美國核管會悄悄鬆綁 低放射性廢棄物恐直接進入一般掩埋場 無須監管

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美國核管會悄悄鬆綁 低放射性廢棄物恐直接進入一般掩埋場 無須監管
美國核管會悄悄鬆綁 低放射性廢棄物恐直接進入一般掩埋場 無須監管

2020年04月21日 環境資訊中心外電;姜唯 翻譯;林大利 審校;稿源:ENS 環境資訊中心外電;姜唯 翻譯;林大利 審校;稿源:ENS

國家忙著應付武漢肺炎(COVID-19)的同時,美國核能管理委員會(Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC)正悄悄準備永久鬆綁除核廢料以外的低放射性廢棄物管制。

環境責任公共職員(Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER)組織指出,長期以來,此類廢棄物只能進入符合詳細安全標準、經NRC檢查和管制的有照放射性廢棄物處理廠。但NRC希望透過一條解釋性規則廢除此條文。

如此一來,除核廢料外,美國所有反應爐產生的絕大部分放射性廢棄物都會進入當地一般垃圾場,以掩埋方式處理。

管制若鬆綁 恐讓公眾暴露在相當於一生照900多次胸部X射線的劑量下

NRC表示,低放射性廢棄物會來自「各行各業、醫院和醫療機構、教育和研究機構、私人或政府實驗室以及核燃料循環設施……是這些機關日常使用的放射性材料所產生,包括被放射性物質污染的防護鞋套和衣服、抹布、拖把、過濾器和反應爐水處理殘留物、設備和工具、醫療用管、棉花和皮下注射注射器,以及實驗動物的屍體和組織。」

NRC解釋,這條解釋性規則是定義「持照者轉移許可物料給持有特定處置豁免權者」的方法,並定義出「欲轉移許可物料的持照者」。

目前,若要用其他方式處置低放射性廢棄物,持照人必須取得授權,非許可處置設施也必須向NRC或所在州取得豁免權。

儘管NRC宣稱提案的範圍限制在「非常低放射性的廢棄物(VLLW)」,但PEER指出:「實際上,該提案讓公眾暴露於相當於一生照900多次胸部X射線的劑量,癌症風險比美國環境保護局可接受風險上限高20倍,是超級基金法管理場所風險目標的數千倍。」

PEER解釋:「VLLW一詞不是正式名稱,沒有法律定義。簡言之,VLLW還是有部分殘留的放射性,包括可以棄置於危險廢棄物掩埋場或都會區垃圾掩埋場的天然放射性同位素。」

EPA將VLLW定義為「低活性廢棄物」。可以被稱為「低活性」的廢棄物包括放射性和有害廢棄物的混合廢棄物——具有化學危險性和放射性的廢棄物、清理工作廢棄物以及其他低放射性廢棄物。 「這種偷偷來的行逕,將大幅鬆綁美國放射性廢料流的管制。」

PEER認為,允許這種VLLW處置方式會危害公共衛生,「若此提案通過,放有低放射性廢棄物的垃圾場使大眾接觸到的輻射量,會是現行NRC許可的低放射性廢棄物處理場的2.5倍。該提案允許無照垃圾場接收原本必須丟在特殊許可垃圾場的廢棄物。」

PEER指出,美國國家科學院和環境保護署都認為,這種輻射劑量可造成每500人就有一人致癌。

此外,無照放射性廢棄物垃圾場的設立不會通知民眾,不會舉行聽證會,也不受NRC監督。

PEER太平洋區總監魯奇(Jeff Ruch)說:「如此一來,大多數都會區垃圾場都可能變成放射性廢棄物垃圾場,對工作人員、附近居民或毗鄰的地下水都沒有保障。」NRC的提案讓廢棄物處理場再也不須設立額外安全措施、輻射監控、輻射防護人員、設計標準以及NRC檢查。

魯奇說:「這種偷偷來的行逕,將大幅鬆綁美國放射性廢料流的管制。」 可處置低活性放射性物質的處理場 曾發生爆炸 造成人員傷亡

2018年5月,在此解釋性規則提案的範疇界定會議上,美國生態公司(US Ecology,Inc.)政府和放射性事務副總裁魏斯曼(Joe Weissman)告訴NRC,已經有部分極低放射性廢棄物進入非管制性國有垃圾場。

魏斯曼說:「最有可能被當作VLLW處置的放射性廢棄物,有部分已經根據法規20.2002,進入無照的國家監管RCRA危險廢棄物處理設施中處置。」若該提案被採納,20.2002將被修改。

愛達荷州Grand View廢棄物處理場。照片來源:US Ecology

RCRA即1976年制定的《資源保護和回收法》,是美國管理固體廢棄物和危險廢棄物處置的主要聯邦法。

魏斯曼表示,「實際上,美國生態公司已經證明,RCRA Subtitle-C危險廢棄物處理設施,如愛達荷州Grand View廢棄物處理場,可以安全處置大量低活性放射性物質。」

愛達荷州Grand View廢棄物處理場位於該州首都博伊西南方50英里處,是接收低放射性廢棄物的四個商業危險廢棄物處理場之一。其他場分別位在南卡羅萊納州巴恩威爾、猶他州克萊夫,和華盛頓州漢福德。

不過就在2018年11月18日,就在魏斯曼向NRC這麼保證的六個月後,Grand View廢棄物處理場發生爆炸,炸死一名工人,三名人員受傷,建築物受到嚴重破壞。 Low-level Radioactive Waste Could Go to Local LandfillsROCKVILLE, Maryland, April 8, 2020 (ENS)

As the nation is focused on coping with the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, is quietly moving to permanently deregulate massive amounts of low-level radioactive waste, but not spent nuclear fuel.

By means of aproposed interpretive rule, the NRC wants to abrogate longstanding requirements that, with very limited exceptions, such waste must be disposed of in licensed radioactive waste sites meeting detailed safety standards and subject to NRC inspection and enforcement, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER.

Released in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the NRC plan would, in effect, allow every reactor in the country to dump virtually all its radioactive waste except spent fuel in local garbage dumps that are designed for household trash, not for plutonium. The local dumps would dispose of the radioactive material “by land burial.”

The NRC says low-level radioactive waste is generated by, “A variety of industries, hospitals and medical institutions, educational and research institutions, private or government laboratories, and nuclear fuel cycle facilities … as part of their day-to-day use of radioactive materials. Some examples include radioactively contaminated protective shoe covers and clothing; cleaning rags, mops, filters, and reactor water treatment residues; equipment and tools; medical tubes, swabs, and hypodermic syringes; and carcasses and tissues from laboratory animals.”

The NRC explains that the interpretive rule it is proposing “describes a method by which licensees could dispose of licensed material – by transfer to persons who hold specific exemptions for the purpose of disposal” as well as “those who would transfer licensed material to such persons for disposal.”

At present, in order to pursue alternate disposal, a licensee must be granted authorization and the non-licensed receiving facility must receive a licensing exemption from the NRC or the state where the disposal site is located.

Although the proposal declares the NRC’s intent to limit this deregulation to “very low-level radioactive wastes” (VLLW), PEER points out that “the actual proposal allows doses to the public equivalent to more than 900 chest X-rays over a lifetime, with a cancer risk 20 times higher than the upper end of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable risk range and thousands of times the risk goal for Superfund sites.”

The Commission explains that, “The term VLLW is not a formal designation and does not have a statutory or regulatory definition. In general, VLLW contains some residual radioactivity, including naturally occurring radionuclides, which may be safely disposed of in hazardous or municipal solid waste landfills.”

The EPA defines VLLW as “low-activity waste.” Among the wastes that could be addressed as “low-activity” are mixed wastes containing both radioactive and hazardous waste components – chemically hazardous and radioactive wastes containing natural radioactivity, cleanup wastes, and other low-level radioactive wastes.

PEER holds that allowing such disposal of VLLW would be dangerous to public health, saying that, “Unlicensed radioactive waste dumps under the proposal would be allowed to expose the public to 2.5 times higher levels of radiation than allowed for licensed low-level radioactive waste sites under NRC’s current regulations. The proposal allows unlicensed dumps to take all the radioactive waste now required to go to licensed disposal facilities.

Both the National Academy of Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency calculate that the risk of such doses would be every 500th person exposed getting cancer from the radiation, PEER points out.

And unlicensed radioactive waste dumps would be established without public notice or opportunity for hearing and free of any subsequent NRC oversight, says PEER.

“NRC’s action could transform most municipal dumps into radioactive repositories, with essentially no safeguards for workers, nearby residents, or adjoining water tables,” said PEER Pacific Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that plan eliminates the incentive to pay for the additional safety measures, radiation monitoring, health physics personnel, design standards, and NRC inspections required of licensed operators.

“This stealth action would functionally deregulate the bulk of the nation’s nuclear waste stream,” said Ruch.

But in a May 2018 scoping session on this proposed interpretive rule, Joe Weissman, vice president, government and radiological affairs with US Ecology, Inc., which has operated licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities in the United States since the 1960s, told the Commission, some very low-level radioactive waste is already going to non-licensed, state-regulated sites.

Weissman wrote, “A portion of the radioactive materials that most likely would be disposed of as VLLW are already being disposed at non-licensed, state-regulated RCRA hazardous waste facilities under authorization via §20.2002,” the law that would be changed if this proposal is adopted.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, RCRA, enacted in 1976, is the main federal law in the United States governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste.

“In fact,” wrote Weissman, “US Ecology has proven that large quantities of low-activity radioactive materials can be safely and securely disposed in RCRA Subtitle-Chazardous waste facilities like the one in Grand View, Idaho.”

The Grand View Waste Site, 50 miles south of the capital Boise, is one of four commercial hazardous waste sites that accept low-level radioactive waste. The others are at Barnwell, South Carolina; Clive, Utah; and at Hanford, Washington.

Six months after Weissman submitted his comment to the Commission, an explosion at the Grand View hazardous waste site killed one worker, injured three others and heavily damaged a building, the Associated Press reported November 18, 2018.

※ 全文及圖片詳見:ENS 環境政策低放射性廢棄物疫情國際新聞美國公害污染廢棄物 作者 姜唯

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