Radwaste Solutions on the Newswire

NRC stops work on spent fuel reprocessing rule

Citing costs and a lack of industry interest, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is discontinuing its rulemaking for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. The rulemaking would have amended the NRC’s regulations, adding a new regulatory framework for licensing commercial reprocessing facilities.

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Reps. Levin, Davis form bipartisan caucus to tackle stranded spent fuel issue

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Hoping to drive progress on the safe storage, transportation, and disposal of spent nuclear fuel across the country, Reps. Mike Levin (D., Calif.) and Rodney Davis (R., Ill.) have formed the Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to Levin and Davis, the bipartisan caucus seeks to address the challenges associated with stranded commercial spent fuel across the country and serve as a forum where House members can come together to make headway on the issue, regardless of whether or not they have a preferred solution.

In announcing the formation of the caucus on July 21, Levin and Davis said that the current system of spent nuclear fuel storage is not sustainable, particularly for sites that no longer have operating reactors and could be redeveloped for other beneficial uses. They added that it is also a violation of the promise, codified by law, that the federal government would take title to the waste in return for ratepayers’ contributions to the Nuclear Waste Fund.

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Backup battery system will keep Hanford’s waste melters from going cold

Department of Energy workers recently finished startup testing of a battery-powered backup electrical system for the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. According to the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), the uninterruptable electrical power system is vital to safeguarding the facility, part of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, in the unlikely event of a temporary power loss to the plant.

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Hanford hosts roundtable on tribal government policy

The Department of Energy's Office of River Protection and the Richland Operations Office hosted a roundtable discussion recently with tribal nations located near the Hanford Site to review the Department’s tribal government policy—Order 144.1, the American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Government Policy—and discuss opportunities for strengthening tribal consultation.

The Office of River Protection is within the purview of the DOE's Office of Environmental Management (EM). The Hanford Site, in eastern Washington state, is a 586-square-mile site that was used as a nuclear production complex during the World War II era.

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Holtec to step up its production of spent fuel casks

A Holtec HI-STAR 150 cask being placed into storage at Cofrentes in Spain on June 23. (Photo: Holtec).

Holtec International is increasing the production of its HI-STAR casks for storing and transporting spent nuclear fuel following recent regulatory approvals and new orders in Europe. Earlier this month the company was awarded a contract by Spain’s waste management organization Enresa for 10 HI-STAR 150 casks, and Holtec is currently in the advanced stages of production of two HI-STAR 180D casks destined for the Doel nuclear power plant in Belgium, with additional orders pending.

The casks are being produced at Holtec’s manufacturing facilities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Spain: Enresa initially awarded Holtec a contract in 2017 for the design, engineering, licensing, and manufacturing of five HI-STAR 150 casks for the Cofrentes nuclear power plant near Valencia. The Spanish Nuclear Safety Council signed off on the HI-STAR 150 design for storage in April of this year, and on May 23, Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge granted a license for the cask, which is designed to store up to 52 boiling water reactor spent fuel assemblies, including damaged fuel assemblies.

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Waste management at Los Alamos’s PF-4 a continuing challenge

The Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board, which provides independent federal oversight of Department of Energy weapons facilities, has reported that low-level radioactive and other combustible waste is accumulating in the basement of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plutonium Facility (PF-4), and that housekeeping and waste management in the PF-4 basement have been a continuing challenge.

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NRC decision on Holtec’s interim storage facility expected by January

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to complete its safety review of Holtec International’s proposed HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility by January 2022. A final licensing decision on the facility will be made in conjunction with the release of the agency’s final safety evaluation report, the NRC said in a July 2 letter to Holtec.

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Savannah River doubles shifts for processing surplus Pu

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has doubled the number of work shifts for employees in glove box operations at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The increased work pace will help the department meet its commitment to South Carolina to remove surplus plutonium from the state, the DOE said.

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