A Good Start to the New Year
As we turn the page on 2016, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the positive interim storage developments of the last 12 months. They were historic ones for WCS, and hopefully they’ll prove to be significant for the nuclear industry as well.
In April, we filed our application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct and operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel. I am confident that WCS can provide a safe, interim solution for 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. I remain confident that we can still find a permanent geologic disposal site in this country, but interim storage can and should be the bridge that gets us there.
Then, late in the year, another significant event occurred.
In October, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Request for Information (RFI) to seek public comment on how a private sector proposal for a CISF can become part of an integrated used fuel management program. The responses to the RFI are due at the end of this month, which provides private initiatives like us a great way to start 2017.
This RFI should influence the conversation about consolidated interim storage. It also signals that the DOE is looking closely at the private sector for solutions and we are determined to take advantage of this opportunity.
An RFI is usually the first step in any federal procurement process, and is a positive indication that the DOE is looking to solve the problem of stranded used nuclear fuel by first considering consolidated interim storage while also exploring solutions for a long term repository. President-elect Trump has spoken about the need for addressing our nuclear energy issues and the time could be right to finally address consolidated interim storage.
At WCS, we are serious about demonstrating the benefits of our proposal for a CISF.
Remember that DOE will eventually take title to the used fuel from decommissioned plants nationwide, meaning there will be only one customer – DOE – for any privately owned interim storage facility.
We have a long history of assisting the DOE in solving their significant waste management challenges. Our Federal Waste Disposal Facility (FWF) was designed, licensed and constructed for the disposal of DOE Low-Level Radioactive Waste. Our FWF is an excellent example of a successful private initiative undertaken to help meet a significant public national challenge.
In the same manner, we believe WCS is a natural fit for a solution to the challenge of consolidated interim storage for used nuclear fuel and GTCC waste. We have the ideal location. We have an experienced workforce. Most importantly, we have a consent-based site and a proven record of ongoing community support for our current low level waste radioactive operation in West Texas – and for our license application to store used nuclear fuel and GTCC waste.
We firmly believe that our Consolidated Interim Storage Facility will be an example of the benefits the federal government can realize by partnering with an ongoing private initiative to help solve the nation’s high level waste challenges.
We’re ready for whatever 2017 may bring!