Texas Compact Activity, Disposal Reporting and Pending Legislation

At the spring 2017 meeting of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) in Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017, the Executive Director of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (TLLRWDCC or Commission) provided the following information and overview related to Commission activities and operations.


The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact (Texas Compact) includes the State of Vermont and is not an agency of the State of Texas.  The TLLRWDCC is a “legal entity separate and distinct from the party states…”  The Commission must comply with its federal compact law and is charged with protecting the capacity of the compact facility for Texas and Vermont generators.

Limitations to Jurisdiction and Purview

The Texas Compact does not own or operate the compact facility, which is owned by the State of Texas and operated by Waste Control Specialists (WCS).  The Texas Compact does not set surcharges or charge fees of any type, nor does it determine licensing requirements or license the facility.  The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) licenses the compact facility and approves waste streams.  The following matters are outside of the TLLRWDCC’s purview:  high-level waste, transuranic waste, Greater-than-Class C waste, spent fuel storage, NORM or TENORM, site operations at the compact waste facility (TCEQ), and waste shipments (TCEQ and DSHS).

Imports and Exports

The TLLRWDCC authorizes imports and exports in alignment with Texas policy and law and ensures protection of capacity.  For imports, the Commission has developed an approach based on:  a policy to ensure maximum disposal of allowed curies; the need for flexibility based on the regulatory and industry hurdles generators/brokers encounter; and, a need for a fair and unbiased allocation of curie availability.  The TLLRWDCC supports exports for good cause.  As such, it will be conducting an analysis of exported quantities.

Irradiated Hardware

Given that irradiated hardware can have a significant impact on the amount of curies disposed at the compact facility, the TLLRWDCC will continue to approve import applications as it always has with the exception of irradiated hardware.  Under the Commission’s policies, irradiated hardware must be submitted as a separate import application.  All requests over 15,000 curies, if approved, will be issued conditionally.  Once the generator submits documentation that substantiates volume, curies and shipment date, the Commission will release conditionally authorized curies, if available on a first come, first served basis.  This approach has been adopted as policy that can be found on the Commission’s website.

Forms and Automation

The TLLRWDCC rules require the use of an Import Application Form—a.k.a. “Annex A.”  The form is currently available as a pdf on the Commission’s website.  In addition, the Export Application Form and Generator Authorization Form are also available on the website.  The Commission is beginning work to automate import and export processing.  This will require the import and export forms to be fillable.

Annual Reporting and Disposal Numbers

Annual Reports are available at http://www.tllrwdcc.org/reports-more/.  The 2016 Annual Report is more robust and includes:  listing of import agreements, volume and curies; listing of export agreements; and, fees generated.  Disposal numbers in volume and curies for imported waste and in-compact waste are available at http://www.tllrwdcc.org/reports-more/.

Legislative Activities

Because the Texas Compact receives funding through the State of Texas appropriation process, the status of the Compact as an agency presents confusion.  The Texas Compact is with working with the legislature to provide clarification to State of Texas employees that the Texas Compact is a “legal entity separate and distinct from the party states …”  During the current legislative session, two items—SB 1667 by Senator Seliger and HB 3946 by Representative Landgraf—have been filed as companion bills.  SB 1667 and HB 3946 relate to the nature, funding, and functions of the TLLRWDCC.

Management Rule

TLLRWDCC Commissioner Linda Morris chairs a committee that is charged with drafting rules for management of low-level radioactive waste in the Texas Compact.  These rules will have applicability in Vermont.  The scope of the rule will likely include only reporting requirements.  The rulemaking will include an informal comment period before instituting the formal process.


In September 2016, the Texas Compact conducted its first workshop in Burlington, Vermont.  The workshop was geared toward Vermont generators.  The Texas Compact is considering doing a similar workshop for Texas generators, particularly small generators.  The compact will also consider workshops for larger generators, as may be needed.

For additional information, please contact Texas Compact Commission Executive Director Leigh Ing at (512) 305-8941 or at leigh.ing@tllrwdcc.org

Open House Held re Performance of Prairie Island Nuclear Plant

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held an open house in Red Wing, Minnesota to discuss the agency’s annual assessment of safety performance for Prairie Island.  Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota operates the two-unit plant.  It is located in Welch, Minnesota—approximately 28 miles southeast of Minneapolis.

The NRC determined that the Prairie Island facility operated safely in 2015.  All performance indicators and inspection findings for Unit 1 were green or low safety significance and the unit remained in Column 1 of the action matrix throughout the year.  Unit 2, which was in Column 1 for the first three quarters of 2015, moved to Column 2 during the last quarter due to one white performance indicator of low to moderate significance in the area of unplanned scrams.  This performance indicator tracks the number of times the plant shut down unexpectedly during a specific period when the plant was operating at full power.

The NRC uses color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators to assess nuclear plant performance.  The colors start with green and then increase to white, yellow, or red, reflecting the safety significance of the issues involved.  Performance indicators are statistical measurements of plant and equipment performance.  The NRC’s action matrix reflects overall plant performance and agency response.  There are five columns in the matrix with Column 1 requiring a baseline level of inspections.  A move to the other columns results in an increased level of NRC oversight and inspections.

The NRC will conduct a supplemental inspection at Unit 2 to determine if the plant had understood the cause of the white performance indicator and taken sufficient corrective actions to prevent recurrence.  Unit 1 will continue to receive the NRC’s normal level of oversight during 2016.

Inspections are performed by two NRC Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant, inspection specialists from the Region III Office, and specialists from the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  Among the areas of performance to be inspected this year by NRC inspectors are radiological safety, spent fuel storage, and the plant’s ability to identify and resolve problems.

For additional information, please contact Viktoria Mitlyng at (630) 829-9662 or Prema Chandrathil at (630) 829-9663.