Status Report: Waste Control Specialists (WCS) license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF)
Andrews, Texas (April 15, 2016) – A little over a year ago Waste Control Specialists (WCS) ﬁled a Notice of Intent with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and announced it would submit an application to the NRC for a license to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel in 2016. Today, WCS President Rod Baltzer announced that he expects WCS to meet that timetable.
“We said a year ago that we would submit this application in the spring of 2016, and be in position to be accepting waste by 2021,” Baltzer said. “It was an ambitious timeline, but I’m pleased to report that we are still on schedule. I expect to submit the license application very soon.”
“Along with our partners AREVA and NAC International, we have had several very productive pre-application meetings with the NRC,” Baltzer said, “and I am conﬁdent the license will be granted after the standard three year review so that we can begin construction in 2019 and be accepting used nuclear fuel by early 2021.”
The application is for an initial 40 year license for 40,000 metric tons to be built in eight phases. Each of the eight storage systems will be able to accommodate 5,000 metric tons of heavy metal waste for an eventual capacity of 40,000 tons.The primary operations performed at the site will be transferring the used fuel contained in a sealed canister from a transportation cask into an engineered interim used fuel storage system.
Consolidating used nuclear fuel at an interim storage facility is now a central component of the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Waste Management Program because the country is still decades away from having a permanent geologic repository for used nuclear fuel, we have decommissioned nuclear power plants with stranded fuel in dry storage and numerous plants are scheduled to be decommissioned in the future.
The Waste Control Specialists (WCS) license application for a consolidated interim storage facility is strong because of the partnership WCS has with AREVA Inc. and NAC International, two global leaders in used nuclear fuel storage. Combined, AREVA and NAC represent 62 percent of existing dry storage systems in the U.S., including 78 percent of used nuclear fuel stored at sites where there is no longer an operating nuclear facility.
In addition to their storage systems,WCS relies on the companies’ expertise in used nuclear fuel transportation.
AREVA supplies high added-value products and services to support the operation of the nuclear ﬂeet. Globally, AREVA is present throughout the entire nuclear cycle, from uranium mining to used fuel recycling, including nuclear reactor design and operating services. AREVA is recognized by utilities around the world for its expertise, its skills in cutting-edge technologies, and its dedication to the highest level of safety.
NAC International is an industry-leading provider of engineering, consulting and nuclear fuel management and transportation.The company oﬀers a proven process for the design, licensing and deployment of innovative technologies to store, transport and manage nuclear materials, including high level waste and spent fuel.
To date there are two bills pending in Congress that would amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to allow for a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF). In the fall of 2015, Congressman Michael Conaway, who represents Andrews County Texas, ﬁled a bill and in early 2016 Congressman Mick Mulvaney from South Carolina ﬁled similar legislation. Speciﬁcally, these bills clarify the authority of the Department of Energy (DOE) to take title to the waste and contract with private entities to store it. The legislation also includes a funding mechanism.
It is signiﬁcant that there is now a bill from the state that wants to receive this waste (Texas) and one from a state that wants to ship it (South Carolina). Congressman Mulvaney’s district will soon have more nuclear reactors than any other Congressional district, so he is very cognizant of the fact that it is important to look ahead to ensure this used nuclear fuel has somewhere to go.
There are currently 29 co-sponsors of Congressman Conaway’s bill, and many of them have nuclear reactors in their Congressional districts that are storing used nuclear fuel on site. These co-sponsors are diverse and represent states from California to Vermont and are both republicans and democrats.
Clearly, there is widespread support for moving used nuclear fuel to an interim facility while waiting for the construction of a permanent geologic repository like Yucca Mountain.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future recommends it. The DOE has incorporated it into the nuclear waste management program and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is ready to receive quality license applications for a CISF.
So these are all parallel eﬀorts with the single goal of solving the problem of what to do with used nuclear fuel in this country.
As Congress moves through the budgeting process, committees in both the House and Senate took up the Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget last month.Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz spent hours answering questions about a myriad of sometimes contentious DOE issues.
When the subject turned to used nuclear fuel storage, Secretary Moniz left no doubt where he stood. It is clear that members of Congress wanted clarity that the DOE is on board with the concept of contracting with private entities and they certainly got that.
During the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy hearing, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) asked the Secretary if he thought there was a role for private storage in the options for storing used nuclear fuel.
“Yes, we certainly do see a role for private storage and it’s my understanding the NRC will be receiving an application this year,” Moniz said.The Senator went on to ask him what advantages there were in private storage.
Secretary Moniz responded,“We think private storage could have advantages in an accelerated schedule potentially, more ﬂexibility and also getting a conﬁrmed cost up early so I think there could be many advantages.”
Committee member Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) summed it up perfectly when she indicated it was time to move ahead with it.
There was a similar line of questioning on the House side when the House Energy and Commerce committee took up DOE issues.
Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), one of the co-sponsors of the bill that would provide DOE the authorization to contract with private entities to take waste and a mechanism pay for it, asked Secretary Moniz what the possibilities were for private interim storage.
Secretary Moniz indicated the DOE was very positive about private storage opportunities and reiterated the need for Congressional action.
Last year, the Bipartisan Policy Council (BPC) formed a Nuclear Waste task force comprised of representatives from all stakeholder groups.They have been conducting regional meetings around the country to renew the national dialogue on resolving the issue of the safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste.
In March, the task force held a meeting at the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facility in Andrews,Texas to discuss consent-based siting for consolidated interim storage. Consent-based siting is one of the recommendations in the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future report.The Department of Energy is also looking at defining consent-based siting.
Betsy Madru, Vice President of Government Aﬀairs for WCS, said the company was pleased to host the BPC.
“The Bipartisan Coalition is an important voice on these issues and it was an honor for WCS to have them come take a look at our facilities,” Madru said.