Enforcement Action Initiated Against Holtec re Spent Fuel Cask Design

On December 27, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency plans to bring an enforcement action against Holtec International — the manufacturer of the steel and concrete casks used at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to store spent fuel.

NRC officials held a pre-decisional enforcement conference with Holtec officials from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET on January 9, 2019.  The conference, which was held in the Commission Hearing Room at NRC Headquarters, was open to the public and webcast.

For additional information on the webcast, please go to https://video.nrc.gov.

Background

The issue originated when a loose bolt was identified in the 18-foot tall casks at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California in March 2018.  Workers at the San Onofre Nuclear power plant discovered a loose four-inch stainless steel pin at the bottom of a canister as it was being prepared for loading with spent fuel.  The pin was part of a shim designed to support the fuel basket and allow airflow to the fuel assemblies within the canister.  As such, the shim is considered essential to the function of the fuel basket.  Regulators are concerned that the problem could affect the ability of the casks to effectively cool the nuclear fuel.

Since the Vermont Yankee plant shares a similar cask design as San Onofre, a two-month halt was initiated earlier this year when Entergy Nuclear Corporation was transferring the plant’s spent nuclear fuel to the air-cooled storage casks.  The transfer resumed in May 2018 and was completed this past summer.

During the two-month hiatus at Vermont Yankee, Entergy inspected the empty Holtec Hi-Storm 100 casks that Holtec had already provided for the fuel transfer and storage project and found no problems with the casks.  Entergy used a total of 58 casks, but it could not inspect the canisters already filled with fuel.  According to NRC, 31 of the 58 casks at the Vernon site were of the new Holtec design.

Transfer of the spent fuel was a key condition of the pending sale of Vermont Yankee by Entergy to NorthStar Holding Company.  The sale, which has received both state and federal approval, is expected to be completed early in the 2019 calendar year.

Overview

The action against Holtec International involves a new design that the company adopted for its casks before getting NRC approval.  The design has since been approved, according to an agency representative.

In particular, NRC asserts that Holtec changed the design of the Hi-Storm 100 casks — specifically the four-inch stainless steel pins that hold the basket, which in turn holds the spent fuel.  Holtec determined that it did not need to conduct a written evaluation, which was a violation of NRC safety regulations according to agency officials.  In the notice of violation from the NRC, the agency referred to “nonconforming and degraded conditions at both SONGS (San Onofre Generating Station) and VY [Vermont Yankee], respectively.”

NRC conducted an inspection at Holtec’s offices in Camden, New Jersey.  On November 29, 2018, NRC issued an inspection report identifying two apparent violations of the agency’s quality assurance regulations.  The NRC determined Holtec, when it changed the shim to the pin design in 2016, failed to establish adequate design control measures for selecting and applying materials, parts, equipment and processes essential to the function of safety-related structures, systems and components.  Holtec also failed to maintain written records of changes to its canister design, including an evaluation of why the design change could be implemented without applying to the NRC for an amendment to the canister’s Certificate of Compliance.

The NRC offered Holtec a choice between the pre-decisional enforcement conference or third-party mediation.  Holtec chose the conference, during which its officials will be able to present additional information for the NRC staff to consider in assessing the significance of the subject violations.  No final action will be taken at the conference on January 9, 2019.In addition to San Onofre and Vermont Yankee, the Holtec Hi-Storm 100 casks were also used to store spent fuel at nuclear plants including Dresden in Illinois; Grand Gulf in Mississippi; Hatch in Georgia; Columbia in Washington; Watts Bar in Tennessee; and, Callaway in Missouri.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Southwestern Compact Commission Hosts 80th Meeting

On November 14, 2018, the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission hosted its 80th meeting via teleconference beginning at 1:00 p.m. PDT.

The following topics, among others, were on the meeting agenda:

  • call to order;
  • roll call;
  • welcome and introductions;
  • statement regarding due notice of meeting;
  • election of Officers for Year 2019;
  • public comment;
  • future agenda items;
  • next meeting — under review; and,
  • adjournment.

Members of the public were invited to attend the meeting and comment on specific agenda items as the Commission considered them.  The total public comment time on each agenda item was limited to 15 minutes.  Written material was also accepted.  A 15-minute public comment period was provided near the end of the meeting at which time members of the public were invited to bring before the Commission issues relating to low-level radioactive waste but which were not on the agenda.

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

Southwestern Compact Commission Hosts 79th Meeting

On October 5, 2018, the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission hosted its 79th meeting beginning in Sacramento, California.

The following topics, among others, were on the meeting agenda:

  • call to order — moment of silence in honor of former Chair Aubrey Godwin;
  • roll call;
  • welcome and introductions;
  • statement regarding due notice of meeting;
  • reports, status and/or activity;
    • Commission Chair;
    • Executive Director;
    • licensing agency;
    • license designee; and,
    • party states;
  • updates of decommissioning — San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS);
  • exportation actions and reports;
    • ratification of approved petitions E18-104-135 and WCS18-044-085;
    • amend “Policy of the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission Regarding Exportation of Various Low-Level Radioactive Waste Streams” to extend effective date;
    • amend “Requirements for Exportation Petitions for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal” to extend effective date; and,
    • approve new petitions forms and dates;
  • update and action on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) and Commissioners report on activities;
  • review, discuss and action regarding transition of legal counsel, bylaws, current forms, resolutions and agreements;
  • legal review, action for Commissioner appointments;
  • financial audit report by Miers & Miers;
  • Executive Session pursuant to CA Gov. Code §11126(a)(1) to discuss staff performance evaluations;
  • review and approve Counsel’s contracts;
  • Annual Governor’s Report review and approve;
  • discuss and amend potential changes to fiscal year 2018-19 budget;
  • approve fiscal year 2019-20 budget;
  • adopt fee schedule – discussion/action;
  • public comment;
  • election of officers;
  • future agenda items;
  • next meeting – potential tour of Waste Control Specialists (WCS); and,
  • adjournment.

 

Members of the public were invited to attend the meeting and comment on specific agenda items as the Commission considered them.  The total public comment time on each agenda item was limited to 15 minutes.  Written material was also accepted.  A 15-minute public comment period was provided near the end of the meeting at which time members of the public were invited to bring before the Commission issues relating to low-level radioactive waste but which were not on the agenda.

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

Southwestern Compact Commission Hosts 78th Meeting

On May 15, 2018, the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission hosted its 78th meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. PDT at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, which is located at 1380 Harbor Island Drive in San Diego, California 92101.

The following topics, among others, were on the meeting agenda:

  • call to order
  • roll call
  • welcome and introductions
  • statement regarding due notice of meeting
  • reports – activity and/or status
  • Commission Chair

–     Executive Director

  • licensing agency

–     party states

  • exportation
  • ratification of approved petitions – 2017 (E-17-111 – E-17-124 & WCS-17-067 – WCS-17-084) and 2018 (E-18-001 – E-18-103 & WCS-18-001 – WCS-18-043)
  • export report – presented by Commissioner Vadnais
  • discuss, review and possible action on impacts of Very Low-Level Waste (VLLW) and by-laws recommended by legal counsel
  • discuss draft policy on “reuse” by legal counsel
  • report on necessary “reserves” and direction from Commission on compact funds
  • update on SONGS, PGE-Diablo, WCS new ownership and visit to Texas
  • executive session pursuant to California Government Code § 11126(a)(1) to report and discuss action regarding interview and contract for legal counsel

return to open session

  • discuss and direct Executive Director pursuant to above closed session, if required
  • review and approved current budget, if necessary
  • public comment
  • future agenda items
  • next meeting – October 5, 2018
  • adjournment

Members of the public were invited to attend the meeting and comment on specific agenda items as the Commission considered them.  The total public comment time on each agenda item was limited to 15 minutes.  Written material was also accepted.  A 15-minute public comment period was provided near the end of the meeting at which time members of the public were invited to bring before the Commission issues relating to low-level radioactive waste but which were not on the agenda.

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

LLW Forum to Hold Spring 2018 Meeting

April 16-17, 2018 in San Francisco, California

The spring 2018 meeting of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) will be held at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport in Burlingame, California on April 16-17, 2018.  Please mark your calendars accordingly and save the date!  The Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission is co-sponsoring the meeting with the LLW Forum.

Overview  The spring 2018 LLW Forum meeting will be held on Monday, April 16 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) and Tuesday, April 17 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm) at:  

Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
1333 Bayshore Highway
Burlingame, California

The Hyatt Regency is located just minutes from the San Francisco International Airport on Interstate 101.  Complimentary shuttle service is available through the hotel 24 hrs a day.  In addition, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) commuter train station with direct service to downtown San Francisco will also be available by shuttle service from the Hyatt Regency. 

Background  Officials from states, compacts, federal agencies, nuclear utilities, disposal operators, brokers/processors, industry, and other interested parties are encouraged to attend the spring 2018 LLW Forum meeting.

LLW Forum meetings are an excellent opportunity to stay up-to-date on the most recent and significant developments in the area of low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.  They also offer an important opportunity to network with other government and industry officials and to participate in decision-making on future actions and endeavors affecting low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.

If you have questions or require additional information, please contact Todd D. Lovinger, Esq.—Executive Director of the LLW Forum and Project Director of the Disused Sources and Part 61 Working Groups (DSWG/P61WG)—at (754) 779-7551 or at LLWForumInc@aol.com

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.

Disused Sources Working Group Holds Winter Meeting

On February 6-7, 2017, the Disused Sources Working Group (DSWG) of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) held a meeting in San Diego, California with organizational representatives of the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD), the Organization of Agreement States (OAS) and the Health Physics Society (HPS).

Agenda Items

The following items, among other things, were on the winter 2017 DSWG meeting agenda:

  • review and response to the recent Federal Register notice in which the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking input from licensees, Agreement States and the public to inform the staff’s assessment of potential revisions to regulations or processes requiring Category 3 source protection and accountability;
  • development and distribution of working group documents including educational materials for current and prospective licensees, source disposal costs and import/export authorities and requirements for the ten operating low-level radioactive waste compacts; and,
  • source calculation and methodology re number of sealed sources in the United States;
  • development of regional workshops for stakeholders interested in management and disposition of sealed sources and radioactive devices;
  • outreach by designated organizational liaisons and feedback received on the outstanding recommendations from the March 2014 DSWG report; and,
  • charting the next steps and a path forward.

For additional information and ongoing updates, interested stakeholders are encouraged to go to the DSWG web site at www.disusedsources.org.

Background

The LLW Forum is a non-profit organization of representatives appointed by Governors and compact commissions that seeks to facilitate state and compact implementation of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980 and its 1985 amendments, as well as to promote the objectives of regional low-level radioactive waste disposal compacts.

In September 2011, the LLW Forum formed the Disused Sources Working Group (DSWG) to develop recommendations from the states and compacts for improving the management and disposition of disused sources.

For additional information about the DSWG, please contact Project Director Todd D. Lovinger, Esq at (754) 779-7551 or at LLWForumInc@aol.com.

Southwestern Compact Commission Hosts 73rd Meeting

On October 7, 2016, the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission hosted its 73rd meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. PDT at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento, California.

The following topics, among others, were on the meeting agenda:

  • call to order;
  • roll call;
  • welcome and introductions—announce retirement of Commissioner Godwin, introduce Brian Goretzki of Arizona;
  • statement regarding due notice of meeting;
  • reports, status and/or activity;
  • Commission Chair;

–     Executive Director;

  • licensing agency;
  • license designee; and,

–     party states;

 

  • presentation by Chris Shaw of WCS;
  • update on sealed sources—QalTek;
  • exportation actions;
  • ratification of approved petitions;

–     amend “Policy of the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission Regarding Exportation of Various Low-Level Radioactive Waste Streams” to extend effective date;

  • amend “Requirements for Exportation Petitions for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal” to extend effective date; and,

–     review petitions for EnergySolutions and WCS for 2017.

  • Executive Session pursuant to CA Gov. Code §11126(a)(1) to discuss staff performance evaluations;
  • review and approve Executive Director’s and Counsel’s contracts;
  • review and approve financial audit report;
  • review and approve letter of intent for 2016 audit;
  • review and approve Annual Governor’s Report;
  • amend fiscal year 2016-17 budget;
  • approve fiscal year 2017-18 budget;
  • adopt fee schedule;
  • public comment;
  • election of officers;
  • future agenda items;
  • next meeting; and,
  • adjournment.

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

Southwestern LLRW Compact Commission to Meet

April 7, 2016 in San Diego, California

On April 7, 2016, the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission will host its 72nd meeting beginning at 2:00 pm PDT at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in San Diego, California.

The following topics, among others, are on the meeting agenda:

  • call to order
  • roll call
  • welcome and introductions – introduce new Commissioner from South Dakota
  • statement regarding due notice of meeting
  • reports, status and/or activity

–     Commission Chair

–     Executive Director

–     licensing agency

–     party states

  • exportation

–     ratification of approved petitions

  • update on compact correspondence
  • Thermo Fischer update on sealed sources
  • report and update from the Committee for Export Issues (re: sealed sources – Qal Tek tour)
  • amend approved budget
  • public comment
  • future agenda items
  • next meeting date and location (October 7, 2016 at Hyatt Regency in Sacramento, California)
  • adjournment

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting and comment on specific agenda items as the Commission considered them.  The total public comment time on each agenda item will be limited to 15 minutes.  Written material will also accepted.  A 15-minute public comment period will be provided near the end of the meeting at which time members of the public are invited to bring before the Commission issues relating to low-level radioactive waste but which are not on the agenda.

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