United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC Considers Amending License for Pennsylvania Facility; Offers Opportunity for Hearing


NRC Seal NRC NEWS
U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
Office of Public Affairs Telephone: 301/415-8200
Washington, DC 20555-001 E-mail: opa@nrc.gov

No. 99-121
June 9, 1999

NRC CONSIDERS AMENDING LICENSE FOR PENNSYLVANIA FACILITY;
OFFERS OPPORTUNITY FOR HEARING

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering amending the nuclear materials license of Molycorp., Inc. to permit temporary storage of waste from the company's York, Pennsylvania, site at its Washington, Pennsylvania, facility.

The NRC is offering an opportunity for anyone whose interest may be affected by the license amendment to request a hearing. The request must be filed by July 9 (30 days after publication of a Federal Register notice on this subject on June 9).

Molycorp submitted a license amendment request in February 1996 seeking permission to store the York waste at its Washington site for about five to 10 years. Both the Washington and the York sites hold current NRC licenses.

The York site was used from 1965 to 1992 to process lanthanide ores and concentrates containing low concentrations of thorium and uranium. About 3,000 to 5,000 cubic yards of soils containing radioactive thorium and uranium will be generated as a result of decommissioning operations at the facility. Molycorp has proposed storage of the York soils at Washington as part of a decommissioning plan for the York site.

The Molycorp Washington site was used between 1964 and 1970 to produce a ferrocolumbium alloy from a Brazilian ore that was about one to one-and-a-half percent natural thorium (a radioactive material). The operation resulted in the production of thorium-bearing slag, which was used as fill over portions of the site.

Before NRC will approve Molycorp's request to transfer waste from York to Washington, the licensee must demonstrate that the temporary storage facility it proposes to build at the Washington site provides adequate containment for the waste. Molycorp must also show that there will be sufficient monitoring of effluents during the transfer and storage activities, as well as an adequate radiation protection plan to help keep radiation doses as low as reasonably achievable. The NRC is currently assessing the environmental and safety impacts of the transfer request and will document its findings in a safety evaluation report and an environmental assessment.

Any request for a hearing on the license amendment request should be sent to the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attention: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff. A copy should be sent to Molycorp Incorporated, 350 North Sherman Street, York, Pennsylvania 17403, Attention: Mr. John Daniels, and to the Executive Director for Operations, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington DC 20555-0001.

Information that must be contained in the hearing request is described in the Federal Register notice.

The NRC held a public meeting April 15 in Washington, Pennsylvania, to discuss the status of decommissioning of Molycorp's site there and the company's request for authorization to construct and operate a storage facility at the site for radioactive soils.

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