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« NRC poised to begin Holtec/ELEA CISF/MRS licensing proceeding | Main | New Mexico Lawmakers Want More Time to Study Spent Fuel Storage Plan »
Wednesday
Mar142018

Orano [Areva], WCS Aim to Revive Spent Fuel Storage Project

As reported by the ExchangeMonitor. (Note that Orano is the new name for Areva -- apparently trying to shed the many negative connotations associated with its old name. Just as Areva was a rebranding from Cogema, in the 1990s!)

Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) requested the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) suspend its licensing proceeding to process an application for WCS to construct and operate a so-called "centralized" or "consolidated interim storage facility" (CISF) in Andrews County, west Texas last year. This, after a federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. Department of Justice, blocking a proposed merger between WCS and its rival EnergySolutions of Utah. The DOJ argued, and the judge agreed, the merger would violate anti-monopolization laws, specifically regarding so-called "low-level" radioactive waste disposal, in the U.S.

This left WCS essentially bankrupt, prompting it to request NRC to suspend its license application proceeding on the CISF.

NRC ultimately did suspend the proceeding. However, it took its sweet time in doing so. In fact, the night before a legal intervention deadline for groups like Beyond Nuclear to either speak or forever hold our peace, NRC issued a very short emailed statement, assuring potential intervenors the proceeding would be officially suspended. Groups like Beyond Nuclear feared that not intervening, while NRC's drop dead deadline passed, could be used to bar intervenors from ever intervening again -- for having missed the deadline. Legal interventions involve an immense amount of work, a heavy burden on not only non-profit environmental groups like Beyond Nuclear, but also all-volunteer grassroots groups, such as those in the vicinity of WCS, being targeted for this environmental injustice. Agonizingly, NRC left groups like Beyond Nuclear in limbo -- having to do the work anyway, even though the proceeding would, in the end, actually be suspended. NRC's very own behavior in this regard, above and beyond the WCS scheme, is itself an environmental injustice.

But on Jan. 26, 2018, J.F. Lehman & Company bought WCS. And now, it appears, WCS and Areva/Orano/Cogema are ready to hit the play button again on NRC's licensing proceeding.

We will now face two simultaneous highly radioactive waste de facto permanent surface storage parking lot dump NRC licensing proceedings at the same time. The NM site aims for 120,000 metric tons. The TX site, 40,000 metric tons. At 160,000 metric tons, that would be twice as much irradiated nuclear fuel than currently exists in the US. And it dwarfs what is targeted for burial at Yucca Mountain, NV under current law (70,000 metric tons). The NM and TX sites are only 38 miles apart. The scheme is to turn that area into a Nuclear Sacrifice Zone.