The antinuclear organization Beyond Nuclear is appealing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s dismissal of its petition to intervene in the proceeding for Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) application to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in western Texas. Beyond Nuclear filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on February 10, asking the court to order the dismissal of the license application.
ISP, a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and Orano, submitted its application for the CISF with the NRC in June 2018. In September 2018, Beyond Nuclear filed a motion to dismiss the application. An NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denied Beyond Nuclear’s request for a hearing in the licensing proceedings, and in December 2020, the NRC issued an order upholding that decision.
The claims: Beyond Nuclear is arguing that the license would violate the Nuclear Waste Policy Act by allowing ISP to contract with the Department of Energy to accept commercial spent nuclear fuel before a permanent repository is available. Beyond Nuclear is also claiming that the NRC’s dismissal of its hearing petition violates federal administrative procedures.
The NRC argues that because the license would not authorize ISP to enter into a contract with the DOE to take possession of the spent fuel, the application cannot be automatically rejected.
The CISF: If granted by the NRC, the license would allow ISP to store up to 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel and greater-than-Class C waste for 40 years at the CISF, which would be located at WCS’s existing low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas. ISP plans to subsequently request amendments to the license that, if approved, would authorize the company to store up to 40,000 metric tons of waste.
The NRC is currently reviewing ISP’s license application and plans to complete the safety, security, and environmental reviews this summer.