United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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Waste Confidence

Historically, Waste Confidence has been the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) generic determination regarding the environmental impacts of storing spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operation of a nuclear power plant. This generic analysis has been incorporated into the Commission's NEPA reviews for new reactor licenses, license renewals, and Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) licenses through the Waste Confidence Rule. The Waste Confidence GEIS and rule satisfy the NRC's obligations under NEPA with respect to post-licensed-life storage of spent nuclear fuel.

On June 8, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit found that some aspects of the 2010 rulemaking did not satisfy the NRC's NEPA obligations and vacated the rulemaking. [New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012)]. The court indicated that in making either a Finding Of No Significant Impact based on an Environmental Assessment or in an Environmental Impact Statement supporting the rulemaking, the Commission needed to add additional discussions concerning the impacts of failing to secure permanent disposal for spent nuclear fuel, and concerning the impacts of certain aspects of potential spent fuel pool leaks and spent fuel pool fires.

In response to the Court's decision, the Commission decided to stop all licensing activities that rely on the Waste Confidence rule (see CLI-12-016). The NRC created a Waste Confidence Directorate within the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards to oversee the development of a Waste Confidence Generic Environmental Impact Statement and revised Rule. The Commission has instructed the Directorate to issue the final Generic Environmental Impact Statement and Rule by no later than fall 2014.

For additional information, please see the following pages:

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, September 24, 2014