Frequent Questions

Who regulates waste from nuclear power plants?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has regulatory authority over storage and disposal of all commercially-generated nuclear wastes in the United States, as well as disposal of spent fuel and high-level wastes generated by the Department of Energy. The NRC implements its general radiation protection standards for disposal through 10 CFR Part 20, which can be found on their website. The NRC also regulates the low-level waste produced in the nuclear power cycle. More information about the NRC’s disposal standards for low-level waste can be found on NRC.gov.

Spent nuclear fuel is used fuel that can no longer create electricity, but is still quite hot, both radioactively and thermally. Currently, the United States does not have a central repository for wastes generated by nuclear power plants, and this waste is generally kept at the site at which it was created. Depending on the waste and on the facility, this waste is sometimes stored underwater, or it may be stored in dry casks or canisters. For a brief overview of the storage of spent fuel, visit What Is Nuclear Waste? on NRC.gov.

The Environmental Protection Agency set environmental standards for spent fuel disposal in 40 CFR parts 191 and 197; for more information on each federal code, visit Radiation Regulations and Laws page at EPA.gov. The U.S.NRC’s requirements that implement 40 CFR parts 191 and 197 are in 10 CFR parts 60 and 63, respectively.

 

For more information about spent nuclear fuel, visit High-Level Waste at NRC.gov.

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