U.S. NRC Blog

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We’re Waiting To Hear — Your Comments are Due on Waste Confidence

Keith McConnell
Director, Waste Confidence Directorate
 

The public comment period on the Waste Confidence proposed rule and generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) ends December 20. During the 98-day public comment period (the end date was extended due to the government shutdown), the NRC staff conducted 13 meetings around the country to receive your feedback.

wcd_banner_smallWe’d like to thank the more than 1,400 people who attended these meetings, either in person or by teleconference. We have posted transcripts of the public meetings on the Public Involvement section of our Waste Confidence webpage. We appreciate all of you who spoke at the meetings providing your thoughtful comments. The safe storage of spent nuclear fuel and the impact on the environment are critical issues in the country’s nuclear policy. We here at the NRC are committed to ensuring that spent fuel remains safely stored until a repository can be built for permanent disposal.

So what’s next? The staff of the Waste Confidence Directorate is busy cataloguing the tens of thousands of public comments we have received so far. You can read the comments we’ve processed already using ADAMS and http://www.regulations.gov/(search for Docket ID NRC-2012-0246). We are continuing to post comments, and of course we expect to receive additional comments up to the December 20 deadline. Instructions on how to submit comments are on the Public Involvement section of our Waste Confidence webpage.

Once the comments are fully catalogued, the staff will consider them and prepare responses to be included in the final GEIS and rule. These final versions will of course include any changes from the drafts stemming from the comments. We are working to issue the final rule and environmental study later in 2014.

17 responses to “We’re Waiting To Hear — Your Comments are Due on Waste Confidence

  1. Bob Meyer December 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Yucca Mountain may have one small flaw, the storage cannot put canisters into the current design in the vertical position, as most plants have this type of dry storage. Has this been addressed?

    We need to look toward storage and reprocessing as part of our national energy policy.

  2. ADRossin December 17, 2013 at 2:38 am

    Stop spending money on these comments and devote it to the review of the Yucca Mountain Safety Analysis Report.

    • Moderator December 17, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Waste Confidence and the Yucca Mountain safety evaluation report are both high priorities for the NRC. However, they are not competing for resources. The Waste Confidence program is paid for from the NRC’s general budget, while the Yucca Mountain review is funded by carryover funds appropriated from the Nuclear Waste Fund.

      David McIntyre

  3. Marcel Williams December 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Spent fuel is not waste but an extremely valuable energy commodity owned by the Federal government and, therefore, the American people. The Federal government needs to take control of the spent fuel currently being housed in cask at commercial nuclear sites and relocate the cask to Federally protected sites on Federal land within each State that produces spent fuel.

    Spent fuel should be temporarily kept at these in-state Federal sites until the fuel is ready to be moved to Federal reprocessing facilities for the production of plutonium and uranium fuel. The uranium can be enriched and used as fuel at current commercial nuclear sites while the plutonium could be used as fissile material for next generation thorium reactors.

    Marcel F. Williams

  4. Richard McPherson December 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Since 1977, when Governor Jerry Brown and the California Legislature used the lack of a national approved site for partially spent nuclear fuel organized minorities posing as anti-nuclear groups and individuals have used the government failure to identify and authorize a site or sites as a pretext to try and make commercial nuclear power uneconomical. When Congress passes laws the government has the responsibility to follow the law, not deal with it as a political football as the NRC and DOE have done for decades. People that are appointed as head of the NRC or DOE to achieve a political promise of those elected and do so should be charged with a criminal conspiracy. There are no technical issues in dealing with fissionable material. We have done so safely since World War II. The issues are political. Yucca Mountain was ready to be opened. Outright lies kept it from opening. Dry cask storage is a mature technology. It too is under attack by organized minorities posing as anti-nuclear activists. The NRC seems to be conducting its own public relations campaign instead of the business it was charged with doing over 36 years ago. Utilities operate under the every changing public policy governing them. The US Congress passed a law to have the government take partially spent fuel from the utilities having nuclear power plants. The government failed to do its job, thereby fuel pools were re-racked to hold additional partially spent fuel onsite. Today nuclear plants being decommissioned are additionally burdened by the government not doing its job even to take spent fuel casks. This is providing more fodder for organized minorities to hurt our economy and impact our national security.

  5. Nikohl Vandel December 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    But, the truth is … the security risk isn’t in the nuclear waste, it is in our ethics and way we go about in this world. if we didn’t create a reason someone may have to target us, maybe we wouldn’t have such a fear-based reality. a girl’s just sayin’ … we are acting like terrorist so we should fear the same.

  6. CaptD December 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    From 10/26/12

    I’ve already suggested that the NRC offer a Million Dollar Prize for the best way to “solve” the nuclear waste storage problem” for the next 50 years, so please consider this idea as my “low cost” solution to America’s “long term” radioactive waste storage problem:

    Make use of our Military Testing Bases and or our MOA’s (Military Operation Area’s) out west, which are really huge tracts of land (think tens of thousands of acres) used ONLY by the military and already secured by them 24/7!

    Placing these very large (heavy) concrete casks in a poke-a-dot pattern will allow for at least 50 to 100 years of storage, safe from everything except a War, (in which case every reactor is just as vulnerable) and then revisit the storage problem then; at which time, probably a future solution will allow for an even better, lower cost “final solution”…

    Because these casks would be very large and all look alike nobody would know what was in any one of them, which would be yet another level of security for the casks containing even higher levels of nuclear waste! An ideal outside coating for these casks would be similar to the spray-on “bed liner” used for pickup trucks that not only prevents rusting and or damage for the life of the vehicle but would also seal the casks to prevent leakage of any kind!

    Hopefully these casts would be similar in size to a large shipping container so that existing material handling equipment could be used to load, unload and or move them about without “inventing” a mega hauler vehicle. By keeping the “footprint” of these casks similar to a large 40 foot container, the stacking and or placement of them might also be semi or fully automated which would not only save money but again keep the exact location of any specific cask secret! The monitoring of these casks 24/7/365 could even be done via satellite since these casks are similar in size to rocket launchers which are easily seen from space.

    In another 50 to 100 years, storage technology will be such that, yet another lower cost solution for all this waste will be found, and then it can be considered verses continuing to using the above storage plan… Perhaps sometime In the future, a safe low cost solution like lifting it all into space via a space elevator* and then shoving it in an orbit that will send it into the SUN for final recycling will present itself…

    BTW: Area 51 (which does not even exist officially) contains huge tracts of land that has already been used as a nuclear testing site (and is still contaminated and is now off limits to all but a few forever) would allow all this material to effectively disappear…

    * The Space Elevator Project (LiftPort) http://liftport.com/ is something that the NRC should help fund ASAP, because it represents the best way to actually eliminate storing nuclear waste on Earth!

    • Rich Andrews December 16, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Really like your suggestion. If it was up to me you would get the prize. It is something we could do now that would be much safer and would buy precious time. It is the right thing to do so that is why it will not even be seriously considered.

    • Rich A December 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      CaptD Gets the Waste Confidence Prize

      I have already given my support to CaptD’s idea for a safe, interim way to store nuclear plant spent, but still highly radioactive, fuel. Using just a very small portion of existing huge military areas (of the western US) to store spent fuel in very safe casks, is a brilliant idea. Currently this waste is piling up at over a hundred sites throughout the US. Some of it is already stored in casks but the vast majority of it is stored in overloaded spent fuel pools. A terrorist attack on even one of these pools would result in an accident comparable to Fukushima.
      Shipping all spent fuel (that no longer requires cooling water to keep it from overheating) to an existing military-controlled, centralized cask-storage area makes perfect sense.
      Also it would hold the government accountable.
      The government long ago promised to take ownership of spent fuel and to dispose of it safely. A promise they have failed miserably to keep. Instead of having this dangerous waste in over a hundred backyards around the country have it safely stored in the government’s backyard. They might even then be more inclined to find a suitable permanent underground storage site like other countries have.

      • CaptD December 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

        A Military convoy could safely relocate the vast majority of nuclear waste and also do it at very low cost without sub-contractor cost plus price hikes, which would save the USA billions!

  7. Rich Andrews December 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    The simple fact is that although spent fuel is being “safely stored” at nuclear plant sites all over the US it presents a huge terrorist target that other countries do not face.
    Other countries with nuclear plants have dealt responsibly with high level waste by safely storing spent, but still highly radioactive, fuel in safe off-site repositories. The US has not. As a result spent fuel has piled up in over a hundred different locations in the US (i.e. at existing nuke plant sites). Spent fuel pools have been overloaded way beyond their original design basis. As a result an aircraft crash into any of these sites would result in an accident equivalent to a Chernobyl or Fukushima. There is an established no fly zone around these vulnerable sites that, I am sure, terrorists will respect. The delays associated with Yucca Mountain have resulted in a huge security threat for our country.

  8. Nikohl Vandel December 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Niki.V.all.ways.My.way. and commented:
    oh, just in case … it doesn’t get approved:

    Your comment is awaiting approval
    =) thanks for the reminder.
    but the truth is, you’ve probably already heard everything and everyone knows the right thing to do, the only question is, “are we going to do the right thing and make “Waste Confidence” a reality in our regulations?”
    Staff of the NRC and those who work in the industry know that we cannot have another #Fukushima because, the truth is we still don’t know if we are going to survive Fukushima’s meltdown.

    I believe everyone has that knowledge and is working to secure this industry for the practical reality that this may NEVER happen again without the KNOWLEDGE (read: CONFIDENCE) of how to handle it without threatening the survival of our species as it currently does now. The ugly truth we must integrate into our future structure.

    • CaptD December 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Good comment, the more the NRC and the nuclear industry tries to downplay what is happening a tFukushima, the more informed people around the globe realize that the USA (or any other Country) is no better at safeguarding its nuclear reactors from acts of Nature than the Japanese …

      In fact, the truth is that we have just be LUCKY that we have not had even more Fukushima’s globally, because Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7 despite what the odds against it happening may be!

      Remember, despite the high odds, three separate reactors melted down at Fukushima in just 1-2 days, depending upon who you ask…

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