Programs & Services

Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act


Radioactive Materials

74-4A-1: Radioactive material transport; conditions.

A. The environmental improvement board shall have exclusive authority to promulgate regulations prescribing the conditions for transport of radioactive material on the highways. Such conditions shall include the conditions of transport that the environmental improvement board finds necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the state. Except as specifically preempted by federal law, the state transportation commission shall have the exclusive authority within New Mexico to designate highway routes for the transport of radioactive material. Any rule or regulation adopted by the environmental improvement board that designates highway routes for the transport of radioactive material and that was in effect prior to March 1, 1991 is deemed null and void. The state transportation commission shall incorporate into the record and consider in the initial designation of routes for the transport of radioactive material the evidentiary record from the environmental improvement board public hearings held for the purpose of receiving public comment regarding the designation of routes for the transport of radioactive material.

B. For the purposes of this section, “radioactive material” means a material or combination of materials that spontaneously emits ionizing radiation. Materials in which the estimated specific activity is not greater than 0.002 microcuries per gram of material, and in which the radioactivity is essentially uniformly distributed, are not considered to be radioactive materials. “Radioactive material” includes but is not limited to:

(1) materials associated with the operation and decommissioning of nuclear reactors and the supporting fuel cycle;

(2) industrial radioisotope sources;

(3) radioactive materials used in nuclear medicine;

(4) radioactive materials used for research, education or training; and

(5) radioactive wastes; but does not include radioactive material the regulation of which has been specifically preempted by federal law.

C. The department of environment shall have the authority to impose fines not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) as set by regulation of the environmental improvement board for a violation of the board’s regulations pertaining to the transport of radioactive materials.

D. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter the obligation of the state under the April 3, 1974 agreement between the state and the atomic energy commission for the discontinuance of certain commission regulatory authority and responsibility.

74-4A-2. Short title.

Sections 74-4A-1 through 74-4A-14 NMSA 1978 may be cited as the “Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act”.

74-4A-3. Purpose.

A. The legislature finds that there is presently much public and state concern in the area of public health and safety over:

(1) the proposed waste isolation pilot plant for defense-related radioactive wastes;

(2) the safe treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes and the regulation of hazardous waste generators,

(3) the effective provision of regulation and information regarding hazardous chemicals in the community and in the work place;

(4) the effective control of contamination from underground storage tanks;

(5) the transportation on New Mexico highways and streets of radioactive and hazardous materials;

(6) the disposition of uranium mine and mill tailings; and

(7) the need to provide efficient and timely emergency response to accidents or natural disasters involving the disposal, storage or transportation of radioactive and hazardous materials.

B. The legislature further finds that there is a need to centralize and coordinate information on these concerns and to develop recommendations for action by the state. It is the purpose of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act [74-4A-1 to 74-4A-14 NMSA 1978] to provide a vehicle for proper consideration of these legitimate state concerns without unnecessarily hampering the nuclear energy industry or compromising the nation’s defense.

74-4A-4. Definitions.

As used in the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act [74-4A-1 to 74-4A-14 NMSA 1978]:

A. “committee” means the joint interim legislative radioactive and hazardous materials committee;

B. “disposal” means the long-term isolation of radioactive material, including long-term monitored storage which permits retrieval of the radioactive material stored and includes the temporary or permanent disposal of all hazardous wastes;

C. “environmental evaluation group” means the independent state review facility administratively attached to New Mexico institute of mining and technology and funded by the United States department of energy;

D. “hazardous waste” means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant or air pollution control facility or other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid or containing gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining or agricultural operations or from community activities which because of its quantity, concentration or physical, chemical or infectious characteristics may cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible or incapacitating reversible illness or pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of or otherwise managed. The term “hazardous waste” does not include solid or dissolved material in domestic sewage or animal excrement in connection with farm, ranch or feedlot operations or solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or industrial discharges that are point sources subject to permits under Section 402 of the federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended, as the provisions exist on January 1, 1981, or source, special or byproduct material as defined in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, as these definitions exist on January 1, 1981, or any of the following, until the board determines that they are subject to Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 6921 et seq.): drilling fluids, produced waters and other wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil or natural gas or geothermal energy, any fly ash waste, bottom ash waste, slag waste, flue gas emission control waste generated primarily from the combustion of coal or other fossil fuels, solid waste from the extraction, beneficiation or processing of ores and minerals, including phosphate rock and overburden from the mining of uranium ore or cement kiln dust waste;

E. “high-level waste” means the highly radioactive wastes resulting from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and includes both the liquid waste which is produced directly in reprocessing and any solid material into which such liquid waste is made;

F. “low-level waste” means material contaminated with radioactive elements emitting beta or gamma particles or with traces of transuranic elements in concentrations of less than one hundred nanocuries per gram;

G. “mixed waste” means any mixture of hazardous waste regulated under the Hazardous Waste Act and radioactive waste regulated under the federal Atomic Energy Act of 1954;

H. “radioactive materials” means any material or combination of materials which spontaneously emits ionizing radiation. Materials in which the estimated specific activity is not greater than 0.002 microcuries per gram of material, and in which the radioactivity is essentially uniformly distributed, are not considered to be radioactive materials;

I. “radioactive waste” means high-level waste, transuranic contaminated waste and low-level waste;

J. “spent fuel” means nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in and recovered from a civilian nuclear power plant;

K. “task force” means the radioactive waste consultation task force; and

L. “transuranic contaminated waste” means material contaminated with radionuclides emitting alpha radiation having an atomic number greater than ninety-two, including neptunium, plutonium, americium and curium, in concentrations of greater than one hundred nanocuries per gram.

74-4A-5 Repealed.
74-4A-6. Task force.

There is created the “radioactive waste consultation task force”. The task force shall consist of the secretaries of energy, minerals and natural resources; health; environment; public safety; and highway and transportation or their designees. The chairman and vice chairman, or their designees from the committee, shall be advisory members of the task force. The state fire marshal or his designee shall serve as a non-voting member of the task force.

74-4A-7. Duties of the task force.

A. The task force shall negotiate for the state with the federal government in all areas relating to siting, licensing and operation of new federal disposal facilities, including research, development and demonstration, for high-level radioactive wastes, transuranic radioactive wastes and low-level radioactive waste. This subsection shall not be construed to limit the powers of any agency otherwise authorized to negotiate with the federal government, and if such negotiation should also come within the authority of the task force, the task force shall provide assistance to that agency but shall not limit the agency’s exercise of authority. Any action taken pursuant to this subsection may be disapproved by joint resolution of the legislature.

B. The task force may recommend legislation to implement the state’s policies with respect to new federal disposal facilities.

C. The task force shall identify impacts of new federal disposal facilities within the state and shall disseminate that information.

D. The task force shall coordinate the investigations and studies undertaken by all state agencies and shall forward an executive summary of ongoing and recently completed investigations and studies, including information from federal or other studies, to the legislature and the governor as the studies are completed or information released.

E. The task force shall meet regularly with the committee and keep the committee apprised of all actions taken by the task force.

74-4A-8. Powers of the task force.

A. The task force may make procedural rules deemed necessary to carry out the provisions of Section 74-4A-7 NMSA 1978.

B. The task force may solicit and accept grants from federal or private sources for projects and undertakings that further the purposes of Section 74-4A-7 NMSA 1978.

C. The task force may make such contracts as it deems necessary to carry out the provisions of Section 74-4A-7 NMSA 1978.

D. The task force may appoint a representative on any federal or state-federal task forces or working groups.

E. The task force may perform such other acts as are necessary and proper for carrying out the provisions of Section 74-4A-7 NMSA 1978 and shall cooperate fully with the committee.

74-4A-9. Committee.

There is created a joint interim legislative committee which shall be known as the “radioactive and hazardous materials committee”. The committee shall function from the date of its appointment.

74-4A-10. Membership; appointment; vacancies.

A. The committee shall be composed of twelve members. The legislative council shall appoint six members from the house of representatives and six members from the senate and may include members of the council, notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection D of Section 2-3-3 NMSA 1978. At the time of making the appointments, the legislative council shall designate the chairman and vice chairman of the committee. Members shall be appointed from each house so as to give the two major political parties in each house the same proportionate representation on the committee as prevails in each house; provided that in no event shall either of such parties have less than one member from each house on the committee. Vacancies on the committee shall be filled by the legislative council.

B. No action shall be taken by the committee if a majority of the total membership from either house on the committee rejects such action.

74-4A-11. Committee duties.

At the beginning of each interim, the committee shall hold one organizational meeting to develop a work plan and budget for the period prior to January 1 preceding the next regular session of the legislature. The work plan and budget shall be submitted to the New Mexico legislative council for approval. Upon approval of the work plan and budget by the legislative council, the committee shall examine all matters relevant to the purposes of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act [74-4A-1 NMSA 1978] and shall submit recommended legislation, together with a report on the activities and expenditures of the committee, to the legislature. In making recommendations, the committee shall review and monitor the following areas:

A. the generation, treatment, storage, transportation or disposal of radioactive or hazardous materials and wastes;

B. the control and handling of mixed waste transported to the waste isolation pilot plant site for disposal;

C. the progress and effectiveness of remediation actions at sites contaminated by radioactive or hazardous materials;

D. the compliance with the environmental protection agency, the council on environmental quality and the office of surface mining regulations and standards pursuant to federal environmental statutes;

E. the provision of activities and investigations and the dissemination of information by the environmental evaluation group; however, nothing in the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act [74-4A-1 NMSA 1978] shall be construed to limit the independent technical review and evaluation by that group of the impact on health and safety of the waste isolation pilot plant;

F. the disposition of uranium mine and mill tailings;

G. the means through which disposition of low-level wastes may be accomplished, such as participation in a regional compact with other states;

H. the state emergency response capability;

I. the Ground Water Protection Act [74-6B-1 NMSA 1978], in cooperation with other legislative committees, regarding the use or management of storage tanks and releases;

J. the Hazardous Chemicals Information Act [74-4E-1 NMSA 1978], in cooperation with other legislative committees; and

K. such matters assigned by the legislature and consultations and negotiations with the federal government and other state governments or their representatives and agreements and revisions thereto.

74-4A-11.1. Condition.

No person shall store or dispose of radioactive materials, radioactive waste or spent fuel in a disposal facility until the state has concurred in the creation of the disposal facility, except as specifically preempted by federal law. As used in this section, “disposal facility” means an engineered facility designed primarily for the isolation of radioactive materials, radioactive waste or spent fuel other than tailings or other waste from the extraction, beneficiation or processing of ores and minerals.

74-4A-12. Subcommittees.

Subcommittees shall be created only by majority vote of all members appointed to the committee and with the approval of the legislative council. A subcommittee shall be composed of at least one member from the senate and one member from the house of representatives, and at least one member of the minority party shall be a member of the subcommittee. All meetings and expenditures of a subcommittee shall be approved by the full committee in advance of such meeting or expenditure, and the approval shall be shown in the minutes of the committee.

74-4A-13. Interrelationship with task force.

The committee shall meet regularly to review the work of, and work with, the task force. Prior to the state’s acceptance of any agreement, the committee shall review and advise the task force of committee concerns and recommendations regarding all agreements negotiated by or in the name of the task force. Executive reports from the task force shall be presented annually at the first committee meeting following the close of the regular legislative session each year.

74-4A-14. Staff.

The staff for the committee shall be provided by the legislative council service.