The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on proposed changes to its licensing requirements for the storage of spent nuclear fuel, which would clarify the term limits for specific licenses for independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs) and for certificates of compliance (CoCs) for spent fuel storage casks.

In a proposed rule published 15 September in the Federal Register, the agency proposes formalizing the initial and renewal terms of a specific ISFSI license at a period of up to 40 years, instead of the current duration of up to 20 years. This change would codify a technical approach begun in 2004 with the renewal of the licenses for storage installations at the Surry and H. B. Robinson nuclear power plants. Currently, licensees must request an exemption if they desire a term of more than 20 years.

Similarly, the proposed rule would allow CoC applicants to request initial and renewal terms of up to 40 years, provided they can demonstrate that all design requirements are satisfied for the requested term.

For both site-specific licenses and CoCs, the proposed rule would require renewal applicants to provide time-limited ageing analyses and a description of an ageing management program to ensure that storage casks will perform as designed under the extended renewal terms.

The proposed rule would also allow general licensees to implement changes authorized by an amended certificate of compliance to a cask previously loaded under the initial certificate or an earlier amended certificate. Currently, licensees must request exemptions to modify such “previously loaded casks.” These changes will save licensee and NRC resources without an adverse effect on public health and safety or the environment.

Comments will be accepted for 75 days following publication in the Federal Register.