Andrew Wheeler Nominated to Serve as EPA Administrator

On January 9, 2019, President Donald Trump formally nominated Andrew Wheeler to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Wheeler, who is a former energy lobbyist, has led the EPA for the past six months in an acting capacity following the departure of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“I am honored and grateful that President Trump has nominated me to lead the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Wheeler in a statement.  “For me, there is no greater responsibility than protecting human health and the environment, and I look forward to carrying out this essential task on behalf of the American people.

The White House has sent Wheeler’s nomination to the U.S. Senate.  EPA is one of the agency’s that is affected by the partial government shutdown.  (See LLW Notes, November/December 2018, pp. 29-30.)


Wheeler is a former lobbyist for coal mining giant Murray Energy Corporation and other companies.  He has been serving as the acting EPA Administrator since July 2018, following the resignation of then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.  If the Senate confirms Wheeler, his responsibilities and duties would remain the same.  Without confirmation, however, his ability to serve in an acting capacity may be limited to a maximum of 210 days under current law.

Wheeler, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Deputy Administrator in April 2018, has overseen significant action on some of the most consequential deregulatory proposals by the EPA.  During his tenure as Acting Administrator, the EPA has proposed to replace limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants; to cease plans to strengthen auto emissions and efficiency rules; and, to limit restrictions on wetlands and streams.

“Acing Administrator Wheeler has done an outstanding job leading EPA and is well qualified to run the agency on a permanent basis,” said Senator John Barrasso (R-WY).  “I will work with committee members to get him confirmed.”  Senator Barraso serves as Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is responsible for reviewing the nomination.

“The only thing Wheeler is going to protect at the EPA is the profits of polluters,” said Brett Hartl in a prepared statement.  “I’m sure corporate board rooms will celebrate this nomination,” continued Hartl, who serves as Government Affairs Director at the Center for Biological Diversity.  “But for anyone who drinks water, breathes air or cares about wildlife, this will be nothing but awful.”


Wheeler began his career at the EPA in the early 1990’s, working on toxic substance policy.  He later worked on Capitol Hill as a top aide to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), a former Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee and a vocal skeptic of climate change science.

Wheeler also worked at the law and lobbying firm of Faegre Baker Daniels.  During his time at the law firm, Wheeler served as a lobbyist for energy and coal companies.

Utah Issues Notice of Rulemaking Actions

On October 1, 2018, Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control published formal notice in the Utah State Bulletin of various actions taken by the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board at its meeting on September 13, 2018.

Proposed Rule Amendments Open for Public Comment

The Board approved the proceeding with formal rulemaking and public comment to add a new section to R315-301 to establish the requirements for conducting a self-inspection of a solid waste management facility.  The comment period ran from October 1-31, 2018.

During the 2018 General Session of the Legislature, H.B. 373, Waste Management Amendments, was enacted and subsequently signed by the governor.  H.B. 373 amended Section 19-6-109 of the Solid and Hazardous Waste Act to allow an owner or operator of a solid waste management facility the option of performing self-inspections of the owner or operator’s facility.  The proposed rule changes set the requirements associated with an owner or operator performing a self-inspection.  The proposed rule changes also incorporate the use of electronic information management, as envisioned by H.B. 373.

Final Adoption of Rule Changes 

The Board approved final adoption of changes to the Used Oil Rules R315-15-16, Grants, to provide additional clarity and more detailed direction to the grant application, issuance, implementation and reimbursement processes.  The effective date of the rule change was September 14, 2018.

The Board also approved final adoption of changes to the Hazardous Waste Rules R315-260, Hazardous Waste Management System, and R315-261, General Requirements – Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste, to incorporate federal regulatory changes promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and published at 83 Federal Register 24,664 on May 30, 2018.  The effective date of the rule change was September 14, 2018.

For additional information on the above rulemaking actions, please visit the Division website at or the Office of Administrative Rules website at for the October 1, 2018 issue of the Utah State Bulletin.

For additional information, please contact Don Verbica at (801) 536-0206 or at or Rusty Lundberg at (801) 536-4257 or at  

NRC to Conduct Very Low-Level Radioactive Waste Scoping Study

On February 14, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Federal Register notice announcing the agency’s plans to conduct a very low-level radioactive waste (VLLW) scoping study to identify possible options to improve and strengthen the NRC’s regulatory framework for the disposal of the anticipated large volumes of VLLW associated with the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and material sites, as well as waste that might be generated by alternative waste streams that may be created by operating reprocessing facilities or a radiological event.  (See 83 Federal Register 6,619 dated February 14, 2018.)

As part of the process, the NRC is seeking stakeholder input and perspectives.  Respondents are asked to consider specific questions posed by the NRC staff and other federal agencies in the Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by May 15, 2018.  Comments considered after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is only able to ensure consideration of comments received on or before the deadline.

Specific Request for Comment

The NRC is interested in receiving comments from a broad range of stakeholders including professional organizations, licensees, Agreement States and members of the public.  Likewise, interested stakeholders with insight into relevant international initiatives are invited to provide their perspectives regarding international best practices related to VLLW disposal or other experiences that the NRC staff should consider.  All comments will be considered and the results of the scoping study will be documented in a publicly available report, which will inform the Commission of the staff’s recommendation for addressing VLLW disposal.

All comments that are to receive consideration in the VLLW Scoping Study must be submitted electronically or in writing.  Respondents are asked to consider the background material (see below) when preparing their comments.  In responding, commenters are encouraged to provide specific suggestions and the basis for suggestions offered.  Specifically, the NRC staff requests comment on the following questions:

  1. The United States does not have a formal regulatory definition of VLLW. What should the NRC consider in developing its own regulatory definition for VLLW?  Is there another definition of VLLW that should be considered?  Provide a basis for your response.
  1. The existing regulatory framework within 10 CFR 61.55 divides low-level radioactive waste into four categories: Class A, Class B, Class C, and GTCC. Should the NRC revise the waste classification system to establish a new category for VLLW?  What criteria should NRC consider in establishing the boundary between Class A and VLLW categories?
  1. The NRC’s alternative disposal request guidance entitled, ‘‘Review, Approval, and Documentation of Low- Activity Waste Disposals in Accordance with 10 CFR 20.2002 and 10 CFR 40.13(a),’’ which is undergoing a revision, allows for alternative disposal methods that are different from those already defined in the regulations and is most often used for burial of waste in hazardous or solid waste landfills permitted under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Should the NRC expand the existing guidance to include VLLW disposal or consider the development of a new guidance for VLLW disposal?  Why or why not?
  1. If the NRC were to create a new waste category for VLLW in 10 CFR Part 61, what potential compatibility issues related to the approval of VLLW disposal by NRC Agreement States need to be considered and addressed? How might defining VLLW affect NRC Agreement State regulatory programs in terms of additional responsibilities or resources?
  1. Following the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985, states formed regional compacts for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste. If the NRC were to create a new waste category for VLLW, does it fall within regional compact authority to control VLLW management and disposal?  How might defining VLLW affect regional compacts in terms of additional responsibilities or resources?
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-imposed waste analysis requirements for facilities that generate, treat, store and dispose of hazardous wastes are defined in 40 CFR Parts 264 through 270. How would NRC incorporate and apply waste analysis requirements for VLLW at RCRA Subtitle C and D facilities?  Should the NRC impose concentration limits and/or treatment standards for VLLW disposal?
  1. Are there any unintended consequences associated with developing a VLLW waste category?
  1. What analytical methods/tools should be used to assess the risk of disposing of VLLW at licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities or RCRA Subtitle C and D facilities — i.e., generic or site- specific?
  1. How should economic factors be considered in the VLLW scoping study?

Submitting Comments

Interested stakeholders may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  •   Mail comments to:  May Ma, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN–2– A13, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555– 0001.


In 2007, following developments in the national program for low-level radioactive waste disposal, as well as changes in the regulatory environment, the NRC conducted a strategic assessment of its regulatory program for low-level radioactive waste.  The results of this assessment were published in late 2007 in SECY–07–0180, “Strategic Assessment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Regulatory Program.”  The strategic assessment identified the need to coordinate with other agencies on consistency in regulating low activity waste (LAW) disposal and to develop guidance that summarizes disposition options for low-end materials and waste.

In 2016, the NRC staff conducted a programmatic assessment of the low-level radioactive waste program to identify and prioritize tasks that the NRC could undertake to ensure a stable, reliable and adaptable regulatory framework for effective low-level radioactive waste management.  The results of this assessment were published in October 2016 in SECY–16–0118, “Programmatic Assessment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Regulatory Program.”  The programmatic assessment identified the need to perform a LAW scoping study as a medium priority.

In International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Guide No. GSG– 1, “Classification of Radioactive Waste,” the IAEA defines VLLW as waste that does not meet the criteria of exempt waste, but does not need a high level of containment and isolation and is therefore suitable for disposal in a near surface landfill type facility with limited regulatory control.  The NRC currently does not have a formal regulatory definition for VLLW, nor has it adopted the IAEA definition.  However, the NRC uses the term VLLW consistent with the international regulatory structure.  In general, the NRC considers VLLW as material containing some residual radioactivity, including naturally occurring radionuclides that may be safely disposed of in hazardous or municipal solid waste landfills.

The LAW scoping study, which was later renamed the VLLW scoping study, will combine several tasks initially defined in the 2007 strategic assessment into one. These tasks include:

  • coordinating with other agencies on consistency in regulating LAW;
  • developing guidance that summarizes disposition options for low-end materials and waste; and,
  • promulgating a rule for disposal of LAW.

As part of the scoping study, the NRC will also evaluate regulatory options that would define the conditions under which LAW, including mixed waste, could be disposed of in Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C hazardous waste facilities.

Consistent with SECY–16–0118, the NRC is conducting this VLLW Scoping Study, which will consider disposal of waste as defined by 10 CFR Part 61 as the isolation, by emplacement in a land disposal facility, of radioactive wastes from the biosphere that is inhabited by man and that contains his food chains.  As such, the scoping study will not address non-disposal related disposition pathways including unrestricted release, clearance, reuse or recycle of materials.

The purpose of the VLLW scoping study is to identify possible options to improve and strengthen the NRC’s regulatory framework for the disposal of the anticipated large volumes of VLLW associated with the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and waste that might be generated by alternative waste streams that may be created by fuel reprocessing or a radiological event.  Additionally, the NRC plans to evaluate regulatory options that could define the conditions under which VLLW, including mixed waste, could be disposed of in RCRA hazardous waste facilities.

For additional information, please contact Maurice Heath of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) at (301) 415–3137 or at

Waste Management Accepting Abstracts & Fellow Award Nominations

Abstracts are now being accepted for the Waste Management 2018 Conference, which will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on March 18-22, 2018.  This year’s conference theme is Nuclear and Industrial Robotics, Remote Systems and Other Emerging Technologies.

Background  The annual Waste Management Conference, presented by WM Symposia (WMS), is an international symposium concerning the safe and secure management of radioactive wastes arising from nuclear operations, facility decommissioning and environmental remediation, as well as storage, transportation and disposal and associated activates.  WMS was founded to provide a forum for discussing and seeking cost-effective and environmentally responsible solutions for the safe management and disposition of radioactive waste and radioactive materials.  WM2018 marks the 44th year of the conference and is expected to attract over 2,000 nuclear specialists from over 35 countries, presenting more than 500 papers in over 130 technical sessions.

Supporting Organizations  Supporting organizations include the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA).  The conference is also organized in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Abstract Submissions  WMS welcomes abstracts in nine topic areas related to nuclear waste management.  The submission site became available in mid-June 2017. To submit an abstract, interested parties will need to visit the WMS website at and login using a registered username and password.  The deadline for submission is Friday, August 11, 2017.  Please note, there is a limit of abstract submissions to two (2) per presenter, but no limit on the number of abstracts that may be co-authored.

Fellow Award Nominations  WMS is also accepting nominations for the conference Fellow Award.  Nominations must be submitted no later than August 11, 2017.  Nomination forms should be submitted to  All questions related to the WMS Fellowship should be directed to Fred Sheil, Chair of the WM Board of Directors Honors & Awards Committee.  Sheil can be reached by phone at +44-19-46-813342 or by email at

The Call for Abstracts and the detailed Topic Listing are available online at  For additional information on the Waste Management Conference, please call (480) 557-0263 or email to

Draft Agenda Released for the Spring 2017 LLW Forum Meeting

Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel
Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) has released the draft agenda for its spring 2017 meeting, which will be held at the Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel in Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017.

As a reminder, the discount rate hotel room block for the meeting closes in just three weeks on April 5, 2017.  There is limited space remaining in the discount room block.   Accordingly, interested stakeholders are encouraged to register and make hotel reservations for the meeting at your earliest convenience.

The Rocky Mountain Low-Level Radioactive Waste Board and Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission are co-sponsoring the meeting.

The meeting documents—including the meeting bulletin, registration form and draft agenda—have been posted to the LLW Forum’s web site at  


Agenda Topics

The following is a list of agenda topics for the meeting:

  •  overview and analysis re Executive agency and Congressional transition and impacts on the nuclear industry;
  •  the National Academies’ low-level radioactive waste management and disposition workshop;
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulatory activities and updates including Part 61 rulemaking initiative;low-activity waste scoping study; rulemaking SECY re financial assurance for byproduct material; and, assessment for the low-level waste branch;
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activities and updates including final revisions to National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings; publication of final Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents; and, public comments and next steps re the 40 CFR Part 190 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR);
  •  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) activities and updates;
  • updates and activities re the Waste Control Specialists commercial and federal low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas;
  • updates and activities re the Clive low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Tooele County, Utah;
  • consideration of alternative options for the management of low activity waste;
  •     requirements for plans regarding waste minimization;
  •     tools to assist decision makers regarding low-level waste management;
  •     perspectives from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) on the state of the commercial nuclear power industry;
  •     industry insights and perspectives regarding waste management and disposition;
  •     addressing abandoned cyclotrons and decommissioning in Colorado;
  • survey results re alternative technologies for irradiators and other radioactive sources and devices;
  • implementation of new Part 37 requirements and review of cyber-security for nuclear-related issues;
  • proposals to license Greater-than-Class C (GTCC) and transuranic waste cells and spent nuclear fuel storage in Texas;
  • past, present and future use of uranium in Colorado;
  •  development of a radiation response volunteer medical reserves corp unit;
  •   lack of oversight for management of exempt sealed radioactive sources;
  • the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) Part S Working Group re suggested state regulations on financial assurance for sealed sources;
  • potential revisions to regulations or processes re Category 3 source protection and accountability; and,
  •  removal and packaging of Category 1 and 2 self-shielded devices.


Officials from states, compacts, federal agencies, nuclear utilities, disposal operators, brokers/processors, industry, and other interested parties are invited and encouraged to attend.

The meeting is an excellent opportunity to stay up-to-date on the most recent and significant developments in the area of low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.  It also offers an important opportunity to network with other government and industry officials and to participate in decision-making on future actions and endeavors affecting low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.

Location and Dates

The spring 2017 LLW Forum meeting will be held on Monday, April 24 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) and Tuesday, April 25 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm) at: 

Embassy Suites by Downtown Convention Center Hotel
1420 Stout Street
Denver, Colorado 80202


The hotel offers a gateway to Denver’s lively downtown scene.  Boasting a contemporary convention venue, the hotel is within walking distance of the best attractions in the downtown area.


All persons must pre-register for the meeting and pay any associated registration fees in order to be allowed entry.  Registration forms are needed in order to ensure that you receive a meeting packet and name badge.  Accordingly, interested attendees are asked to please take a moment to complete the registration form at your earliest convenience  You can submit the registration form electronically via the online link or print a hard copy and return it to the Administrator of the Rocky Mountain Board at the mailing address, e-mail or fax number listed at the bottom of the form.

The meeting is free for up to two individuals representing members of the LLW Forum.  Additional and non-member registration is $500, payable by check only to the “LLW Forum, Inc.”  (Credit card payments are not accepted.)


Persons who plan to attend the meeting are strongly encouraged to make their hotel reservations and send in their registration forms as soon as possible, as we have exceeded our block at the last few meetings.

A limited block of hotel rooms has been reserved for Sunday, April 23rd and Monday, April 24th at the rate of $178.00 plus tax per night (for single/double occupancy).

To make a reservation, please call (800) 445-8667.  Please ask for the LLW Forum block in order to get the discounted meeting rate.

The deadline for reserving a room at the discounted rate is Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Transportation and Directions

From Denver International Airport (DIA), one way taxi fare is available for approximately $70.00.  Another option is the train from DIA to Union Station downtown.  From Union Station, you can walk or take the 16th street mall shuttle the additional 1.2 miles to the hotel off of Stout Street.

For additional information, please contact Todd D. Lovinger, the LLW Forum’s Executive Director, at (754) 779-7551 or go to

EPA Publishes Final Revision to PAG Manual

As part of its mission to protect human health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes Protective Action Guides (PAGs) to help federal, state, local and tribal emergency response officials make radiation protection decisions during emergencies.  On December 8, 2016, the EPA—in coordination with a multi-agency working group within the Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee (FRPCC)—published final updates to the 1992 Manual of Protective Action Guides and Protective Actions for Nuclear Incidents (1992 PAG Manual).

The updated guidance in the revised PAG Manual: Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents (PAG Manual) applies the PAGs to incidents other than nuclear power plant accidents, updates the radiation dosimetry and dose calculations based on current science and incorporates late phase guidance.  The final revisions incorporate input from public comments received in 2013 and include clarifications based on those comments.

EPA plans to finalize drinking water guidance after incorporating public comments on a proposal published in June 2016.  The intention is to add it as a section in the Intermediate Phase chapter of the PAG Manual and reissue the PAG Manual once complete.

A notice regarding release of the final revision of the PAG Manual was published at 81 Federal Register 88,679 (December 8, 2016).  The final revision of the PAG Manual is available at under Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OAR– 2008–0268.  The PAG Manual in electronic form, as well as related guidelines and additional information, can also be found on the PAGs Web page at radiation/protective-action-guides-pags.


The PAG Manual provides federal, state and local emergency management officials with guidance for responding to radiological emergencies.  A PAG is the projected dose to an individual from a release of radioactive material at which a specific protective action to reduce or avoid that dose is recommended.  Emergency management officials use PAGs for making decisions regarding actions to protect the public from exposure to radiation during an emergency.  Such actions include, but are not limited to, evacuation, shelter-in-place, temporary relocation, and food restrictions.

Development of the PAGs was based on the following essential principles, which also apply to the selection of any protective action during an incident:

  •   prevent acute effects;
  •   balance protection with other important factors and ensure that actions result in more benefit than harm; and,
  •   reduce risk of chronic effects.

The PAG Manual is not a legally binding regulation or standard and does not supersede any environmental laws.  The guidance does not address or impact site cleanups occurring under other statutory authorities such as the EPA’s Superfund program, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) decommissioning program, or other federal or state cleanup programs.  As indicated by the use of non-mandatory language such as “may,” “should” and “can,” the PAG Manual only provides recommendations and does not confer any legal rights or impose any legally binding requirements upon any member of the public, states or any federal agency.  Rather, the PAG Manual recommends projected radiation doses at which specific actions may be warranted in order to reduce or avoid that dose.  The PAG Manual is designed to provide flexibility to be more or less restrictive as deemed appropriate by decision makers based on the unique characteristics of the incident and the local situation.


The EPA encourages emergency management and radiation protection organizations that use the PAGs in their emergency plans to incorporate the updated guidance as soon as possible.  According to EPA, this may entail training, as well as updating plans and procedures.  The EPA, the FRMAC and interagency partners on the PAG Subcommittee will conduct outreach and technical training.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expects certain organizations associated with nuclear power plant operations to use the PAG Manual in developing their emergency management plans.  In addition, the FEMA plans to begin using the new PAG Manual during their evaluation of offsite response organizations around nuclear power facilities twelve months after the publication of the Federal Register notice.


The historical and legal basis of the EPA’s role in the PAG Manual begins with Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970, in which the Administrator of the EPA assumed functions of the Federal Radiation Council (FRC), including the charge to “ . . . advise the President with respect to radiation matters, directly or indirectly affecting health, including guidance for all federal agencies in the formulation of radiation standards and in the establishment and execution of programs of cooperation with states.”  Recognizing this role, FEMA directed the EPA in their Radiological Emergency Planning and Preparedness Regulations to “establish Protective Action Guides (PAGs) for all aspects of radiological emergency planning in coordination with appropriate federal agencies.”  FEMA also tasked the EPA with preparing “guidance for state and local governments on implementing PAGs, including recommendations on protective actions which can be taken to mitigate the potential radiation dose to the population.”  All of this information was to “be presented in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ‘Manual of Protective Action Guides and Protective Actions for Nuclear Incidents.’”

Additionally, section 2021(h) charged the Administrator with performing “such other functions as the President may assign to him [or her] by Executive order.”  Executive Order 12656 states that the Administrator shall “[d]evelop, for national security emergencies, guidance on acceptable emergency levels of nuclear radiation . . .”  The EPA’s role in PAGs development was reaffirmed by the National Response Framework, Nuclear/Radiological Incident Annex of June 2008.

For additional information and related guidelines, see the PAGs Web page at protective-action-guides-pags.

For additional information, please contact Sara DeCair of the Radiation Protection Division in the Center for Radiological Emergency Management at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at (202) 343–9108 or at

Pennsylvania DEP Finds Record Level of Radon in Home

By press release dated November 17, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it has detected a new record-high level of radon and is once again encouraging state residents to test their homes for this radioactive gas, a leading cause of lung cancer.

In particular, in October 2016, a home in southern Lehigh County showed a radon level of 6,176 picocuries per liter (pCi/L)—the highest recorded in the state.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set an action level for radon concentration in homes at 4 pCi/L.  Homes testing above this level should have a radon reduction system installed.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally through the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks.  It can enter a home through cracks in the foundation or other openings.

The National Toxicology Program—comprising the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—classifies radon as a known human carcinogen.  Scientists estimate that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths yearly are related to radon.  It’s the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and second leading cause in smokers.

Because of its geology, Pennsylvania is prone to high radon levels.  Radon has been detected in all 67 counties.  Approximately 40 percent of homes in the state have levels above EPA’s action level.  In 2014, a number of homes in the southern Lehigh County area were found to have radon levels over 1,000 pCi/L.  That area is near the Reading Prong, a geological section of granite rock that historically has generated high levels of radon.

Testing is the only way to know if a home, school, workplace or other structure has elevated levels of radon.  An easy home test kit can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores for about $20 to $30.  People may also hire a state-certified testing company.

If a level above 4 pCi/L is found, a radon mitigation, or reduction, system should be installed.  This is essentially a pipe with a fan to suction the gas from the ground and discharge it above the roofline, where the radon is dispersed.  DEP recommends that homebuilders install radon reduction systems during construction.  DEP certifies all radon testers, mitigators and laboratories doing business in the state, to ensure reliable results.

For additional news, including information on interpreting radon test results and finding a Pennsylvania-certified radon contractor, visit the DEP Radon Division website at or call (800) 237-2366.

EPA Publishes User Fees for Electronic Hazardous Waste Management System and Amendments to Manifest Regulations

On July 26, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing user fees for its electronic hazardous waste management system and amendments to manifest regulations.

The EPA is proposing its user fee methodology applicable to electronic and paper manifests submitted to the national electronic manifest system (or e-Manifest system) that is being established by EPA under the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act.  After the implementation date for the e-Manifest system, certain users of the hazardous waste manifest would be required to pay a prescribed fee for each electronic and paper manifest they use and submit to the system in order for EPA to recover its costs of developing and operating the national e-Manifest system.  The final rule that EPA develops in response to public comments on this action’s proposed fee methodology will include the final fee methodology.  In addition, EPA will include the initial fee schedule and the implementation date for the e- Manifest system in the preamble to the final rule.

EPA is also proposing several amendments to the regulations governing the use of electronic hazardous waste manifests and the completion of manifests.  These amendments propose:

  •   to change EPA’s longstanding regulations regarding transporter changes to shipment routing information on the manifest during transportation;
  •   to specify a process by which receiving facilities may submit manifest data corrections to the e- Manifest system; and,
  •   to modify a provision of the current electronic manifest use requirements that precludes the use of mixed electronic and paper manifests by those users desiring to make use of electronic manifests in settings where not all users are able to participate electronically.

EPA’s action is expected to result in net cost savings amounting to $34 million per year when discounted at 7% and annualized over 6 years.

Comments must be received on or before September 26, 2016.  Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), comments on the information collection provisions are best assured of consideration if the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) receives a copy of stakeholder comments on or before August 25, 2016.

For this rule, EPA is requesting comments be submitted electronically on a comment platform being piloted at https://epa-  Alternatively, stakeholders may choose to submit comments by postal mail or electronically through  For comments submitted via postal mail or, EPA is further requesting comments be submitted using comment headings.

The EPA notice was published at 81 Federal Register 49,072 dated July 26, 2016.

For further information, please contact Richard LaShier of EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery via phone at (703) 308– 8796 or via email at, or Bryan Groce of EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery via phone at (703) 308–8750 or via email at