No scientific basis for ‘Waste Confidence Rule’ but it keeps the nuclear industry going

he NRC also stated that it ‘retains confidence that spent fuel can be safely stored with no significant environmental impact until a repository can reasonably be expected to be available and that the Commission has a target date for the availability of the repository in that circumstance’” 

As a result of its confidence in the safety of spent fuel storage, NRC rules note that “no discussion of any environmental impact of spent fuel storage in reactor facility storage pools or independent spent fuel storage installations for the period following the term of the reactor operating license . . . is required in any environmental report, environmental impact statement, environmental assessment or other analysis prepared in connection with the issuance or amendment of an operating license for a nuclear reactor,” 

Group seeks to have spent fuel a factor in re-licensing Limerick plant The Mercury By Evan Brandt  07/17/12  LIMERICK ”…….Spent fuel rods are what remains after the uranium pellets inside the fuel rods in a reactor no longer generate enough heat to create the steam that turns the turbines and generates electricity at a nuclear power plant.

Although cooler, this spent fuel remains radioactive to some extent for hundreds of years. For years, spent fuel was kept in concrete “spent fuel pools” located inside a nuclear plant and filled with water to keep it from overheating.

According to the NRDC filing, in 2008 NRC proposed “‘remov(ing) its expectation that a repository (for spent fuel) will be available by 2025’ and acknowledged that its previous finding that sufficient disposal capacity would be available within 30 years after any
reactor’s licensed life ‘is not supportable.’”

At the same time, the NRC also stated that it ‘retains confidence that spent fuel can be safely stored with no significant environmental impact until a repository can reasonably be expected to be available and that the Commission has a target date for the availability of the repository in that circumstance,’” the NRDC filing indicated.

In 2008, the NRC even proposed changing its regulations to allow the storage of spent fuel on-site at nuclear plants for a full 60 years after the plant had closed. As a result of its confidence in the safety of spent fuel storage, NRC rules note that “no discussion of any environmental
impact of spent fuel storage in reactor facility storage pools or independent spent fuel storage installations for the period following the term of the reactor operating license . . . is required in any environmental report, environmental impact statement, environmental assessment or other analysis prepared in connection with the issuance or amendment of an operating license for a nuclear reactor,” according to the NRDC filing.

According to the Associated Press   , the June 8 federal court ruling overturned that rule, saying “on-site storage has been ‘optimistically labeled’ as temporary, but has stretched on for decades.” “In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not fully evaluate the risks associated with long-term storage of nuclear waste,” AP reported.

The appeals court said the NRC should complete a detailed
environmental review of on-site storage or explain why one is not
needed, according to AP……
In addition to the court’s contention that NRC is not fully evaluating
the risks of long-term spent fuel storage, the NRC has not fully
evaluated the impact long-term storage of spent fuel will have on the
cost of decommissioning nuclear plants — at least not all in the same
place. Every two years, the NRC requires that nuclear power plant
operators update the agency on the funds and financial plans they have
in place to de-commission plants and disassemble them once they are
shut down and taken out of service.
http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120717/NEWS01/120719586/group-seeks-to-have-spent-fuel-a-factor-in-re-licensing-limerick-plant

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