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.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Obama Commission on America's Nuclear Future Final Report

Norris McDonald Testifying at BRC Hearing in Washington, DC
President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (BRC) has issued its final report. Fully implementing the Commission’s recommendations will require several changes to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act or other legislation:

Establishing a new facility siting process – The NWPA, as amended in 1987, now provides only for the evaluation and licensing of a single repository site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The Act should be amended to authorize a new consent-based process to be used for selecting and evaluating sites and licensing consolidated storage and disposal facilities in the future, similar to the process established in the expired Nuclear Waste Negotiator provisions of the Act (but under new organizational leadership, as described below).

Authorizing consolidated interim storage facilities – The NWPA allows the government to construct one consolidated storage facility with limited capacity, but only after construction of a nuclear waste repository has been licensed. One or more consolidated storage facilities should be established, independent of the schedule for opening a repository.

The Act should be modified to allow for a consent-based process to site, license, and construct multiple storage facilities with adequate capacity when needed and to clarify that nuclear waste fee payments can be used for this purpose. Broadening support to jurisdictions affected by transportation – The NWPA provides funding and technical assistance for training public safety officials to states and tribes whose jurisdictions would be traversed by shipments of spent fuel to a storage or disposal facility.

The Act should be amended to give the waste management organization the broader authorities given to DOE in the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act that supported the successful large-scale transport of transuranic waste to WIPP (including a public information program, support for the acquisition of equipment to respond to transportation incidents, and broad assistance for other waste-related transportation safety programs).

Establishing a new waste management organization – Responsibility for implementing the nation’s program for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes is currently assigned to the U.S. Department of Energy. 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.  [This is an NFRC recommendation]

Ensuring access to dedicated funding – Current federal budget rules and laws make it impossible for the nuclear waste program to have assured access to the fees being collected from nuclear utilities and ratepayers to finance the commercial share of the waste program’s expenses.

They have recommended a partial remedy that should be implemented promptly by the Administration, working with the relevant congressional committees and the Congressional Budget Office. A long-term remedy requires legislation to provide access to the Nuclear Waste Fund and fees independent of the annual appropriations process but subject to rigorous independent financial and managerial oversight.

Promoting international engagement to support safe and secure waste management – Congress may need to provide policy direction and new legislation to implement some measures aimed at helping other countries manage radioactive wastes in a safe, secure, and proliferationresistant manner, similar to the expired NWPA provisions for technical assistance to non-nuclear weapons states in the area of spent nuclear fuel storage and disposal. (BRC)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Can Remain Open

Vermont Yankee
Vermont’s only nuclear plant can remain open beyond its originally scheduled shutdown date this year, despite the state’s efforts to close the 40-year-old reactor, a federal judge ruled Thursday.  The ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha is a win for the Vermont Yankee plant’s owner,NewOrleans-based Entergy, which had argued that the state’s efforts were preempted by federal law.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted a 20-year extension to Vermont Yankee’s license in March. But state law required Vermont lawmakers to support the extension as well. A bill to grant approval was defeated 26 to 4 in the state Senate and the House has never acted.  Entergy argued that the state wanted to close the reactor out of concerns about safety, an issue that is solely the NRC’s jurisdiction.  The state said it had other reasons, including that the plant didn’t fit into its energy plan. (AP, Wash Post, 1/20/2012)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Former AREVA CEO Fighting With AREVA

Anne Lauvergeon
Former AREVA CEO Anne Lauvergeon has filed suit against her former employer in Paris court for withholding payment on her €1.5 million ($1.9 million) severance package.  Ms. Lauvergeon stated at a two-hour news conference on Monday that, "I have been attacked, slandered and spied upon." Ms. Lauvergeon headed the French state-controlled company for 10 years.  Ms. Lauvergeon was probably sacked because of the company's 2007 acquisition of Canadian mining company UraMin, which turned out to be a failure due to the collapse of the nuclear rennaisance.

Ms. Lauvergeon was replaced by Mr. Oursel in June after the French government failed to renew her mandate as CEO.  Last month, Mr. Oursel said Areva would freeze severance payments to Ms. Lauvergeon until it finished an internal probe of the soured $2.5 billion acquisition, which took place during her tenure. Areva took a $1.9 billion write-down on UraMin after its uranium reserves proved less bountiful than expected.

She is alleging that AREVA used a private investigator to keep tabs on her. Ms. Lauvergeon also accused Areva of having paid an investigator to illegally access her phone records.

The company held the rights to mine uranium in several countries, including Namibia, South Africa and the Central African Republic, but no mines had yet been sunk. Soon after the deal was completed, it became apparent that extracting the uranium would be more complicated than first thought, as most of it was in a remote part of the Central African Republic.Meanwhile, uranium prices plummeted as demand for nuclear power slowed.

On Monday, Ms. Lauvergeon defended her decision to buy UraMin, saying the company's valuation reflected the price of uranium at the time of the deal and the belief that there was going to be booming demand for nuclear energy. She said it would be unfair to pin any blame on her alone because the French government and Areva's board both sanctioned the deal.

During her decade at the helm of Areva, Ms. Lauvergeon sought to turn the company into a global nuclear heavyweight, offering services ranging from uranium mining to nuclear-reactor construction. She loaded the company with debt to fund preparations for a nuclear-power renaissance.However, demand never quite took off. Now, the industry is coping with fresh concerns about nuclear energy in the wake of the tsunami-related accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant in Japan last year.(WSJ, 1/17/2012)