A New Consolidated Storage Facility for Used Nuclear Fuel in Andrews County, Texas
J.S. Kirk, CHP
On February 6, 2015, Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) announced its plan to file a license application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct and operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF). Upon issuance of the license, WCS would be authorized to receive Used Nuclear Fuel (UNF) and reactor related Greater Than Class C Low Level Radioactive Waste (referred hence forth as UNF) at the CISF in late 2020.
WCS based its decision to license a CISF based on strong support from the State of Texas and the local community’s willingness to host such a facility in Andrews County, Texas. WCS’ decision to license a CISF in a supportive community is consistent with the consent-based licensing approach recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. WCS intends to use existing technology developed by AREVA and NAC International that have already been approved by the NRC to transport UNF from existing commercial nuclear reactors across the nation for interim storage at its 14,000 acre site in Andrew County, Texas. In the pre-application licensing meetings held with the NRC, WCS underscored that UNF would be removed first from the shutdown decommissioned reactor sites and transported to the CISF.
Approximately eighty percent of the UNF currently residing at the shutdown decommissioned reactor sites can be safely placed into the storage systems developed by AREVA and NAC International that are currently licensed by the NRC. WCS plans to store up to 40,000 Metric Tons of Heavy Metal (MTHM) at the CISF that would be constructed in eight phases over the next 20 years. WCS intends to submit its license application for the CISF to the NRC by April 2016.
The license application will request authorization to possess up to 5,000 MTHM of UNF for Phase One which can accommodate storing the fuel located at over ten shutdown decommissioned reactor sites. As discussed with the NRC, the license application will be developed following NRC regulatory guidance to comply with the technical requirements specified in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 72, Licensing Requirements for the Independent Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level Radioactive Waste, and Reactor-Related Greater Than Class C Waste. In addition, to filing the license application, WCS is also seeking legislative changes to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 requiring the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to take title of the UNF at the commercial nuclear reactor sites. Under such legislative changes, the DOE would also be responsible for the transport of UNF to the CISF. In addition to preparing the CISF License Application, WCS and its partners AREVA and NAC International are prepared to work with DOE to facilitate the development of the UNF transportation infrastructure in the timeframe needed to support CISF operations.
The WCS site and technical approach give it several advantages which uniquely position it to become the first successful commercial CISF in the U.S. These advantages include: broad consent-based support at the local, state, and Congressional level; an operating waste disposal site with an existing transportation infrastructure; and the use of already licensed systems to address 80% of the UNF currently in dry storage at shutdown sites in the U.S. WCS firmly believes this initiative will provide an economically viable option for consolidated interim storage of UNF until a permanent geologic repository becomes available.
WMS Journal Volume 2, Issue 2