NRC environmental report for nuclear plant license renewal

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued its final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the proposed renewal of the operating license for the Columbia Generating Station, located in Benton County, Wash., northwest of Richland.

The report contains the NRC’s finding that the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal are not great enough to deny the option of renewing the license for an additional 20 years of operation.

Columbia is a single-unit boiling-water reactor operated by Energy Northwest. The current operating license expires Dec. 20, 2023. Energy Northwest submitted an application to the NRC on Jan. 19, 2010, to extend the license by 20 years. Under NRC regulations, the original operating license for a nuclear power plant has a term of 40 years. The license may be renewed for up to an additional 20 years if NRC requirements are met.

As part of its environmental review of the application, the NRC held public meetings near the plant to discuss the review process and the draft version of the environmental impact statement. Comments were received and considered from members of the public, local officials, and representatives of state and federal agencies.

Publication of the final environmental impact statement does not represent final NRC action on the license renewal application. The agency staff has completed its safety evaluation report, which is being evaluated by NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS).

The ACRS will make its recommendations before the agency makes a final decision on whether to renew the operating license.