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NRC starts review for Waste Control Specialists' nuclear fuel storage project

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NRC starts review for Waste Control Specialists' nuclear fuel storage project

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has agreed to start reviewing Waste Control Specialists' application to build and operate an interim nuclear waste storage facility in Andrews, Texas.

The NRC announced on Jan. 26 that it has docketed the WCS project that seeks to store 5,000 metric tons uranium of spent fuel from commercial nuclear power reactors from across the U.S. The two-track agency review will focus on safety and environmental issues before a final licensing decision can be made.

In a letter sent to WCS, the federal regulatory agency set a schedule for its reviews with an expectation to make a licensing decision by the third quarter of fiscal year 2019. If approved, the site would start accommodating spent fuel as early as 2021 at a site adjacent to Waste Control Specialists' existing radioactive and hazardous waste disposal facilities.

Valhi Inc. subsidiary Waste Control Specialists, along with AREVA SA and Hitachi Zosen Corp. subsidiary NAC International, submitted an application in April 2016 to the NRC for a 40-year license to construct and operate the interim storage facility. In October 2016, four anti-nuclear requested NRC to reject application because it violates the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, which bars the federal government from assuming responsibility for interim nuclear waste storage in the absence of a federal repository for the waste's permanent disposal.

WCS is also in the midst of being sold to its competitor, EnergySolutions. The pending merger is being opposed by litigation filed in November 2016 by the U.S. Department of Justice because it would create "a near-monopoly" in the storage of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, scientific research and medical treatments.

The public will have 60 days from publication of a notice of docketing in the Federal Register to submit requests for a hearing and petition to intervene in the licensing proceeding for the proposed storage facility.

The NRC will accept comments on the scope of its environmental impact statement through March 13 and will also hold two public meetings in Hobbs, N.M., and Andrews, Texas, on Feb. 13 and Feb. 15, respectively. Additional scoping meetings will be held at the NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md. (NRC docket 72-1050; CAC No. L25175)