Final EIS Issued for Proposed Northwest Medical Isotopes Facility

On May 16, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published its final environmental impact statement on a medical radioisotope production facility proposed for Columbia, Missouri.  The study recommends that, barring the identification of any safety issues during the agency’s ongoing safety review, a construction permit be issued to Northwest Medical Isotopes, LLC.

Northwest submitted the application in February 2015 proposing to construct a facility to produce molybdenum-99 from low-enriched uranium.  Molybdenum-99 decays to technetium-99m, the most commonly used radioisotope in medicine.  Technetium-99m is used in 20 to 25 million diagnostic procedures around the world each year, such as bone and organ scans to detect cancer and cardiovascular imaging.  There are currently no molybdenum-99 production facilities in the United States, though the NRC has issued a construction permit to SHINE Medical Technologies to build one in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The environmental impact statement (NUREG-2209) documents the NRC staff’s environmental review of Northwest’s construction permit application.  The review examined the environmental impacts of constructing, operating and decommissioning the proposed facility, as well as the transportation of uranium targets to research reactors and their irradiation in those reactors.  It concludes that the environmental impacts would be small, with cumulative impacts on air quality and noise being small to moderate, and cumulative impacts on ecological resources being moderate.  None of the projected impacts would be significant enough to deny the construction permit.

The NRC published a draft environmental impact statement for public comment in November 2015.  Comments received were addressed in the final version.

For additional information, please contact Maureen Conley at (301) 415-8200.

NRC to Review WCS Application re Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility

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

Public Meetings

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

Submitting Comments

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
  • 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.

Scoping Effort Initiated re Environmental Review of Proposed WCS Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility

On November 14, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking comments from the public on the issues to be covered in the environmental review of an application from Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) to construct and operate a facility to store spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.  The NRC will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to document its evaluation of those impacts and is now taking public comments on the scope.

By letter dated July 21, 2016, WCS requested that NRC begin its EIS process as soon as possible.  In a response dated October 7, 2016, NRC agreed to WCS’ request because doing so will allow the agency to engage interested members of the public early in the process.  It will also provide additional time to consult with federal, tribal, state and local government agencies, facilitating compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.  In addition, the environmental review will fulfill requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to do an analysis of environmental impacts for major federal actions.  However, NRC’s decision to begin the EIS process early does not presuppose the outcome of its ongoing acceptance review of the WCS application.

The EIS prepared by the NRC staff will examine the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action.  The NRC staff will evaluate the potential impacts to various environmental resources, such as air quality, surface and ground water, transportation, geology and soils, and socioeconomics.  The EIS will analyze potential impacts of WCS’s proposed facility on historic and cultural resources and on threatened and endangered species.  Additionally, the economic, technical, and other benefits and costs of the proposed action and alternatives will be considered in the EIS.

If the application is accepted for a detailed technical review, the NRC staff will also conduct a safety review to determine WCS’s compliance with NRC’s regulations, including 10 CFR Part 20 and 10 CFR Part 72.  The NRC staff’s findings will be published in a Safety Evaluation Report.

The scoping period began on November 14, 2016.  If the WCS application is docketed, the scoping period will end 45 days after publication of a notice of docketing the application.

Written comments on the scope of the environmental review may be submitted via:

  •   the federal government’s rulemaking website at;
  •   email to; or,
  •   mail to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN- 12 H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Comments must be submitted by the closing date of the scoping period to ensure consideration.  Stakeholders should include Docket ID NRC-2016-0231 when submitting comments.

The ER submitted by WCS can be found on the NRC’s project-specific web page at http:// cis/wcs/wcs-app-docs.html.  For additional information, please contact James Park, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415– 6954 or at

NRC Makes Yucca Mountain Hearing Documents Publicly Available

By press release dated August 19, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has made nearly 3.7 million documents from the adjudicatory hearing on the proposed nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain publicly available in the agency’s online documents database.

The documents were formerly part of the Licensing Support Network (LSN) created to allow various parties and the public access to documents needed for the hearing on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) request for a construction authorization for the repository.  The NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards had admitted nearly 300 contentions from various parties challenging aspects of DOE’s application.  The LSN was shut down when the hearing was suspended in September 2011 after Congress reduced funding.

In August 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC to resume its review of the application using the remaining previously appropriated funds.  In response, NRC staff completed the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) in January 2015 and a supplement to DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in May 2016.

The LSN documents were placed in the NRC’s online documents database, known as ADAMS, to comply with federal records requirements and assist the staff in completing the safety review.  At that time, only LSN documents submitted by the staff were publicly available.  However, the Commission directed that all LSN documents be made publicly available in ADAMS once the staff completed its license review activities.

The new LSN Library in ADAMS includes enhanced search capabilities as well as an online user’s guide.  The NRC Public Document Room reference staff is also available to provide LSN Library assistance and can be reached at (301) 415-4737 or at (800) 397-4209 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

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