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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nuclear Waste Panel Adopts NFRC Recommendation

Norris McDonald at BRC Hearing
The Blue Ribbon Commission On America's Nuclear Future (BRC) issued its final draft report today and recommended that at least one new site should be found to store waste left over from the nation’s nuclear power plants. The blue-ribbon commission assigned by President Obama in January 2010 to come up with an alternative to the plan for a nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, also adopted a Center recommendation: the creation of a new federal corporation to manage the site rather than turning it over to the U.S. Department of Energy.

NFRC Cochairman Norris McDonald testified before the commission and recommended the creation of a Nuclear Waste Management Agency (NWMA).  The BRC adopted this recommendation.

Obama asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu to create the 15-member commission after his administration decided against going ahead with long-delayed plans to create a national nuclear waste storage site at Yucca
Mountain. The commission — chaired by former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton and Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush — does not suggest where that storage site would be located.  This is a cop out.  NFRC disagrees with President Obama's decision to abandon Yucca Mountain as America's national repository for nuclear waste.

The report recommends guidelines for a selection process — such as giving local communities, but not states, the power to veto a facility. Many members of the commission believe that New Mexico, which already has a nuclear waste storage facility, might prove more receptive than Nevada to a federal waste site. The group also recommends finding an interim storage site for waste that is now being stored at 10 closed reactors at nine different sites. All but one of the sites have the used nuclear fuel in dry casks, and the commission said there would be fewer security risks if the waste were stored in one place.  NFRC does not support this recommendation because we believe Yucca Mountain is the best location for the national nuclear waste repository.

For years, electric utilities with nuclear power plants paid about $23 billion in fees to the federal government to finance the repository, and substantial preparation was done at the Yucca Mountain,Nevada site. Some of those utilities have filed lawsuits to recover the money.

The report contains no dissenting opinions, but members of the commission could not reach agreement on whether to move ahead with reprocessing of used nuclear fuel, a process used today in France. (Wash Post, 7/29/2011)

Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future Draft Report to the Secretary of Energy

Saturday, July 9, 2011

DOE to Pay $100 Million for Used Nuclear Fuel Storage Costs to Xcel Energy

Exel Energy has reached a settlement with the federal government regarding costs incurred by Northern States Power Company (NSP) and its customers because of the Department of Energy's failure to begin removing used fuel from the company's nuclear plant sites by a 1998 deadline. The federal government will pay approximately $100 million for used fuel storage costs at Prairie Island and Monticello nuclear generating plants incurred through 2008. The federal government also will pay costs incurred from 2009 through 2013 related to the DOE’s failure to remove used fuel. The money will be returned to NSP customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan.

Xcel Energy’s lawsuits were among 74 filed by utilities against the federal government alleging partial breach of contract when the DOE failed to meet a Jan. 31, 1998, deadline to begin accepting used fuel. The dispute stemmed from contracts the DOE entered into with the utilities concerning the DOE’s obligations under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Seventeen lawsuits involving 44 reactors were settled previously. (Excel Energy, 7/8/2011)