The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said Sept. 12 that it will accept public comment on the so-called “waste confidence rule” for 75 days, through Nov. 27.
The NRC is seeking comment on the proposed rule and supporting environmental study on the effects of extended storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed operating life of commercial reactors.
The proposed rule would replace a version that was struck down last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The D.C. Circuit effectively barred the NRC from issuing significant new nuclear licenses prior to updating the technical underpinning of this rule.
Given that the nation lacks a national home for spent fuel from reactors, at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain or anywhere else, the spent fuel is being stored longer on-site at nuclear power plant locations.
The rule does not authorize extended storage of spent fuel at reactor sites – a separate license is required for that. Rather, waste confidence is a generic finding of the environmental impacts of storing spent fuel for extended periods beyond the licensed operating life of reactors. The draft Waste Confidence Generic Environmental Impact Statement forms the regulatory basis for the proposed rule.
The draft statement was distributed Sept. 6 and is available on the NRC’s waste confidence web page: http://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/wcd.html.
Nuclear industry skeptics have argued that NRC is doing a formulaic rulemaking when it should be taking a plant-by-plant approach to the issue.