Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NRC Waste Confidence Hearing - Tarrytown

More than 250 people filled a hotel ballroom tonight to discuss the federal government’s draft study on the long-term storage of used nuclear fuel.  The local meeting is one of 13 being held around the country.

The public comment period on the Waste Confidence Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement and proposed rule has been extended to Friday, December 20, 2013. All public meetings that were postponed due to the shutdown have been rescheduled. 

Historically, Waste Confidence has been the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) generic determination regarding the environmental impacts of storing spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operation of a nuclear power plant. This generic analysis has been incorporated into the Commission's NEPA reviews for new reactor licenses, license renewals, and Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) licenses through the Waste Confidence Rule. The Waste Confidence GEIS and rule satisfy the NRC's obligations under NEPA with respect to post-licensed-life storage of spent nuclear fuel.

On June 8, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit found that some aspects of the 2010 rulemaking did not satisfy the NRC's NEPA obligations and vacated the rulemaking. [New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012)]. The court indicated that in making either a Finding Of No Significant Impact based on an Environmental Assessment or in an Environmental Impact Statement supporting the rulemaking, the Commission needed to add additional discussions concerning the impacts of failing to secure permanent disposal for spent nuclear fuel, and concerning the impacts of certain aspects of potential spent fuel pool leaks and spent fuel pool fires.

In response to the Court's decision, the Commission decided to stop all licensing activities that rely on the Waste Confidence rule (see CLI-12-016). The NRC created a Waste Confidence Directorate within the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards to oversee the development of a Waste Confidence Generic Environmental Impact Statement and revised Rule. The Commission has instructed the Directorate to issue the final Generic Environmental Impact Statement and Rule by no later than September 2014.  (NRC, Lohud)

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