Spent-fuel storage at nuclear plants to be focus of SLO meeting

dsneed@thetribunenews.comOctober 30, 2013 

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a meeting for Nov. 20 in San Luis Obispo to take public comment on the environmental concerns regarding storing highly radioactive used reactor fuel for extended periods at nuclear power plants.

The meeting will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1605 Calle Joaquin Road. The first hour will be an open house where the public can talk with NRC staff, and the final three hours will start with a short NRC staff presentation and then be devoted to public comment.

The meeting had originally been set for early this month but was postponed because of the federal government shutdown. Also as a result of the shutdown, the public has a new deadline of Dec. 20 to submit comments, an extension of three weeks over the original deadline.

The agency is specifically seeking public input on its proposed waste confidence rule, which is a generic finding of the environmental impacts of storing highly radioactive spent reactor fuel at nuclear plants for extended periods of time after the plants have closed.

The rule does not authorize the extended storage of spent fuel at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The plant has a separate license for that. Spent fuel at Diablo Canyon is stored in pools and dry casks.

The rule looks at a variety of environmental impacts associated with spent fuel storage, including groundwater, air quality, ecology, waste, public and occupational health, environmental justice and socioeconomics, as well as accidents and natural events.

It also includes analyses of spent-fuel pool leaks and spent-fuel pool fires. The time frames considered range from 60 years after licensed life to an indefinite period of time. The indefinite time period assumes that a national storage repository for the fuel is never established.

In addition to attending the Nov. 20 meeting, the public can also submit comments via mail, fax and e-mail. For details, visit the NRC website at www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/wcd.html.

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