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, January 31, 2011

Upton Says Nuke Plant License Renewals Taking Too Long

Fred Upton
Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to provide greater transparency and certainty in the reactor license renewal process.  Although the NRC timeline for renewal is typically 22 to 30 months, that process has unexpectedly doubled in some instances.  The Pilgrim Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Vermont Yankee Power Plant in Vermont, both submitted their renewal applications five years ago today.  Both licenses are set to expire in 2012, yet no decision on renewal is imminent.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the timeline for the reactor renewal process has now doubled without explanation, eclipsing 60 months with no end in sight for the Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee plants.

According to Upton:
"With a dozen outstanding renewal applications, the alarming rate of delay has put thousands of good paying jobs in jeopardy and has threatened to disrupt a reliable source of clean, affordable energy for surrounding communities and businesses."
According to the NRC’s website, “License renewal is expected to take about 30 months, including the time to conduct an adjudicatory hearing, if necessary, or 22 months without a hearing.”

(House Energy & Commerce Committee Press Release)

Yucca Mountain Still On The Table?

The Obama administration claims to be pronuclear but, to appease Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, they oppose the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.  South Carolina and Washington are preparing to go to court in March to challenge the administration's actions.  The repository is 100 miles from Las Vegas.

Both South Carolina and Washington are home to large collections of Cold War-era nuclear waste, and members of Congress representing these radioactive sites, including House Natural Committee Chairman  Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), are leading the effort to revive the Yucca Mountain facility. They argue that a 1982 law prohibits the administration from abandoning the Yucca Mountain project, which Congress designated as the nation's first nuclear-waste repository. 

Yucca Mountain Tunnel Exit
The NFRC agrees that the administration no authority to withdraw the Yucca Mountain license application. However, the Energy Department believes it does have the legal authority to withdraw the application for the Yucca Mountain repository.  How does this square with support nuclear power.  It is a shutdown strategy.

Yucca Mountain
The Energy Department moved to terminate Yucca Mountain in March 2010 when it asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withdraw a two-year-old application to build a repository. A quasi-independent NRC panel denied the administration's  request, saying the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act "does not give the secretary the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress."

The NFRC agrees with this interpretation.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko is a former aide to Mr. Reid and halted the review last year.  The NFRC disagrees with Jaczko's action. (WSJ, 1/31/2011)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yucca Mountain Appeal Will Be Heard in March 2011

A federal appeals court will begin hearing oral arguments on March 22 in a lawsuit brought in part by Aiken County against the Department of Energy for stopping plans toward a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. The lawsuit, filed by the county, the state of South Carolina, the state of Washington and the National Association of Utility Regulators maintains that the Obama administration and DOE do not have the authority to stop plans for Yucca Mountain, a project for which South Carolina dollars have already been spent. Without the repository in Nevada, spent nuclear fuel at the Savannah River Site would have nowhere to go. (Aiken Standard, 1/19/2010)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Texas To Import Low-Level Nuclear Waste From 36 States

The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, which manages the state's radioactive-waste dump, voted 5-2 to approve rules governing the process for accepting importation of low-level radioactive-waste from 36 other states.

The waste will be stored at the 1,338-acre site in concrete-reinforced underground units. The site will permanently store low-level radioactive waste—contaminated materials and equipment from nuclear plants, research laboratories and hospitals. The material includes everything from parts from dismantled nuclear-energy plants to booties worn by scientists working in labs where radioactive materials are present. More highly contaminated waste, such as spent fuel from power plants, wouldn't be stored at the site. Waste Control Specialists LLC is the site owner.  In the Oct. 14, 2009 photo at left, canisters filled with uranium byproduct waste are placed into a burial pit at at Waste Control Specialists near Andrews, Texas. The 1,340-acre site is the nation’s only dump licensed to take all three categories of low-level waste, which come from nuclear power plants, hospitals, universities and research labs, but not nuclear fuel or weapons material. (AP)

States are responsible for handling low-level radioactive waste produced within their own borders, but space for it is limited. And the three disposal sites for it in the U.S. don't take all kinds of materials within the low-level category or can only take waste from certain states. That leaves 36 states without a permanent storage place.

Controversy had surrounded the proposal in part because the dump, set to open by year's end, was conceived and built to take waste from only two states—Texas and Vermont. Opponents also note that the site is near the Ogallala aquifer that provides drinking water to several states. Texas regulators already deemed the site safe, and thus granted a license for the project. The state will receive a cut of disposal fees as well as a $136 million fund to help pay for any future liabilities, he added.

The commissioners agreed to reserve 20% of the space for Vermont. (WSJ, 1/5/2010)