Research · Ecological Management

Regulatory Analysis

The nature, direction, and development of the environmental sciences were influenced dramatically by the explosion of environmental law in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Regulations to implement major environmental legislation such as the Clean Water Act (CWA); Clean Air Act (CAA); Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Recovery Act (CERCLA); Endangered Species Act (ESA); National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA); and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), are primary drivers of DOE’s and other government agencies’ programs to protect the environment.

To assist DOE and other sponsors in meeting environmental regulatory requirements in an environmentally responsible, as well as cost-effective manner, the Environmental Sciences Division has assembled on its staff a team of individuals knowledgeable not only in environmental science, but also in environmental law and regulations. Staff can analyze the implications of proposed or existing regulations for new or existing programs or technologies and can develop strategies for environmental protection and compliance. Staff analyze environmental regulations specific to particular subject areas or problems of interest to various agencies, provide clear statements of applicability or non-applicability, and craft cost-effective compliance approaches and solutions.

Examples include -

  • Assistance to Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board in the disposition of 7 million pounds of thorium nitrate—the nation’s thorium nitrate stockpile. Numerous briefs and regulatory analysis summaries were prepared concerning NRC licensing of source material, thorium nitrate ownership and passing of legal title to the material, source of radiation protection plan requirements, sufficiency of NEPA alternatives to be considered, and license transfer.
  • Support of DOE Headquarters by review of regulations and DOE guidance relevant to materials generated from decommissioning structures for the Nuclear Navy. A controversy had arisen between the Nuclear Navy and the Environmental Protection Agency concerning the length of time that PCB-containing materials could be stored before disposal. ORNL helped resolve the controversy by locating specific regulatory exemptions for radioactive PCBs.
  • Preparation of Site-Specific Health and Safety Plans for hazardous substance bioremediation research as required by the CERCLA and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
  • Support of DOE’s Office of Science bioremediation research by documenting that planned research wells would be close to, but within, the boundary of the Oak Ridge Tennessee S-3 Ponds RCRA Post Closure Permit (Bear Creek Hydrogeologic Regime) rather than within the boundary of the East Fork Poplar Creek (Upper East Fork Hydrogeologic Regime) Permit. This conclusion was accepted by the state regulatory agency, thereby avoiding the need for major new regulatory applications and approvals.
  • Preparation of language for RCRA permit modification allowing DOE’s Office of Science bioremediation research operations to be conducted in an area subject to potential RCRA / CERCLA regulatory conflict.
  • Preparation of draft information briefs and updates on topics related to various environmental laws and their implementing regulations, including the Endangered Species Act, the Supreme Court’s Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) decision, eligibility of Indian tribes to administer programs under the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts, wetlands protection, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permitting regulations, historic preservation requirements, among others.
  • Preparation of summaries of environmental laws, emphasizing their application to DOE.
  • Preparation and presentation of training on environmental laws and regulations.

Customer Statement: ESD’s regulatory analysis staff have the ability to convert environmental issues and regulatory jargon and obfuscation into clearly defined statements and options; this has been invaluable.

For more information, contact:
Harry Quarles (, 865-241-2412)
Marti Salk (, 865-574-7315)
Ellen Smith (, 865-574-7396)

Revised: 8/17/05

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