For more information, see Regulatory Drivers.


LM currently manages nine sites where remediation was conducted in accordance with Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and/or Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. These sites were radiologically and/or chemically contaminated by federal milling, processing, research, and/or weapons manufacturing operations.

CERCLA was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980, to enforce cleanup and reporting requirements on contaminated property. RCRA was enacted by Congress on October 21, 1976, to govern the disposal of solid and hazardous waste.

View the CERCLA/RCRA sites.

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For sites in the DOE Defense Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) Program, LM ensures compliance with DOE Order 5400.1, “General Environmental Protection Program,” which was superseded by DOE O 436.1, “Departmental Sustainability” (May 2, 2011); and DOE O 5400.5, “Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment.” DOE O 5400.1 stipulates that DOE will comply with applicable federal, state, and local environmental protection laws and regulations, Executive Orders, and internal DOE policies. DOE O 458.1 Admin Change 3, also titled “Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment,” cancels DOE Order 5400.5 as of January 15, 2013.

View the D&D sites.

DOE established the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) in 1974 to remediate sites where radioactive contamination remained from Manhattan Project and early U.S. Atomic Energy Commission operations. DOE assessed more than 600 candidate facilities and determined that 46 sites required remediation. In 1997, the U.S. Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to remediate the remaining FUSRAP sites — by this time DOE had completed cleanup of 25 of 46 sites. Remediation of FUSRAP sites follows Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) protocols. In 1999, DOE negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with USACE to transfer responsibility for FUSRAP sites to DOE for long-term care two years after remedial action has been completed.

View the FUSRAP sites.

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MED/AEC legacy sites are sites that were associated with Manhattan Engineer District’s (MED) efforts to develop the first nuclear weapons during World War II as well as sites that were involved in the work of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

View the MED/AEC Legacy sites.

The Nevada Offsites include the Salmon site in Mississippi, the Amchitka and Chariot sites in Alaska, the Rulison and Rio Blanco sites in Colorado, the Gasbuggy and Gnome-Coach sites in New Mexico, and the Central Nevada Test Area, Shoal, and Tonopah Test Range sites in Nevada. Nevada Offsites refers to the sites where underground nuclear tests and experiments were performed or planned outside of the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site).

Underground nuclear tests and weapons-related experiments were conducted or planned at 10 sites in five states for various purposes, including stimulating natural gas production and cataloging seismic detonation signatures. Chariot was identified as a potential location to excavate a harbor using a series of nuclear explosions. Work at the Project Chariot site was canceled because of strong public opposition. No nuclear explosions were conducted at the site and no nuclear devices were ever brought to the site.

The DOE Office of Legacy Management assumed responsibility for nine of the sites in 2008. Responsibility for Tonopah Test Range transferred to LM Sept. 30, 2020. Long-term monitoring activities consist primarily of ensuring that use restrictions remain in force and maintaining site integrity to protect public health and the environment.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Health, under the Voluntary Evaluation Program, are the regulatory consultants for the Salmon site. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, under the Alaska Contaminated Sites Voluntary Cleanup Program, is the regulatory consultant for the Amchitka and Chariot sites. LM partners with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for the Colorado sites. The two New Mexico sites are managed in coordination with the New Mexico Environment Department under the New Mexico Voluntary Remediation Program. The three Nevada sites are subject to requirements of a Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order administered by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

View the Nevada Offsites.

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Certain sites where low-level radioactive contamination was remediated by the site owner under the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Site Decommissioning Management Program can be transferred to the federal government under Section 151 of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA). NRC will terminate the site license only after concurring with the implemented remedial action, determining that the owner has obtained DOE approval to accept responsibility for the site, and ensuring future funding for long-term surveillance and maintenance. LM manages one NWPA Section 151 site.

View the NWPA Section 151 site.

Plowshare/Vela Uniform Program sites are locations where nonnuclear tests were conducted or where nuclear tests were cancelled after some activities had occurred. Most of the sites are records only sites.

View the Plowshare/Vela Uniform Program sites.

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Water quality standards (WQS) are EPA-approved state, territorial, authorized tribal, or federal law provisions that describe a water body’s desired condition and how that condition will be protected or achieved. States, territories, and authorized tribes establish WQS to protect human health and aquatic life in these waters. WQS forms a legal basis for controlling pollutants entering LM sites’ waters in the United States. Generally, contamination located on these sites is not considered hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, nor do they qualify under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

View the state water quality standards sites.

UMTRCA Title I Disposal and Processing Sites

For Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (UMTRCA) Title I disposal sites managed by LM, DOE becomes a licensee to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Inspection, reporting, and record-keeping requirements are defined in Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 40.27, "General License for Custody and Long-Term Care of Residual Radioactive Material Disposal Sites." The general license for long-term custody does not expire. Usually, the land title is assigned to a federal government agency and the land is administratively withdrawn from unrestricted public use. Sites located on tribal land revert to tribal control, and DOE obtains a site access agreement with the tribe that allows DOE to fulfill its custodial responsibilities.

Under UMTRCA Title I, 22 inactive uranium ore-processing sites were designated for remediation. Remediation resulted in the creation of 19 disposal cells that contain encapsulated uranium mill tailings and associated contaminated material. Approximately 40 million cubic yards of low-level radioactive material are contained in engineered UMTRCA Title I disposal cells.

Residual radioactive material was moved from some Title I processing sites for containment at off-site disposal locations. NRC does not require a license for remediated processing sites that do not have disposal cells. However, NRC is the regulator if contaminated groundwater remains. Groundwater compliance action plans, with compliance strategies that range from natural flushing to active remediation, have been or are being developed by DOE for processing sites that have contaminated groundwater. These plans require NRC, state, and Native American tribe concurrence, when applicable. To date, groundwater remedies have been approved and implemented at several former uranium ore processing sites.

Standards for UMTRCA remedial action, cell performance, and groundwater quality are established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 40 CFR 192, "Health and Environmental Protection Standards for Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings." Each disposal site comes under the general license for long-term custody and care by DOE once NRC concurs that remedial action has been completed and accepts the site-specific, long-term surveillance plan. If groundwater at a site was contaminated by previous site activities, NRC will accept only the surface improvements under the general license; the site will not be fully licensed until groundwater quality meets applicable regulations. The NRC license mandates annual disposal cell inspections. Additional requirements for post-closure care are defined in site-specific, long-term surveillance plans.

All Title I sites are under general licenses, except for the Grand Junction, Colorado, Disposal Site. A portion of the cell at the Grand Junction disposal site will remain open to receive contaminated materials and continues to be managed by LM.

UMTRCA Title II Disposal Sites

Uranium processing sites addressed by Title II of Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) were active when the act was passed in 1978. These sites were commercially owned and regulated under an NRC agreement state license. For license termination, the owner conducts an NRC-approved reclamation of radioactive waste remaining from uranium ore processing operations. The site owner also ensures full funding for inspections and, if necessary, ongoing monitoring or maintenance. LM develops the site-specific, long-term surveillance plan and accepts title to the site for long-term custody and care after approval of site remediation by the licensee and development of a long term surveillance plan by LM. DOE administers Title II sites under the provisions of a general NRC license granted under Title 10 CFR 40.28, "General License for Custody and Long-Term Care of Uranium or Thorium Byproduct Materials Disposal Sites."

LM currently manages seven UMTRCA Title II sites. The number will increase as ongoing site reclamations are completed. Ultimately, LM will manage as many as 30 UMTRCA Title II sites.

View the UMTRCA Title I and II disposal and processing sites.

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