Let’s Chat about Waste Confidence

Andy Imboden
Chief of the Communications, Planning, and Rulemaking Branch
Waste Confidence Directorate

Update: My name is Keith McConnell and I am the Director of the Waste Confidence Directorate. Unfortunately, Andy Imboden, who was scheduled to moderate today’s Chat, can’t be here so I’ll be answering your questions.

I have been at the NRC since 1986, bringing my background and expertise as a geologist to various projects, including waste management, decommissioning and uranium recovery, as well as other positions. I have also served three NRC chairmen and in the Office of General Counsel.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Clemson, a Master’s in Geological Sciences from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of South Carolina.

Also, we’ve just posted a new YouTube Video — NRC Q&As Series: Three Minutes with Waste Confidence Directorate. Please give it a look.


On June 8, 2012, a U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the NRC’s Waste Confidence Rule. That rule contained the NRC’s determination that the environmental impacts of storing spent nuclear fuel after the end of a nuclear power plant’s license are not significant. The Waste Confidence ruling affected commercial nuclear power plant license reviews and spent-fuel storage reviews.

Picture2Tomorrow, from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT, I’ll respond to your questions during a Chat about NRC’s ongoing efforts to develop an updated Waste Confidence Rule. As you can imagine, many policy, legal, and technical issues will affect the rule.

By way of background, the Department of Energy is the federal agency with responsibility for the final disposal of the spent fuel in a deep geologic repository; the NRC’s role is to evaluate the application submitted to license the construction and operation of a repository. What the NRC is addressing currently (and in the Chat tomorrow) is how we’ll address the environmental impacts of the spent fuel after the nuclear power plant that generated it has stopped operating, but before it’s moved to permanent disposal elsewhere.

In the coming months, the NRC will release both a proposed new Waste Confidence rule and a draft generic environmental impact statement for public review and comment. But before we have that official comment period, I’m looking forward to answering your questions about proposed Waste Confidence Rule and the draft generic environmental impact statement. We want you to have as much chatdropquoteinformation as possible so you can fully participate in the official comment process.

Prior to our Chat, you can visit NRC’s Waste Confidence website for more information.

If you have any questions before tomorrow’s Chat, you can submit them to OPA.Resource@nrc.gov. I’m looking forward to your questions and comments. Just one note, though, this Chat is informal and your comments will not be included in our official comment process.

I look forward to hearing from you on July 23d.

Fort Calhoun: Progress but Scrutiny Continues

Lara Uselding
Public Affairs Officer, Region IV

Here are some of the latest statistics related to the ongoing shutdown of the Ft. Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska:

• 27 months being shutdown

• Seven separate NRC team inspections on site in 2013

• About 40 NRC inspectors on site this year

• 15 restart checklist items left to be evaluated and resolved by the plant owner before restart

fcsWhat does this add up to? A nuclear power plant still being scrutinized by the NRC since a 2011 refueling outage followed by record Missouri river floods, a breaker fire and additional restart complications.

Yesterday, the NRC issued the results of a restart readiness inspection at the plant, which is, operated by the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). The inspection report is a lengthy document detailing 36 findings by NRC inspectors.

A majority of the findings have to do with the plant operator not thoroughly or consistently evaluating and resolving problems within the Corrective Action program. Some of the other findings deal with not following procedures as outlined by plant documents known as technical specifications.

Based on the results of the inspections, the NRC has concluded that five areas on the Confirmatory Action Letter Restart Checklist were adequately addressed by the licensee and will be closed. That means that NRC believes OPPD has appropriately addressed third-party safety culture assessment, quality assurance, integrated organizational effectiveness, human performance, and their review of licensing commitments. A second report issued last week also closes out the area of emergency preparedness.

This means plant’s officials have made improvements in areas that led to their performance decline. For example, OPPD completed a third-party safety culture assessment that gave them a better understanding of human performance, problem identification and resolution, and decision-making deficiencies that led to their performance decline. They have implemented short term actions and are developing long-term action plans to address future performance improvements.

In addition, the NRC has determined that OPPD has successfully addressed the area of organizational effectiveness that translates to improvements in management oversight of facility activities.

NRC has announced the next public meeting will be held in Omaha on July 24. At this meeting, we will present a status of our inspection activities and OPPD will provide an update on their actions.

The NRC will later conduct follow-up inspections to look at the remaining open performance areas and to see if plant personnel, equipment, and processes are ready to support the safe restart.