WCS and Holtec Submit Incomplete Applications to NRC

When Holtec International prepared its application for a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license to construct and operate a surface storage facility for high-level radioactive waste in southeastern New Mexico, it had a model to use.  That model was the license application submitted by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) a year earlier to construct and operate a similar facility at its low-level radioactive and hazardous materials waste dump on the New Mexico – Texas border, five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.  In addition, Holtec had the NRC’s request to WCS for supplemental information about their inadequate license application.  Even so, in October, in response to NRC’s request for supplemental information about its likewise inadequate application, Holtec submitted more than 2,400 pages that were recently posted to the NRC’s website.
https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1731/ML17310A218.html  Holtec is submitting additional information.

The NRC raised many of the same concerns for both applications.  WCS asked the NRC to put its application on hold because of opposition and possible bankruptcy.  NRC likely will accept the Holtec application, at which time there will be at least one public meeting.

In New Mexico, Holtec proposes a surface facility, located on 1,000 acres halfway between Hobbs and Carlsbad, for all of the U.S. commercial spent fuel.

The license application process is proscriptive and the applicants must meet not only the NRC’s regulations, but also federal regulations for nuclear facilities.  The requirements include safe construction and operation; environmental protections; worker and public health protections; a radiation protection program; limits on worker exposure; transportation; procedures for taking samples of the waste containers to make sure they did not leak during transport; prevention of releases to water, air, and soil; responses to accidents and fires; and closure of the facility when it may be filled.

Nevertheless, Holtec’s original application omitted key information, including the gas, oil, and potash extraction activities in the area, the resulting subsidence, and the hazards associated with a nearby oil recovery facility.  Holtec also omitted a hazard assessment about military, commercial and civilian air traffic above the site, including flights carrying hazardous cargo; assessment of corrosion of natural gas pipelines and potential explosions on and surrounding the site; and fully documenting nearby water bodies – streams, playa lakes and ephemeral drainages.  Holtec did not include key figures and diagrams showing the site location; surface features; natural gas pipelines; and the maximum flood water level from a 7 1/2-inch monsoon.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, called the WCS and Holtec applications “sloppy.”  He added, “The waste should stay at or near the reactors.  The WCS and Holtec sites are unnecessary, dangerous, and costly.  People should strongly oppose them.”  http://www.sric.org/


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