UK reports on radwaste management and disposal

The UK has taken steps to address its radioactive waste policy with the publication yesterday of two reports. The UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has unveiled its single radioactive waste strategy which is open for public consultation until 31 October. Separately, the BEIS parliamentary select committee has reported on a draft national policy statement for geological disposal infrastructure (GDI).

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) works to ensure that the UK’s nuclear legacy sites are decommissioned and cleaned up safely, securely, cost-effectively and in ways that protect people and the environment, across 17 NDA-owned sites in England, Wales and Scotland. More than 90% of the UK Radioactive Waste & Materials Inventory (the Inventory) by volume is generated by the NDA estate, covering the full spectrum of wastes contaminated or activated by radioactivity from very low-level to high-level wastes.

The Inventory is the latest national record on radioactive wastes and materials in the UK and is usually compiled by NDA. The Inventory contains information about: radioactive wastes that exist now; radioactive wastes that will arise in future; and radioactive materials, which are radioactive items that are not classed as waste now but may be in future if no further use can be found for them. Updated every three years, the Inventory is a snapshot of wastes and materials at a specific point in time, called the ‘stock date’.

For the GDI, the Inventory is undertaken by the developer Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM) and called the ‘UK Derived Inventory’ or ‘Inventory for Geological Disposal’. It is also updated every three years and is aimed specifically at identifying the wastes and materials that will need to be stored in the GDI.

Radioactive waste

The strategy will apply to all radioactive waste generated within the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority group, including materials that may become waste at some point in the future. It provides a framework for making decisions flexibly, BEIS said, to ensure safe, environmentally acceptable and cost-effective solutions that reflect the nature of the radioactive waste concerned and a consolidated position and greater clarity of strategic needs in this area. It promotes cross-category waste management opportunities, supports a risk-based approach to waste management and provides an integrated programme for a suitable and timely waste management infrastructure to support the NDA mission.

The development of the strategy and the integrated approach to waste management it supports is an important input into the government’s Industrial Strategy Nuclear Sector Deal, BEIS said.

“This deal calls for a National Decommissioning and Waste Management Pipeline to give a truly comprehensive view of all major decommissioning and waste management activity across the country. This should promote economic growth through enhanced awareness in the supply chain of opportunities, provide greater resilience in the UK infrastructure and opportunities for inward investment and growth,” it said.

The strategy document states the government’s preferences against each of the waste management lifecycle stages – planning and preparation, treatment and packaging, storage and disposal. The NDA says it will create an integrated programme that builds upon the success of its low-level waste programme.

“The integrated programme will seek to drive changes in waste management behaviour and culture to allow waste producers to flexibly and effectively manage their radioactive waste as well as develop proportionate waste management solutions,” the strategy document states. “The programme will be implemented in prioritised phases with the initial focus on areas such as wastes at the low/intermediate-level waste boundary, waste management culture and packaging.”

“Whilst primarily an NDA strategy, this document will also be of interest to other producers of radioactive wastes, radioactive waste management facility operators, suppliers of waste management services, regulators, local planning authorities and communities where radioactive wastes are generated and/or managed”, NDA said.

Geological disposal infrastructure

In January, the government laid before Parliament the draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for GDI, which set out its proposed framework for future development consent orders for such a facility in England.

A GDI consists of specially-engineered vaults and tunnels located deep underground that are designed to host the higher activity radioactive waste that cannot be stored at existing surface facilities on a permanent basis.
The BEIS committee was designated to carry out parliamentary scrutiny of the draft NPS as required under the Planning Act 2008.

In its report the committee says that most of the evidence received on the scope of the draft NPS was positive.

“We heard from several stakeholders that the draft NPS was on the whole fit for purpose and adequate, although the same evidence submissions also suggested improvements to the Assessment Principles and Impacts,” it said. “In addition, we found that the draft NPS satisfactorily reflected lessons improvements from previous failed attempts to find a suitable location for geological disposal and we support the voluntary approach chosen for the siting process.”

The committee says the draft NPS is “fit for purpose” and contains adequate level of guidance and details needed for the developer, the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State to put forward and make recommendations on development consent orders.

“We welcome the fact that the NPS and the separate but relevant ‘Working with Communities’ policy incorporate some of the key lessons from previous unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable location for a GDI,” it said. “Provided that the government takes into account our recommendations aimed at improving the engagement of and benefits to prospective host communities, we support the case for the final NPS to be brought before Parliament for approval,” it said.

Its recommendations cover national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty; new nuclear build; local community consent; and the Industrial Strategy.

On new nuclear build, it says that successive governments have “for too long left it for future generations” to find a solution to dispose safely of higher activity radioactive waste.

“It is time for a decision. Regardless of whether the government should have embarked upon a new nuclear build programme and regardless of whether geological disposal is the best approach to dispose of waste, any long-term waste management strategy should include waste from new nuclear,” it said.

The committee also recommends that the government works with RWM and CoRWM “to strengthen the justification” for geological disposal in the NPS.

On local communities, it says that “what may be a clear framework to the developer and Planning Inspectorate may not be as easily accessible to a lay audience”. It is of paramount importance, it added, that prospective host communities understand how their ‘right of withdrawal’ interacts with the development consent orders for boreholes and geological disposal.

“We do not suggest that community consent should become an Assessment Principle as we think the ‘Working with Communities’ policy already guarantees to communities that no GDI could be granted development consent without their express approval. However, the NPS as currently drafted does not explain clearly how these two frameworks interact. The government should clarify the degree of priority afforded to community consent in the NPS in a way that is accessible to a lay audience so as to give prospective communities all the tools they need to engage with the siting process,” it said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News. Note that the Word Nuclear News is a publication of the nuclear industry and presents pro-nuclear positions and interpretations of news stories. 31 July 2018, as posted at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/UK-reports-on-radwaste-management-and-disposal

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More nuclear waste test drilling planned for Ignace area

IGNACE, Ont. — A spokesperson for Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization says it has applied to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for permission to drill more boreholes near Ignace.

NWMO completed the first exploratory hole, 1000 metres into the Canadian Shield, last January.

Since then, its researchers have been analyzing core samples and conducting other followup work.

Regional communications manager Patrick Dolcetti said it will take the rest of the year to get all the results.

“There are some very specific tests that go away to specialized labs, and so on,” but the initial results “were all fine,” Dolcetti said in an interview with Tbnewswatch. “There were no surprises for the geologists. It was very consistent with what they thought was there.”

The current drilling site is in the Revell Batholith rock formation, just south of Highway 17 at a point about 35 kilometres west of Ignace.

If the MNRF approves additional exploration, Dolcetti said, drilling for two more holes could start this fall at locations within two kilometres of the original borehole.

He noted, however, that NWMO may ultimately have to drill as many as 20 holes before it completes its evaluation of the area’s suitability for an underground nuclear waste repository which would be situated about 500 metres below the surface.

“We knew that right from the beginning, because we need to fully understand the geology, and that requires many, many boreholes.”

Each drill site is about the size of two NHL hockey rinks, side-by-side.

On Wednesday, NWMO hosted a community Open House in Ignace to update area residents and summer residents on its work plan.

Besides Ignace, it is investigating the potential for nuclear waste storage in four other areas of Ontario: Hornepayne, Manitouwadge, the Municipality of South Bruce, and Huron-Kinloss Township in Bruce County

NWMO expects that it will be able to identify its preferred site by 2023.

As posted 20 July 2018 at https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/more-nuclear-waste-test-drilling-planned-for-ignace-area-3-photos-989090

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CNL Announces Four Reactor Proponents submitted bids to build Small Modulur Reactors

Chalk River, ON, June 12, 2018 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that four small modular reactor (SMR) project proponents have submitted responses to CNL’s recent Invitation for SMR Demonstration Projects at a CNL-managed site. The invitation, which began with an optional pre-qualification stage, is an opportunity for CNL to evaluate technical and business merits of proposed designs, assess the financial viability of the projects, and review the necessary national security and integrity requirements.

CNL concluded the first intake on June 11, 2018, with responses received from four international and domestic SMR project proponents. While this intake is now closed, technology developers are welcome to submit their responses at any time.

“Since its inception, CNL’s small modular reactor program has garnered interest from around the world. That momentum continues to build, with a response to our invitation that has already exceeded our expectations,” commented Mark Lesinski, CNL’s President and CEO. “These exciting new nuclear technologies will serve as part of an integrated clean energy system enabling increased use of solar and wind energy, or hydrogen production, for example. The world needs improved access to clean energy, and the tremendous benefits offered by SMRs, including a reduced size, simpler but safer designs, and a reduced staff complement, make nuclear a very appealing technology to fill that void.”

CNL has identified SMRs as one of seven strategic initiatives it is pursuing as part of its Long-Term Strategy, with the goal of siting an SMR on one of the sites it manages by 2026. The company is working to demonstrate the commercial viability of SMRs and position itself as a global hub in SMR prototype testing and technology development support.

“The reactor designs being proposed are both evolutionary – building on the strengths of past nuclear technologies, and revolutionary, with innovative advances in efficiency, safety and technical design,” commented Corey McDaniel, CNL’s Vice-President of Business Development. “As Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, we’re excited to review these responses and consider the technologies, as well as the potential benefits to Canada, to ensure they are viable projects worthy of pursuing.”

The Invitation for SMR Demonstration Projects includes four distinct stages. Following the optional Pre-Qualification stage, which will assess proponents against preliminary criteria, applicants must complete the Due Diligence stage, which will include more stringent financial requirements and a full assessment of funding and project costs. The third phase, Negotiation of Land Arrangement and Other Contracts, would culminate in the signing of an agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the owner of the sites. Finally, the Project Execution stage would include licensing and construction, testing, commissioning, operation, and eventual decommissioning of the SMR unit.

All projects successful in CNL’s invitation are also subject to separate regulatory processes and requirements.

CNL is currently performing generic siting studies for the Chalk River Laboratories and Whiteshell Laboratories to identify the potential locations suitable for construction of SMR demonstration units. The company also continues to engage with stakeholders and members of its local communities, to gather their input and feedback on hosting a demonstration project. These outreach activities include information sessions, webinars, industry meetings and roundtables.

For ongoing updates on CNL’s SMR development program, SMR project proponents and members of the public are encouraged to visit www.cnl.ca/smr.

“CNL announces strong interest in siting an SMR demonstration unit – Canada’s national nuclear laboratory receives responses from four SMR proponents seeking to construct small modular reactor demonstration projects at CNL-managed sites” as posted at http://www.cnl.ca/en/home/news-and-publications/news-releases/2018/cnl-announces-strong-interest-in-siting-an-smr-dem.aspx

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Sweden nuclear waste firm revamping storage plan

OSLO, June 12 (Reuters) – Sweden’s nuclear fuel and waste management company (SKB) will meet a January deadline to submit new information in support of its application to build a permanent radioactive refuse store, and expects a decision by mid-2020, it told Reuters on Tuesday.

SKB’s application for the nuclear waste repository, needed to replace an interim storage facility it is currently using, was dealt a blow earlier this year when an environmental court said it was not sure of the proposed plan’s safety.

The company is working on additional requested research and will submit it by Jan. 7, 2019, a deadline set by Sweden’s environment and energy ministry, which will in turn rule on the application, said SKB spokesman Simon Hoff.

“We have just received the request by the ministry to continue with the application and submit the additional documents by January 7. We are doing the research needed and will produce what is needed by then,” he said.

The court’s objections to SKB’s application, otherwise supported by Sweden’s radiation safety authority, were due to concerns over the ability of the designed capsules to contain the nuclear waste in the long term.

“After we hand the documentation, the ministry should decide on the application by the first half of 2020,” said Hoff.

The permanent repository, designed to store up to 12,000 tonnes of spent fuel from Sweden’s nuclear plants, could take 10 years to complete and the country’s nuclear plant operators have raised concerns about the delays in authorising it.

“It is important that we get a solution in place for the permanent storage of nuclear waste as soon as possible …. Expediting this matter must be prioritised to prevent the process from becoming drawn-out and costly,” Vattenfall chief executive Magnus Hall said in April.

Of Sweden’s eight nuclear reactors in operation, Vattenfall controls seven. The eighth belongs to OKG, a unit of Germany’s Uniper.

Six power reactors and two research units are being decommissioned in Sweden, with a third research unit already dismantled.

(Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Editing by Mark Potter)
UNE 12, 2018 / 11:47 AM “Sweden nuclear waste firm revamping storage plan, sees decision by mid-2020” by
Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, as posted at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-markets/euro-tumbles-as-ecb-vows-to-keep-rate-down-idUSKBN1JA01H

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Senate panel again drops Yucca Mountain licensing funding from budget

WASHINGTON — Senate appropriators on Thursday deleted a Trump administration budget request for $120 million to restart licensing on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, setting up another impasse with the House.

A similar stalemate shelved the controversial project last year.

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., left the funding request sought by the Department of Energy for licensing of the Nevada project out of the annual spending bill for energy and water for fiscal 2019, which begins Oct. 1.

Their decision accompanies a push by Alexander to seek a comprehensive approach to nuclear waste from power plants that includes permanent repositories, like the one proposed for Yucca Mountain, and interim storage sites in other states.

House appropriators, in contrast, favor funding to restart the licensing procedure for Yucca Mountain, located 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Differences in House and Senate spending bills must be reconciled by a conference committee. Last year, the Senate prevailed and no requested money for Yucca Mountain licensing was included in a final omnibus spending bill for 2018.

In a letter to Alexander and Feinstein on May 17, Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., urged the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water to keep the Yucca Mountain funding out of the 2019 spending bill.

Heller: ‘I was successful’

“I’m pleased to report that I was successful,” Heller said in a statement Thursday. “The funding bill approved by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee today does not fund a single dollar for Yucca Mountain.”

Also Thursday, the House approved a defense authorization bill that includes language inserted by Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., that would require the defense and energy secretaries to detail for Congress the potential impact of storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain on military operations at the Nevada Test and Training Range and the Nevada National Security Site.

Rosen, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said last year that storing the waste at Yucca Mountain could prevent Nellis Air Force Base and the Nevada Test and Training Range from completing core missions.

The defense bill also includes authorization to spend $30 million for military produced waste that would be stored at Yucca Mountain if the site were licensed and a facility constructed.

The House voted 351-66 to approve the defense bill.

A spokeswoman for the Senate Armed Services Committee said the Senate version of the defense bill does not include the Yucca Mountain waste storage authorization.

Heller said he urged Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., to keep the authorization out of the defense bill.

Congress designated Yucca Mountain in 1987 as the nation’s permanent repository for nuclear waste generated by utility power plants and the military. But despite $15 billion spent to study the location, a facility has yet to be built on the Nye County site, mostly because of political opposition in Nevada.

Instead the waste is being stockpiled at power plants around the country.

Taxpayer liability grows

An annual DOE financial report released Thursday said taxpayer liability for litigation over the federal government’s failure to permanently store nuclear waste has grown to $34.1 billion, a $3.3 billion increase over last year.

“Taxpayers in all 50 states are now liable for $34.1 billion because the federal government has not even begun to consolidate the spent nuclear fuel stranded around our nation,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment and the economy.

The House passed legislation this month to revive the application licensing process and increase the Yucca Mountain storage capacity to 110,000 metric tons.

Shimkus had urged the Senate to “quickly take up and pass that bipartisan bill to address this national priority.”

President Barack Obama delayed the licensing process in 2011 at the request of then-Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

President Donald Trump has sought to restart the process, which is expected to take roughly five years.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and the state’s congressional delegation are unanimously opposed to restarting the licensing process, as are the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the casino industry, which fear the presence of a nuclear waste repository would hurt tourism in Southern Nevada.

Nine rural Nevada counties, including Nye, support a licensing review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to determine if the geologic repository is safe for permanent storage of waste. Nye County sees a permanent repository as a potential economic boon with high-paying federal jobs.

By Gary Martin / Las Vegas Review-Journal, Updated May 24, 2018 – 9:41 pm, as posted at https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/nevada/senate-panel-again-drops-yucca-mountain-licensing-funding-from-budget/

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NDP only Ontario party opposed to siting nuclear waste bunker near Lake Huron

TORONTO — Of the three main parties vying for office in Ontario’s spring election, only the NDP has spoken out against building a $2.4-billion nuclear waste bunker near Lake Huron.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the idea of burying radioactive waste so close to a major fresh-water source worries her and, should she be elected on June 7, would look to intervene against the project.

“As a party, we’re not in favour of having that facility in that location,” Horwath said recently on the campaign trail. “It’s something that we’re quite concerned about. We know that other leaders, both in Canada and across the border in the States, have sent significant letters of concern and protest to the federal government in regard to the siting of this facility.”

Ontario Power Generation argues the deep geologic repository at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station near Kincardine, Ont., is by far the best and safest option for permanently storing the low- and intermediate-level toxic waste that has been stored for years above ground. The utility maintains the stable rock would ensure no radiation leakage for centuries.

However, scores of communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border have expressed alarm at the proposal. They maintain the consequences of contaminating the all-important fresh-water source is far too great to take.

“I hear big concerns from many different jurisdictions as well as individuals as well as communities,” Horwath said. “As an individual, as an Ontarian, as a Canadian, I’m worried about it. It’s problematic. I don’t think it’s smart to have any kind of nuclear storage on the edge of the lake.”

The waste bunker, first proposed more than a decade ago, is currently awaiting final approval from the federal government. Ottawa has repeatedly stalled since an environmental review panel gave its approval three years ago.

Most recently, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna demanded the power utility come back with clear and unequivocal endorsement from affected First Nations, who have made it clear they are in no hurry to do that.

For her part, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, who is vying for a second stint as premier, suggested the province has no role to play in the approval process.

“It’s a federal issue,” Wynne said. “They are dealing with municipalities, and we need to let that process roll out.”

While Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford has not addressed the issue publicly, a party spokeswoman on the weekend was neutral on the wisdom of the proposal.

“The plan to bury low and intermediate nuclear waste must be done with local approval and in an environmentally sustainable way,” Melissa Lantsman said.

At the same time, the Tories called nuclear power “critical” to Ontario.

“It’s our cheapest, most reliable source of power and it powers more than 60 per cent of the province,” Lantsman said.

The repository plan calls for hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of radioactive waste — stored for years at the Bruce nuclear station site above ground — would be buried 680 metres deep. OPG has warned the cost of the project could rise by billions if delayed significantly.

However, more than 100 mayors and other elected officials on both sides of the border — they claim to speak for 16 million people — urged McKenna in November to reject the proposed bunker. They noted that local, county and state governments representing 23 million people had passed 230 resolutions opposing the burial of nuclear waste anywhere in the Great Lakes basin.

Horwath agreed.

“When you’re talking about water, and the fact that we can’t live without clean water, we should be doing everything that we can not only to protect our fresh-water sources for our generation (but) for the next generations as well.”

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press, Published May 22, 2018 – 1:57pm, as posted at http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1572361-ndp-only-ontario-party-opposed-to-siting-nuclear-waste-bunker-near-lake-huron

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Two Public Hearings in New Mexico This Week on Nuclear Fuel Repository

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico residents will have two chances this week to tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission what they think of a proposed underground nuclear storage facility in southeast New Mexico.

Holtec International is seeking permission for a temporary repository between Carlsbad and Hobbs, even though a permanent repository is not in the works. Don Hancock, director of the Southwest Research and Information Center, told state legislators at a hearing on the issue last Friday that spent nuclear fuel is not safe, and that’s why the East Coast wants to get rid of it by sending it to New Mexico.

“There are many problems with it,” Hancock said. “And our cities should not approve Holtec’s request to bring all the nation’s most dangerous commercial nuclear waste to New Mexico.”

Holtec officials argue the facility would be an economic boost for the region, and predicted $2.4 billion in capital investment and the addition of several hundred permanent jobs. The NRC will hold public hearings in Gallup Monday night at the Downtown Conference Center at 6 p.m. and in Albuquerque Tuesday at Crowne Plaza, also at 6 p.m.

Holetc International is seeking a 40 year lease to operate the storage facility. But Hancock said there’s no guarantee New Mexico won’t become the home for spent nuclear fuel for several decades or possibly forever.

“The decision makers will be members of Congress,” he said. “And so we of course also encourage people to talk to their members of Congress.”

The public can comment on the issue through July 30 at regulations.gov. Following the meeting, the NRC will draft an environmental statement prior to additional meetings next summer.

Roz Brown, Public News Service, PNS Daily Newscast – May 22, 2018, as posted at https://www.publicnewsservice.org/2018-05-21/environment/two-public-hearings-in-nm-this-week-on-nuclear-fuel-repository/a62587-1

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