NRC to hold public scoping meetings for waste confidence environmental study Nov. 14 in Rockville, Md.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Waste Confidence Directorate will hold two public meetings Nov. 14 at agency headquarters in Rockville, Md., to discuss the scope of the agency’s review of the environmental impacts of extended interim storage of spent nuclear fuel, including impacts associated with never building a permanent spent fuel repository and risks from spent fuel pool leaks and fires.

The public scoping meetings are the initial step in developing an environmental impact statement (EIS) to support a revised “waste confidence” decision and rule. The agency’s plan for public outreach to solicit comments on the scope of the EIS includes the Nov. 14 meetings and webinars on Dec. 5 and 6.

The waste confidence EIS and rulemaking stem from a June 8 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit striking down the NRC’s 2010 waste confidence decision and rule. On Aug. 7, the Commission said NRC will not issue licenses dependent on the waste confidence rule – such as new reactors and early site permits, renewal of existing reactor operating licenses, and renewal of certain spent fuel storage facility licenses – until the Court’s remand is appropriately addressed. On Sept. 6, the Commission directed the staff to develop the environmental study and the revised rule within 24 months.

To facilitate public outreach, the Waste Confidence Directorate has established its own page on the NRC website. This page will be updated regularly with new public documents and information regarding the waste confidence EIS and rule. NRC’s Office of Public Affairs will also provide updates on the waste confidence project through social media.

“In order to meet our 24-month deadline for this important project, we will work diligently to ensure the public is fully informed and has a chance to provide feedback,” said Keith I. McConnell, director of the Waste Confidence Directorate in the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards. “We are committed to giving the public meaningful opportunities to participate in this process.”

The Nov. 14 meetings will take place in the Commission Hearing Room in the One White Flint North building of NRC headquarters, at 11555 Rockville Pike. The first will be held from 1-4 p.m., and will be webcast with a moderated teleconference line to accommodate interested members of the public unable to attend in person. The second meeting will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight (6-9 p.m. Pacific Time) to accommodate people in other time zones. The evening meeting will be by webcast and moderated teleconference only (with no members of the public in attendance in Rockville), and will cover the same material as the earlier meeting. The meetings will be transcribed and the webcasts archived on the NRC website.

In addition to the public meetings, the NRC staff will conduct webinars on Dec. 5 from 14 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 9 p.m. to midnight (both Eastern Time), to explain the staff’s progress in developing the scope of the EIS and to accept public comments.

More information about the scoping process, public meetings and webinars will be included in a Federal Register notice to be published tomorrow and subsequent updates to the waste confidence Web page.

Public comments on the scope of the environmental review will be accepted through Jan. 2.