On October 19, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has extended the public comment period on the scope of its environmental review of an application by Interim Storage Partners to construct and operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The new deadline for comment is November 19, 2018.
The extension was announced at 83 Federal Register 53,115 (October 19, 2018).
Waste Control Specialists (WCS) initially filed the application in April 2016. However, in April 2017, WCS requested that the NRC suspend its review pending the anticipated sale of the company. In January 2018, WCS was sold to J.F. Lehman & Co. In March 2018, WCS and international nuclear supplier Orano formed Interim Storage Partners as a joint venture to take over the spent fuel storage project. The new company submitted a revised application to the NRC in June 2018.
When NRC’s review was suspended last year, the staff was in the process of receiving public comment on the scope of its environmental review and had issued a notice of opportunity for an adjudicatory hearing. (See LLW Notes, January/February 2017, pp. 18-19.) According to NRC’s press release, those processes will now resume. The staff will consider all comments previously received on the scope of the environmental review.
The NRC completed its administrative review of the revised application and informed Interim Storage Partners of its decision to resume the review in a letter dated August 21, 2018. The staff expects to complete its safety, security and environmental reviews in the summer of 2020.
On September 4, 2018, the NRC published a notice in the Federal Register requesting additional public comment on environmental issues to be considered in its environmental impact statement. (See 83 Federal Register 44, 922.) Comments will be accepted through October 19, 2018.
In a separate notice that was published in the Federal Register on August 29, 2018 – and then subsequently corrected in a Federal Register notice that was published on August 31, 2019 – the NRC announced an opportunity to request a hearing through October 29, 2018. The notices include detailed instructions on how to file a hearing request or submit public comment.
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 requested 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 David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.