Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (10/30/1997)

Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1997 - Revises the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to instruct the Secretary of Energy (the Secretary) to: (1) develop and operate a repository for the permanent geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and fuel and high-level radioactive waste; (2) accept spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste by no later than January 31, 2002; (3) provide for the transportation of such wastes; and (4) pursue expeditiously the development of each component of the integrated management system.

Requires intermodal transfer (rail-to-heavy-haul-truck) of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste pending direct rail access to the interim storage facility site. Authorizes the Secretary use rail transportation to meet the requirements of this Act if direct rail access becomes available to the interim storage facility site. Sets a deadline for the Secretary to develop the capability to commence rail to truck intermodal transfer at Caliente, Nevada.

Provides for heavy-haul transportation route and truck transportation.

Requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Caliente and Lincoln County, Nevada, to provide advice to the Commission regarding intermodal transfer and to facilitate on-site representation. Provides that reasonable expenses of such representation shall be paid by the Secretary.

Prescribes requirements in the following areas in order to ensure that the Secretary is able to accept spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste by January 31, 2002: (1) transportation planning and readiness; (2) package certification; (3) technical assistance and funds to jurisdictional entities for training public safety officials, nonprofit employee organizations, voluntary emergency response organizations, and joint labor-management organizations experienced in worker health and safety training; (4) employee protection and training standards applicable to workers directly involved in the removal and transportation of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste; and (5) interim storage facility, permanent disposal, and land withdrawal.

Requires the Secretary, after analyzing each specific reactor facility in the order of priority established in the acceptance schedule, to develop a logistical plan to assure the Secretary's ability to transport spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste using routes that minimize transportation through populated areas to the maximum practical extent and consistent with Federal requirements for transportation of hazardous materials.

Requires the Secretary of Transportation to establish preferred rail route selection procedures for such transportation to the interim storage site and the repository site.

Mandates that training standards ensure the ability of emergency response personnel to protect nearby persons, property or the environment from the effects of accidents involving spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

Instructs the Secretary to: (1) offer Nye County, Nevada, an opportunity to designate an on-site oversight representative; and (2) offer to enter into separate benefits agreements with Lincoln and Nye Counties concerning the integrated management system.

Requires the Secretary to make certain initial land conveyances to Nye County.

Authorizes the Secretary to grant payments in lieu of taxes to any affected Indian or local jurisdiction until the termination of the integrated management system activities.

Authorizes the Secretary to contract with any person holding title to or generating or holding title to spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste of domestic origin for the acceptance of title, and possession, transportation, interim storage, and disposal. Requires the Secretary to determine the level of an annual fee for electricity generated and sold by each civilian nuclear power reactor.

Permits the Secretary to make expenditures from the Nuclear Waste Fund in the event of a shortfall.

Requires the NRC to suspend the license of any licensee who fails or refuses to pay the currently required one-time fee on spent nuclear fuel, or high-level radioactive waste derived from it, and used to generate electricity in a civilian nuclear power reactor before April 7, 1983. Provides that payment of the one-time fee relieves the responsible party from further financial obligation to the Federal Government for its long-term storage or permanent disposal.

Authorizes the NRC to require prior agreement with the Secretary for spent fuel and waste disposal as a precondition to the issuance or renewal of a license.

Continues the Nuclear Waste Fund and the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) issue a final rule establishing the appropriate portion of the costs of managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste allocable to the interim storage or permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste from atomic energy defense activities, and spent nuclear fuel from foreign research reactors; and (2) advise the Congress annually of the amount of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from atomic energy defense activities requiring management in the integrated spent nuclear fuel management system.

Grants the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and this Act preeminence in the event of a conflict or duplication of laws.

Precludes this Act from being construed as: (1) constituting either an express or implied Federal reservation of water rights for any purpose arising under it; (2) authorizing the Federal use of eminent domain to acquire water rights; or (3) limiting the exercise of water rights as provided under Nevada State laws.

Grants the U.S. courts of appeals original and exclusive jurisdiction over civil actions under this Act. Prescribes guidelines for NRC licensing hearings.

Prohibits the Secretary from conducting site-specific activities for a second repository unless the Congress has specifically authorized and appropriated funds for them.

Requires the NRC to promulgate regulatory guidelines for: (1) financial assurances for low-level radioactive waste site closures; and (2) training and qualification of civilian nuclear powerplant personnel.

Delineates an acceptance schedule for contract holders' spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

Prohibits: (1) subseabed or ocean water disposal of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste; and (2) any obligation of funds for any such related activity.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that to the greatest extent practicable all equipment and products purchased with funds made available under this Act should be American-made. Requires each Federal agency to give notice of this policy to any entity to which it provides financial assistance or contracts. Prohibits contracts with persons falsely labeling products as "Made in America."

Continues the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. Authorizes appropriations.

Directs the Secretary to take necessary action to improve the management of the civilian radioactive waste management program to ensure that it is operated to the maximum extent like a private business.

Directs the Secretary to employ, on an on-going basis, integrated performance modeling regarding site characterization.