Holtec Requests NRC Approve Sale of Pilgrim Site by End of 2019

Seeks to Complete Decommissioning Decades Earlier

On November 16, 2018, Entergy Corporation and Holtec International, through their affiliates, asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to approve the sale of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to Holtec after shutdown.  According to the associated press release, doing so would allow Holtec to complete decommissioning and site restoration decades sooner than if Entergy completed decommissioning.

OverviewThe companies jointly filed a License Transfer Application, requesting approval for the transfer of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, as well as its Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund, to Holtec after the plant permanently shuts down by June 1, 2019.  They also made detailed separate filings that lay out the process each company would use to decommission the facility.

In order to facilitate a timely transaction closing by the end of 2019, the companies have asked the NRC to approve the application by May 31, 2019.  According to the press release, doing so will benefit the community, employees and other interested constituents.

Holtec’s filings describe the plan of its subsidiary, Holtec Decommissioning International, to complete the dismantling, decontamination and remediation of Pilgrim to NRC standards within eight years of license transfer (i.e., by the end of 2027) assuming timely regulatory approvals.  According to the press release, Holtec’s process will achieve site restoration decades sooner than if Entergy retained the plant while meeting all applicable local, state and federal regulations.

Holtec estimates total costs for decommissioning Pilgrim at $1.13 billion.  As of October 31, 2018, the balance in Pilgrim’s Decommissioning Trust Fund was $1.05 billion.

Holtec has contracted with Comprehensive Decommissioning International, LLC (CDI) to perform the decommissioning, including demolition and site cleanup.  CDI is a joint venture company of Holtec International and SNC-Lavalin.  According to the press release, “The decommissioning experience held by Holtec and SNC-Lavalin gives CDI more than half a century of managing complex projects in both the commercial and government nuclear sectors worldwide.”

Project Highlights

The completion of decommissioning will result in the release of all portions of the site from the current NRC license, with the exception of the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) – the area where spent nuclear fuel is stored in dry casks until the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) transfers the spent fuel offsite.

As part of its plan, Holtec expects to move all spent nuclear fuel into dry casks within three years following plant shutdown.  Additionally, Holtec has a pending application with the NRC for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) in New Mexico, which could eventually store spent nuclear fuel from Pilgrim and other U.S. nuclear power plants.

Background

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station employs about 600 nuclear professionals and generates 680 megawatts of virtually carbon-free electricity, enough to power more than 600,000 homes.  Pilgrim began generating electricity in 1972.  Entergy purchased the plant in 1999 from Boston Edison.

Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations.  Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power.  Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.  Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $11 billion and more than 13,000 employees.

Holtec International is a privately held energy technology company with operation centers in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania in the United States.  Globally, Holtec International has operation centers in Brazil, Dubai, India, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.  Holtec’s principal business concentration is in the nuclear power industry.  Since the 1980s, Holtec has been densifying wet storage in nuclear plants’ spent fuel pools, which defers the need for and expense of alternative measures by as much as two decades.  Holtec has done this at over 110 reactor units in the United States and abroad.  Holtec also offers services regarding dry storage and transport of nuclear fuel.  Holtec is working to develop the world’s first below-ground CISF in New Mexico and a 160-Megawatt walk away safe small modular reactor, SMR-160.  The SMR-160 is developed to bring cost competitive carbon-free energy to all corners of the earth including water-challenged regions.  Holtec is also a major supplier of special-purpose pressure vessels and critical-service heat exchange equipment such as air-cooled condensers, steam generators, feedwater heaters and water-cooled condensers.  Virtually all products produced by Holtec are built in its three large manufacturing plants in the United States and one in India.

For additional information about the Pilgrim plant, please go to www.pilgrimpower.com.  Additional information about Entergy is available at www.entergy.com.  To learn more about Holtec International, please visit www.holtecinternational.com.  

NRC Approves License Transfer for Vermont Yankee

On October 12, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has issued an Order approving the transfer of the operating license for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant from Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. (Entergy) to NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning Company, LLC (NorthStar NDC).

Entergy requested the transfer to NorthStar NDC to decommission the plant, which ceased operations in December 2014.

Overview

Based on its review, the NRC confirmed that NorthStar NDC met the regulatory, legal, technical and financial requirements necessary to qualify them as a licensee.  The NRC also determined that the transfer is consistent with law and NRC regulations, as well as that the transfer can be conducted without endangering the health and safety of the public and will not be inimical to the common defense and security.

The NRC Order approving the transfer was issued on October 11, 2018.  The Order and other documents related to the license transfer review are available in the NRC’s ADAMS online database at ML18242A638.

Conditions

Based on the staff’s review, NRC approved the application for transfer of the licenses for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant subject to the following conditions:

  • prior to the closing of the license transfer, NorthStar NDC and NorthStar Vermont Yankee, LLC (NorthStar VY) shall provide the Directors of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) and Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) satisfactory documentary evidence that they have obtained the appropriate amount of insurance required of a licensee under 10 CFR 140.11(a)(4) and 10 CFR 50.54(w) of the Commission’s regulations, consistent with the exemptions issued to Vermont Yankee on April 15, 2016;
  • NorthStar VY and NorthStar NDC shall take no action to cause NorthStar Group Services, Inc. to void, cancel or modify the $140 million support agreement to provide funding for Vermont Yankee as represented in the application without prior written consent of the NRR Director; and,
  • NorthStar VY shall obtain a performance bond if a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on federal reimbursements for spent fuel management expenses is not entered into by January 1, 2022.

The performance bond will be effective January 1, 2022 initially in the amount of $4.3 million and it will be renewed annually.  This amount covers the annual amount of Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) operation and maintenance costs projected for 2022-2024.  If a settlement is not reached by January 1, 2024, this amount will be increased to $9.3 million, which covers the annual amount of ISFSI operation and maintenance costs projected for years after 2024.

Background

The plant is currently owned by Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee (Entergy VY) and operated by Entergy Nuclear Operations (Entergy NO), both of which are listed on the license.  Entergy and NorthStar NDC requested the license transfer by letter dated February 9, 2017.  According to the request, the new owner will be NorthStar VY and the operator in charge of dismantling the plant will be NorthStar NDC.  The transfer includes the plant’s dry cask spent nuclear fuel storage facility.

In particular, the applicants requested the NRC consent to the direct transfer of Entergy NO’s currently licensed authority (licensed operator for decommissioning) to NorthStar NDC.  In addition, the applicants requested the indirect transfer of control (ownership) of Entergy VY’s facility licenses to NorthStar Decommissioning Holdings, LLC (NorthStar DH) and its parents NorthStar Group Services, Inc. (NorthStar GS), LVI Parent Corp. (LVI) and NorthStar Group Holdings, LLC ( NorthStar GH).

The applicants also requested that the NRC consent to the transfer of the licensed possession, maintenance and decommissioning authorities to NorthStar NDC in order to implement expedited decommissioning at Vermont Yankee.  In addition, the applicants requested approval of a conforming amendment to the license pursuant to Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Part 50.80, “Transfer of licenses,” and 10 CFR 50.90, “Application for amendment of license, construction permit, or early site permit.”

Notice of the application was published at 82 Federal Register 23,845 as dated on May 24, 2017.  The supplemental information letters contained clarifying information, did not expand the application beyond the scope of the original notice and did not affect the applicability of the NRC’s no significant hazards consideration determination.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at (301) 415-8200.

DOE Seeks Public Comment re Interpretation of High-Level Radioactive Waste

On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or Department) issued a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on the Department’s interpretation of the definition of the statutory term “high-level radioactive waste” (HLW) as set forth in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982.

DOE interprets the term “high-level radioactive waste,” as stated in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended (AEA) and the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 as amended (NWPA), in a manner that defines DOE reprocessing wastes to be classified as either HLW or non-HLW based on the radiological characteristics of the waste and their ability to meet appropriate disposal facility requirements.  The basis for DOE’s interpretation comes from the AEA and NWPA definition of HLW:

  1. the highly radioactive material resulting from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, including liquid waste produced directly in reprocessing and any solid material derived from such liquid waste that contains fission products in sufficient concentrations; and,
  1. other highly radioactive material that the Commission, consistent with existing law, determines by rule requires permanent isolation.

In paragraph A, according to the Federal Register notice, Congress limited HLW to those materials that are both “highly radioactive” and “resulting from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.”  Reprocessing generates liquid wastes, with the first cycle of reprocessing operations containing the majority of the fission products and transuranic elements removed from the spent nuclear fuel (SNF).  Thus, in paragraph A, Congress distinguished HLW with regard to its form as both “liquid waste produced directly in reprocessing” and “any solid material derived from such liquid waste that contains fission products in sufficient concentrations,” states the Federal Register notice.

In paragraph B, Congress defined HLW also to include “other highly radioactive material” that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) determines by rule “requires permanent isolation,” continues the Federal Register notice.  HLW under paragraph B includes highly radioactive material regardless of whether the waste is from reprocessing or some other activity.  Further, under paragraph B, classification of material as HLW is based on its radiological characteristics and whether the material requires permanent isolation, states the Federal Register notice.

According to the Federal Register notice, the common element of these statutory paragraphs defining HLW is the requirement and recognition that the waste be “highly radioactive.”  Additionally, both paragraphs reflect a primary purpose of the NWPA, which is to define those materials for which disposal in a deep geologic repository is the only method that would provide reasonable assurance that the public and the environment will be adequately protected from the radiological hazards the materials pose.

The terms “highly radioactive” and “sufficient concentrations” are not defined in the AEA or the NWPA.  By providing in paragraph A that liquid reprocessing waste is HLW only if it is “highly radioactive” and that solid waste derived from liquid reprocessing waste is HLW only if it is “highly radioactive” and contains fission products in “sufficient concentrations” without further defining these standards, the Federal Register notice asserts that Congress left it to DOE to determine when these standards are met.  Given Congress’ intent that not all reprocessing waste is HLW, the Federal Register notice states that it is appropriate for DOE to use its expertise to interpret the definition of HLW, consistent with proper statutory construction, to distinguish waste that is non-HLW from waste that is HLW.

The DOE interpretation is informed by the radiological characteristics of reprocessing waste and whether the waste can be disposed of safely in a facility other than a deep geologic repository.  The Federal Register notice explains that this interpretation is based upon the principles of the NRC’s regulatory structure for the disposal of low-level radioactive wastes.

In its regulations, NRC has identified four classes of low-level radioactive waste (LLW) — Class A, B or C — for which near-surface disposal is safe for public health and the environment, as well as Greater-than-Class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive waste for which near-surface disposal may be safe for public health and the environment.  This waste classification regime is based on the concentration levels of a combination of specified short-lived and long-lived radionuclides in a waste stream, with Class C LLW having the highest concentration levels.  Waste that exceeds the Class C levels is evaluated on a case-specific basis to determine whether it requires disposal in a deep geologic repository or whether an alternative disposal facility can be demonstrated to provide safe disposal.  According to the Federal Register notice, the need for disposal in a deep geologic repository results from a combination of two radiological characteristics of the waste:  (1) high activity radionuclides, including fission products, which generate high levels of radiation; and, (2) long-lived radionuclides which, if not properly disposed of, would present a risk to human health and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years.

Because the NRC has long-standing regulations that set concentration limits for radionuclides in waste that is acceptable for near-surface disposal, the Federal Register notice contends that it is reasonable to interpret “highly radioactive” to mean, at a minimum, radionuclide concentrations greater than the Class C limits.  Reprocessing waste that does not exceed the Class C limits is non-HLW.

DOE interprets “sufficient concentrations” in the statutory context in which the definition was enacted, which is focused on protecting the public and the environment from the hazards posed by nuclear waste.  In addition to the characteristics of the waste itself, the risk that reprocessing waste poses to human health and the environment depends on the physical characteristics of the disposal facility and that facility’s ability to safely isolate the waste from the human environment.  Relevant characteristics of a disposal facility may include the depth of disposal; use of engineered barriers; and, geologic, hydrologic and geochemical features of the site.  Taking these considerations into account, the Federal Register notice states that it is reasonable to interpret “sufficient concentrations” to mean concentrations of fission products in combination with long-lived radionuclides that would require disposal in a deep geologic repository.

Accordingly, under DOE’s interpretation, solid waste that exceeds the NRC’s Class C limits would be subject to detailed characterization and technical analysis of the radiological characteristics of the waste.  This, combined with the physical characteristics of a specific disposal facility and the method of disposal, would determine whether the facility could meet its performance objectives and if the waste can be disposed of safely.  The waste characterization and analysis process would govern this approach, as well as the performance objectives for the disposal facility established by the applicable regulator, to ensure that it is protective of human health and the environment.

The DOE interpretation does not require the removal of key radionuclides to the maximum extent that is technically and economically practical before DOE can define waste as non-HLW.  According to the Federal Register notice, nothing in the statutory text of the AEA or the NWPA requires that radionuclides be removed to the maximum extent technically and economically practical prior to determining whether waste is HLW.  DOE has determined that the removal of radionuclides from waste that already meets existing legal and technical requirements for safe transportation and disposal is unnecessary and inefficient, as well as does not benefit human health or the environment.  To the contrary, the Federal Register notice states that it potentially presents a greater risk to human health and the environment because it prolongs the temporary storage of waste.

Therefore, under DOE’s interpretation, waste resulting from the reprocessing of SNF is non-HLW if the waste:

  1. does not exceed concentration limits for Class C low-level radioactive waste as set out in section 61.55 of title 10, Code of Federal Regulations; or,
  1. does not require disposal in a deep geologic repository and meets the performance objectives of a disposal facility as demonstrated through a performance assessment conducted in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements.

Reprocessing waste meeting either I or II of the above is non-HLW.  Therefore, according to the Federal Register notice, such waste may be classified and disposed in accordance with its radiological characteristics in an appropriate facility provided all applicable requirements of the disposal facility are met. 

For additional information, see 83 Federal Register 50,909 (October 10, 2018).  Interested stakeholders may also contact Theresa Kliczewski at HLWnotice@em.doe.gov or at (202) 586-3301.

President Trump to Nominate William Bookless as NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator

On August 10, 2018, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate William Bookless, a former Senior Physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), to be the Principal Deputy Administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

Bookless participated in various nuclear security research projects during his 32-year tenure at LLNL.  He worked as the Deputy Associate Director for the laboratory’s Nuclear Weapons Program, as well as the Associate Director for Safety and Environmental Protection.  His LLNL career culminated with a two and a half year assignment as Senior Adviser to the NNSA Administrator from 2009 to 2012.  Before retiring in 2015, Bookless served for three years as the Assistant Laboratory Director for Policy and Planning at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Bookless received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wyoming in 1980.  He received NNSA recognition for his advisory work on the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and the New START Treaty.

For additional information, please see www.whitehouse.gov.

DOE Plans to Move Forward with Key WIPP Infrastructure Upgrade

On May 14, 2018, the Office of Environmental Management (EM) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to move forward with a key infrastructure upgrade at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.  According to the announcement, the upgrade will enable increased progress in DOE’s mission to address the environmental legacy of decades of nuclear weapons production and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

Assistant Energy Secretary for Environmental Management Anne White approved the start of construction for the $288 million underground ventilation system.  The Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS) will be key to DOE’s plans to increase shipments of transuranic waste to WIPP from cleanup sites across the DOE complex.

“This will be a significant improvement for WIPP in support of its critical role in our national mission,” said White.  “I am appreciative of the unwavering support from our local, state and federal elected officials and stakeholders at WIPP who have helped to ensure we have proper funding to make infrastructure improvements, like the new ventilation system.”

According to EM, the SSCVS will significantly increase the amount of air available to the underground portion of the WIPP facility.  As a result, DOE will be able to perform transuranic waste emplacement activities simultaneously with facility mining and maintenance operations.  The new ventilation system will also allow for easier replacement and preventative maintenance activities.  EM expects construction of the new ventilation system to be completed by early 2021.

The new ventilation system is one of a number of infrastructure projects planned for WIPP in the coming years to enable the facility to continue to play an integral role in DOE’s cleanup program.  To date, more than 90,000 cubic meters of transuranic waste have been disposed of at WIPP.

Anne White Sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management

On March 29, 2018, Anne Marie White of Michigan was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management (EM) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“As Assistant Secretary, White will provide leadership to continue the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy brought about from five decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research,” states the DOE press release announcing the swearing in.  “She will work closely with communities that have partnered with DOE and its predecessor agencies for many decades.”

“It is an honor to serve as Assistant Secretary of Energy for EM,” White said.  “I look forward to the challenges ahead and know that with the talented federal staff, our dedicated workers in the field, and the support of a wide array of stakeholders, we will deliver the EM mission safely and cost effectively.”

Overview

White is the founder of Bastet Technical Services, LLC — a consulting firm that has been engaged in providing strategic solutions to solve complex environmental challenges across the DOE complex.  She has more than 25 years of experience across a broad range of activities within the nuclear field, mainly focused on project and program management projects with complex technical, regulatory, and stakeholder challenges.

“She has industry-recognized credentials in technical skills that lead to sound, technically underpinned, cost effective solutions,” stated an earlier announcement.  “She has extensive hands on in the field experience at many of the Environmental Management sites for which she will have responsibility.”

White, who has supported a number of emerging nuclear power nations to develop legal and regulatory structures and national policies, received a Master’s Degree of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Background

On January 3, 2018, the White House announced President Donald J. Trump’s intent to nominate White to be the EM Assistant Secretary.  On March 22, 2018, White was confirmed for the position by voice vote of the U.S. Senate.

Since June 2017, James Owendoff has been serving as the Acting EM-1 Assistant Secretary.  In this role, Owendoff has focused on more timely decisions on cleanup projects.

The position was previously held by Monica Regalbuto at the end of the administration of former-President Barack Obama.

For additional information, please contact Douglas Tonkay, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Disposal, at (301) 903-7212 or at Douglas.Tonkay@em.doe.gov or go to www.energy.gov.

NAS Releases LLW Workshop Proceedings

On June 6, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released the final publication, Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management and Disposition: Proceedings of a Workshop.  The publication documents the proceedings from a workshop that was organized by the NAS Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, Division on Earth and Life Studies, at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or Department).  The workshop was held in Washington, DC on October 24-25, 2016.

During the workshop, presenters and attendees provided perspectives from academia, industry, federal agencies (including those outside of DOE), state governments, international organizations, public interest groups, and national laboratories.  The proceedings provide a factual description of the workshop presentations and discussions and are limited to the views and opinions of those participating in the event.  The proceedings do not contain consensus findings or recommendations.

Overview  DOE asked NAS to organize this workshop to discuss approaches for the management and disposition of low-level radioactive waste.  The workshop considered similarities between successful case studies, in which unique disposition pathways have been developed to address low-level radioactive wastes, and explored ways to extend these similar characteristics to problematic wastes—i.e., low-level radioactive wastes currently without a clear disposition pathway.  Specifically, the workshop explored the key physical, chemical, and radiological characteristics of low-level radioactive waste that govern its safe and secure management (i.e., packaging, transport, storage) and disposition, in aggregate and for individual waste-streams; and, how key characteristics of low-level waste are incorporated into standards, orders, and regulations that govern the management and disposition of low-level radioactive waste in the United States and in other major waste-producing countries.

Workshop Structure  The workshop began by defining the “universe” of low-level radioactive waste within the United States and elsewhere—first by introducing the types of waste that exist and then by exploring the standards, orders, regulations, and laws that define and control their disposal.  Case studies were then presented to highlight the successful disposal of a variety of wastes that previously lacked a clear disposition pathway—these case studies are referred to as “success stories.”  The studies were selected from within and outside of the United States.  The participants explored common themes that led to success within the case studies such as: the use of existing regulations and standards (i.e., waste classification) to provide an anchor for disposal decisions; the identification of lessons learned from similar or analogous problems such as Canada’s or France’s approach to managing and disposing of very low-level waste (VLLW); and, the importance of site characteristics for disposal decisions.  These themes were organized into an approach to guide future discussions and disposition decisions for challenging low-level radioactive waste streams—referred to in the proceedings as a “common themes approach.”

Waste Streams  The common themes approach was applied to a set of five pre-selected challenging low-level radioactive waste streams that spanned a variety of waste characteristics including Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) and commercial transuranic waste (TRU) waste in excess of 100 nCi/g; sealed sources; VLLW and very low-activity waste; incident waste; and, depleted uranium.  One leader from each breakout group introduced a specific challenging low-level radioactive waste stream to the full workshop and later summarized the breakout group’s results of applying the common themes approach to the issues associated with the disposal of this waste stream.  Several participants identified short-term actions or next steps that could be taken to show progress in addressing each challenging waste stream in the final session of the workshop.

Challenges  Each of the waste streams discussed at the workshop presents a unique set of challenges for disposal.  For example, GTCC waste and commercial TRU waste in excess of 100 nCi/g lack a clear disposition pathway, while VLLW and very low-activity waste have a disposition pathway in which the level of protection may be considered incommensurate with the hazard, or a potentially non-optimal disposition pathway.  According to NAS, the application of the common themes approach to these diverse waste streams was intended to explore how adaptable this approach would be as a tool in discussing or presenting a variety of disposal options.

Background  The Department’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) is responsible for the cleanup of the sites used by the federal government for nuclear weapons development and nuclear energy research.  DOE-EM cleanup involves retrieval, treatment, storage, transportation, and disposition of hundreds of different radioactive and hazardous solid and liquid wastes.  Low-level radioactive waste—which is defined by exclusion as waste that does not meet the statutory definitions for spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, or transuranic waste—is physically and chemically diverse, ranging from lightly contaminated soils and building materials to highly irradiated nuclear reactor components.  It is the most volumetrically significant waste stream (millions of cubic meters) being generated by the cleanup program.

The NAS proceedings are available to interested stakeholders for free download at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24715/.  For additional information, please contact Jennifer Heimberg, Senior Program Officer, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NRSB), Board on Life Sciences (BLS), Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS), NAS at (202) 334-3293 or at jheimberg@nas.edu.

Waste Management Accepting Abstracts & Fellow Award Nominations

Abstracts are now being accepted for the Waste Management 2018 Conference, which will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on March 18-22, 2018.  This year’s conference theme is Nuclear and Industrial Robotics, Remote Systems and Other Emerging Technologies.

Background  The annual Waste Management Conference, presented by WM Symposia (WMS), is an international symposium concerning the safe and secure management of radioactive wastes arising from nuclear operations, facility decommissioning and environmental remediation, as well as storage, transportation and disposal and associated activates.  WMS was founded to provide a forum for discussing and seeking cost-effective and environmentally responsible solutions for the safe management and disposition of radioactive waste and radioactive materials.  WM2018 marks the 44th year of the conference and is expected to attract over 2,000 nuclear specialists from over 35 countries, presenting more than 500 papers in over 130 technical sessions.

Supporting Organizations  Supporting organizations include the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA).  The conference is also organized in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Abstract Submissions  WMS welcomes abstracts in nine topic areas related to nuclear waste management.  The submission site became available in mid-June 2017. To submit an abstract, interested parties will need to visit the WMS website at www.wmsym.org and login using a registered username and password.  The deadline for submission is Friday, August 11, 2017.  Please note, there is a limit of abstract submissions to two (2) per presenter, but no limit on the number of abstracts that may be co-authored.

Fellow Award Nominations  WMS is also accepting nominations for the conference Fellow Award.  Nominations must be submitted no later than August 11, 2017.  Nomination forms should be submitted to awards@wmarizona.org.  All questions related to the WMS Fellowship should be directed to Fred Sheil, Chair of the WM Board of Directors Honors & Awards Committee.  Sheil can be reached by phone at +44-19-46-813342 or by email at Fred@Sheil.myzen.co.uk.

The Call for Abstracts and the detailed Topic Listing are available online at www.wmsym.org.  For additional information on the Waste Management Conference, please call (480) 557-0263 or email to shelley@wmarizona.org.

Alert Declared at Hanford Site

At 8:26 a.m. on May 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Richland Operations Office activated the Hanford Emergency Operations Center after an alert was declared.  In particular, officials responded to reports of a cave-in of a 20-foot section of a tunnel that is hundreds of feet long that is used to store contaminated materials.  The tunnel is located next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as PUREX, which is located in the center of the Hanford Site in an area known as the 200 East Area.

Overview  During a routine surveillance of the area in the morning, a 20-foot-wide hole in the roof of one of the tunnels was observed, leading to the precautionary sheltering of employees and notifications to area counties and states.  After no contamination was detected, the shelter in place order was lifted and employees were sent home from work early as a precaution.  Workers continue to monitor the area for contamination as a crew prepares to fill the hole with clean soil.

Actions taken to protect site employees included the following:

  •   As a precaution, workers in the vicinity of the PUREX facility—as well as the Hanford Site north of the Wye Barricade (southern entrance to the site)—were told to shelter in-place.
  •   Access to the 200 East Area of the Hanford Site, which is located in the center of the Hanford Site, has been restricted to protect employees.

All personnel in the vicinity of the PUREX facility were accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.

Background  In the 1950s and 1960s, two tunnels were constructed next to the PUREX former chemical processing plant.  The tunnels were constructed of wood and concrete and covered with approximately 8 feet of soil.  The tunnels were constructed to hold rail cars that were loaded with contaminated equipment and moved into the tunnels during the Cold War.

The approximately 360-foot-long tunnel where the partial collapse occurred contains 8 rail cars loaded with contaminated equipment.  That tunnel feeds into a longer tunnel that extends hundreds more feet and contains 28 rail cars loaded with contaminated equipment.  The hole opened up in the shorter tunnel near where it joins the longer tunnel.  The tunnels were sealed in the mid-1990s and are checked periodically.

DOE hosted a briefing on its Hanford Site Facebook channel.  Interested stakeholders can view the briefing on the Hanford Site Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HanfordSite/.

DOE and NRC to Hold Third Advanced Reactor Workshop

On April 25-26, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) continued their joint workshop series on innovative reactor technologies in Bethesda, Maryland.  The workshop, which was open to the public, begin at 8:30 a.m. on April 25, 2017.  It was held at the Bethesda North Marriott in Bethesda, Maryland.  The workshop included presentations as well as structured and open discussions, using a facilitator.

“We are encouraging interested parties to continue discussing the most efficient and effective path forward to safely develop and deploy advanced reactors in the United States,” said Vonna Ordaz, Acting Director of the NRC’s Office of New Reactors.  “We expect to discuss topics such as modeling and testing innovative technologies, as well as how vendors might approach getting their designs approved for U.S. use.”

The NRC defines advanced reactors as those technologies using something other than water to cool the reactor core.  The NRC is currently discussing one such advanced design with a vendor considering applying for design certification.  The NRC remains available for early-stage discussion with other potential advanced reactor vendors.

For more information on the workshop, please contact the Nishka Devaser at (301) 415-5196 or at nishka.devaser@nrc.gov; John Segala at (301) 415-1992 or at john.segala@nrc.gov; Trevor Cook at (301) 903-7046 or at trevor.cook@nuclear.energy.gov; or, Tom Sowinski at (301) 903-0112 or at thomas.sowinski@nuclear.energy.gov.

Draft Agenda Released for the Spring 2017 LLW Forum Meeting

Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel
Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) has released the draft agenda for its spring 2017 meeting, which will be held at the Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel in Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017.

As a reminder, the discount rate hotel room block for the meeting closes in just three weeks on April 5, 2017.  There is limited space remaining in the discount room block.   Accordingly, interested stakeholders are encouraged to register and make hotel reservations for the meeting at your earliest convenience.

The Rocky Mountain Low-Level Radioactive Waste Board and Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission are co-sponsoring the meeting.

The meeting documents—including the meeting bulletin, registration form and draft agenda—have been posted to the LLW Forum’s web site at www.llwforum.org.  

 

Agenda Topics

The following is a list of agenda topics for the meeting:

  •  overview and analysis re Executive agency and Congressional transition and impacts on the nuclear industry;
  •  the National Academies’ low-level radioactive waste management and disposition workshop;
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulatory activities and updates including Part 61 rulemaking initiative;low-activity waste scoping study; rulemaking SECY re financial assurance for byproduct material; and, assessment for the low-level waste branch;
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activities and updates including final revisions to National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings; publication of final Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents; and, public comments and next steps re the 40 CFR Part 190 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR);
  •  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) activities and updates;
  • updates and activities re the Waste Control Specialists commercial and federal low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas;
  • updates and activities re the Clive low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Tooele County, Utah;
  • consideration of alternative options for the management of low activity waste;
  •     requirements for plans regarding waste minimization;
  •     tools to assist decision makers regarding low-level waste management;
  •     perspectives from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) on the state of the commercial nuclear power industry;
  •     industry insights and perspectives regarding waste management and disposition;
  •     addressing abandoned cyclotrons and decommissioning in Colorado;
  • survey results re alternative technologies for irradiators and other radioactive sources and devices;
  • implementation of new Part 37 requirements and review of cyber-security for nuclear-related issues;
  • proposals to license Greater-than-Class C (GTCC) and transuranic waste cells and spent nuclear fuel storage in Texas;
  • past, present and future use of uranium in Colorado;
  •  development of a radiation response volunteer medical reserves corp unit;
  •   lack of oversight for management of exempt sealed radioactive sources;
  • the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) Part S Working Group re suggested state regulations on financial assurance for sealed sources;
  • potential revisions to regulations or processes re Category 3 source protection and accountability; and,
  •  removal and packaging of Category 1 and 2 self-shielded devices.

Attendance

Officials from states, compacts, federal agencies, nuclear utilities, disposal operators, brokers/processors, industry, and other interested parties are invited and encouraged to attend.

The meeting is 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.  It also offers 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.

Location and Dates

The spring 2017 LLW Forum meeting will be held on Monday, April 24 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) and Tuesday, April 25 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm) at: 

Embassy Suites by Downtown Convention Center Hotel
1420 Stout Street
Denver, Colorado 80202

 

The hotel offers a gateway to Denver’s lively downtown scene.  Boasting a contemporary convention venue, the hotel is within walking distance of the best attractions in the downtown area.

Registration

All persons must pre-register for the meeting and pay any associated registration fees in order to be allowed entry.  Registration forms are needed in order to ensure that you receive a meeting packet and name badge.  Accordingly, interested attendees are asked to please take a moment to complete the registration form at your earliest convenience  You can submit the registration form electronically via the online link or print a hard copy and return it to the Administrator of the Rocky Mountain Board at the mailing address, e-mail or fax number listed at the bottom of the form.

The meeting is free for up to two individuals representing members of the LLW Forum.  Additional and non-member registration is $500, payable by check only to the “LLW Forum, Inc.”  (Credit card payments are not accepted.)

Reservations

Persons who plan to attend the meeting are strongly encouraged to make their hotel reservations and send in their registration forms as soon as possible, as we have exceeded our block at the last few meetings.

A limited block of hotel rooms has been reserved for Sunday, April 23rd and Monday, April 24th at the rate of $178.00 plus tax per night (for single/double occupancy).

To make a reservation, please call (800) 445-8667.  Please ask for the LLW Forum block in order to get the discounted meeting rate.

The deadline for reserving a room at the discounted rate is Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Transportation and Directions

From Denver International Airport (DIA), one way taxi fare is available for approximately $70.00.  Another option is the train from DIA to Union Station downtown.  From Union Station, you can walk or take the 16th street mall shuttle the additional 1.2 miles to the hotel off of Stout Street.

For additional information, please contact Todd D. Lovinger, the LLW Forum’s Executive Director, at (754) 779-7551 or go to www.llwforum.org