On November 14, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking comments from the public on the issues to be covered in the environmental review of an application from Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) to construct and operate a facility to store spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The NRC will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to document its evaluation of those impacts and is now taking public comments on the scope.
By letter dated July 21, 2016, WCS requested that NRC begin its EIS process as soon as possible. In a response dated October 7, 2016, NRC agreed to WCS’ request because doing so will allow the agency to engage interested members of the public early in the process. It will also provide additional time to consult with federal, tribal, state and local government agencies, facilitating compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. In addition, the environmental review will fulfill requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to do an analysis of environmental impacts for major federal actions. However, NRC’s decision to begin the EIS process early does not presuppose the outcome of its ongoing acceptance review of the WCS application.
The EIS prepared by the NRC staff will examine the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action. The NRC staff will evaluate the potential impacts to various environmental resources, such as air quality, surface and ground water, transportation, geology and soils, and socioeconomics. The EIS will analyze potential impacts of WCS’s proposed facility on historic and cultural resources and on threatened and endangered species. Additionally, the economic, technical, and other benefits and costs of the proposed action and alternatives will be considered in the EIS.
If the application is accepted for a detailed technical review, the NRC staff will also conduct a safety review to determine WCS’s compliance with NRC’s regulations, including 10 CFR Part 20 and 10 CFR Part 72. The NRC staff’s findings will be published in a Safety Evaluation Report.
The scoping period began on November 14, 2016. If the WCS application is docketed, the scoping period will end 45 days after publication of a notice of docketing the application.
Written comments on the scope of the environmental review may be submitted via:
- the federal government’s rulemaking website at www.regulations.gov;
- email to WCS_CISF_EIS@nrc.gov; or,
- mail to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN- 12 H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.
Comments must be submitted by the closing date of the scoping period to ensure consideration. Stakeholders should include Docket ID NRC-2016-0231 when submitting comments.
The ER submitted by WCS can be found on the NRC’s project-specific web page at http:// www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/ cis/wcs/wcs-app-docs.html. For additional information, please contact James Park, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415– 6954 or at James.Park@nrc.gov.