On April 9, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking public comment on the scope of its environmental review of Holtec International’s application for a license to construct and operate a consolidated interim spent fuel storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico. NRC staff will hold a series of public meetings in late April and early May to describe the review process and take public comments.
According to the license application, Holtec is seeking to store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium in commercial spent fuel in the Holtec International Storage Module Underground “MAXimum” Capacity (HI-STORM UMAX) Storage System for a 40-year license term. The subterranean used nuclear fuel storage system has a maximum storage capacity of 10,000 canisters. The initial license application is for 500 storage cavities. The NRC previously certified HI-STORM UMAX in Docket number 72-1040.
“Engineered over a decade ago and licensed by the NRC in 2015, HI-STORM UMAX is physically sized to store all of the used nuclear fuel produced in the U.S. and all canisters currently licensed in dry storage in the country making it a truly universal used fuel storage facility,” states Holtec. “Already deployed at multiple nuclear power plants around the U.S. …, the HI-STORM UMAX stores the stainless steel canister containing the spent fuel or high-level waste entirely below-ground to serve as a ‘security-friendly’ storage facility, providing a clear, unobstructed view of the entire CISF from any location. HI-STORE CIS is envisioned to unify the storage of all different storage canisters (both vertically and horizontally stored) in one standardized HI-STORM UMAX cavity system simplifying operations and aging management activities.”
“Storing the Nation’s used nuclear fuel in the HI-STORM UMAX system is a temporary measure, as the stainless-steel canisters are easily retrievable and ready for transport pending the determination of a safe permanent solution for managing used nuclear materials.,” continues Holtec. “The canisters are designed, qualified, and tested to survive and prevent the release of radioactive material under the most adverse accident scenarios postulated by NRC regulations for both storage and transportation.”
Holtec is using its own funds to support the licensing action. According to Holtec, the project has “the enthusiastic support of nuclear-savvy communities in southeastern New Mexico incorporated as the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), LLC.” If the initial application is approved, Holtec plans to make supplemental submittals to incorporate the various canister types being used in the industry.
The Holtec application and other documents related to the NRC’s review are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.
On April 25, 2018, NRC will hold the first “scoping” meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. The meeting is scheduled from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET. There will also be a webinar so people unable to attend in person may follow the meeting. Interested stakeholders may participate in the meeting via webinar at
NRC staff will also hold three meetings in New Mexico as follows:
The first meeting will be an open house and poster session. The other two meetings will be full scoping meetings. NRC staff members will hold an open house one hour before each of the Hobbs and Carlsbad meetings to meet informally with members of the public. A court reporter will be available to record comments at all locations. Spanish-speaking staff will be available at the New Mexico meetings to assist with translation.
Holtec submitted its application on March 30, 2017. The NRC formally docketed the application on February 28, 2018. On March 30, 2018, NRC published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the scope of its environmental review. (See 83 Federal Register 13,802 dated March 30, 2018.) Comments will be accepted through May 29, 2018. On April 6, 2018, NRC published a separate notice about the public meetings. (See 83 Federal Register 14,897 dated April 6, 2018.)
For additional information, please contact , please contact Erika Grandrimo of Holtec at (856) 797-0090 ext. 3920 or at (e.grandrimo (at) holtec (dot) com) e.grandrimo (at) holtec (dot) com or David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.