Texas-based Waste Control Specialists has announced its intent to design and license an interim consolidated storage facility that could be used to store used nuclear fuel from US commercial nuclear plants until a federal disposal facility becomes operational.
The Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) planned for the site in Andrews County, Texas, is similar to storage facilities currently in use at over 60 power plant sites in the United States, the Nuclear Energy Institute said.
WCS said it intends to submit an application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission by April 2016. The facility is expected to be ready to begin storing used fuel by the end of 2020.
The company, which currently operates two separately licensed low-level waste disposal facilities at its 14,000-acre Andrews site, said it would work with other industry leaders to assist with used nuclear fuel management and transportation, to help assure a safe and comprehensive solution for the interim storage.
The Nuclear Energy Institute welcomed the plan to site an interim consolidated storage facility for used nuclear fuel in west Texas as "a promising project" that shows the challenges of managing used nuclear fuel at a national level are surmountable.
Recognition of the WCS project also came from the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition (NWSC), an ad hoc organisation representing the collective interests of various stakeholders, including utility regulators, governments, nuclear-generating utilities and public and private sector experts, on nuclear waste policy matters.
"Important and positive steps are being taken on the nuclear waste front in 2015," said Chairman and Michigan Public Service Commissioner Greg White. "Less than two weeks ago, the NWSC recognized the NRC staff's completion of its independent and long overdue safety evaluation of the Yucca Mountain repository. Today, we recognize WCS and Andrews County, Texas, for taking the initial steps toward licensing an interim consolidated storage facility."
"The NWSC believes such a facility for the storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste is a way for the federal government to begin meeting its obligations under the law pending the licensing and operation of a permanent disposal repository for all the nation's nuclear waste," White added.