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.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Unistar Promises American Citizens Will Manage Calvert Cliffs 3

UniStar Nuclear Energy plans to put American citizens in key corporate positions to ensure U.S. control over the proposed third reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland.  Unistar, owned by French energy company EDF, made the pledge to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as it is seeking a license to own and operate the plant. Unistar needs a U.S. partner for the project because federal law prohibits ownership or control of a U.S. nuclear plant by a foreign entity.

EDF and Constellation formed UniStar to develop new nuclear plants in the United States, including the third unit at Calvert Cliffs. But Constellation pulled out of negotiations in October with the Department of Energy over a federal loan guarantee considered crucial for financing the $9.6 billion reactor, throwing the project into doubt. By selling its half-stake in Unistar, Constellation abandoned that business, leaving EDF to pursue Calvert Cliffs 3 on its own.

Calver Cliffs Nuclear Plant
Unistar's governance structure calls for two independent U.S. citizens n the eight-member board of directors as well as a chairman and a chief executive who both must be U.S. citizens. They have set up a security subcommittee of the board composed of the chairman and the two independent U.S. citizens. The subcommittee has the authority for any decisions related to nuclear safety, security and reliability issues.

A final decision on the license for Calvert Cliffs 3 is not expected to be made until at least mid-2012. (Energy Central, 12/9/2010)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oyster Creek Closing 10 Years Early To Avoid Cooling Tower

Anonymous sources have disclosed that Chicago-based Exelon Corporation has reach an agreement with New Jersey officials to close its Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station 10 year earlier than planned in exchange for not having to build expensive cooling towers.  The facility is in the Forked River section of Lacey Township and is the nation's oldest nuclear power plant.  The plant will now close in 2019 instead of 2029.

Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station
The facility's current 'once-through' technology draws 1.4 billion gallons of water a day from Barnegat Bay and opponents of the plant use the charge that it is killing billions of aquatic creatures each year.  This is a back door method to try to close the plant. Exelon estimates that it would cost $800 million to build the towers, which is more than the plant is worth.

In January, the state Department of Environmental Protection required the plant to build one or more closed-cycle cooling towers instead of relying on water drawn from the Oyster Creek to cool the reactor. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted the Oyster Creek station a new 20-year license in April 2009. Oyster Creek generates enough electricity to power 600,000 homes a year. It provides 9 percent of New Jersey's electricity. Oyster Creek went online Dec. 1, 1969, the same day as the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station near Oswego, N.Y. (NYT, 12/9/2010)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update: Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository

Yucca Mountain repository entrance
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing a June order by a Construction Authorization Board (CAB) panel that flatly said the Department of Energy (DOE) had no authority to pull the application for developing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The Bush administration submitted the application in 2008. NFRC supports the CAB ruling that DOE does not have authority to pull the application. NFRC supports Yucca Mountain as the repository for America's nuclear waste.  DOE officials insist the agency has the authority to end the project and that a better national strategy for managing nuclear waste can be found.

Yucca Mountain peak
Largely because one NRC commissioner—George Apostolakis—has recused himself from the proceedings, the numbers are against NRC overturning the CAB decision and backing DOE’s efforts to halt work on Yucca. The recusal leaves NRC with four commissioners and a 2-2 a tie would leave the CAB decision intact, meaning a 3-1 vote would be needed to overturn it. Apostolakis, a Democrat, recused himself because of his past work as chairman of a panel that reviewed certain aspects of DOE’s work in developing Yucca. 

George Apostolakis & Norris McDonald (Jaczko in background)

Many surmise that the most likely vote to overturn the CAB and back DOE’s efforts to sink Yucca is NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, a former Harry Reid aide who is considered a likely anti-Yucca vote out of allegiance to his former boss. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opposes Yucca Mountain. Jaczko, a nuclear physicist, has given no indication what he might do on Yucca and has generally been seen as an even-handed commissioner and chairman.

Bill Magwood & Norris McDonald
 But if Jaczko were to try to line up two more anti-Yucca votes, it would be difficult. First, he would have to win the vote of at least one Republican commissioner—either Bill Ostendorff or Kristine Svinicki—which could endanger either Republican’s chance of re-nomination, given that most GOP leaders support Yucca. Second, there is no reason to believe that the commission’s other Democrat, Bill Magwood, is inclined to undermine Yucca. He is seen as moderate and served as director of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy under both Democratic and Republican administrations, including under the George W. Bush administration when Yucca was being advanced.

Besides Apostolakis' recusal, none of NRC’s four other commissioners have signaled their intention on Yucca, and the upcoming decision turns strictly on their interpretation of DOE’s authority to yank the Yucca application under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Although the NRC’s upcoming ruling will certainly inform the outcome, the legality of DOE’s effort to yank Yucca will likely ultimately be decided in the courts, however. (The Energy Daily, 9/22/2010)

Friday, September 17, 2010

South Africa Ends Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Program

The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) project has been cancelled and the program has been reduced to a few people with the focus now being on the retention of its intellectual property, certain skills and the preservation of its assets. The PBMR project has not been able to secure an anchor customer or another investment partner and it is estimated that further investment in the project could exceed an additional R30-billion. The Westinghouse consortium was lost in May when Westinghouse withdrew from the programme.

The government also announced that should the country embark on a nuclear build programme in the future it will not be using the PBMR technology, which was still in the research and design phase. The project has been missing deadlines constantly, with the construction of the first demonstration model delayed further and further into the future. Over the last years a total R9,244-billion has been invested in the PBMR project, government having contributed an amount R7,419-billion or 80,3% of that amount. Eskom also contributed 8,8% with Westinghouse and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) accounting for 4,9% each.

Originally, it was envisaged that Eskom would be the PBMR's anchor customer, with a possible purchase of up to 24 reactors as part of the country's expansion of its electricity generation capacity to meet increasing demand with a first demonstration PBMR to be constructed on the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station site in the Western Cape. "However, between 2005 and 2009, it became increasingly clear that, based on the direct-cycle electricity design, PBMR's potential investor and customer market was severely restricted and it was unable to acquire either; hence government has been constrained to make decisions about the future of the project. (Engineering News, 9/16/2010)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

India Passes Law To Hold Nuclear Equipment Suppliers Liable

India passed a law that exposes firms supplying equipment to nuclear plants to liability in the case of accidents. This law threatens to effectively exclude U.S. companies from Indian projected $150 billion nuclear power market. In nearly all countries with nuclear power, suppliers are immune from lawsuits while all liability is channeled to nuclear-plant operators.

India's nuclear-plant operator, state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd., believes making suppliers liable, whether domestic or foreign, will hurt India's nuclear projects because no manufacturers will want to participate in them. Under India's law, the cap on liability for any nuclear accident is about $322 million . Though plant operators would be primarily responsible for accidents, they could seek "recourse" by suing suppliers.

India generates about 3% of its electricity from nuclear energy. (WSJ, 9/9/2010)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Exelon Contracts Out To Dismantle Zion Nuclear Plant

Exelon Corporation has been spending about $11 million a year for the past 12 years to maintain the
closed Zion nuclear power plant on the shore of Lake Michigan. Now it is contracting out to have it torn down. Chicago-based Exelon is transfering its Zion nuclear licenses to EnergySolutions Inc., a nuclear waste storage and services firm in Salt Lake City. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the Exelon-EnergySolutions arrangement. The license transfer will give the Utah-based firm full control of the Illinois site so it can handle the demolition.

EnergySolutions will receive government-mandated funds paid by ratepayers over the years for plant closure. Zion's fund has a balance of about $900 million. EnergySolutions will receive the funds and Exelon will contribute up to $200 million more if needed.

Radioactive waste must be sent to licensed sites or put in special storage at the site. EnergySolutions will put Zion's spent nuclear fuel, its most radioactive waste, into storage casks at the site with Exelon protecting them.

EnergySolutions will begin tearing apart Zion's two nuclear reactors in 2012 and the dismantled parts will be moved by rail to a radioactive waste facility in Clive, Utah, where they will be crushed and compacted. EnergySolutions owns the waste facility. About four million cubic feet of Zion waste is expected to be moved to Utah and encased in clay and rock. (WSJ, 8/21/2010)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nuclear Commission Examines Reactors & Fuel Cycle

Reactor and Fuel Cycle Technology Subcommittee

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (BRC) will hold a meeting today and tomorrow on reactor and fuel cycle technology at the Washington Marriott Hotel. The President directed that the Commission be established to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The Commission will provide advice and make recommendations on issues including alternatives for the storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.

The meeting will primarily focus on commercial technology options for reactor and fuel cycle technologies and what actions could be taken to enable first movers in these technologies. This meeting will also address the role local communities and governments should play in the development and demonstration of new nuclear technologies and the key safety, environmental and security concerns for local communities, and how these concerns should be addressed.

More Information

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Low-Level Radioactive Waste

Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985

This Act gives States the responsibility to dispose of low-level radioactive waste generated within their borders and allows them to form compacts to locate facilities to serve a group of States. The Act provides that the facilities will be regulated by the NRC or by States that have entered into Agreements with the NRC under section 274 of the Atomic Energy Act. The Act also requires the NRC to establish standards for determining when radionuclides are present in waste streams in sufficiently low concentrations or quantities as to be "below regulatory concern."


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Federal Judge Rules Nuke Waste Can Go To Utah

Federal Judge David M. Ebel has ruled a nuclear waste storage project in Utah can go forward, throwing out U.S. Interior Department decisions that had killed the plan. The judge noted that
the department's decision to stop plans for long-term storage of used nuclear reactor fuel on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation was "arbitrary and capricious." Judge Ebel told Interior Department decision-makers to reconsider requests by project proponents, including a consortium of nuclear power companies called Private Fuel Storage LLC. (, 7/27/2010)

Friday, August 13, 2010

DOE Seeks Clients for Mixed Oxide (MOX) Nuclear Fuel

The effort by the U.S. Energy Department (DOE) to find clients willing to use mixed oxide reactor fuel to be produced at Savannah River Site has stalled. So DOE is exploring new strategies to market the fuel. The $4.86 billion MOX plant is designed to transform 34 metric tons of plutonium from dismantled bombs into commercial fuel suitable for nuclear power plants. Although the plant has been under construction three years, with projected completion in 2016, commercial utilities have shown little interest in using the fuel.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)is engaging in efforts to market MOX that includes talks with major fuel manufacturers and suppliers. These suppliers include AREVA, Westinghouse and Global Nuclear Fuels -- the main fabricators who supply fuel to utilities -- and NNSA is working with each of them to see if they can supply MOX to them and they would market the fuels to their customers. Having the fuel available through traditional vendors could help make its use more attractive to commercial reactor operators.

The MOX technology is part of the National Nuclear Security Administration's nonproliferation strategy in which weapons-grade materials are permanently eliminated to prevent exploitation by terrorists. It is also part of an agreement in which Russia will dispose of similar amounts of bomb-grade plutonium.

In 2007, Duke Power agreed to use the fuel in its reactors but dropped out of the program in 2009 after two years of testing. Currently, Tennessee Valley Authority, which agreed in February to test -- and possibly use -- MOX in five of its reactors, is the only potential client.
According to DOE, although it is the only current prospect, TVA and its reactors could theoretically use 80 to 100 percent of the MOX plant's eventual production. However, the search remains active to recruit a variety of clients.

Southern Nuclear, which operates Plant Vogtle and two other nuclear plants, will not use MOX. SCANA Corp., which operates the V.C. Summer Plant in South Carolina, doesn't want MOX either.

Further complicating the situation is the uncertainty of where the Energy Department will locate an important facility to dismantle and process plutonium "pits" from surplus warheads. The initial plan was to construct a freestanding Pit Disassembly & Conversion Facility adjacent to the MOX complex. An additional alternative in which existing buildings in the K Reactor area would house that process is also being studied. The ultimate site will house a plant where pits will be processed into a powdered oxide form for use in the MOX plant. (DailyMe, 8/12/2010)

Russia To Fuel Iran Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

Russia will begin loading nuclear fuel into Iran's first atomic power station (Bushehr plant) this month. Russia agreed in 1995 to build the Bushehr plant on the site of a project begun in the 1970s by German firm Siemens. The $1 billion project is opposed by the United States, Israel and other countries in the region because of fears that Iran is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program. However, Iran will be importing the fuel from Russia and returning it to them for reprocessing. Russia notes that this should allay fears that its nuclear energy program could be redirected to develop weapons. Moscow and Washington agree that importing fuel makes unnecessary Iran's own enrichment project — the main focus of Western concerns that Tehran is trying to make a nuclear bomb.

According to Moscow, the Bushehr project has been closely supervised by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. Russian officials are pointing out that Iran has signed a pledge to ship all the spent uranium fuel from Bushehr back to Russia for reprocessing, excluding a possibility that any of it could used to make nuclear weapons.

Russia has insisted that the Bushehr project is essential for persuading Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and fulfill its obligations under international nuclear nonproliferation agreements.

The U.N. Security Council passed a fourth set of sanctions on Iran in June over its nuclear program. The move followed Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can be used for the production of fuel for power plants as well as material for nuclear warheads if enriched to a higher level. Russian is one of the six powers leading international efforts to ensure Iran does not develop an atomic bomb, but is ignoring the latest U.N. sanctions against Iran in fueling the Bushehr project. It has backed U.N. sanctions, but strongly criticized the U.S. and the European Union for following up with separate, even stronger sanctions. (, 8/13/2010)

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Uranium oxide concentrate from mining is not significantly radioactive - barely more so than the granite used in buildings. It is refined to form "yellowcake" (U3O8), then converted to uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6). As a gas, it undergoes enrichment to increase the U-235 content from 0.7% to about 3.5%. It is then turned into a hard ceramic oxide (UO2) for assembly as reactor fuel elements.

The main by-product of enrichment is depleted uranium, principally the U-238 isotope, which is stored, either as UF6 or as U3O8. Some is used in applications where its extremely high density makes it valuable, such as the keels of yachts. It is also used (with recycled plutonium) for making mixed oxide fuel (see below) and to dilute highly-enriched uranium from weapons stockpiles which is now being redirected to become reactor fuel.


HLW from reprocessing UK, French, Japanese and German spent comprises highly-radioactive fission products and some transuranic elements with long-lived radioactivity. It generates a considerable amount of heat and requires cooling. This is vitrified into borosilicate (Pyrex) glass, encapsulated into heavy stainless steel cylinders about 1.3 metres high and stored for eventual disposal deep underground.

But if spent reactor fuel is not reprocessed, it will still contain all the highly radioactive isotopes, and then the entire fuel assembly is treated as HLW. After 40-50 years the heat and radioactivity have fallen to one thousandth of the level at removal. This provides a technical incentive to delay disposal until a low level of about 0.1% of the original radioactivity is reached.
After storage for about 40 years the spent fuel assemblies are ready for encapsulation and permanent disposal underground. Direct disposal has been chosen by the US, Switzerland and Sweden, although in Sweden it will be recoverable if future generations come to see it as a resource.

Increasingly, reactors are using fuel enriched to over 4% U-235 and burning it longer, to end up with less than 0.5% U-235 in the spent fuel. This provides less incentive to reprocess.


Any spent fuel will still contain some of the original U-235 as well as various plutonium isotopes which have been formed inside the reactor core. In total these account for some 96% of the original uranium and over half of the original energy content (ignoring U-238). Reprocessing, undertaken in Europe and Russia, separates this uranium and plutonium from the wastes so that they can be recycled for re-use in a nuclear reactor as a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel. This is the "closed fuel cycle."

Plutonium arising from reprocessing comprises only about 1% of commercial spent fuel. It is recycled through a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant where it is mixed with depleted uranium oxide to make fresh fuel. European reactors currently use over 5 tonnes of plutonium a year in fresh MOX fuel, although all reactors routinely burn much of the plutonium which is continually formed in the core by neutron capture. The use of MOX simply means that some plutonium is incorporated into fresh fuel. (Plutonium arising from the civil nuclear fuel cycle is not suitable for bombs. It contains far too much of the Pu-240 isotope because of the length of time the fuel has spent in the reactor.)

Major commercial reprocessing plants operate in France and the UK, with a capacity of some 4,700 tonnes a year and cumulative civilian experience of 60,000 tonnes over 40 years. These also undertake reprocessing for utilities in other countries, notably Japan, which has made over 140 shipments of spent fuel to Europe since 1979. At present most Japanese spent fuel is reprocessed in Europe, with the vitrified waste and the recovered U and Pu (as MOX) being returned to Japan to be recycled. Russia also reprocesses some of its spent fuel as well as fuel from Soviet-designed reactors in other countries.


Financial provisions are made for managing all kinds of civilian radioactive waste. The cost of managing and disposing of nuclear power plant wastes represents about 5% of the total cost of the electricity generated.

Many nuclear utilities are required by governments to put aside a levy (eg 0.1 cents per kilowatt hour in the USA) to provide for management and disposal of wastes. So far some US$ 18 billion had been committed to the US waste fund by electricity consumers.


In 2001 there was about 250,000 tonnes of spent fuel in storage, much of it at reactors. Annual arisings of spent fuel are about 12,000 tonnes, and 3000 tonnes of this goes for reprocessing. Final disposal is therefore not urgent in any logistics sense.

France is furthest ahead with preparation for HLW disposal. In 1989 and 1992 it commissioned commercial plants to vitrify HLW left over from reprocessing oxide fuel, although there are adequate facilities elsewhere, notably in the UK and Belgium. The capacity of these western European plants is 2,500 canisters (1000 t) a year, and some have been operating for two decades.

Loading silos with canisters containing vitrified high-level waste in UK, each disc on the floor covers a silo holding ten canisters

The Australian Synroc (synthetic rock) is a more sophisticated way to immobilize such waste, and this process may eventually come into commercial use for civil wastes (it is curently being developed for US military wastes).

The process of selecting appropriate deep final repositories is now under way in several countries with the first expected to be commissioned some time after 2010. Sweden is well advanced with plans for direct disposal of spent fuel, since its Parliament decided that this is acceptably safe, using existing technology. The US has opted for a final repository in Nevada. There is also a proposal for an international HLW repository in optimum geology - Australia or Russia are possible locations.

To date there has been no practical need for final HLW repositories, as surface storage for 30-50 years is first required so that heat and radioactivity can dissipate to levels which make handling easier.

SOURCES: OECD NEA, 1996, Radioacvtive waste Management in Perspective IAEA ,1992, Radioactive Waste Management An IAEA Source Book, & IAEA Bulletin 40,1; 1998, ENS NucNet, UI, Uranium Information Centre, Ltd

Nuclear Waste Management Agency Act of 2012

Nuclear Waste Management Agency Act of 2012

(Introduced in Senate/House)



2nd Session


To amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (42 U.S.C. 10101) to establish the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency to manage all federal and civilian spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste management programs currently under the control of the United States Department of Energy; to establish and operate low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage facilities on a fee basis; and to promote spent nuclear fuel reprocessing as a viable technology to aid in achieving and maintaining our national security and National Energy Policy goals, and for its potential to significantly reduce the total volume of radioactive waste designated for disposal in a federal geologic repository.


April__ (legislative day, APRIL___), 2012

Mr./Ms.____________ introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


To amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (42 U.S.C. 10101) to establish the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency to manage all federal and civilian spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste management programs currently under the control of the United States Department of Energy; to establish and operate low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage facilities on a fee basis; and to promote spent nuclear fuel reprocessing as a viable technology to aid in achieving and maintaining our national security and National Energy Policy goals, and for its potential to significantly reduce the total volume of radioactive waste designated for disposal in a federal geologic repository.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.


(a)    SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the Nuclear Waste Management Agency Act of 2012.
(b)   TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Definitions.

Sec. 4. Purposes and Policies.


            The Congress finds that—

1.      The United States Department of Energy (hereafter referred to as the DOE) has failed to provide suitable off-site commercial spent nuclear fuel (hereafter referred to as SNF) disposal to the commercial nuclear utilities per the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1987.  Yet, according to the Final Report (Report to the Secretary of Energy) of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC), dated January 2012, nearly $17 billion has been paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF) by the electric utility ratepayers to pay for such services, and the NWF has nearly $27 billion total including interest available.  Also, the projected date for completion of the geologic repository by the DOE to begin emplacement of SNF was previously revised from 2010 to a new projected date of 2017 until the project was deemed no longer an option for storing SNF and other high-level waste (HLW) in 2009.  The ongoing delays and subsequent shutdown of the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository were contrary to the original congressionally mandated date for having a geologic repository available in 1998.

2.      There are presently 15 shutdown reactors at 14 sites in 10 states that are storing over 3,600 metric tons of uranium (MTUs) in the form of SNF in either dry storage casks or spent fuel pools.  Also, a total of 60,000 MTUs of commercial SNF, in addition to nearly 13,000 MTUs of government-held SNF and defense-related HLW, is being stored at 121 sites in 39 states.

3.      As of the beginning of federal fiscal year 2012, beginning in annual year 2007, 17 applications for constructing a total of 26 new reactor units in the United States had been received by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Out of that number, only five applications for a total of six new reactor unit units have been suspended, leaving 12 applications for a total of 20 new reactor units to be reviewed.  Out of those 12 applications, four for a total of four new reactor units are in the Review Complete stage, and the other eight applications for a total of 16 new reactor units are currently in the Accepted/Docketed stage.  Further, applications for constructing more new nuclear power plants in the United States are projected to be submitted during annual year 2012 and beyond.

4.      According to the BRC’s Final Report, “a witness at a recent Congressional hearing on the subject argued that the current ‘complete lack of direction on nuclear waste management and…dereliction of responsibility on the part of the federal government...creates substantial government-imposed risk on the nuclear industry, which is the primary obstacle to an expansion of U.S. nuclear power.”   Also, at least nine states have adopted statutes tying the approval of new reactors to progress on the issue of nuclear waste disposal.

5.      The DOE has not addressed the issue of civilian low-level radioactive waste disposal despite the fact that the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980, as amended in 1985, has not lived up to the original expectations of the legislation due to the continuing inability of the various low-level radioactive waste compacts to develop low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities for use by members of the respective compacts, nor is it the DOE’s responsibility to do so under existing legislation.

6.      Commercial SNF reprocessing is an acceptable, practical means of fulfilling the nuclear fuel needs, while concurrently reducing the need for geologic repository space, in other industrialized nations that rely to a great degree on nuclear power for their electricity.  Despite this fact, reprocessing efforts in the U.S. were banned in the 1970’s out of nuclear non-proliferation policy concerns.  Nonetheless, the U.S. accepts and condones commercial SNF reprocessing in such countries as France, India, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom.  Further, SNF reprocessing can aid in reducing the availability of weapons-grade plutonium by creating mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, containing plutonium-239, for peaceful uses in nuclear power reactors.
7.      Numerous Government Accountability Office reports have proven the DOE continues to lack effective program management, and many key projects managed by the DOE experience cost overruns and are not completed by the projected dates.  The inability of the DOE to provide SNF disposal services to our commercial nuclear power plants in a timely manner is causing additional, undue financial hardships on our nuclear utilities due to the need to license and construct on-site dry storage cask facilities and/or purchase additional dry storage casks to support prolonged on-site storage of SNF.  The following are examples of the additional costs presently borne, or anticipated to be borne, by the U.S. taxpayer-funded Judgment Fund:

a.      To date, according to the BRC’s Final Report, over $2 billion have been awarded to utilities to pay for additional on-site SNF storage because of the DOE’s contractual failure to take SNF.

b.   According to the BRC’s Final Report, some 78 lawsuits have been filed with estimated total damage awards to utilities amounting to $20.8 billion if the federal government begins accepting SNF by 2020.  Others have estimated total awards at nearly $60 billion if the federal government continues to delay accepting SNF well beyond 2020.

8.      A financially autonomous, federal corporation model would be ideally suited to effectively managing our nation’s SNF, high-level radioactive waste, and low-level radioactive waste.  Such a model was proposed by the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition in its analysis publication entitled Redesigning the U.S. High Level Nuclear Waste Disposal Program For Effective Management, January 1995.  Such a model is also similar to the Independent Federal Authority discussed by the DOE’s former Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management in its publication entitled Alternative Means of Financing and Managing the Civilian Radioactive Waste Management Program (DOE/RW-0546), August 2001.  Also, a federal corporation model would be ideally suited to providing the full array of radioactive waste management services to government and industry because it would be the most capable of the models for accurately assessing and meeting demands for service from a broad base of customers due to its business acumen, it would be accountable to outside regulators, and it would emphasize efficiency in all facets of operation.

Further, one of the proposed legislative changes in the BRC’s Final Report recommends establishing a new waste management organization with the responsibility for implementing the nation’s program for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes that is currently assigned to the U.S. Department of Energy.  According to the BRC, “Legislation will be needed to (1) move this responsibility to a new, independent, government-chartered corporation focused solely on carrying out that program and (2) establish the appropriate oversight mechanisms.”


            For the purposes of this Act:

1.  The term `contract holder' means a party to a contract with the Executive Director of the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste entered into pursuant to section 302(a) of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (42 U.S.C. 10222(a)), as amended by this Act; and

2.      The terms ‘Secretary’, `Administrator', `civilian nuclear power reactor', `Commission', `Department', `disposal', `high-level radioactive waste', `Indian tribe', `repository', `reservation', `spent nuclear fuel', `State', `storage', `Waste Fund', and `Yucca Mountain site' shall have the meanings given such terms in section 2 of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (42 U.S.C. 10101), as amended by this Act.

3.   As previously stated in this legislation the United States Department of Energy is referred to as the DOE.





(a)    IN GENERAL- Congress shall approve the creation of an autonomous federal agency, established as a federal corporation, to manage the federal SNF and high-level radioactive waste repository and low-level radioactive waste management programs currently under the control of the DOE, and to license, construct and operate civilian low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage facilities on a fee basis.  This agency shall be called the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency (hereafter referred to as the NWMA).  The agency shall be governed by a Board of Governors, hereafter referred to as the Board, comprised of members selected from and representing the following organizations: DOE (1 member), Nuclear Energy Institute (1 member), National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (1 member), United States Department of the Interior (1 member), American Nuclear Society (1 member), Health Physics Society (1 member), National Governors Association (1 member), National Association of State Energy Officials (1 member), Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (1 member), and National Congress of American Indians (1 member).  Each Governor shall be appointed by the President to serve for a period of four years.  The Board, in turn, shall select, with Senate concurrence, an individual not serving as a member of the Board to serve as the Agency’s chief executive officer and board chair, with the term of service to be at the pleasure of the Board.  The full title of this position shall be the Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the NWMA.  The Board Chairman shall have full voting privileges.

(b)   RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE BOARD--(1) The Board shall convene at a minimum of every calendar quarter, not to exceed a period of 90 consecutive days, and at a Board approved location within the United States;

(2) The Board shall establish and approve salaries and bonuses, with such salaries not limited by current Federal executive pay schedules, for the agency’s executives, with the maximum annual salary, excluding bonuses, of the Executive Director not to exceed $360,000 per annum for the first year with annual cost of living increases permitted thereafter.  The annual salary for each program director immediately below the position of Executive Director shall not exceed $300,000 for the first year, excluding bonuses, with annual cost of living increases permitted thereafter.  The Board shall also establish and approve travel and per diem payments for members of the Board while performing in an official Board capacity;

(3) The Board shall establish and approve agency policies and procedures consistent with   Federal personnel management policies and regulations and with all pertinent nuclear industry regulations, including Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations - Energy, Parts 0 to 199; Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations - Environment, Parts 190, 191, 194 and 197; and Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations - Transportation, Parts 171, 172 and 173;

(4) The Board shall establish fees for providing radioactive waste management and environmental restoration services performed by the NWMA, and shall approve all activities proposed by the Executive Director to be necessary to support the pertinent federal, state and local government, academic, medical, nuclear power industry and all other public and private programs desirous of radioactive waste support services, including low-level radioactive waste supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage services.

(c)    RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR--(1) The Executive Director shall be responsible for the overall operation of the day-to-day activities of the NMWA, and shall have the authority to establish desired performance goals and management standards for the NWMA;
(2)   The Executive Director shall, within 120 days of confirmation, present a DOE assets transition plan and organization chart to the Board for its approval, with all desired DOE assets to be transferred to the NWMA in a timely manner commencing 60 days from the date of the Board’s presentation of its approval to Congress or as otherwise directed by Congress, with the date of completion of the transfer of all desired assets to be jointly established by Congress and the President;

(3)   With the realization that knowledgeable, efficient and enthusiastic employees are the most valuable asset of any organization, the Executive Director is empowered to devise and implement an effective training program that will enable all employees to perform their duties safely and efficiently, and that will encourage employees to excel in their respective fields of endeavor and their careers; to devise and implement a performance appraisal program that will ensure fairness, thoroughness and honesty in the review of each employee’s performance; to devise and implement a promotion system that ensures fairness based on the strict adherence to Federal merit promotion principles; to devise and implement a realistic employee awards and recognition program to recognize employees who are truly deserving of such recognition; and to devise and implement a program for ensuring accountability at all levels, especially at the management levels in order to maintain an optimum degree of professionalism throughout the NWMA;

(4)   The Executive Director shall have the authority to maintain, modify or cancel any existing contracts with contract holders providing services on previously owned DOE facilities that have been transferred to the NWMA.  Further, the Executive Director shall have the authority to impose fines against and/or cancel contract payments to contract holders if their performance does not adhere to acceptable standards as established by the NWMA, including failing to meet expectations for the timely and cost effective completion of contracted services;

(5)   The Executive Director shall submit an annual report, as approved by the Board, to Congress on the status of all pertinent activities of the NWMA, including projected and actual completion dates of key activities.

(d)   RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SECRETARY-- (1) upon the establishment of the NWMA and within a time frame jointly specified by Congress and the President, the Secretary shall ensure the completion of the transfer to the NWMA the control of the Yucca Mountain Project, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (hereafter referred to as WIPP), and any other DOE owned facilities deemed necessary by the Executive Director to enable the NWMA to fulfill its congressionally mandated activities.  The transfers shall also include DOE staff currently employed at those facilities, based upon the review of their respective qualifications by, and the approval of, the Executive Director.  Any DOE employees not transferring to the NWMA will be promptly reassigned by the Secretary to other duties within the DOE;

(2)   Within the same time frame the Secretary shall transfer to the NWMA all existing contracts, and all pertinent funds previously budgeted, to support the projects and facilities that are transferred to the NWMA.

(e)    RESPONSIBILITIES OF CONGRESS -- (1) Congress shall exercise greater flexibility in the disbursement of the Nuclear Waste Fund (hereafter referred to as the NWF) to enable the NWMA to meet projected completion dates on projects intended to be funded by the NWF, as deemed essential by the Board, and with the approval of Congress;

(2)   Congress shall authorize the NWMA to establish and collect fees for providing low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage services, performing environmental restoration services, and other pertinent support activities as deemed essential by the Board;
(3)   Congress shall authorize the NWMA to construct an interim, centralized SNF storage facility on or near the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository site or on other federal or tribal lands, with the concurrence of the Department of the Interior, with the interim storage facility to be operational by a date specified by Congress;

(4)   Congress shall authorize the NWMA, upon transfer of the WIPP site, to commence the licensing activities for commercial low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage at the WIPP, with the site to be fully licensed, operational and receiving shipments of low-level radioactive waste consisting of Classes A, B, C and greater than C, up to and including Highway Route Controlled Quantities (as defined by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations), not later that three years from the date of the transfer of the WIPP site;

(5)   Congress shall authorize the NWMA, with the concurrence of the Department of the Interior, to select other federal or tribal lands to serve as low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage sites, and to pursue licensing and construction activities as deemed necessary by the Board.



(a)    RESPONSIBILITIES OF CONGRESS -- (1) With the acknowledgement by Congress that SNF is in effect a renewable energy source, Congress shall authorize the NWMA to pursue the study of SNF reprocessing for the purposes of significantly reducing the total volume of radioactive waste to be stored in the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository or at another location, with the emphasis being placed on determining the most cost effective method(s) while ensuring the utmost in proliferation-resistant technologies. This activity is essential in order to ensure sufficient supplies of new nuclear fuel are available to support the projected growth in our nation’s base load electric generating capacity for nuclear power plants, especially if SNF reprocessing becomes inevitable based on dwindling domestic supplies of natural, unprocessed uranium and the potential for our inability to obtain sufficient supplies of natural, unprocessed uranium from foreign suppliers due to national security issues or an increase in the demand for nuclear fuel in the host countries or regions that may cause the foreign suppliers to significantly reduce the amount of uranium for export in order to meet their national or regional needs.  Further, Congress authorizes the NWMA, to utilize federal lands in and around the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository site or on other federal or tribal lands, with the concurrence of the Department of the Interior, to license, construct and operate SNF reprocessing facilities, utilizing proliferation-resistant technologies, if the federally-owned facilities are deemed essential to ensuring sufficient supplies of new nuclear fuel are available to meet and sustain critical national energy demands or other national security needs, and commercial suppliers are not capable of meeting those needs;

(2) Since there are conflicting views in the scientific community regarding the benefits of existing versus advanced SNF reprocessing technologies for meeting proliferation-resistant standards desired by the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, Congress shall allocate annual funds from sources other than the NWF to be used by the NWMA to develop the safest, most cost effective method(s) of reprocessing SNF to meet desired proliferation-resistant standards, with the annual fund allocation amount not to exceed $250 million or a lesser amount as prescribed by Congress;

(3) Congress shall also authorize the NWMA to negotiate with commercial suppliers of nuclear fuel to incorporate proliferation-resistant SNF reprocessing into their nuclear fuel manufacturing process, and to have a national SNF reprocessing capability in place by a date to be determined by Congress once such a program is proven to be economically feasible based on market costs for uranium, with the knowledge that there may be finite global quantities of natural, unprocessed uranium available to meet increasing demands for nuclear fuel.

Passed the Senate/House (Date).




NFRC Co-Chair Appears Before Blue Ribbon Commission

NFRC Cochairman Norris McDonald presented a statement before the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (BRC) hearing today at the Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC. McDonald gave his statement as Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition (NFRC). The BRC met on May 25 and 26 to hear presentations from experts, to conduct commission business and to hear statements from the general public. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future was established in by President Obama to come up with an alternative to Yucca Mountain as the nation’s repository for nuclear waste. The BRC operates under the authority of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Excerpts from McDonald statement:

The NFRC is promoting the establishment of a Nuclear Waste Management Agency (NWMA) to manage all federal and civilian spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste management programs currently under the control of the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The NFRC is recommending an amendment to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (42 U.S.C. 10101) to establish the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency. We request that the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future adopt the legislation we have drafted transferring nuclear waste management as a recommendation to Congress and President Barack Obama.

The Nuclear Waste Management Act of 2010 (NWM Act), in addition to transferring authority for managing nuclear waste from DOE to the NWMA, establishes and operates receipt of low-level radioactive waste, provides for supplementary segregation, provides for treatment and provides for burial or monitored/retrievable storage facilities on a fee basis. The NWM Act would establish spent nuclear fuel reprocessing as a viable technology to aid in achieving and maintaining our national security and national energy policy goals. We also support reprocessing plutonium and highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads into fuel for use in commercial nuclear power plants.
McDonald is pictured at right with former Senator Pete Domenici, who is a member of the commission. After the hearing, they reminisced about the signing of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 at a ceremony at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. McDonald was a Special Guest of the White House.

Green Groups Request Investigation of Nuke Waste Dump

NRC and EPA called upon to examine radioactive waste site and licensing process, risks of groundwater contamination and potential risks to the Ogallala Aquifer, which lies beneath eight states

Disposal Operations at WCS
Environmental groups have asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the radioactive waste storage and disposal programs administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for the West Texas radioactive waste site owned by Waste Control Specialists (WCS). The groups say the TCEQ has failed to protect public health, safety and the environment by repeatedly and brazenly abusing its legal authority and disregarding warnings of its technical staff about the site's hazards. Further, citizens have not had adequate opportunities to participate in the licensing processes.

The groups are calling on the NRC to consider terminating or suspending the TCEQ's authority to regulate the storage and disposal of low-level radioactive waste and radioactive byproducts in Texas. The groups also are asking the EPA to review the potential impact on the water supply and take action if necessary.

The request was filed by Public Citizen and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club along with state Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) and individuals from Andrews, Texas, and Eunice, N.M., who live near the facility in Andrews County. WCS has been pushing the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission to let it import radioactive waste from at least 36 other states. The commission's decision about accepting the additional waste was postponed earlier this year and likely will be taken up after the November election. (PRNewswire, 8/11/2010)