It is known that the world of nuclear waste has been changed fundamentally since 1992, according to Werner (2002). These changes resulted from the changing scope of radioactive waste throughout the world and reflected involving the appropriate environmental regulation and management practices. As there are different levels of nuclear waste, each level has its regulations on disposal. Both the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency are involved in regulating practices of the disposal of radioactive waste in the USA. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates commercial low-level waste disposal sites on the territory of the country that comply with the major safety standards and regulations. Current regulations require to control the storage facilities, their design, how the nuclear waste is handled, tested and stored in these facilities.
The Low-level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 allows the states to be engaged in the disposal of their low-level radioactive waste. Under this act, the states are encouraged to enter into compacts that give then the opportunity to dispose waste at a common disposal facility (The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Official Site, 2012).
The major regulations on nuclear waste disposal can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations. In the Chapter I, one can find the principal parts of governing low-level waste: Part 61which describes the major licensing requirements for land disposal of radioactive waste and Part 62 which provides information on the “criteria and procedures for emergency access to non-Federal and regional low-level waste disposal facilities”ť (The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Official Site, 2012).
Among regulatory guides that are used to assist licensees in implementing NRC regulations are Environmental Standard Review Plan for the Review of a License Application for a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility, Standard Review Plan for the Review of a License Application for a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility, ”˘Standard Format and Content of a License Application for a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility and others (The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Official Site, 2012).
The U. S. Department of Energy has developed a number of environmental programs on radioactive waste, including radioactive waste transportation, radioactive waste disposal, and others. For example, it is required to provide safely transportation of radioactive waste across the United States in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation requirements (The U.S. Department of Energy, Official Site, 2012).
Recycling and Re-purposing of Nuclear Waste
Nuclear plants, medicine and weapons produce nuclear waste. Although nuclear waste radioactivity has its specific characteristics ”“ to fade away over time, this process can take more than 1000 of years. However, nuclear waste cannot be thrown as the garbage because it causes serious damage to the environment. One of the best ways to deal with nuclear waste is to recycle and re-purpose it. In order to perform this operation, it is necessary to take plutonium out of radioactive wastes. Plutonium can be widely used for different purposes, for example for producing electricity in nuclear plants. One of the examples is France with its recycling system. Today nuclear technology allows to have unlimited power and it is sustainable if nuclear waste is recycled into nuclear fuel through the so-called reprocessing. However, today it is clear that nuclear power promise is still a dream, and “the reprocessing technology used to recycle nuclear wastes creates additional wastes, and its end product, refined plutonium, creates many security problems”ť Â (Werner, 2002, p. 479).