In 1980, Congress passed the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act, which provided for a new approach to the disposal of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) in the United States. It assigned each State responsibility for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste generated within its borders and authorized states to enter into compacts for the purpose of operating regional disposal facilities. The 1980 Act also authorized compacts with existing disposal sites in Nevada, South Carolina, and Washington to stop accepting waste outside of those compact regions after a sufficient period of time had elapsed for the development of new disposal facilities in other compact regions.
Congress amended the Act in 1985 by extending disposal of low-level radioactive waste at the three existing disposal facilities until January 1, 1993, provided that certain milestones were met.
To meet their obligations under the Act, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia formed the Southeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Compact in 1983. The number of states in the Compact changed to six with the withdrawal of South Carolina in 1995 and North Carolina in 1999. The compact concept offers the significant advantage of rotating responsibility for the region’s LLRW and maximizing efficient use of available resources to protect public health and the environment.
The Commission oversees the administration and implementation of the Compact agreement. The Commission has three standing committees that make recommendations to the full Commission, which has final authority for all policy decisions. All Commission and committee meetings are open to the public.
The Administrative Committee recommends fiscal policies, including the annual budget, analyzes and recommends proposed amendments to the Commission bylaws, and deals with all legal and administrative matters affecting the Commission.
The Policy and Planning Committee develops and recommends long-term Commission goals and the policies, procedures, and activities necessary to implement those goals, including the export of LLRW from the Southeast Compact, the identification of host states, and public awareness and involvement in Commission activities.
The Sanctions Committee advises the Commission on policies and procedures for establishing and enforcing sanctions for violation of the Southeast Compact law.
Sub-committees are appointed to handle short-term projects and report back to the main committee, and technical advisors are called upon as needed.
To ensure that adequate, reliable, and appropriate services are available, now and in the foreseeable future, such that low-level radioactive waste generated in the Southeast Region can be safely managed in an efficient, equitable, economical, and environmentally responsible manner in order that each party state may meet its responsibility for providing for the availability of capacity either within or outside the State for disposal of low-level radioactive waste generated within its borders (Article 1, PL 99-240).