

CRESP Nuclear Waste Management Policy & Strategy

Mayer, H, Greenberg, M & Lowrie, K 2019, DOE-EM Mission, Metrics and Communications: Initial CRESP Report, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Greenberg, M, Apostolakis, G, Field, T, Goldstein, B, Kosson, D, Krahn, S, Matthews, R, Rispoli, J, Stewart, J & Stewart, R 2019, ‘Advancing Risk-Informed Decision Making in Managing Defense Nuclear Waste in the United States: Opportunities and Challenges for Risk Analysis’, Risk Analysis, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 375-388.

Burger, J, Kosson, D, Powers, C & Gochfeld, M 2018, ‘An Information Template for Evaluating the Relative Priority of Remediation Projects that Pose a Risk to Receptors – 18674’, WM’2018, WM Symposia, Phoenix, Arizona.

Greenberg, M & Schneider, D 2017, Urban Planning and Public Health, First edn, American Public Health Association.

Greenberg, M, Mayer, H, Powers, C & D, K 2017, ‘Nuclear Waste Management and Nuclear Power: A Tale of Two Essential United States Department of Energy Sites in Idaho and New Mexico’, in Nuclear Portraits: Communities, the Environment, and Public Policy, First edn, University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, Toronto, Canada, pp. 217-237.

Greenberg, M, Coon, M, Campo, M & Whytlaw, J 2017, Finding Locations for Endurably Objectionable Energy-Related Facilities: The CLAMP Policy, Charter 15, in The Routledge Research Companion to Energy Geographies, vol. 6, Taylor and Francis, p. 386

Omnibus Risk Review Committee & Greenberg, M, Chair 2015, A Review of the Use of Risk-Informed Management in the Cleanup Program for Former Defense Nuclear Sites, prepared for US Snate Committee on Appropriations and the US HOuse of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Vanderbilt Unviersity, Nashville TN.

Gochfield, M, Burger, J, Powers, C & Kosson, D 2015, ‘Land-use Planning Scenarios for Contaminated Land: Comparing EPA, State, and Tribal Scenarios – 15642’, WM ‘2015, WM Symposia, Phoenix, Arizona.

Gochfeld, M, Burger, J, Powers, C & Kosson, D 2015, ‘Land use planning scenarios for contaminated land: Comparing EPA, State, Federal, and Tribal Approaches’, WM ‘2015, WM Symposia, Phoenix, Arizona.

Burger, J, Gochfeld, M, Powers, C, Brown, K & Clarke, J 2015, ‘Using Salmon as a Bioindicator of the Health of the Columbia River at Hanford – 15534’, WM ‘2015, WM Symposia, Phoenix, AZ.

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