California, clean water, dangers of nuclear, democracy, DOE, earthquakes, environment, fires, flooding, ISFSI, major hazards management, Minnesota, Mississippi River, national nuclear storage facility, National repository, Nevada, New Mexico, NRC, nuclear, nuclear accident, nuclear disaster, nuclear energy, nuclear industry, nuclear power, nuclear safety, nuclear waste, Prairie Island, Prairie Island Indian Community, ratepayer, Risk criteria, risk management, SONGS, Taxpayer, US NRC, Vermillion River, Waste Confidence, water, Yucca Mountain
Prairie Island Native American Indian Community sits on a small island in the midst of the Mississippi River, the Vermillion River, and lakes, along with an operating nuclear power station and the spent nuclear fuel.
Prairie Island Spent Fuel cask inspection 2012: https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1206/ML12065A073.pdf
At least two California politicians are currently trying to rig the system and make sure that California nuclear waste gets first in line, when, and if, a nuclear dump is opened, due to earthquakes and high population. https://energycommerce.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/hearing-on-cleaning-up-communities-ensuring-safe-storage-and-disposal-of There should be investigation of which sites are most at risk. Earthquakes and nearby population shouldn’t be the only criteria. Flooding and/or fire may be more serious issues for protecting the nuclear waste. If the California nuclear waste were repackaged and housed correctly it might survive earthquakes.
Excerpts from Prairie Island American Indian Community 2009 comment to the NRC on the so-called “Waste Confidence” rule. (Emphasis our own. The entire text may be seen further below.)
“The Prairie Island Indian Community is a federally-recognized Indian tribe organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934…
Our homeland is located on Prairie Island, which is formed at the confluence of the Vermillion and Mississippi Rivers in southeastern Minnesota (approximately 35 miles southeast of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota). The Mdewakanton, “those who were born of the waters” have lived on Prairie Island for countless generations. The size of the Prairie Island Indian Community land base (including both trust and fee lands) has grown through several federal acts and direct purchases by the Tribal Council, and now totals over 3,000 acres (including both land and water). Approximately 1,986 acres of trust land are located in the immediate vicinity of the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant (PINGP)…
The PINGP, which is located less than 600 yards away from our homeland (see Figure 1), is currently licensed by the NRC to store spent fuel in up to 48 dry casks at an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) on plant property. The owner of the PINGP and ISFSI, Northern States Power (NSP), anticipates needing to expand the ISFSI to accommodate 98 casks over the plant’s lifetime to support license extension and decommissioning… During the initial licensing processes in the early 1990s, we expressed our concerns regarding the long-term storage of spent fuel in dry casks and the possibility that the waste would never leave Prairie Island. We were assured at that time that the ISFSI was to be an interim or temporary solution until the national repository, Yucca Mountain, could begin accepting waste….
In the case of the PINGP ISFSI, this would mean that 98 casks will be on-site until 2094, a date that is completely unacceptable to our people. Given that the first cask was loaded and stored in early 1995, according to Finding 2, this waste will remain on Prairie Island for 100 years, hardly the interim or temporary solution promised in the 1990s.
As we are painfully aware, the deadline for receiving spent fuel at the Yucca Mountain Repository has been slipping away and continues to be extended with each successive revision of the Waste Confidence Rule. There appears also to be some expectation (on the part of the NRC) that Yucca Mountain may possibly be abandoned all together and that the process will begin anew for a new disposal facility. Yucca Mountain won’t be scrapped because of technical infeasibility but because of a lack of political will and societal support. Until the political and societal objections are addressed, no waste will be moved from its current, at-plant location. What possible confidence can the Commission have that all of the political issues or societal objections can ever be satisfactorily resolved, much less within the estimated time?…
The lack of progress to date on the Yucca Mountain Repository calls into question what confidence, if any, one can have in the current Waste Confidence Rule. The Commission’s proposed response to this reality, however, is to simply eliminate any reference to a specific time that the spent fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely and without significant environmental impacts beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the time of a revised or a renewed license) of that reactor at its spent fuel storage basin or at either onsite or offsite ISFSls. Indeed, despite the fact that no one can predict if, much less when, the Yucca Mountain Repository or any other disposal facility will be available, the proposed amendment states that the waste can be stored safely and without significant environmental impacts “until a disposal facility can reasonably be expected to be available.” In effect, the Waste Confidence Rule would be premised on the pure speculation that a disposal facility will be available at some unknown point in the future.
The costs of proposed rule changes
The cost of the proposed rule change is only briefly and minimally discussed. The significant cost (to the taxpayers) of stranding this waste for an additional 50 to 60 years at over 100 sites across the country cannot be overlooked. The Department of Energy (DOE) has a statutory and contractual obligation to remove spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants to a national repository. Indeed, the nation’s ratepayers have paid more than $31 Billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF) for the development of a safe and secure national storage facility (Yucca Mountain).
In recent years, the utilities have had to turn to the courts to recover costs associated with developing, licensing, and maintaining on-site spent fuel storage facilities. The Govemment’s on-going liability associated with the DOE’s delay in opening a national repository is estimated to be $11 Billion (the so-called Judgment Fund), assuming that Yucca Mountain will be open by 2020. Stranding the waste for an additional 50 to 60 years will only increase that liability.
The Federal Register notice contains no discussion about the implications of this rule to the ratepayers, who are getting short-changed. First, they have paid into the NWF to develop the repository ($31 Billion paid in this far) and have seen nothing for the money they have paid into the fund. Second, ratepayers are also assessed fees to cover the costs of on-site interim storage. Third, ratepayers are responsible for decommissioning costs (Decommissioning Fund). Finally, the taxpayers (which includes the ratepayers) will be responsible for the Govenunent’s breach of contract liability (the Judgment Fund) …
The report points out that Yucca Mountain would, in fact, be able to accommodate all the spent nuclear fuel from the existing fleet of reactors, even if their licenses were to be extended. This capacity does not include spent fuel that will be generated at new reactors. The statutory capacity, however, must be lifted by Congressional action. Increased capacity at Yucca Mountain through legislative action is not guaranteed. In recent years, we have seen consistent efforts to block legislation continuing funding for the Yucca Mountain project, slowly killing the project for which the ratepayers have already paid billions of dollars.
How can the NRC be assured that increased sufficient capacity will be available (either through a legislative increase or a second repository) when the first geologic repository (Yucca Mountain) is now 11 years overdue and has an uncertain future? …
This proposed revision seems to provide for the possibility that Yucca Mountain will not receive a license from the NRC. When the ISFSI at Prairie Island was first licensed in the 1990s, it was to be temporary measure, only for a period of years, to keep the plant running and people working until Yucca Mountain was open. As you may be aware, Minnesota law requires approval from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the State Legislature before a utility can use on-site dry cask storage. The legislative hearings for the Prairie Island ISFSI were highly contentious and divisive. It is highly doubtful that NSP would have received state approval then if legislators believed that the waste would be on-site for 100 years.
We would like to point out to the Commission that these ISFSIs are not located in remote parts of the country. Many are located near population centers. In our case, the ISFSI is located right next to us, 600 yards away from our homes, community center and business. As we mentioned earlier, Prairie Island is our only homeland, the land promised to us by the United States government. We cannot simply relocate to another place away from a nuclear waste dump…” https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NRC-2008-0482-0030 (Note that any typos are due to cutting and pasting text from the original, which is found below).
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The full comment with our emphasis added: