History of NWIC
Congress, in 1980, enacted and, in 1985, amended legislation authorizing states to form interstate compacts and to develop new regional disposal facilities for low-level radioactive waste. This legislation, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980 as amended in 1985 (the Policy Act), was the result of efforts on the parts of the governors of the three states with existing commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities (Washington, Nevada, South Carolina - the "sited states") to bring about a more equitable policy of low-level radioactive waste disposal across the nation.
The Policy Act stands as a compromise between states with existing facilities and states or compacts without disposal facilities. As part of the bargain, the sited states agreed to accept waste generated nationally until January, 1993. In return states and compacts without disposal capacity agreed to acquire it by January 1, 1993, either through the siting of a disposal facility of their own or through disposal contracts with other states or compacts. By that date, all states and compacts were to have either operational disposal sites or storage, or other interim waste management programs in place.
Compact Legislation Ratified
In 1985 Congress ratified the Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management. The guiding policy of the Compact is the protection of the health and safety of the citizens through the cooperative effort of the party states, while providing for the economical management of low-level radioactive wastes within the Compact region.
The original seven member states were Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The eighth state, Wyoming, joined the Compact in March of 1992.
Site Closed to Out-of-Region Wastes
As allowed by the Policy Act, the Richland, Washington, disposal site stopped accepting out-of-region LLRW as of January 1, 1993, except for that volume agreed to in the Rocky Mountain Compact (RMC) contract.
Contract with the Rocky Mountain Compact
There is an agreement between the Northwest and the Rocky Mountain compacts which allows LLRW waste from the RMC to be disposed at the US Ecology site in Washington, but limits the waste volumes to 6,000 cubic feet per year, plus a 3% per year growth factor. A one-time allowance (which has been completed) of 140,000 cubic feet for the Fort St. Vrain reactor waste was included. The contract term runs until site closure.
This contract is an attempt to protect and support the national compacting process through site consolidation. The RMC states generate very small volumes of waste, making a RMC disposal site uneconomical. The contract sets an example for states that have, as yet, been unable to form compacts or develop contracts for waste management.
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