The NFRC was established in 2002 to promote the construction and operation of nuclear reprocessing facilities. NFRC promotes reprocessing commercial spent nuclear fuel that is generated by commercial nuclear power plants.

Reprocessing dramatically reduces the amount of high-level radioactive waste that would have to be stored in a geologic repository. We also support reprocessing plutonium and highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads into fuel for use in commercial nuclear power plants.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fitch Report Says Hazy Future for Nuclear Power

According to Fitch Ratings, cost and retirement of some plants will likely keep a cap on U.S. nuclear development into the mid term.   Last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast that nuclear generation will drop by approximately 10,800 MWe by 2020 on the low cost of natural gas and an expected lack of growth in electricity demand. Fitch believes this number could grow if more plant operators find upgrades and local political pressure too costly to continue operations. 

The total cost to complete the Vogtle nuclear power plant expansion has risen to approximately $17 billion. Similarly, construction costs for the new units at the V.C. Summer plant have risen to approximately $12.4 billion. Both projects are approximately three years behind schedule. They are using a modular construction technique and technology developed by Westinghouse, the AP1000 PWR, which was designed to be less costly and faster. Four AP 1,000 reactors under construction in China have also experienced cost overruns and delays. In our view, the change in expectations about this technique could join other forces in keeping expansion down. 

These pressures shut Dominion Resources' Kewaunee plant, Duke Energy Corp.'s Crystal River plant, Edison International's San Onofre plant, and Entergy's Vermont Yankee plant. Exelon's Oyster Creek is scheduled for retirement in 2019. Approximately eight additional merchant units, with an aggregate capacity of 6,334 MW, are also at risk of early retirement. 

By comparison only five new units are currently under construction and a license has been issued for one other, according to a report published last month by the Nuclear Energy Institute. Although a further 10 units are under active Nuclear Regulatory Commission review, their status remains uncertain. Plant age could also play a role in preserving current generation. Of the 99 nuclear units in operation, 73 have received 20-year license extensions beyond their original 40-year operating licenses. An additional 19 applications for license extension are pending and the remaining units are likely to be filed over the next several years.  (Fitch Ratings, 8/20/2015)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letter from NFRC Co-Chair to Chair of NARUC

Clinton Crackle
NOTE: The California Energy Commission also published the letter:
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Dear Clinton Crackel,
The following Comment that you submitted to the California Energy Commission (Docket Number 15-IEPR-12) has now been approved:

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Dear Commissioner White: 
 
Having read your May 14, 2015 article in The Hill web site “Our nuclear waste program does need reform,” I agree with you that our nuclear waste program does need reform. I even posted the article in the discussions page of the Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition’s LinkedIn group because the coalition, formed in 2002, promotes spent nuclear fuel reprocessing and the creation of an autonomous federal agency to manage our civilian nuclear waste program. 
 
Throughout my nearly 10 years in the commercial nuclear power industry, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) utilized a stringent regulatory compliance and inspection program known as the Systematic Assessment of Licensee Performance (SALP) program. 

In 1994, the Nuclear Energy Institute was formed as the principal industry voice for nuclear utility deregulation. In 1998, the SALP program was replaced by a more industry-friendly inspection and enforcement program because it was seen as too costly to allow commercial nuclear power plants to compete in a deregulated electric utility environment. 

“The electric industry's move away from traditional rate-based regulation toward increased competition in a deregulated marketplace could have adverse impacts on the long-term ability of some utilities to adequately finance safe operation and decommissioning of their nuclear power plants.”  (NRC Fact Sheet on the Effects of Electric Utility Deregulation, November 2004) 

The State of California is currently involved with the interim, on-site dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and decommissioning of Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s Units 2 and 3. Other states are coping with the same issues affecting nuclear power plants within their borders that are now shut down for decommissioning or will soon be shut down. 
 
The owners of these plants will likely seek financial incentives from the host states in order to finance decommissioning activities; not to mention financial incentives for making the nuclear power plants more competitive with natural gas. 
 
The considerable additional financial burden to support these requests will most likely come at the expense of the utility ratepayers and taxpayers. 

Regardless of the source(s) of funding for decommissioning activities, we still don’t have a federal-level program available for the receipt and centralized storage of commercial SNF. 

read the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2015S. 854, 114th Cong. (2015). The bill is based in great part on the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, and is intended to finally insure federal-level SNF management is implemented in a timely manner. 

The Senate bill creates an independent federal agency called the Nuclear Waste Administration, headed by an Administrator appointed by the President of the United States and subject to Senate confirmation. The bill creates a five-member Nuclear Waste Oversight Board to meet at least every 90 days to review the status of the Administration. The bill also creates the Nuclear Waste Administration Working Capital Fund which is separate from the Nuclear Waste Fund, with the Nuclear Waste Administration Working Capital Fund directly financing the operations of the Administration while the Nuclear Waste Fund is still under the jurisdiction of Congress. 

I have attached the latest version of the Nuclear Waste Management Agency Act that I wrote in 2013 to create the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency, a concept that I have been proposing since 1997. The bill is also posted in the Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition’s blog spot at http://nfrcoalition.blogspot.com/. 

Besides naming the agency, my bill creates a Board of Governors comprised of representatives of various nuclear energy stakeholders appointed by the President of the United States. 

The title of chief executive of the new agency would be Executive Director, with this individual being selected by the Board of Governors and with Senate concurrenceMy proposal establishes greater stability in the executive ranks by insulating the chief executive from changing political views of nuclear power and waste by succeeding administrations. 

I hope that you and the other members of the Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues-Waste Disposal will review my bill and submit any comments on it to me. The subcommittee is also welcome to discuss other nuclear waste issues with me. Further, my resume is attached to give you a better understanding of my background in the nuclear industry. 

Thank you and my best wishes for your continued success as Chair of NARUC’s Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues-Waste Disposal. 

Very respectfully, 

Clinton E. Crackel, MEP, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman 
Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition 
603 Graham Road 
North Aurora, IL 60542-9119 
(630) 202-1307 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Obama To Renew Nuclear Power Plant Cooperation Agreement With China

President Obama has notified Congress that he intends to renew a nuclear cooperation agreement with China. The deal would allow Beijing to buy more U.S.-designed reactors and pursue a facility or the technology to reprocess plutonium from spent fuel. China would also be able to buy reactor coolant technology that experts say could be adapted to make its submarines quieter and harder to detect.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to hear from five Obama officials in a closed-door meeting today to weigh the commercial, political and security implications of extending the accord. The private session will permit discussion of a classified addendum from the director of national intelligence analyzing China’s nuclear export control system and what Obama’s notification called its “interactions with other countries of proliferation concern.”



The new agreement should clear the way for U.S. companies to sell dozens of nuclear reactors to China, the biggest nuclear power market in the world.
Yet the new version of the nuclear accord — known as a 123 agreement under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 — would give China leeway to buy U.S. nuclear energy technology at a sensitive moment: The Obama administration has been trying to rally support among lawmakers and the public for a deal that would restrict Iran’s nuclear program — a deal negotiated with China’s support.
Congress can vote to block the agreement, but if it takes no action during a review period, the agreement goes into effect.  If Congress rejects the deal, “that would allow another country with lower levels of proliferation controls to step in and fill that void,
Although the current nuclear agreement with China does not expire until the end of the year, the administration had to give Congress notice with 90 legislative days left on the clock. Obama also hopes to seal a global climate deal in December featuring China — less than three weeks before the current nuclear accord expires.
The United States has bilateral 123 agreements with 22 countries, plus Taiwan, for the peaceful use of nuclear power. Some countries that do not have such agreements, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Malaysia, have expressed interest in clearing obstacles to building nuclear reactors.
China and the United States reached a nuclear cooperation pact in 1985, before China agreed to safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA safeguards went into force in 1989, but Congress imposed new restrictions after the Chinese government’s June 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. The 123 agreement finally went into effect in March 1998; President Bill Clinton waived the 1989 sanctions after China pledged to end assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and nuclear cooperation with Iran.
In December 2006, Westinghouse Electric — majority-owned by Toshiba — signed an agreement to sell its AP1000 reactors to China. Four are under construction, six more are planned, and the company hopes to sell 30 others, according to an April report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Reprocessing plutonium
China has a pilot plant engaged in reprocessing in Jiu Quan, a remote desert town in Gansu province. Satellite photos show that it is next to a former military reprocessing plant. There is not even any fencing between the sites.  (Wash Post, 5/10/2015)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Consent Agreement To Store Nuclear Waste in New Mexico

A consent-based approach is being utilized in New Mexico to manage used nuclear fuel from U.S. commercial reactors. Holtec International announced a memorandum of agreement with two New Mexico counties to establish a consolidated interim storage facility in southeastern New Mexico.
The announcement took place in Albuquerque and included support from New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Earlier this year, Texas-based Waste Control Specialists announced its intent to design and license an interim consolidated storage facility that could be used by the federal government to store commercial used nuclear fuel until a federal disposal facility becomes operational.


Holtec’s agreement with the Eddy and Lea counties in New Mexico will include the design, licensing, construction, and operation of an interim used fuel storage facility modeled on Holtec’s HI-STORM UMAX storage system, which stores high-level radioactive waste in steel and concrete containers below ground. The agreement would develop an interim site “to store all of the used nuclear fuel produced in the United States and all canisters currently licensed in dry storage in the country.”
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the total liability for the federal government for its failure to manage used nuclear fuel at $27.1 billion, including $4.5 billion already paid out of the U.S. Treasury’s Judgment Fund. This estimate assumes that the DOE begins accepting used nuclear fuel in 2021. The agency has contracts with energy companies to take uranium fuel from nuclear energy facilities for disposal. (NEI)