Nuclear Waste Storage OK, NRC Rules

power plantPLYMOUTH – Storage of nuclear waste at nuclear power plants across the country will be allowed, after a Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision yesterday.

Locally, about 3,000 spent fuel rods are being stored on-site at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth.

The NRC also lifted its suspension on the licensing and re-licensing of nuclear plants. That ban had been in place for two years.

The ruling concerned the environmental effects of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel at U.S. nuclear power plants.

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The final rule becomes effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. That will also mark a suspension of final licensing actions on nuclear power plant licenses and license renewals will be lifted.

The NRC has received thousands of public comments, including more than 33,000 written comments, during this environmental review, according to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Background:

On June 8, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the Commission’s 2010 Waste Confidence rulemaking, and remanded the rulemaking to the NRC to address deficiencies related to the NRC’s NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) analysis. On Sept. 6, 2012, the Commission instructed NRC staff to proceed with a generic EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) to analyze the environmental impacts of continued storage, address the issues raised in the court’s decision, and update the rule in accordance with the analysis in the EIS. The GEIS and this final rule implement the Commission’s direction.

The Commission determined at the time that no final decisions on license renewal or new reactor applications would be issued until this review process was completed.