On March 9, 2018, the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control notified interested stakeholders of the following rulemaking actions that were taken by the Waste Management and Radiation Control Board during its meeting on February 8, 2018:
- final adoption of rule changes to R313-25, License Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive Waste — General Provisions, as published in the Utah State Bulletin on November 1, 2017 except for paragraph R313-25-51.5(3);
- approve filing with the Office of Administrative Rules of a Notice of Change in Proposed Rule to delete paragraph R313-25-51.5(3) and renumber the subsequent paragraph; and,
- set an effective date of April 16, 2018 for the above rule changes.
The notice of Change in Proposed Rule was published in the March 1, 2018 issue of the Utah State Bulletin.
Overview of Rule Change
During the 2017 General Session, the Utah legislature passed S.B. 79, Waste Management Amendments, which requires the Waste Management and Radiation Control Board to (1) modify financial assurance requirements for the closure and post-closure care of a radioactive waste disposal facility and (2) make conforming and clarifying amendments as to “facility” definitions adopted in S.B. 79.
Although financial assurance requirements have existed in Rule R313-25 for several years, the proposed changes are being made in order to meet the prescribed rulemaking direction found in S.B. 79 and to provide the tools and flexibility the Director believes are necessary to implement S.B. 79.
More specifically, S.B. 79 allows radioactive waste licensees the opportunity to rely on either (i) RS Means or (ii) a “competitive site-specific estimate” as the basis for calculating financial surety. While RS Means represents a national average of heavy civil construction costs, S.B. 79 did not provide a definition for “competitive site-specific estimate.”
Based on the legislative history of S.B. 79, it was apparent to the Director that this undefined term referred to local market costs. Based on the Utah Supreme Court case, Associated General Contractors v. Board of Oil, Gas and Mining (2001 UT 112, 38 P.3d 291), the Director in this rulemaking proposes to: define this term; provide the Division with access to local market expertise from heavy civil contractors or cost estimators who are familiar with local market construction costs in order to review and validate the information submitted by a licensee; and, provide that the licensee fund such review costs.
The proposed changes to Section R313- 25-31 incorporate the mandatory new rule text from S.B. 79. In addition a new section, R313-25-31.5, is being added to include the changes summarized above.
During the 2015 General Session, the Utah legislature passed S.B. 173 that required the Board to perform rulemaking to make changes to portions of UAC R313-25 regarding financial assurance requirements for the closure and post closure care of a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility. However, rulemaking was deferred because the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) determined that certain provisions of S.B. 173 were incompatible with federal law. These incompatibility issues were not fully resolved until the 2017 General Session of the legislature, when additional changes were made to the statute with the passage of S.B. 79, correcting the incompatible provisions. S.B. 79 also modified certain facility definitions, triggering the need for conforming amendments in R313-25.
At a meeting of the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board on October 12, 2017, the Board approved proceeding with formal rulemaking and public comment by filing with the Office of Administrative Rules and publishing in the Utah State Bulletin of proposed changes to UAC R313-25. The proposed changes were subsequently published in the November 1, 2017 issue of the Utah State Bulletin.
The public comment period began on November 1, 2017 and concluded on December 1, 2017. One commenter (EnergySolutions) submitted comments during the public comment period. In a letter dated January 10, 2018, the Director responded to the comments. Based on the comments received, an additional change to R313- 25 is being proposed in order to delete paragraph R313-25- 31.5(3) and renumber the subsequent paragraph.
Utah administrative rulemaking procedures require a Notice of Change in Proposed Rule be prepared and filed with the Office of Administrative Rules for subsequent publication in the Utah State Bulletin. When published in the Utah State Bulletin, only the additional changes (i.e., paragraph deletion and paragraph renumbering) to R313-25 will be marked and the financial impact information will only address the additional changes. All other rule changes previously published and not being further changed are considered to be final when published as part of the Notice of Change in Proposed Rule.