NRC issues final impact finding on Trojan nuclear storage facility

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will announce in the Feb. 8 Federal Register that it is issuing an environmental assessment (EA) and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for its review and approval of the decommissioning funding plan submitted by Portland General Electric (PGE) in December 2012 for the Trojan independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI).

Based on the EA, the NRC staff has determined that approval of the decommissioning funding plan (DFP) for the Trojan ISFSI will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment, and, accordingly, the staff has concluded that a FONSI is appropriate. The NRC staff also found that preparation of an environmental impact statement is not warranted.

The Trojan ISFSI is located on the site of the retired Trojan Nuclear Plant in Columbia County, Oregon, approximately 42 miles north of the city of Portland, Oregon. Portland General Electric is authorized by the NRC, under License No. SNM-2509, to store spent nuclear fuel at the Trojan ISFSI.

The NRC requires its licensees to plan for the eventual decommissioning of their licensed facilities prior to license termination. In June 2011, the NRC published a final rule in the Federal Register amending its decommissioning planning regulations. The final rule concerns financial assurance and decommissioning for ISFSIs. This regulation now requires each holder of, or applicant for, a license to have a DFP. The purpose of the DFP is to demonstrate the licensee’s financial assurance, i.e., that funds will be available to decommission the ISFSI. 

In order to approve the DFP, the NRC will evaluate: whether the decommissioning cost estimate (DCE) adequately estimates the cost to conduct the required ISFSI decommissioning activities prior to license termination, including identification of the volume of onsite subsurface material containing residual radioactivity that will require remediation to meet the license termination criteria; and whether the aggregate dollar amount of PGE’s financial instruments provide adequate financial assurance to cover the DCE and that the financial instruments meet the criteria.

The proposed action does not require any changes to the ISFSI’s licensed routine operations, maintenance activities, or monitoring programs, nor does it require any new construction or land disturbing activities. The scope of the proposed action concerns only the NRC’s review and approval of the PGE’s DFP.

Says the Portland General website about this facility: “The Trojan Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation was designed to safely store the spent fuel from the decommissioned Trojan nuclear power plant for decades, until it can be moved to a permanent federal repository. The storage system is specifically designed to withstand foreseeable hazards, including a 9.0 subduction zone earthquake off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The Trojan ISFSI is one of many spent nuclear fuel storage facilities in the United States that have been issued licenses by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. … The ISFSI is an above-ground, air-cooled dry cask storage system. Cooling is accomplished using a passive convection system which contains no moving parts, and which does not require a power source.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.