Palo Verde settles with NRC over apparent spent fuel storage violations

The Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona.

A confirmatory order issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Arizona Public Service Company documents the commitments the company has made as part of a settlement agreement with the agency. The settlement agreement stems from two apparent violations of NRC regulations involving spent nuclear fuel at APS’s Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Tonopah, Ariz.

The apparent violations involved APS’s failure to (1) perform a written evaluation for a change to the NAC MAGNASTOR dry cask storage system for spent fuel and obtain a license amendment for a change in methodology for performing tip-over calculations and (2) adequately analyze the consequences of a hypothetical MAGNASTOR CC5 spent fuel cask tip-over accident on the plant’s independent spent fuel storage installation pad.

The confirmatory order was issued on November 17. The apparent violations are described in a July 6 NRC inspection report.

NRC declines call to suspend public proceedings

A request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it suspend all rulemakings and other activities involving public comment or participation has failed to receive the petitioners’ desired response from the agency.

In a letter dated April 8, representatives of 82 largely antinuclear organizations—including Beyond Nuclear, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club—argue that the public’s role in NRC rulemaking and licensing decisions is not being properly protected during the coronavirus pandemic.

NRC extends comment period for LLW rule

Recognizing the impacts of the current COVID–19 pandemic, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided to extend the public comment period on a proposed interpretation of its low-level radioactive waste disposal regulations. The new deadline for comments is July 20. The proposed LLW interpretive rule, announced on March 6, would permit licensees to dispose of waste by transfer to persons who hold specific exemptions for the purpose of disposal (NN, Apr. 2020, p. 47).

NRC issues regulatory guidance to licensees

Recognizing the challenges that nuclear materials licensees may face in meeting certain regulatory requirements, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has developed options for licensees that may need regulatory relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. The options for providing regulatory relief were outlined in an April 7 letter from the NRC to licensees authorized to possess by-product, source, and special nuclear materials, including licensed nuclear materials users, uranium recovery, decommissioning (both materials and users), fuel facilities, and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities.

NRC proposes new LLW rule interpretation

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is issuing a proposed interpretation of its low-­level radioactive waste disposal regulations that would permit licensees to dispose of waste by transfer to persons who hold specific disposal exemptions. The NRC said that it will consider approval of requests for specific exemptions only if they are for the disposal of very low-­level radioactive waste by land burial. Notice of the proposed interpretive rule was published in the March 6 Federal Register.