United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Report on Waste Burial Charges: Changes in Decommissioning Waste Disposal Costs at Low-Level Waste Burial Facilities (Draft Report for Comment, NUREG-1307, Revision 16)

This NUREG publication has been issued for public comment. Comments will be accepted until December 20, 2016. To submit comments, please see Docket ID Number NRC-2016-0220.

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: July 2016
Date Published:
November 2016

Prepared by:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Steven Short and Michael Toyooka

NRC Project Manager:
Kosmas Lois

Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires nuclear power reactor licensees to adjust annually, in current year dollars, their estimate of the cost of decommissioning their plants as part of the process providing reasonable assurance that adequate funds for decommissioning will be available when needed. This NUREG, which is periodically revised, provides and explains a formula acceptable to the NRC for determining the minimum decommissioning fund requirements for nuclear power plants. The sources of information used in the formula are identified, and the values developed for the estimation of radioactive waste burial/disposition costs, by site and year, are given.

This 16th revision of NUREG-1307 "Changes in Decommissioning Waste Disposal Costs at Low-Level Waste Burial Facilities," contains disposal costs updated to the year 2016 for the reference pressurized-water reactor (PWR) and for the reference boiling-water reactor (BWR). Three different options for estimating these costs are presented. Licensees may use the formula, coefficients, and burial/disposition adjustment factors from this NUREG in their cost analyses, or they may use adjustment factors derived from any methodology that results in a total cost estimate of no less than the amount estimated by using the parameters presented in this NUREG.

The first option assumes that 100-percent of the low-level waste (LLW) generated during decommissioning is disposed of at one of the three compact-affiliated disposal facilities, which are located in Richland, Washington; Barnwell, South Carolina; and Andrews County, Texas. This is the first revision of NUREG-1307 to include costs for the Andrews County, Texas, site, which became operational in 2012. Ratios of year 2016 disposal costs to the original year 1986 disposal costs (i.e., Bx factors) are also provided for the Washington, South Carolina, and Texas facilities. For historical purposes, disposal costs for the reference reactors and ratios of disposal costs at the Washington and South Carolina sites for the years 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 are also provided. See previous revisions of NUREG-1307 for disposal costs prior to 2004.

The second option provides for disposing of LLW using a combination of non-compact and compact-affiliated disposal facilities. This option allows nuclear power plant (NPP) licensees to take advantage of potentially lower disposal costs for some of their decommissioning LLW. As with the first option, ratios of the alternative disposal costs to the original year 1986 disposal costs (i.e., Bx factors) are provided.

The third option provides for disposing of all LLW at a non-compact affiliated disposal facility. This option allows generators to dispose of all LLW at the Clive, Utah and Andrews County, Texas disposal facilities.

Several sample calculations for estimating the burial/disposition cost for each of the options are presented, demonstrating the use of the data contained in this NUREG.

Estimated disposal costs for 2016 using only the Washington disposal site, which accepts LLW from members of the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Compacts, are about 19-percent higher for the reference PWR and 8.7-percent higher for the reference BWR when compared to 2012 costs. The increases in disposal costs were driven by increases in the site surveillance fee. The increase in the PWR disposal cost was also due to a revision in the treatment of combustible waste to be consistent with the basis document NUREG/CR-0130. Disposal costs for the option in which a portion of decommissioning LLW is disposed of at a non-compact disposal facility are about 10-percent higher for the PWR and 9.7-percent higher for the BWR when compared to 2012 costs. The increases are predominantly due to increases in the non-compact facility disposal rates.

Estimated disposal costs for 2016 using only the South Carolina disposal site, which accepts LLW from members of the Atlantic Compact, are about 1.7-percent lower for the reference PWR and 3.5-percent lower for the reference BWR when compared to 2012 costs. Increases in disposal costs for weight, curie, and irradiated hardware charges were offset by a revision in the treatment of evaporator/concentrator bottoms to be consistent with the basis documents NUREG/CR-0130 and NUREG/CR-0672. Disposal costs for the option in which a portion of the decommissioning LLW is disposed of at a non-compact disposal facility are about 21-percent lower for the PWR and 14-percent lower for the BWR when compared to 2012 costs. The increases in the non-compact disposal facility rates were offset by decreases due to: 1) the revision in the treatment of evaporator/concentrator bottoms previously described and 2) revision in the classification of several components from Class B/C to Class A, again to be consistent with the basis documents NUREG/CR-0130 and NUREG/CR-0672.

Revision 16 to NUREG 1307 assumes that LLW generated from day-to-day plant operations would be disposed of using the licensee's operating funds, and thus would not rely on decommissioning funds identified in the formula calculation. However, facilities located in states that are members of an LLW Compact with no available LLW disposal site may be forced to provide interim storage for this waste (although most LLW may be able to be disposed of at the non-compact disposal facility located in Clive, Utah or at the compact-affiliated disposal facility located in Andrews County, Texas). Accordingly, some of the LLW may ultimately need to be disposed of during decommissioning following interim storage. This volume can become significant for those plants operating through extended license terms, and the disposal cost would not be accounted for in a decommissioning trust fund based on the formula calculation.

For plants that have no disposal site available within their designated LLW Compact, NUREG 1307, Revision16, assumes that the cost for disposal of Class A LLW is the same as that for the Clive, Utah, disposal facility and for Class B and C LLW, the cost would be the same as that for the Andrews County, Texas, disposal facility including accounting for out-of-compact fees. As new disposal options become available, they will be incorporated into subsequent revisions of NUREG-1307.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, November 21, 2016