US company plans interim waste facility

10 February 2015

Texas-based Waste Control Specialists (WCS) has announced plans to apply for a licence to construct and operate an interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel at its facility in Andrews, Texas. Areva is to assist the company with its application and related environmental report.

WCS notified the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of its intention to submit the application on 6 February. The company already operates two separately licensed disposal facilities for low-level radioactive waste at the site, including the Texas Compact Disposal Facility, the only commercial radioactive waste disposal facility in the USA to be licensed within the last 30 years.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future - set up in early 2010 to identify future directions for the management of the USA's high-level nuclear wastes - recommended in 2012 that at least one interim storage facility should be established while a permanent repository is being developed. WCS CEO William Lindquist said that such a facility represented a "unique opportunity" for the company to provide a "viable solution" to meet the needs of the US nuclear industry.

"We already offer the only one-stop shop for low-level radioactive waste storage, processing and disposal and with this development we will be in a position to provide a comprehensive solution for the entire range of waste produced in the nuclear fuel cycle," Lindquist said. He added that the local community and region had already been apprised of the company's plan to apply for the interim storage licence, and Andrews County had passed a resolution in support of it.

The company plans to submit a final licence application by April 2016, with the licensing, regulatory requirements and construction process expected to be complete by December 2020.

Areva in support

WCS followed its announcement by signing an agreement with Areva which will see Areva provide assistance with the licence application and environmental report in preparation for the construction of the new facility.

Areva North America senior vice president David Jones said the initiative, which already has the consent of local stakeholders, "will deliver an economically viable option for used fuel management while more permanent solutions are addressed."

The USA's used fuel management policy has been in a state of flux since its administration decided in 2009 to abandon the project to build a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Legal rulings later compelled the NRC to resume licensing work on the Yucca Mountain construction licence application, but pending any permanent solution the country's used fuel is currently stored at reactor sites, either in pools or in dry cask storage facilities.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News