Orano, WCS Aim to Revive Spent Fuel Storage Project

MARCH 14, 2018


Nearly a year after putting it on ice, Waste Control Specialists aims to revive its application for a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to build and operate a facility for consolidated interim storage of used fuel from commercial nuclear power reactors. It is doing so in a joint venture planned with Orano USA.

Establishment of the joint venture and a formal request to restart the NRC review are expected in the second quarter of this year, said Jeffery Isakson, vice president of business operations at Orano subsidiary TN Americas, who is working on the spent fuel storage project.

The plan remains to build a facility on Waste Control Specialists’ property in Andrews County, Texas, to temporarily hold up to 40,000 metric tons of spent fuel until the Department of Energy finds a permanent home for the radioactive waste.

In a joint press release, the companies touted the experience they will bring to the project: Orano’s (formerly AREVA) capabilities in fuel packaging, storage, and transportation, and Waste Control Specialists’ operation of a disposal facility for low-level radioactive and other waste forms from the commercial and government sectors. Isakson said he could not yet discuss details of what each company will provide operationally to the joint venture.

“When the NRC receives the WCS request to resume, the staff will develop a new schedule for continuing the review, publish a new notice of hearing on this license application, and re-open the environmental scoping period for 60 days using our established procedures for these activities,” NRC spokesman David McIntyre said by email Tuesday.

Waste Control Specialists first submitted its application in April 2016, in partnership with NAC International and AREVA. The NRC completed its acceptance review of the application in January 2017, but the company in April of that year asked that the regulator halt the full technical review ahead of WCS’ then-pending merger with EnergySolutions. A federal judge blocked that deal on antitrust grounds, and Waste Control Specialists was acquired in January by private equity firm J.F. Lehman.

Orano USA was previously AREVA Nuclear Materials prior to its parent company’s renaming in January

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