Firm seeks to store used nuclear fuel in Texas

A Texas-based company has filed a letter of intent with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) saying it plans to apply for a license for the interim storage of used nuclear fuel at its facility in Andrews County, Texas.

Valhi (NYSE:VHI) subsidiary Waste Control Specialists (WCS) said in a Feb. 7 statement that it has informed NRC of its intent.

WCS plans to submit the final license application by April 2016. It currently expects the licensing, regulatory requirements and construction process to be completed by December 2020.

The need for such a facility arises as a result of the ongoing decades-long search for a disposal solution for used nuclear fuel, WCS said. In 2012 the presidential-appointed Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future issued a report recommending that at least one interim storage facility be sited in the United States while a permanent disposal site is being developed.

“This is a unique opportunity for WCS to provide a viable solution to the industry’s needs,” said WCS CEO William J. Lindquist. “We already offer the only one-stop shop for low-level radioactive waste (“LLRW”) 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.”

“We are confident we can provide a safe and comprehensive interim solution for used nuclear fuel, which has been accumulating at nuclear power plants across the country and for which no alternative for safe, secure storage and disposal currently exists,” Lindquist said.

WCS has indicated that it would like to see the Nuclear Policy Act amended to enable the Department of Energy (DOE) to pay a private entity, WCS, for storage of spent fuel.

“This will be a community supported, consent-based facility – just as are our current nuclear disposal facilities,” Lindquist said. The community and region, which actively support WCS’ existing operations, have already been apprised of our intent to apply for the interim storage license, and Andrews County has passed a resolution of support of such application and licensing process, he said.

The WCS executive went on to note that thousands of tons of used fuel currently being stored temporarily at 72 locations in 33 states. Six of the 72 locations are decommissioned nuclear plants that have been totally remediated.

Valhi President and CEO Steven L. Watson said: “We believe WCS’s proven operating history makes its Andrews County, Texas facility the ideal location to deliver a reliable, private sector, community-supported, comprehensive solution to the entire range of waste produced by the nuclear fuel cycle.”

Situated in an arid and isolated location, the WCS facility sits atop a formation of 600 feet of impermeable red-bed clay which makes it an ideal setting for the storage and disposal of LLRW. The state of Texas has determined the WCS facility does not sit above or adjacent to any underground drinking water formations.

WCS is a subsidiary of Valhi is engaged in the titanium dioxide pigments, component products (security products and high performance marine components), waste management, and real estate management and development industries.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.