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West Valley Demonstration Project

1.0 Site Identification

Type of Site: Complex Decommissioning Site
Location: West Valley, NY
License No.: CSF-1
Docket No.: 0500201, POOM-032
License Status: Decom
Project Manager: Amy Snyder

2.0 Site Status Summary

Located 48 km [30 mi] south of Buffalo, New York, the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) site is located on the Western New York Nuclear Service Center (WNYNSC) and comprises 1,335 ha [3,300 ac] of land established for a former reprocessing facility. The 1980 WVDP Act gives the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) exclusive possession of the WVDP site, an 80-ha [200-ac] portion of the WNYNSC, which includes the former reprocessing facility, the NRC-licensed disposal area, high-level waste (HLW) tanks, waste lagoons, and above-ground waste storage areas. The WNYNSC contains a former commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing facility that operated from 1966 to 1972, and produced approximately 2,271 m3 [600,000 gal] of liquid HLW. The WNYNSC also contains contaminated structures and two radioactive waste disposal areas: (i) a 6-ha [15-ac] New York State-licensed disposal area—which is not on WVDP premises—that operated as a commercial low-level waste (LLW) disposal facility from 1963 to 1975, and (ii) the 2.8-ha [7-ac] NRC-licensed disposal area that received radioactive waste from the reprocessing plant and associated facilities from 1966 through 1986.

In 1980, Congress enacted the WVDP Act. Under the Act, DOE assumed exclusive possession of the 200-acre portion of the WNYNSC which includes the former reprocessing facility, the NDA, the HLW tanks, waste lagoons, and above-ground waste storage areas. The WVDP Act authorized DOE to: solidify, transport and dispose of HLW that exists at the site; dispose of LLW and transuranic waste produced by the WVDP; and decontaminate and decommission facilities used for the WVDP in accordance with requirements prescribed by NRC. In 1981, NRC put the technical specifications of the license in abeyance to allow DOE to carry out the WVDP Act. In 2002, DOE completed the solidification of liquid HLW which was placed into 275 stainless steel canisters. The HLW canisters are expected to be stored onsite until shipped for disposal to a federal repository.

In 2002, the Commission issued its final policy statement on decommissioning criteria for the WVDP. The policy statement prescribed the NRC's License Termination Rule (LTR) (10 CFR part 20, subpart E) as the decommissioning criteria for the WVDP, reflecting the fact that the applicable goal for the entire NRC-licensed site is compliance with the requirements of the LTR.

In 1990, DOE and NYSERDA agreed to prepare a joint EIS to address the completion of WVDP and closure or long-term management of the WNYNSC. NRC is a cooperating agency for this EIS in accordance with its responsibilities under the WVDP Act. In September 2005, NRC and other cooperating agencies initiated a review of a preliminary (pre-decisional) draft of this EIS. In April 2006, cooperating agencies forwarded comments to DOE on the preliminary draft EIS.

In November 2006, the DOE convened a "Core Team" of federal and state agencies involved in the EIS. The Core Team's goal was to assist in addressing technical issues related to the EIS. DOE issued a draft EIS for public comment in December 2008, and issued a final EIS in January 2010. In April 2010, DOE issued the EIS Record of Decision (ROD) which implements the DOE and NYSERDA preferred alternative (Phased Decision-making Alternative) identified in the EIS. Under the Phased Decision-making Alternative, decommissioning would proceed in two phases. Phase 1 involves near-term decommissioning work and studies that could facilitate future decision making for the remaining facilities and areas. DOE intends to complete any remaining WVDP decommissioning decision-making with its Phase 2 decision (to be made within 10 years of this ROD).

In December 2008, DOE submitted a Phase 1 DP to NRC for review and comment. In February 2010, NRC issued a Technical Evaluation Report documenting its review of the Phase 1 DP.

3.0 Major Technical or Regulatory Issues

Current issues include the Phase 2 decision-making to complete decommissioning and/or long-term stewardship based on the approach determined appropriate during the additional Phase 1 studies and evaluations.

4.0 Estimated Date For Closure


Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, June 26, 2015