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, October 31, 2011

National Association of Neighborhoods on Spent Nuclear Fuel

Ricardo Byrd
Testimony by Ricardo C. Byrd
Executive Director, National Association of Neighborhoods
Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future
October 20, 2011
Recycling Spent Nuclear Fuel:  National Association of Neighborhoods – “A Dog in This Fight”
Good Afternoon.  My name is Ricardo C. Byrd. I am the Executive Director of the National Association of Neighborhoods (NAN), an organization that started in 1975.  I also serve as the Co-Chairperson of the AREVA North America Community Advisory Council.  I am not a nuclear policy or scientific expert; but I am an expert in the application of grass roots common sense to environmental public policy questions.  America’s nuclear future is crying out for the application of more common sense. 
We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you and to comment on the commission’s draft report. This draft report is a good start; however, it is not yet good enough.  The report can and must be made better to respond to the need for a clear, time sensitive yet cost effective path for the disposal of the nation’s nuclear waste.
The National Association of Neighborhoods is not new to today’s topic. You might wonder why my organization is interested in spent nuclear fuel; after all, we traditionally focus on grass roots empowerment issues, housing, crime, transportation, environmental justice and jobs.  Allow me a moment to explain; almost every major electric utility is accessing our members; ratepayers, customers like you and me; a fee, a tax, for the disposal of nuclear waste.  Most Americans have no idea that their monthly electric bill includes a fee dedicated to the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. This stealth electric utility tax comes out of our pockets; and with today’s challenging economy, most of us are struggling to count every penny.
As early as 1996, the National Association of Neighborhoods inquired how the Nuclear Waste Fund was being spent.  In 1997 and 1998, we organized, with the support of the Nuclear Energy Institute, delegations of grass roots, minority business and civil rights organizations, to visit Yucca Mountain, the nation’s planned nuclear waste repository. The National Association of Neighborhoods arranged for minority organizations to see the Indian Point Nuclear Plant  in 2007; and in 2008 and 2010, my organization participated in two non-traditional stakeholders visits to France, sponsored by AREVA. In France, we were able to see how the French, with almost 80% of their electric power being generated using nuclear power, addressed their spent nuclear fuel issues.
We are here today because the National Association of Neighborhoods is concerned with how the BRC Draft Report can be made better.  We offer three recommendations:
1.    Reduce the Size of the Problem

According to the BRC Draft Report, “…At present, nearly all of the nation’s existing inventory of SNF [Spent Nuclear Fuel] is being stored at the reactor sites where it was generated—about three-quarters of it in shielded concrete pools and the remainder in dry casks above ground. The quantity of commercially-generated spent reactor fuel currently being stored in this manner totals close to 65,000 metric tons.” France is reducing the volume of its spent nuclear fuel by approximately 75% by reprocessing it. If the United States used reprocessing, we would have less than 17,000 tons to dispose of.

2.    Turn Spent Nuclear Fuel into a Strategic Asset

Reprocessing spent nuclear fuel into new fuel will create a strategic nuclear fuel reserve. This strategy of reprocessing has worked in Europe for over 20 years. Having a nuclear fuel reserve will guarantee supplies that can keep our reactors operating.

3.    Push the Restart Button Now - Through the Use of “Off the Shelf” Technology

The National Association of Neighborhoods agrees with the BRC recommendation that we need to move forward with consolidated interim storage capacity. However, we strongly disagree with BRC that there is a need to wait for “new technologies to materialize” before making a decision about reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.  The French, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Russians are not waiting “for new technologies to materialize” nor should we.

All of humanity has a dog in this fight for safe, reliable, and affordable sources of clean energy.    

Thursday, October 6, 2011

NRC Japan Task Force Makes Recommendations

Staffers on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission  Japan Task Force made a number of safety recommendations they want owners of nuclear plants to make as soon as possible to boost safety after learning from the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The NRC will review the recommendations on Oct. 11.

The Japan Task Force divided the recommended tasks into three categories:

1) Highest priority should be given to adding instrumentation to spent-fuel pools, so operators will know what is happening even when they can't send workers to look at them, as happened in Japan.

2) Improvements to the containment structures that surround nuclear reactors, especially for the 23 U.S. reactors with designs similar to those in Japan that were badly damaged at Fukushima.

3) Improvements to venting systems that are used to relieve steam pressure inside the containment structures following an accident. Some vents malfunctioned and others were damaged at Fukushima by explosions.

Also among the task force's top priorities:

Improving the ability of plants to safely shut down after losing regular grid electricity, such as after a natural disaster. (WSJ, 10/5/2011)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant Tour


By Norris McDonald

I went on my fourth tour of the Indian Point Energy Center yesterday, which is the location of the Indian Point nuclear power plants.  I toured both reactor plants (Units 2 and 3).

I fell in love with Indian Point the first time I saw her (2001).  She is a wonderful facility sitting on the bank of the Hudson River with beautiful mountains in the background.  On the train going up to the plant, it was early morning and the clouds were hanging low, clinging to trees on the  mountaintops.  I love that train ride.  It is very peaceful and beautiful. 

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

Upon arriving at Peekskill, I decided to look around a bit because I was about an hour and a half early.   Peekskill is a bucolic town.

For some reason I decided to walk to the plant site.  I usually just take a taxi.  It appeared to be 3 or 4 miles away and I walk at least 12 miles a week.  I walked past a yacht club and down a back street about a mile, then had to cut through the woods to get to the train tracks (MTA/Amtrak), where I walked another mile and cut through an area to get back to a street that led to the plant.  It is beautiful around the plant.  Fall is beginning and the leaves were beginning to change.  There are wetlands nearby.  Just before I got to the perimeter fence for the site, I saw two deer.  And they saw me and started to run.  One stopped to eyeball me and I waved.  The deer just looked at me for a moment before it disappeared into the woods. 

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

I walked past the natural gas pipeline right of way that runs through the Indian Point site.  After about 3 miles of walking, the last mile to the plant was uphill.  I could see the highpower lines that come out of the site and knew that I was near.  When I walked inside I was sweating profusely.  I had a pack on my back that carries my nebulizer.  After letting officials know that I was there, I went into the bathroom, washed up and changed clothes.

Frank Fraley, Norris McDonald at Spent Fuel Pool
Patrick Falciano, President, Nuclear Renaissance Services, conducted the orientation and the tour.  He always does an incredibly  thorough job.  The tour group today consisted of Frank Fraley, President, Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce and myself.  Entergy spokesman Jerri Nappi also joined us on the tour.  I am always amazed by the scanning and security involved in entering a nuclear power plant site.  But I don't discuss those details.  We observed the dry casks housing spent nuclear fuel.  We also examined the Ristroph fish (fish screen) protection system down by the river.

Frank Fraley, Norris McDonald in Control Room Simulator
I have toured 9 nuclear power plants all over the United States, one nuclear power plant and a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in France and two nuclear plants in China.  This was Mr. Fraley's first tour of a nuclear power plant.  It was an excellent tour and included some additional stops that were not included on my other 3 tours: backup generator building and control room.  The site has multiple backup power generation sites that are more than adequate to provide power for cooling water in case of emergencies.  We went to the spent fuel pool room.  We went into both generation buildings. I love these tours because I always learn something new.

Frank Fraley, Norris McDonald in Generation Building