Anne White Sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management

On March 29, 2018, Anne Marie White of Michigan was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management (EM) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“As Assistant Secretary, White will provide leadership to continue the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy brought about from five decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research,” states the DOE press release announcing the swearing in.  “She will work closely with communities that have partnered with DOE and its predecessor agencies for many decades.”

“It is an honor to serve as Assistant Secretary of Energy for EM,” White said.  “I look forward to the challenges ahead and know that with the talented federal staff, our dedicated workers in the field, and the support of a wide array of stakeholders, we will deliver the EM mission safely and cost effectively.”

Overview

White is the founder of Bastet Technical Services, LLC — a consulting firm that has been engaged in providing strategic solutions to solve complex environmental challenges across the DOE complex.  She has more than 25 years of experience across a broad range of activities within the nuclear field, mainly focused on project and program management projects with complex technical, regulatory, and stakeholder challenges.

“She has industry-recognized credentials in technical skills that lead to sound, technically underpinned, cost effective solutions,” stated an earlier announcement.  “She has extensive hands on in the field experience at many of the Environmental Management sites for which she will have responsibility.”

White, who has supported a number of emerging nuclear power nations to develop legal and regulatory structures and national policies, received a Master’s Degree of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Background

On January 3, 2018, the White House announced President Donald J. Trump’s intent to nominate White to be the EM Assistant Secretary.  On March 22, 2018, White was confirmed for the position by voice vote of the U.S. Senate.

Since June 2017, James Owendoff has been serving as the Acting EM-1 Assistant Secretary.  In this role, Owendoff has focused on more timely decisions on cleanup projects.

The position was previously held by Monica Regalbuto at the end of the administration of former-President Barack Obama.

For additional information, please contact Douglas Tonkay, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Disposal, at (301) 903-7212 or at Douglas.Tonkay@em.doe.gov or go to www.energy.gov.

NRC Issues Annual Assessments for Nation’s Nuclear Plants

On March 5, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has issued annual letters to the nation’s 99 commercial nuclear power plants operating in 2017 regarding their operational performance throughout the year.  All but three plants were in the two highest performance categories.

Overview

Of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 83 met all safety and security performance objectives and were inspected by the NRC using the standard “baseline” inspection program.

The NRC determined that 13 reactors needed resolution of one or two items of low safety significance.  For this performance level, regulatory oversight includes additional inspections and follow-up of corrective actions.  Plants in this level include: Browns Ferry 1, 2 and 3 (Alabama); Catawba 2 (South Carolina); Clinton (Illinois); Columbia (Washington); Diablo Canyon 2 (California); Fermi 2 (Michigan); Grand Gulf (Mississippi); Perry (Ohio); Sequoyah 1 and 2 (Tennessee); and, Wolf Creek (Kansas).  Diablo Canyon 2 and Fermi 2 have resolved their findings since the reporting period ended and have transitioned to the highest performing level.

There were no reactors in the third performance category with a degraded level of performance. The NRC noted that there were three reactors in the fourth performance category.  Arkansas Nuclear One 1 and 2 require increased oversight because of two safety findings of substantial significance.  Pilgrim (Massachusetts) is in the fourth performance category because of long-standing issues of low-to-moderate safety significance.  Additional inspections will be conducted to confirm that the performance issues are being addressed.

Next Steps

Later this spring and summer, the NRC will host a public meeting or other event near each plant to discuss the details of the annual assessments.  A separate announcement will be issued for each public assessment meeting.  In addition to the annual assessment letters, plants also receive an NRC inspection plan for the coming year.

Background

Information on the NRC’s oversight of commercial nuclear power plants is available through the NRC’s webpage on the Reactor Oversight Process.  The NRC routinely updates information on each plant’s current performance and posts the latest information as it becomes available to the action matrix summary.  To see the 2017 assessment letters, click on “2017q4” for each plant.  Annual construction oversight assessments for new reactors at the Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 sites are also on the NRC website.

For additional information, please contact the NRC’s Office of Public Affairs at (301) 415-8200.

State of Texas Reduces Disposal Surcharges

In late 2017, the State of Texas agreed to reduce disposal surcharges for a 24-month limited period of time at the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facilities in Andrews County, Texas.  In particular, gross revenue fees for in-compact customers have been cut in half—reduced from a total of 10% to 5%.  Gross revenue fees for out-of-compact customers have been reduced from 31.25% to 16.25%.

WCS released the following statement regarding reduced disposal surcharges:

Waste Control Specialists is delighted to inform customers that — for a limited time — the state has significantly reduced its disposal surcharges for those customers currently disposing low-level radioactive waste at the WCS facilities in Andrews County.  For both in-compact and out-of-compact generators, this will result in significant cost savings … 

These are significant reductions and already resulting in dramatic cost-savings for our customers.  This should encourage our customers to dispose of low-level radioactive waste in our state-of-the-art facility in Andrews County and we are already seeing an uptick in scheduled disposal shipments …

The new fee structure, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017 and is now in effect, will remain in place through August 31, 2019.  According to WCS, “waste will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis” during the reduced surcharge period.  It is unclear as to what will happen at the end of the 24-month window of cost savings.

For additional information, please contact WCS representative Chuck McDonald at (512) 658-5958 or at chuck@mcdonaldpr.com.

Utah DWMRC Notifies Stakeholders of Rulemaking Actions

On November 3, 2017, the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (DWMRC) notified interested stakeholders of the following rulemaking actions that were taken by the Waste Management and Radiation Control Board at its meeting on October 12, 2017:

  1. Final adoption of rule changes to incorporate the following in to Title 313 of the Utah Administrative Code and set an effective date of October 13, 2017:
  •  U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) final rule published in the May 29, 2013 Federal Register (78 Federal Register 32310) under the title of Distribution of Source Material to Exempt Persons and to General Licensees and Revision of General License and Exemptions.
  • Selected corrections and clarifications not associated with the above final rule.

 

  1. Approval to proceed with formal rulemaking and public comment with the following proposed changes to R313-25, License Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive Waste – General Provisions, of the Utah Administrative Code:
  •   Proposed amendments to R313-25 to incorporate the rule changes required by S.B. 79 (2017 General Session) to the financial assurance requirements for a radioactive waste disposal facility.  Additional changes to the financial assurance requirements are being made for added detail to the Director’s review of and action on the financial assurance cost estimate submitted by a licensee of a radioactive waste disposal facility.

 

Additional information on the proposed changes to the radiation control rules can be found on the Division website or via the Office of Administrative Rules website for the November 1, 2017 issue (Vol. 2017, No. 21) of the Utah State Bulletin.

 For additional information, please contact Otis Willoughby of the Utah DWMRC at (801) 536-0200.

Modifications Issued re EnergySolutions’ Clive Facility License

On November 2, 2017, EnergySolutions provided notification of the approval of modifications to the Part B Permit issued by the State of Utah for the company’s Clive facility in Tooele County, Utah.  The modifications involved the following changes:

  • 2017-006477: Approval of a Class 1 modification to Revisions to Attachment II-7-1, Overall Facility Closure Cost Summary
  • 2017-006478: Approval of a Class 1 modification to Revisions to Attachment II-7-2, Closure Cost Estimate
  • 2017-006479: Approval of a Class 1 modification to Revisions to Module II, General Facility Conditions, Revision Date List

The above modifications are all related to the 2016 Annual Surety Review modification that was initially submitted on May 23, 2017.

On October 20, 2017, EnergySolutions provided notification of the approval of a modification to the Part B Permit issued by the State of Utah for the company’s Clive facility in Tooele County, Utah.  The modification involved the following changes:

  • 2017-007164: Approval of a Class 1 modification to Revisions to Attachment II-7-1, Overall Facility Closure Cost Summary

Questions regarding these modifications or requests for review of the modification applications and related documents may be directed to EnergySolutions or the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (DWMRC).

For additional information, please contact Otis Willoughby of the Utah DWMRC at (801) 536-0200 or Tim Orton of EnergySolutions at (801) 649-2000.

NYSERDA Seeks Project Manager for WVDP

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) West Valley Site Management Program (WVSMP) is seeking an experienced technical professional to join NYSERDA’s team at the Western New York Nuclear Service Center in northern Cattaraugus County, New York.

This individual will be responsible for supporting NYSERDA’s participation in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP), a joint federal-state decommissioning and radioactive waste cleanup project.  This position reports to NYSERDA’s WVDP and End-State Planning Program Manager and will involve on-site observation, monitoring, inspection and oversight of WVDP work activities.

Responsibilities

The Project Manager’s primary responsibilities will be to:

  • provide direct observation, inspection, monitoring, oversight and reporting of WVDP work activities, including (but limited to) facility demolition activities, soil excavation and waste packaging;
  • provide subject matter expert reviews of plans, procedures, work packages and radiological and chemical safety work control documents for decommissioning, deactivation and demolition activities;
  • prepare written reports and otherwise keep management fully apprised of WVDP activities, including contractor performance related to safety, regulatory compliance, cost and schedule;
  • prepare MS-Project or Primavera P6 schedules and assist other staff in the preparation of integrated project schedules;
  • represent NYSERDA at meetings with DOE, the site contractor, regulatory agencies, members of the public and other stakeholders;
  • contribute to a positive team environment, a culture of excellence and creative problem solving; and,
  • perform other responsibilities as assigned.

Qualifications

Required minimum qualifications an individual must possess include:

  • a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in engineering, health physics or industrial safety plus 5 years of relevant experience (i.e., work at the WVDP or a similar nuclear facility, including decommissioning experience, radioactive material management or radioactive waste management) or an unrelated Bachelor’s or Master’s degree plus 7 years relevant experience (work at the WVDP or a similar nuclear facility, including decommissioning experience, radioactive material management or radioactive waste management);
  • strong analytical skills including a demonstrated ability to effectively organize and evaluate quantitative information, draw conclusions and make recommendations or decisions;
  • strong organizational, planning and scheduling abilities with demonstrated proficiency in MS-Project or Primavera P6;
  • strong work ethic and resolute integrity;
  • strong written and verbal communication abilities and interpersonal skills;
  • knowledge of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations or DOE Orders and policies; and,
  • ability to work effectively outdoors in inclement weather conditions and safely negotiate unpaved walking surfaces, moderately steep slopes and uneven terrain.

 Salary

 Candidates will be considered for Project Manager through Senior Project Manager based on qualifications and experience.  An excellent benefits package is also offered. 

Application 

In order to apply for the open position, please submit a cover letter and resume to recruiter@nyserda.ny.gov.  When applying, please include Project Manager, WVDP and Job Code 473 in the Subject Line.

For additional information, please contact Alyse Peterson, Senior Project Manager for Radiactive Waste Policy & Nuclear Coordination, NYSERDA, at (518) 862-1090 ext. 3274 or at alp@nyserda.ny.gov.

NRC To Review Its Administrative Regulations

On August 11, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced plans to initiate a retrospective review of its administrative regulations to identify those that are outdated or duplicative.  The review is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2017.

Overview  Any regulations that are identified during the review will be evaluated to determine if they can be eliminated without impacting the agency’s safety and security mission.  NRC anticipates that the review will result in improvements with regard to how applicants and licensees submit information, keep records, and report to the agency.

Process  NRC plans to develop a strategy to accomplish its retrospective review and will seek input from stakeholders through public meetings and a Federal Register notice.  In particular, the NRC plans to encourage its staff, its applicants, licensees and the public to provide input.

Background  Efficiency is one of five NRC principles of good regulation.  The retrospective review is an effort to improve the management and administration of regulatory activities and to ensure that the agency’s regulations remain current, appropriate, and effective.

For additional information, please contact the NRC’s Office of Public Affairs at (301) 415-8200.

SCE&G to Cease New V.C. Summer Nuclear Project

On July 31, 2017, South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G) announced that it would cease construction of two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, South Carolina.  SCE&G, which is a principal subsidiary of SCANA Corporation (SCANA), further announced that the company intends to promptly file a petition with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina seeking approval of its abandonment plan.

According to the company’s press release, this decision was reached by SCE&G after considering the additional costs to complete the new nuclear reactors, the uncertainty regarding the availability of production tax credits for the project and the amount of anticipated guaranty settlement payments from Toshiba Corporation (Toshiba).  SCE&G’s decision was also influenced by other matters associated with continuing construction including the decision of the co-owner of the project, the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper), the state owned electric utility, to suspend construction of the project.

Based on these factors, SCE&G concluded that it would not be in the best interest of its customers and other stakeholders to continue construction of the project.

Overview and Analysis  Following the bankruptcy filing of Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC (WEC), SCE&G and Santee Cooper each began a comprehensive process of evaluating the most prudent path forward for the new nuclear reactors.  The project owners worked with WEC and Fluor Corporation, as well as other technical and industry experts, to evaluate the project costs and schedules.

Based on this evaluation and analysis, SCE&G concluded that completion of both new nuclear reactors would be prohibitively expensive.  According to SCE&G’s analysis, the additional cost to complete both reactors beyond the amounts payable in connection with the engineering, procurement, and construction contract would materially exceed prior WEC estimates, as well as the anticipated guaranty settlement payments from Toshiba.  Moreover, in order to qualify for production tax credits under current tax rules, the new reactors would need to be online before January 1, 2021.  SCE&G’s analysis concluded that the new reactors could not be brought online until after this date.

SCE&G also considered the feasibility of completing the construction of Unit 2 and abandoning Unit 3 under the existing ownership structure and using natural gas generation to fulfill any remaining generation needs.  This option provided a potentially achievable path forward that may have delivered SCE&G a similar megawatt capacity as its 55% interest in the two reactors and provided a long-term hedge against carbon legislation/regulation and against gas price volatility.  SCE&G had not reached a final decision regarding this alternative when Santee Cooper determined that it would be unwilling to proceed with continued construction.  Consequently, SCE&G determined that it is not in the best interest of customers and other stakeholders for it to continue construction of one reactor.

Based on the evaluation and analysis, and Santee Cooper’s decision, SCE&G has concluded that the only remaining prudent course of action will be to abandon the construction of both Unit 2 and Unit 3 under the terms of the Base Load Review Act (BLRA).  Accordingly, normal construction activities at the site will cease immediately and efforts will be shifted toward an orderly transition of winding down and securing the project property.  SCE&G plans to use the anticipated payments resulting from the settlement of Toshiba’s guaranty to mitigate cost impacts to SCE&G electric customers.

Abandonment Proceeding  On August 1, 2017, SCE&G will fully brief the Public Service Commission of South Carolina and thereafter initiate the abandonment proceeding.  In accordance with the BLRA, SCE&G intends to seek an amortization of the project costs and a return at the weighted average cost of capital on the unamortized balance until fully recovered. SCE&G plans to use the anticipated proceeds from the Toshiba settlement and benefits derived from tax deductions to mitigate rate increases and lessen the impact on its customers for several years.

Background  SCANA Corporation—which is headquartered in Cayce, South Carolina—is an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. The Company serves approximately 718,000 electric customers in South Carolina and approximately 1.3 million natural gas customers in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

SCE&G is a regulated public utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 718,000 customers in South Carolina.  The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 362,000 customers throughout the state.

Additional information about SCANA and its businesses is available on the Company’s website at www.scana.com.  Additional information about SCE&G is available at www.sceg.com.