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                                                       Calendar No. 411
115th Congress        }                   {                   Report
                             SENATE                      
 2d Session           }                   {                    115-247
======================================================================



 
            RESPONSIBLE DISPOSAL REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2017

                                _______
                                

                  May 10, 2018.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Ms. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1059]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 1059) to extend the authorization of the 
Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 relating to 
the disposal site in Mesa County, Colorado, having considered 
the same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the bill do pass.

                                Purpose

    This bill amends the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation 
Control Act of 1978 to extend through Fiscal Year 2048 the 
authorization for the Department of Energy (DOE) to operate the 
Cheney disposal cell in Mesa County, Colorado.

                          Background and Need

    Grand Junction, Colorado, is home to a former uranium 
processing site known as the Climax mill that closed in 1970. 
The mill operated for 19 years and produced 2.2 million tons of 
radioactive tailings, the material that remained after most of 
the uranium metal had been extracted from uranium ore. From 
1950 to 1966, mill tailings were available to private citizens 
to use as construction materials and more than 4,000 private 
and commercial properties in the Grand Junction area utilized 
the radioactive tailings (these buildings are referred to as 
vicinity properties).
    In 1978, Congress found that uranium mill tailings located 
at uranium mill sites may pose a potential and significant 
hazard to the public. Congress enacted the Uranium Mill 
Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 to address the hazard. 
Title I of the Act authorized the Secretary of Energy to 
remediate the tailings and other residual radioactive material 
at 22 designated inactive uranium mill sites and their 
associated vicinity properties. Remediation of these sites 
resulted in the construction of 19 disposal cells that are used 
to stabilize and contain the mill tailings and associated 
material.
    The 94-acre Cheney disposal cell is one of the 19 disposal 
cells built pursuant to the 1978 Act. It was constructed in 
1990 and was chosen by DOE ``because it was remote, lacked 
significant groundwater, and was underlain by a thick, 
impermeable layer of Mancos shale.'' An initial 4.4 million 
cubic yards of contaminated processing site materials, 
including vicinity property materials, was transported to the 
disposal cell by 1994 and that portion of the cell was closed.
    Congress has needed to extend the original deadline for the 
Secretary to complete remediation of the 22 sites three times 
before. Section 112 of the Act, as amended, required the 
Secretary to complete work at most of the mill sites by 
September 30, 1998. But it expressly authorizes the Secretary 
to continue receiving and disposing of residual radioactive 
material at the Cheney disposal site until it is filled to 
capacity or September 30, 2023, whichever comes first. The 
exception was made for the Cheney disposal site because over 
one million cubic yards of tailings had been used as fill 
material in road beds and along utility corridors in and around 
Grand Junction. Under environmental protection standards for 
uranium mill tailings issued by the Environmental Protection 
Agency, these tailings were left in place because they did not 
pose a clear present or future hazard and the environmental 
harm or cost of removing them would have exceeded any public 
health benefits. But Congress recognized that these tailings 
would eventually be disturbed during future excavations for 
road or utility repairs, at which time, they could be disposed 
of in the Cheney disposal cell. So in 1996, Congress amended 
section 112 to provide for their disposal at the site. S. Rept. 
104-301 at 3 and 4 (1996).
    DOE testified that uranium mill tailings previously used in 
roads, sidewalks, and even homes continues to be excavated from 
vicinity properties around Grand Junction and require disposal. 
In addition, the Secretary has permanent authority to perform 
groundwater treatment systems under the Act, and those 
operations continue to generate waste that is eligible for 
disposal at the Cheney disposal site. According to the 
Department, the site receive approximately 2,700 cubic yards of 
waste per year and has sufficient space to receive an 
additional estimated 235,000 cubic yards, indicating the site 
could operate for 87 more years at current rates. The 
Department recommended reauthorizing the site until 2048, a 
period of twenty five more years after 2023, to make use of 
this valuable and necessary disposal capacity.

                          Legislative History

    Senator Gardner introduced S. 1059 on May 4, 2017. The 
Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on the bill on October 
13, 2017.
    An identical bill, H.R. 2278, sponsored by Representative 
Tipton, was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 
1, 2017, and referred to the House Committee on Energy and 
Commerce.
    In the 114th Congress, similar legislation, S. 3312, was 
introduced by Senator Gardner on September 12, 2016, and 
referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. A 
hearing was held on the bill on September 22, 2017.
    Similar legislation, H.R. 5950, was introduced in the House 
of Representatives in the 114th Congress by Representative 
Tipton on September 7, 2016, and referred to House Committee on 
Energy and Commerce.
    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources met in open 
business session on March 8, 2018, and ordered S. 1059 
favorably reported without amendment.

                        Committee Recommendation

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on March 8, 2018, by majority voice vote 
of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 1059.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    Section 1 sets forth the short title of the bill.
    Section 2 reauthorizes the disposal site in Mesa County, 
Colorado, through September 30, 2048.

                   Cost and Budgetary Considerations

    The following estimate of the costs of this measure has 
been provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
    S. 1059 would amend the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation 
Control Act of 1978 to extend, through September 30, 2048, the 
government's authority to operate the Cheney disposal cell in 
Mesa County, Colorado. That facility, administered by the 
Department of Energy (DOE), serves as a repository for mill 
tailings--radioactive waste generated during the conversion of 
uranium into fuel for nuclear reactors. Under current law, 
DOE's authority to operate that site is scheduled to expire on 
September 30, 2023.
    Using information from DOE, CBO estimates that the agency's 
costs to administer the Cheney disposal cell (which primarily 
involves inspecting and maintaining the facility and preparing 
certain reports) total less than $500,000 annually; such 
spending is subject to appropriation. However, because DOE is 
already authorized to operate that facility through fiscal year 
2023, CBO estimates that enacting S. 1059 would have no effect 
on the department's costs over the 2018-2022 period covered by 
this estimate.
    Enacting S. 1059 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that S. 1059 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    S. 1059 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Regulatory Impact Evaluation

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 1059. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in making the 
adjustments provided for in the bill. Therefore, there would be 
no impact on personal privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 1059, as ordered reported.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    S. 1059, as ordered reported, does not contain any 
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, 
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate.

                        Executive Communications

    The testimony provided by the Department of Energy at the 
October 3, 2017, hearing on S. 1059 follows:

Testimony of Deputy General Counsel Bernard McNamee, U.S. Department of 
    Energy, Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural 
                   Resources, Subcommittee on Energy


       s. 1059, responsible disposal reauthorization act of 2017


    Legacy waste cleanup is a top priority for the Department 
of Energy. The Grand Junction, Colorado disposal site was 
authorized by Congress as part of the Uranium Mill Tailings 
Radiation Control Act of 1978.
    The disposal site is the only active site available for 
receiving uranium mill tailings managed by DOE's Office of 
Legacy Management (LM). The Department works closely with 
local, state, and federal officials to ensure the protection of 
public health, safety, and the environment by moving 
contaminated materials away from public places.
    The Grand Junction Disposal Site contains about 4.5 million 
cubic yards of low-level radioactive waste and receives 
approximately 2,700 cubic yards of waste per year. The disposal 
site has sufficient space to receive an additional estimated 
235,000 cubic yards indicating the site could operate for 87 
more years at current rates.
    New waste materials come from numerous locations--primarily 
the City of Grand Junction continues to excavate waste tailings 
previously used in roads, sidewalks, and homes. DOE-LM operates 
groundwater treatment systems at several sites that will 
continue to generate waste eligible for disposal in the Grand 
Junction Disposal Site, and that valuable capacity should 
continue to be utilized.
    The Department of Energy looks forward to continuing to 
work with this subcommittee on responsible disposal management 
of the Nation's legacy sites.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of Rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the original bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing 
law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

          URANIUM MILL TAILINGS RADIATION CONTROL ACT OF 1978

Public Law 95-604, as amended

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



TITLE I--REMEDIAL ACTION PROGRAM

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



                       TERMINATION; AUTHORIZATION

    Sec. 112. (a)(1) The authority of the Secretary to perform 
remedial action under this subchapter shall terminate on 
September 30, 1998, except that--
          (A) the authority of the Secretary to perform 
        groundwater restoration activities under this 
        subchapter is without limitation, and
          (B) the Secretary may continue operation of the 
        disposal site in Mesa County, Colorado (known as the 
        Cheney disposal cell) for receiving and disposing of 
        residual radioactive material from processing sites and 
        of byproduct material from property in the vicinity of 
        the uranium milling site located in Monticello, Utah, 
        until the Cheney disposal cell has been filled to the 
        capacity for which it was designed, or [September 30, 
        2023] September 30, 2048, whichever comes first.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


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