OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

December 28, 1990

Mr. J. G. Oldham
Project Director
MK - Ferguson Company
Remedial Actions
Contractor - UMTRA Project
Post Office Box 9136
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87119

Dear Mr. Oldham:

This is an update to our response to your letter concerning the application of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard (20 CFR 1910.120) to the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project.

As you are aware, the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978, 42 U.S.C. 790 (et seq.) does not grant occupational safety and health statutory authority to the Department of Energy. Therefore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards are applicable.

The intent of 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(1)(i) is to include government mandated clean-ups of hazardous substances. In the definition of "uncontrolled hazardous waste site" it should read "...means an area where an accumulation of hazardous substance...." OSHA is in the process of correcting this inadvertent error. OSHA's definition of hazardous substance in this standard includes any substance listed by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) as hazardous materials under 49 CFR 172.101 and appendices. Radioactive materials are included under this DOT reference. Thus, 29 CFR 1910.120 is applicable to the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project.

Of the states you mention in your letter, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah administer their own occupational safety and health programs. As part of those programs, the states are responsible for the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards, subject to monitoring by Federal OSHA.

I hope this information is helpful.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs