On January 26, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that the agency has docketed and accepted for formal review an application from Waste Control Specialists (WCS) to build and operate a spent nuclear fuel Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) in Andrews, Texas. The NRC’s decision follows an acceptance review to determine whether the application contains sufficient information for the agency to begin its formal review.
WCS is seeking to store 5,000 metric tons uranium of spent fuel received from commercial nuclear power reactors across the United States.
NRC’s review will proceed on two parallel tracks—one on safety issues and the other on environmental issues. Both the safety and environmental reviews must be completed before the NRC makes a final licensing decision on the application.
In a letter to WCS dated January 26, 2017, the NRC set a schedule for its safety and environmental reviews. The schedule sets a target of making a licensing decision by the third quarter of fiscal year 2019—assuming that WCS provides high-quality responses, on schedule, to any NRC requests for additional information.
Interested stakeholders will have 60 days from publication of a notice of docketing in the Federal Register, which will appear shortly, to submit requests for a hearing and petition to intervene in the licensing proceeding for the proposed facility. Details on how to submit those requests and petitions will be in the Federal Register notice.
The NRC’s letter to WCS is available on the agency’s website at https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1701/ML17018A168.pdf.
The NRC will hold the following two public meetings near the site of the proposed CISF to take public comments on the scope of the environmental review:
- Hobbs, New Mexico: Lea County Event Center (5101 N. Lovington Highway) from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT on February 13, 2017
- Andrews, Texas: James Roberts Center (855 TX-176) from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT on February 15, 2017
Stakeholders that are interested in attending or speaking are encouraged to pre-register by calling (301) 415- 6957 no later than three days prior to the scheduled meetings. The public may also register in person at each meeting. The time allowed for each speaker may be limited, depending on the number of registered speakers.
The NRC is also planning to hold additional scoping meetings at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland during the week following the local meetings. Details for these meetings are still being finalized.
Information about the public meetings will be posted to the NRC public meetings schedule on the agency’s website at www.nrc.gov.
Interested stakeholders can submit comments on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the CISF as follows:
- Federal Rulemaking Website: Electronic provide comments at regulations.gov
- Mail: Send comments to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN-12 H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001
Written comments should refer to Docket ID NRC-2016-0231. The NRC will accept public comments through March 13, 2017.
On April 28, 2016, WCS filed an application seeking a 40-year license for a CISF to receive spent fuel from nuclear reactors for storage, pending final disposal. (See LLW Notes, May/June 2016, pp. 16-17.) Specifically, WCS is requesting authorization to construct and operate a CISF at the company’s 60.3 square kilometer (14,900 acre) site in western Andrews County, Texas. On this site, WCS currently operates facilities that process and store certain types of radioactive material—mainly low-level radioactive waste and mixed waste. The facility also disposes of hazardous and toxic waste.
According to the application, WCS plans to construct the CISF in eight phases. Phase one of the CISF would be designed to provide storage for up to 5,000 metric tons uranium (MTU) of spent nuclear fuel received from commercial nuclear power reactors across the United States. WCS proposes that small amounts of mixed oxide spent fuels and Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive wastes also be stored at the CISF. WCS stated that it would design each subsequent phase of the CISF to store up to an additional 5,000 MTU. A total of up to 40,000 MTU would be stored at the site by the completion of the final phase. Each phase would require NRC review and approval.
WCS would receive canisters containing spent nuclear fuel from the reactor sites. Once accepted at the site, WCS would transfer them into onsite dry cask storage systems. WCS plans to employ dry cask storage system technology that has been licensed by the NRC pursuant to 10 CFR Part 72 at various commercial nuclear reactors across the country. According to WCS, the dry cask storage systems proposed for use at the CISF would be passive systems (i.e., not relying on any moving parts) and would provide physical protection, containment, nuclear criticality controls and radiation shielding required for the safe storage of the spent nuclear fuel. WCS also states that the dry cask storage systems would be located on top of the concrete pads constructed at the CISF.
For additional information, please contact Maureen Conley of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at (301) 415-8200.