Courtney joins effort to proceed with Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility – Mobile Edition

“Yucca Mountain is a safe location for a permanent repository.”

In a recent decision, the Washington Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the NRC to restart its work on the licensing process for a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Currently, the agency has about $11.1 million remaining to conduct licensing activities. Rather than trying to restart every part of the licensing process, the bipartisan letter urges the NRC to focus on completing the Safety Evaluation Report, a key part of the review process.

In a news release, Courtney said he strongly supports restarting the review process for a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel. In 2010, he joined bipartisan opposition to the Energy Department’s plan to shut down the Yucca review process.

Courtney helped pass bipartisan amendments in 2011 and in 2012 to provide additional funding to support resumed work on the licensing review of Yucca Mountain as a permanent disposal site. Earlier this year, he supported a bipartisan coalition to defeat a proposal to eliminate funding for continued review of the project from the 2014 energy appropriations bill.

Courtney’s district includes the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, which is expanding its on-site storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. It also includes the decommissioned Connecticut Yankee plant in Haddam Neck.

Old nuclear reactors seen as growth opportunity |

An article “Old nuclear reactors seen as growth opportunity” in the describes the decommissioning process of a civilian nuclear plant. Decommissioning is referred to as ‘razing’. Here is an excerpt from article:

“Razing a plant is tricky business. Radiation can seep into the concrete, pipes and metal of plant structures, and workers must be able to break down the units without exposing themselves, or the public, to contamination. Plants often sit idle for decades before being torn down, to let radioactive material decay.

“The whole objective of decontamination is to get the dose levels as low as possible so you can do the dismantlement work,” Christine King, director of nuclear fuels and chemistry at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., said in a phone interview.

During a reactor decommissioning, the plant operator transfers radioactive fuel rods to cooling pools and, ultimately, to so-called dry casks for storage. Workers clean contaminated surfaces by sandblasting, chemical sprays and hydrolasing, a process that involves high-pressure water blasts, according to King.

“You do get to a point that you need someone to come in that has the equipment and the technology to actually dismantle the components,” she said. “That typically is hired out.”

New Orleans-based Entergy hasn’t determined the schedule or the cost for taking apart the Vermont Yankee reactor, though the company plans to let it sit long enough to let radiation decay, according to plant spokesman Rob Williams.

“The complete decommissioning process is likely to take decades,” he said in an e-mail.

When such work begins at a plant, it can create business for companies including EnergySolutions Inc. of Salt Lake City and Waste Control Specialists LLC of Dallas, both closely held, and Idaho’s US Ecology Inc. The companies dispose of low-level radioactive waste, including components and buildings at nuclear power plants.

The work doesn’t include removing the 65,000 tons of radioactive fuel that are now stored at about 75 operating and closed reactor sites across the country. The fuel will probably remain until lawmakers establish a plan for temporary or permanent disposal.

House Republicans have said the U.S. should resume its work on the Yucca Mountain repository, a move that President Obama’s administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., oppose.”

To read more go to:

Nuclear waste probed in Senate Committee | Mobile Augusta

An excerpt from the Augusta Chronicle on fate of highly radioactive waste:

The intent of the 2013 Nuclear Waste Administration Act is to implement recommendations from a blue-ribbon committee formed after the Obama administration halted a planned repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.

The bill, which goes before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on July 30, outlines “consent-based” siting policies that require support of state and local governments before waste storage or processing facilities can be established.

The legislation recommends no specific locations for “consolidated interim storage” of spent nuclear fuel, but Savannah River Site in South Carolina has already been discussed as a possible venue.

In March, consultants hired by the SRS Community Reuse Organization, an economic development consortium, unveiled a $200,000 study concluding that the site’s H Canyon processing facilities and history of nuclear involvement make it suitable for such programs.

The SRS Citizens Advisory Board has become involved in similar discussions. Its waste management committee voted 12-10 for a position paper opposing the idea. That draft resolution is scheduled for a formal vote by the full board Tuesday.

Until a solution is found, spent fuel will continue to accumulate at commercial power plants, which now store about 75,000 tons of the material on-site in pools or above-ground casks.

Viewpoints: Nuclear waste bill endangers public health – Viewpoints – The Sacramento Bee

New legislation introduced by Senator Feinstein “squanders bipartisan efforts” to mitigate storage of highly nuclear wastes. Lessons from Japan tell us engineers still need to figure out transference of rod pools to dry castes storage.

A major push in the eighties to solve this was the Monitored Retrievable Storage (MRS) facility in Tennessee for interim fix and long term storage in Yucca Mountain Arizona. Here is excerpt from Sacramento Bee:

In an April 8, 2011, letter that Feinstein sent to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, she said: “The lesson from Japan’s disaster is that we must be prepared to respond to unanticipated threats,” imploring that he “seriously consider regulatory policies that would encourage the movement of nuclear fuel, once sufficiently cool, out of spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage systems. I am concerned that current Nuclear Regulatory Commission policies allow excessive re-racking and densification of radioactive fuel within spent fuel pools.”

We strongly support Feinstein’s early position on this critical issue. Getting as much highly radioactive waste as possible out of these weakly reinforced pools and into safer storage has been a stated priority of nuclear power experts, including the NRC’s new chairwoman, Alison Macfarlane. In a bizarre twist, a June NRC staff report concluded that pool-based storage of irradiated fuel is adequate and there is only a one in 10 million years chance of a severe earthquake causing a radioactive release from the pool examined in the study. Contradicting this latest study, in 2007 the NRC concluded that a spent fuel pool crack caused by an earthquake at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station could result in a lethal dose of radiation being released within a 10-mile radius of the plant. We ignore these “black swan” events, such as those which occurred in Japan, at great peril.

Feinstein and her colleagues would be wise to also address the immediate safety issues of spent fuel waste at reactor sites, rather than leave our state’s safety hostage to a vague process of identifying voluntary waste sites that could take many years to complete.