Modifications Approved to EnergySolutions’ State-Issued Part B Permit

On June 29, 2017, EnergySolutions announced the approval of the modifications to the Clive, Utah site’s state-issued Part B Permit.  The modifications involved the following changes:

  •   2017-001394:  Approval of a Class 1 modification to Attachment II-7, Closure Plan; Attachment II-7-1, Overall Facility Closure Cost Summary; Attachment II-7-2, Closure Cost Estimate- Mixed Waste Details; and, Attachment II-7-3, Reserve Capacity Calculations.
  •   2017-002785:  Approval of a Class 1 modification to Attachment VI-1, Groundwater Field Sampling Plan.
  •   2017-000709:  Approval of a Class 2 modification to Attachment II-6, Contingency Plan and Attachment II-5, Preparedness and Prevention Plan.

EnergySolutions’ compliance history is available from the facility contact person at the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (DWMRC).

Questions regarding these modifications or requests for review of the modification applications and related documents may be directed to Tim Orton of EnergySolutions at (801) 649-2000 or to Otis Willoughby of the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at (801) 536-0200.

District Court Prohibits Proposed Acquisition of Waste Control Specialists by EnergySolutions

On June 21, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware issued a Judgment and Order in a civil antitrust lawsuit seeking to block the proposed $367 million acquisition of Waste Control Specialists LLC by EnergySolutions.  The United States of America is the plaintiff in the case.  The listed defendants include EnergySolutions, Inc.; Rockwell Holdco, Inc.; Andrews County Holdings, Inc.; and, Waste Control Specialists LLC.

In its order, the district court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants, specifically enjoining and restraining the defendants “from carrying out the acquisition of Waste Control Specialists LLC by EnergySolutions, Inc. as memorialized in the merger agreement between Rockwell Holdco, Inc. and Andrews County Holding, Inc. dated November 18, 2015 and any amendments thereto.”

The case—which is listed as United States of America v. EnergySolutions, Inc.; Rockwell Holdco, Inc.; Andrews Country Holdings, Inc.; and, Waste Control Specialists—can be found under civil docket number 16-1056-SLR in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.

Proposed Acquisition  On November 19, 2015, in separate press releases, it was announced that Rockwell Holdco had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Waste Control Specialists—a wholly owned subsidiary of Valhi, Inc. and operator of a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility located in Andrews County, Texas.  Rockwell Holdco is the parent company of EnergySolutions—which operates low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities in Tooele County, Utah and Barnwell, South Carolina.  Rockwell Holdco is owned by Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on investing in North America’s energy infrastructure.  According to the companies’ press releases, upon closing, Rockwell Holdco would pay $270 million in cash and $20 million face amount in Series A Preferred Stock.  In addition, Rockwell Holdco would assume approximately $77 million of Waste Control Specialists’ debt, as well as all financial assurance obligations related to the Waste Control Specialists’ business.

Antitrust Lawsuit  On November 16, 2016, the DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware seeking to block the proposed $367 million acquisition of Waste Control Specialists by EnergySolutions.  DOJ argued that the proposed transaction “would combine the two most significant competitors for the disposal of low level radioactive waste … available to commercial customers in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.”  DOJ asserted that the proposed transaction “would deny commercial generators of … [low-level radioactive waste] —from universities and hospitals working on life-saving treatments to nuclear facilities producing 20 percent of the electricity in the United States—the benefits of vigorous competition that has led to significantly lower prices, better service and innovation in recent years.”

Low-Level Radioactive Waste  Low-level radioactive waste is the radioactive byproduct of nuclear power generation, scientific research and certain medical treatments.  Low-level radioactive waste includes such items as personal protective clothing, tools, water purification filters and resins, hardware from nuclear power plants, and equipment from medical and research institutions.  Low-level radioactive waste may only be disposed of in a facility licensed by, or pursuant to an exemption provided by, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or a state acting under an agreement with the NRC.  Low-level radioactive waste disposal is an essential service for operating nuclear reactors, research laboratories and medical facilities.  Additionally, low-level radioactive waste disposal is a requirement for the safe decommissioning of such facilities when they reach the end of their useful lives.

For additional information about EnergySolutions, please contact Dan Shrum at (801) 649-2000 or at dshrum@energysolutions.com or go to the company’s web site at www.energysolutions.com.  For additional information about Waste Control Specialists, please contact Rodney Baltzer at (972) 450-4235 or at rbaltzer@valhi.net or visit the company’s web site at www.valhi.net.

Southwestern Commission Hosts Workshops re Use of Rad Materials

On May 10 and 12, 2017, the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission hosted two separate workshops in Northern and Southern California on the use and disposition of radioactive materials, including radioactive sealed sources and devices.

 

The following is the agenda for the workshops:

  •   Welcome and Introductions (9:00 – 9:20 a.m.)
  •   Southwestern Compact Vice Chair Donna Earley of Cedars Sinai (9:30 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.)
    • Earley will discuss medical uses of radioactive materials, including new therapeutic uses as well as experience with the disposal of Cs-137 irradiators and Co-60 gamma knife.
    • Earley has extensive knowledge and experience overseeing the Radiation Safety Programs and personnel of Cedars Sinai and the coordinating with local law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles for the safety and security of the Cedars Sinai Facility.
  •   Jeff Cromwell, Radioactive Waste Manager and Radioactive Shipment Manager, University of Berkeley
    • Cromwell will discuss waste management at the University of Berkeley along with some waste management challenges from some recent facility decommissioning projects.
    • What challenges have you had at your facility that you can share on decommissioning, shipments or closing out research projects-what are you doing with the waste?
  •   Morning Break (10:30 – 10:50 a.m.)
  •   Mike Albanese, Radiation Safety Officer for Qal-Tek (10:55 – 11:20 a.m.)
    • Albanese will discuss Qal-Tek’s U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Service License and its new Reutilization Program in a joint effort with the Southwestern Compact.
    • Outline of maximum time limits and requirements.
    • A petition will be required for disposal to Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) in Andrews, Texas.
    • How will this affect me?
    • Can I qualify for this program?
  •   Lunch Break (11:25 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)
  •   Sherry Frenette, Technical Services Project Manager, WCS (12:20 – 12:45 p.m.)
    • Frenette will discuss WCS’s capabilities for treatment, storage and disposal of waste and answer any questions you may have concerning those capabilities, or the process for getting waste to WCS.
    • Frenette will also provide an update on the status of the application for spent fuel storage at the WS facility.
    • Frenette works in the Technical Services Department at WCS.  She helps commercial customers navigate the process for sending waste to all of the facilities at WCS.
  •   Leigh Ing, Executive Director, Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact (12:50 – 1:15 p.m.)
    • Ing will share the need for Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact (Texas Compact) import agreements and WCS contracts—they are different!
    • Ing will discuss information on requirements, brokers, small generator’s limits, and the processing time frames for the Texas Compact.
    • What are the annual limits set by the Texas legislators for non-compact waste?
    • Does Texas want our waste?
    • Will this change?
    • Is there enough space for the future?
    • How long can you afford to store?
  •   Afternoon Break (1:20 – 1:55 p.m.)
  •   Vern Rogers, EnergySolutions of Utah (1:40 – 2:05 p.m.)
    • Video of Zion Decommissioning, SONGS schedule for decommissioning, new services to be offered—Class A sealed sources, depleted uranium (DU) options, mixed waste and various processing programs offered.
    • What can we expect for the future of EnergySolutions?
  •   [Northern California] John Fassell, Chief for Inspection, Compliance & Enforcement, California Radiological Health Branch and [Southern California] Robert Greger, Senior Health Physicist, California Radiological Health Branch (2:10 – 2:35 p.m.)
    • When the inspector is at your door.
    • A presentation on state audits, reporting requirements, renewing a state license—does location matter, and safety requirements at your site.   Come with your questions!  This is an important resource for you.
  •   Adjourn (3:15 p.m.)

For additional information, please contact Kathy Davis, Executive Director of the Southwestern Compact Commission, at (916) 448-2390 or at swllrwcc@swllrwcc.org.

WCS Places Spent Fuel Storage Application on Hold

By letter dated mid-April 2017, Waste Control Specialists (WCS) asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to temporarily suspend the agency’s review of its application to construct and operate a spent nuclear fuel Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) in Andrews County, Texas.

WSC “is faced with a magnitude of financial burdens that currently make pursuit of licensing unsupportable,” Rod Baltzer, the company’s President and CEO, said in a letter to the NRC dated April 16, 2017.  According to Baltzer, the estimated $7.5 million that is needed to continue the licensing process was a significant factor in WCS’ decision.  The following day, NRC announced that it would freeze the review.

The request comes as EnergySolutions is trying to buy WCS, although the U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block the merger, arguing it would essentially create a monopoly on radioactive waste disposal.  “WCS expects to go forward with this project at the earliest possible opportunity after completion of the sale,” Baltzer said in a statement.

In the meantime, on March 16, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency was providing additional opportunities for the public to comment on the CISF application that was submitted by WCS.

Background

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.

Comments Accepted re Texas Compact Commission’s Draft Management Rule Concept Paper

In early June 2016, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (Texas Compact Commission) announced that it had initiated a rulemaking process to develop its management rules.  As part of the process, the Texas Compact Commission’s Rules Committee sought input prior to the development of a draft rule proposal for publication in the Texas Register.

In particular, the Texas Compact Commission sought comments on an outline for rulemaking for the development of a concept paper for Rule 675.24 relating to the importation of low-level radioactive waste that is below the criteria applicable for disposal in the Compact Waste Disposal Facility.

The concept paper for the management rule has been posted to the Rules Page of the Texas Compact Commission’s website at http://www.tllrwdcc.org/rules/.

Overview

The Texas Compact Commission is authorized by Section 3.05(3), (4) and (6) of the Texas Compact to promulgate rules relating to the importation of material into the compact that is not to be shipped for disposal to the Compact Waste Disposal Facility.

In this regard, Section 3.05(6) of the Texas Compact reads as follows:

Section 3.05.  The commission may:

(6) Enter into an agreement with any person, state, regional body, or group of states for the importation of low-level radioactive waste into the compact for management or disposal provided that the agreement receives a majority vote of the commission.  The commission may adopt such conditions and restrictions in the agreement as it deems advisable.

The outline for rulemaking states that the Texas Compact Commission “finds that it is important to the public health and safety in the party states that there be a process that provides a record of all low-level radioactive waste that is shipped into the Compact.”

Accordingly, the Texas Compact Commission proposes to adopt a rule that

  •   requires that all low-level radioactive waste (other than such waste that is shipped to the Compact Waste Disposal Facility for disposal pursuant to rules of the Texas Compact Commission) shipped into the Texas Compact utilizing NRC Form 540 (Uniform Low-Level Radioactive Waste Manifest Shipping Paper) be subject to the following reporting process:
  • such waste may only be shipped to a site that has an agreement (“an agreement site) with the Texas Compact Commission and is licensed by the appropriate licensing entity in a party state; and,
  • inter alia, the agreement site will agree to report shipments to its site to the Texas Compact Commission by volume and radiation activity not more than a set number of days after the end of each quarter of the Texas Compact Commission’s fiscal year;
  •   contains enforcement criteria for failure of an entity to ship to an agreement site; and,
  •   contains criteria for the agreement that will be entered into by the Texas Compact Commission with agreement sites within a party state.

Questions for Comment

In addition to seeking comments on the outline for rulemaking for the development of a concept paper for Rule 675.24 relating to the importation of low-level radioactive waste that is below the criteria applicable for disposal in the Compact Waste Disposal Facility, the Texas Compact Commission requested that stakeholders submit specific comments on the following matters:

  1. Is the scope of the rule appropriate in that “any person, state, regional body, or group of states” must enter into an agreement with the Texas Compact for importation into Texas or Vermont of low-level radioactive waste for management? Is the scope too broad?  Is the scope too narrow?
  1. Is it appropriate for all waste shipped into the Texas Compact under an NRC Form 540, 541 and 542 to be covered by this rule? What would be potential exemptions or exclusions that the Texas Compact Commission should consider?  And why?
  1. The Texas Compact is considering requiring the following information to be reported quarterly:
  •   volume;
  •   activity (in curies);
  •   low-level radioactive waste generator;
  •   the low-level radioactive waste compact, unaffiliated state, territory or possession of the waste generator;
  •   ultimate disposition of the waste;
  •   does the waste contain disused sources; and,
  •   how is the waste stored, processed or otherwise managed once imported;

The Texas Compact Commission sought comment on the above information that would be required to be reported quarterly.  Is there additional information that should be requested?  Is any of the above-listed information unnecessary to report?  Should the Texas Compact Commission choose weight, instead of volume?  Are curies the correct unit?

  1. Is quarterly reporting an appropriate reporting timeframe?

Submitting Comments

Interested stakeholders were instructed to submit comments to the Texas Compact Commission’s Rules Committee.  Comments received will be reviewed to develop rules for proposal in the Texas Register.

The comment period deadline ended on June 27, 2016.  No stakeholder meetings have yet been scheduled.

For additional information, please contact Texas Compact Commission Consulting Supervisory Director Leigh Ing at (512) 217-8045 or at leigh.ing@tllrwdcc.org.

Texas Compact Seeks Comment re Proposed Import Approval Approach

The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (Texas Compact Commission) is seeking comments on a proposed process for approving import applications for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste into the Compact Waste Facility that is operated by Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) and located in Andrews County, Texas.

Under the laws of the State of Texas, no more than 275,000 curies of low-level radioactive waste may be disposed at the Compact Waste Facility in a fiscal year. Therefore, the Texas Compact Commission is working to develop and institute an import prioritization process that would provide the maximum chance of curies being available for shipment to those generators that are able to ship to the Compact Waste Facility.

The Texas Compact Commission’s proposed concept paper, which is titled “A Process for Conditional Approval of Authorization to Dispose of Curies,” states as follows:

  1. Generally, the Commission will continue to enter into agreements with generators and brokers for importation of nonparty low-level radioactive waste for disposal (“Agreement”) in the Texas-Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Facility (“Facility”) that are effective on the date of approval by the Commission through August 31 (the last day of the Facility’s operational year). Generators and brokers may submit applications for future operational years, but those applications will be considered in light of this policy.
  1. Starting with the February 4, 2016 meeting, all Agreements to import and dispose of a total volume of waste that contains more than 2,000 Curies during an operational year will be entered on a conditional basis.
  1. The conditions that will be included in any Agreement to import and dispose of more than 2,000 Curies will include (but not be limited to):
  • A condition providing that no shipments may be made under the Agreement without further authorization from the Commission.
  • A condition requiring that no less than 15 days before a shipment is made under the Agreement, the Generator or Broker shall provide the Commission a written notice containing evidence satisfactory to the Commission that a shipment will be made on the date proposed in the notice and that it will contain a specifically identified number of Curies. It is acknowledged that weather or other unforeseen conditions may cause a nominal delay of shipment, but that delay shall not exceed 5 days, or a new condition removal letter will be required.
  • A condition providing that no shipment will be made until the Generator or Broker has received a written communication from the Commission that: (1) it has received the notice from the Generator or Broker; (2) it is satisfied that the shipment will be made on the proposed date and that it will contain the proposed number of Curies; and (3) the disposal of the waste listed in the notice will not cause the total number of Curies disposed at the Compact facility to exceed the maximum yearly allowances for that operating year.
  • A condition memorializing the understanding of the Generator or Broker that the Agreement is null and void and no further shipments can be made pursuant to the Agreement on or after the date during an operating year that the Facility has received low-level radioactive waste containing 275,000 Curies.

In addition to seeking comments on the overall proposed process, the Texas Compact Commission requests that stakeholders submit responses to the following questions:

  1. What is an appropriate threshold for issuing Curies conditionally? For import applications with Curie requests above the threshold, Curies would be issued conditionally by the Commission as opposed to the current practice of issuing them unconditionally. The proposed Concept Paper proposes 2,000 Curies as that limit.
  1. What would be appropriate documentation for demonstrating proof of a shipment is imminent? Is there a document that generators and brokers already use such that a new form would not need to be created and used? Are there good examples we could use should a new form need to be developed?
  1. How many days prior to a shipment are generators certain that the shipment will occur? The proposed Concept Paper proposes 15 days.
  1. How many days prior to a shipment are generators reasonably certain of the shipment’s Curie value?

Comments on the above questions and the proposed concept paper are due by January 25, 2016.

A cover letter with additional information and the proposed concept paper are available on the Texas Compact Commission’s web site at http://www.tllrwdcc.org/.

For additional information, please contact Texas Compact Commission Consulting Supervisory Director Leigh Ing at (512) 305-8941 or at leigh.ing@tllrwdcc.org.

 

Utah Waste Management & Radiation Control Board Holds January 2016 Meeting

On January 14, 2016, the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board held a regularly scheduled meeting beginning at 1:30 p.m. MT in Salt Lake City, Utah. The meeting, which was open to the public, was held in the Multi Agency State Office Building in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The following items, among others, were on the agenda for the Board meeting: call to order; approval of the meeting minutes for the December 10, 2015 Board meeting (Board Action Item); underground storage tanks update; hazardous waste rules including approval to proceed with formal rulemaking and 30-day public comment period for proposed Hazardous Waste Rules R315-103, R315-124, R315-260, R315-261, R315-262, R315-263, R315-264, R315-265, R315-266, R315-268, R315-270, and R315-273 (Board Action Item) and approval to proceed with formal rulemaking and 30-day public comment period for repeal of Hazardous Waste Rules R315-1, R315-2, R315-3, R315-4, R315-5, R315-6, R315-7, R315-8, R315-9, R315-12, R315-13, R315-14, R315-16, and R315-50 (Board Action Item); presentation on the X-Ray Program; other business including a miscellaneous information item and the next Board meeting; and, adjournment.

The Board—which is appointed by the Utah Governor with the consent of the Utah Senate—guides development of Radiation Control policy and rules in the state. The Board holds open meetings ten times per year at locations throughout the state. A public comment session is held at the end of each meeting.

Copies of the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board meeting agendas and packet information can be found at http://www.deq.utah.gov/boards/waste/meetings.htm.

For additional information, please contact Rusty Lundberg, Deputy Director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, at (801) 536-4257 or at rlundberg@utah.gov.