This photo shows some of the first waste being disposed at the WCS Federal Waste Disposal Facility in Andrews, Texas. It opened in June 2013 for disposal of Class A, B and C Low-level Waste and Mixed Low-level Waste, with a licensed capacity of up to 26 million cubic feet. (WCS photo)

Texas Firm Bids for Spent Nuclear Fuel Repository

Waste Control Specialists LLC announced April 28 it has filed an application with the NRC to build and manage a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility.

Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists LLC announced April 28 that it has filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and manage a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel. The company already operates a facility in Andrews, Texas, that opened in June 2013 for disposal of Class A, B and C Low-level Waste and Mixed Low-level Waste, and it is the only U.S. privately owned and operated facility approved for that purpose.

"We believe we can provide a safe interim solution for this used nuclear fuel, which has been accumulating at nuclear power plants across the country and for which our nation has been struggling to develop a comprehensive waste management system," WCS President and CEO Rod Baltzer said in a release posted on the company's website. "What we are proposing is an initial 40-year storage license for 40,000 metric tons of heavy metal [MTHM] to be built in eight phases. Each of the eight storage systems will be able to accommodate 5,000 MTHM, for an eventual capacity of 40,000 MTHM. Our proposal includes opportunities for 20-year renewals after the initial license period."

He also said the filing of the application came after a year of pre-application meetings with NRC, and that the company has kept to a timeline it outlined in February 2015. The application is being led by WCS with partners AREVA and NAC International.

"Establishing an economically viable solution for used fuel management in the United States is vital to sustaining and advancing nuclear energy," said Greg Vesey, senior vice president of AREVA TN Americas. "The CISF is an important part of meeting this goal. Working with our partners, WCS and subcontractor NAC International, we are proud to reach this regulatory milestone in the project's development." AREVA signed an agreement with WCS in early 2015 to assist with the license application and environmental report for the facility. WCS expects the facility to be operational by 2021.

"It's been a busy but productive year since we made our announcement in Washington in 2015, so I am very pleased that we are on time and on target," Baltzer said. "Thanks to the hard work of our partners at AREVA and NAC International, and input from NRC, we were able to deliver a very thorough, detailed license application this morning. As a result, I am confident that we will have a final license in approximately three years. This is a critical first step, and I hope that legislative and DOE contractual matters can also be resolved in that period."

According to WCS, the main operations performed at the site will be transferring the sealed canisters of used fuel from a transportation cask into an engineered interim fuel storage system, where it will be monitored until its departure to an off-site permanent disposal location. "Consolidated interim storage would provide system-wide benefits and flexibilities to strengthen the U.S. Used Nuclear Fuel Management Program and help advance a permanent geologic disposal program. It creates a robust opportunity to develop and deploy the repackaging technology to prepare the used nuclear fuel currently in dry storage for final off-site disposal in a geologic repository," Baltzer said.

WCS is a subsidiary of Valhi, Inc.

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