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Companies Orano – formerly AREVA, and Holtec aim for private-public partnerships on USA’s nuclear wastes

Plans Move Forward for Privately Funded Storage of Nuclear Waste, Power 09/05/2018 | Darrell Proctor The Trump administration has revived the discussion of using Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a repository for the nation’s nuclear waste. Nevada officials remain opposed to the idea of putting spent nuclear fuel in long-term storage at a site about 100 miles from Las Vegas.But while a bill to resurrect Yucca Mountain as a storage site moves through Congress, other groups have stepped forward with plans to site, build, and operate nuclear waste storage and disposal facilities in areas including Texas and New Mexico. Those plans have reignited the debate about what the U.S. should do with its nuclear waste, along with the discussion of whether the federal government or the individual states should take the lead in developing long-term storage plans.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says at least 12 U.S. reactors are committed to closing over the next five years, joining the more than 20 reactors shuttered over the past 10 years across the country. That’s lot of spent nuclear fuel, in multiple locations, in need of safe storage, whether at an interim site or at a facility designed for long-term storage……….

Interim Storage Sites in Development

Two members of Wednesday’s panel represented companies developing interim storage sites. Interim Storage Partners (ISP), a joint venture of Orano USA [Orano – formerly AREVA] and Waste Control Specialists (WCS), is pursuing a license for a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel at an existing WCS disposal site in Andrews County, Texas. Holtec International, which has been acquiring nuclear plants that have closed or are scheduled to close in order to carry out their decommissioning, is developing a CISF in southeastern New Mexico, in a remote area between Carlsbad and Hobbs……..

Joy Russell, vice president of corporate business development and chief communications officer for Holtec, said her company formed a business unit—Comprehensive Decommissioning International—in a 2018 joint venture with SNC-Lavalin after SNC-Lavalin in 2017 acquired Atkins, a nuclear waste solutions company. Russell said the New Mexico site encompasses about 1,000 acres, with “about 500 acres being used to build the facility.” Russell said the site, known as HI-STORE CIS, would use the company’s HI-STORM UMAX technology, which stores loaded canisters of nuclear waste in a subterranean configuration.

Russell said her group has a public-private partnership with the Eddy Lee Energy Alliance, representing Eddy and Lee counties in New Mexico, for the project, which she said has support from both local and state officials.

“We’re doing educational outreach in New Mexico,” said Russell. “We do township meetings, where we testify before the mayor and town council. We meet one-on-one with candidates. We had to start with the basics. What people think of when they hear nuclear fuel, they think of the fuel you put in your car, and how that could leak into the ground. We have to educate people on what [nuclear] fuel is. We focus on safety, security, and technology.”

Russell agreed that public concerns centers on the transport of nuclear waste. “The number-one thing I hear, all the time, about consolidated interim storage is transportation.” Holtec also has its license application before the NRC for review; Russell said it expect the agency will complete its review in July 2020, putting the New Mexico site on a timeline to receive its first shipment of spent fuel in 2023.

Revisiting Yucca Mountain

Congress first chose Yucca Mountain as a storage site for nuclear waste in 1987. Years of research into the site followed; estimates are that $15 billion was spent on the project. Sproat noted his efforts on licensing for Yucca Mountain before his retirement from the DOE, with a license application submitted to the NRC in 2008. The Obama administration ended funding for the project and halted the licensing process in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF), which collected money from the states to finance waste storage projects, was ordered by a federal court in late 2013 to stop collecting that money until the federal government made provisions for collecting that waste…………..


September 6, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, USA, wastes

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