Morning Briefing - April 27, 2020
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April 27, 2020

American Nuclear Society Backs NRC Finding on Spent-Fuel Storage Project

By ExchangeMonitor

The American Nuclear Society last week formally backed preliminary findings from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in support of licensing a facility in New Mexico for temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel.

The March 10 draft environmental impact statement (EIS) from staff at the industry regulator “provides a thorough evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed facility and related actions,” American Nuclear Society President Marilyn Kray wrote in an April 22 letter to the NRC. “ANS agrees with the preliminary NRC staff recommendation for ‘issuance of a license to Holtec authorizing the initial phase of the project, unless safety issues mandate otherwise.’”

The 11,000-member organization of nuclear technology professionals concurs with NRC staff’s finding in the EIS that Holtec International’s planned consolidated interim storage facility would primarily generate small impacts to the environment, according to Kray.

Holtec, an energy technology firm based in Camden, N.J., in March 2017 applied for a 40-year NRC license for storage of up to 8,680 metric tons of radioactive used fuel from U.S. nuclear power plants. The agency says it ultimately could hold up to 100,000 metric tons of the material as long as 120 years.

Last week, the NRC extended the public comment period on the draft environmental document from May 22 to July 22.

Comments released to date have largely opposed the Holtec application.

“Failed containers could release catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity directly into the surface environment, to blow downwind, flow downstream, bioconcentrate up the food chain, and harm people down the generations,” one California couple wrote stated in a letter submitted Friday. “The NRC’s woefully inadequate, to nearly non-existent, treatment of highly radioactive waste transport risks are apparent.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects to finalize the environmental impact statement next March. A decision on the license application is anticipated shortly afterward.

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