Oral Arguments Held re Holtec Spent Fuel Storage Application

On January 23, 2019, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) heard oral arguments in Albuquerque, New Mexico on petitions to hold an adjudicatory hearing concerning an application by Holtec International to construct and operate a consolidated interim spent fuel storage facility in the state.

The arguments were held at the State Bar of New Mexico, which is located at 5121 Masthead St. NE in Albuquerque.

Project Overview

According to the license application, Holtec is seeking to store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium in commercial spent fuel in the Holtec International Storage Module Underground “MAXimum” Capacity (HI-STORM UMAX) Storage System for a 40-year license term.  The subterranean used nuclear fuel storage system has a maximum storage capacity of 10,000 canisters.  The initial license application is for 500 storage cavities.  The NRC previously certified HI-STORM UMAX in Docket number 72-1040.

“Engineered over a decade ago and licensed by the NRC in 2015, HI-STORM UMAX is physically sized to store all of the used nuclear fuel produced in the U.S. and all canisters currently licensed in dry storage in the country making it a truly universal used fuel storage facility,” states Holtec.  “Already deployed at multiple nuclear power plants around the U.S. …, the HI-STORM UMAX stores the stainless steel canister containing the spent fuel or high-level waste entirely below-ground to serve as a ‘security-friendly’ storage facility, providing a clear, unobstructed view of the entire CISF from any location.  HI-STORE CIS is envisioned to unify the storage of all different storage canisters (both vertically and horizontally stored) in one standardized HI-STORM UMAX cavity system simplifying operations and aging management activities.”

“Storing the Nation’s used nuclear fuel in the HI-STORM UMAX system is a temporary measure, as the stainless-steel canisters are easily retrievable and ready for transport pending the determination of a safe permanent solution for managing used nuclear materials.,” continues Holtec.  “The canisters are designed, qualified, and tested to survive and prevent the release of radioactive material under the most adverse accident scenarios postulated by NRC regulations for both storage and transportation.”

Holtec is using its own funds to support the licensing action.  According to Holtec, the project has “the enthusiastic support of nuclear-savvy communities in southeastern New Mexico incorporated as the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), LLC.”  If the initial application is approved, Holtec plans to make supplemental submittals to incorporate the various canister types being used in the industry.

The Holtec application and other documents related to the NRC’s review are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.

Background

Holtec submitted its application on March 30, 2017.  The NRC formally docketed the application on February 28, 2018.  On March 30, 2018, NRC published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the scope of its environmental review.  (See 83 Federal Register 13,802 dated March 30, 2018.)  Comments were accepted through May 29, 2018.  (See LLW Notes, March/April 2018, pp. 16-18.)

On April 6, 2018, NRC published a separate notice about the public meetings.  (See 83 Federal Register 14,897 dated April 6, 2018.)  On July 18, 2017, NRC issued a press release announcing the opportunity for the public to request an adjudicatory hearing on Holtec International’s application for a license to construct and operate a consolidated interim spent fuel storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico.  (See LLW Notes, July/August 2018, pp. 16-18.)  A few days earlier, an announcement was published in the Federal Register that describes the requirements and procedures for filing a request for a hearing and petition to intervene.  (See 83 Federal Register 32,919 dated July 16, 2018.)  The deadline for submitting a request to the NRC was September 14, 2018.

The Federal Register notice announcing the opportunity to request a hearing on Holtec’s application is available online at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-07-16/pdf/2018-15079.pdf.

For additional information, please contact, please contact Erika Grandrimo of Holtec at (856) 797-0090 ext. 3920 or at e.grandrimo@holtec.com or David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Wyoming Becomes NRC’s 38th Agreement State

On September 25, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has entered into an agreement with the State of Wyoming to transfer regulatory authority to the state over certain radioactive materials.  With this action, Wyoming becomes the 38th state to sign such an agreement with the NRC.  Wyoming Governor Matthew Mead and NRC Chair Kristine Svinicki signed the agreement in Cheyenne.

Overview

With the agreement, the NRC transfers to Wyoming the responsibility for licensing, rulemaking, inspection and enforcement activities necessary to regulate source material involved in uranium or thorium milling and the management and disposal of milling waste, or mill tailings.  Fourteen uranium recovery licenses will be transferred to Wyoming’s jurisdiction.  The NRC retains jurisdiction over any commercial nuclear power plants (there currently are none in Wyoming), federal agencies using certain radioactive materials in the state and uses of radioactive material other than uranium and thorium milling activities.  Before entering into the agreement, the NRC determined that Wyoming’s radiation control program is adequate to protect public health and safety and is compatible with NRC regulations.

Background

Thirty-seven other states have signed similar agreements with the NRC.  They include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. 

Copies of the agreement, the Governor’s request/supporting documents, public comments and the NRC staff assessment are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.  For additional information, please contact David McIntyre at (301) 415-8200.

Public Meetings Scheduled re Proposed Holtec Consolidated Interim Spent Fuel Facility in New Mexico

On April 9, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking public comment on the scope of its environmental review of Holtec International’s application for a license to construct and operate a consolidated interim spent fuel storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico.  NRC staff will hold a series of public meetings in late April and early May to describe the review process and take public comments.

Overview

According to the license application, Holtec is seeking to store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium in commercial spent fuel in the Holtec International Storage Module Underground “MAXimum” Capacity (HI-STORM UMAX) Storage System for a 40-year license term.  The subterranean used nuclear fuel storage system has a maximum storage capacity of 10,000 canisters.  The initial license application is for 500 storage cavities.  The NRC previously certified HI-STORM UMAX in Docket number 72-1040.

“Engineered over a decade ago and licensed by the NRC in 2015, HI-STORM UMAX is physically sized to store all of the used nuclear fuel produced in the U.S. and all canisters currently licensed in dry storage in the country making it a truly universal used fuel storage facility,” states Holtec.  “Already deployed at multiple nuclear power plants around the U.S. …, the HI-STORM UMAX stores the stainless steel canister containing the spent fuel or high-level waste entirely below-ground to serve as a ‘security-friendly’ storage facility, providing a clear, unobstructed view of the entire CISF from any location.  HI-STORE CIS is envisioned to unify the storage of all different storage canisters (both vertically and horizontally stored) in one standardized HI-STORM UMAX cavity system simplifying operations and aging management activities.”

“Storing the Nation’s used nuclear fuel in the HI-STORM UMAX system is a temporary measure, as the stainless-steel canisters are easily retrievable and ready for transport pending the determination of a safe permanent solution for managing used nuclear materials.,” continues Holtec.  “The canisters are designed, qualified, and tested to survive and prevent the release of radioactive material under the most adverse accident scenarios postulated by NRC regulations for both storage and transportation.”

Holtec is using its own funds to support the licensing action.  According to Holtec, the project has “the enthusiastic support of nuclear-savvy communities in southeastern New Mexico incorporated as the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), LLC.”  If the initial application is approved, Holtec plans to make supplemental submittals to incorporate the various canister types being used in the industry.

The Holtec application and other documents related to the NRC’s review are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.

Public Comment

On April 25, 2018, NRC will hold the first “scoping” meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  The meeting is scheduled from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET.  There will also be a webinar so people unable to attend in person may follow the meeting.  Interested stakeholders may participate in the meeting via webinar at

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7824864004787186434.

NRC staff will also hold three meetings in New Mexico as follows:

  • April 30, 2018 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. MT at the Eastern New Mexico University- Roswell, Campus Union Building, Multi-Purpose Room 110, which is located at 48 University Boulevard in Roswell;
  • May 1, 2018 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT at the
Lea County Event Center, which is located at 5101 N. Lovingston Highway in Hobbs; and,
  • May 3, 2018 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT at the Eddy County Fire Service, which is located at 1400 Commerce Drive in Carlsbad.

The first meeting will be an open house and poster session.  The other two meetings will be full scoping meetings.  NRC staff members will hold an open house one hour before each of the Hobbs and Carlsbad meetings to meet informally with members of the public.  A court reporter will be available to record comments at all locations.  Spanish-speaking staff will be available at the New Mexico meetings to assist with translation.

Background

Holtec submitted its application on March 30, 2017.  The NRC formally docketed the application on February 28, 2018.  On March 30, 2018, NRC published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the scope of its environmental review.  (See 83 Federal Register 13,802 dated March 30, 2018.)  Comments will be accepted through May 29, 2018.  On April 6, 2018, NRC published a separate notice about the public meetings.  (See 83 Federal Register 14,897 dated April 6, 2018.)

For additional information, please contact , please contact Erika Grandrimo of Holtec at (856) 797-0090 ext. 3920 or at e.grandrimo@holtec.com or David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.