114th ACNW Meeting U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, November 19, 1999
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NUCLEAR WASTE
MEETING: 114TH ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON
NUCLEAR WASTE (ACNW)
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Two White Flint North, Room 2B3
11545 Rockville Pike
Rockville, Maryland 20852-2738
Friday, November 19, 1999
The Committee met pursuant to notice at 9:00 a.m.
B. JOHN GARRICK, Chairman, ACNW
GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Vice Chairman, ACNW
. P R O C E E D I N G S
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Our meeting will now come to order.
This is the third day of the 114th meeting of the Advisory
Committee on Nuclear Waste. This entire meeting will be open to the
Today we are going to meet with William Kane, director of
Nuclear Materials and Safety Safeguards to discuss future priorities and
items of mutual interest, and the committee will continue with its
efforts on the preparation of ACNW reports.
Richard Major is the designated officer or federal official
for the initial portion of today's meeting. We are conducting this
meeting in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory
We haven't received any written statements or requests to
make oral statements from members of the public regarding today's
session, but if there is somebody who wishes to do so, please contact
one of the members of the staff.
Unless there are some comments from the members or our
staff, we want to maximize the time that we give to Mr. Kane in his
discussion with us. So I would like to turn it over to you, Bill.
MR. KANE: Thank you very much. I appreciate the
opportunity to be here with you today and hope to do it again on some
sort of frequency if we can work that out. It is very important to all
of us, I believe.
As you probably know, as of tomorrow I will have been on the
job two months. They have been an exciting two months. I thought today
would be good to be able to share with you at least some preliminary
views on what I see as priorities. Many of these, of course, were
developed from discussions with the staff, but they also reflect clearly
my personal views at this point.
As you know, we are also involved in developing a strategic
plan. We have two arenas that we deal with, waste and materials. Those
activities are ongoing. We are developing strategic goals, performance
goals, measures and metrics and strategies. At some point we hope to be
in a position to brief you on that activity. I think you have requested
discussion along those lines, and we will be able to do that in the
Also, in large part, those strategies would also shape our
priorities for the future. Just to review briefly the performance goals
that we have worked out, they involve maintaining safety, number one;
improving public confidence, improving effectiveness, efficiency and
realism in our activities, and reducing, where it exists, unnecessary
Those goals were very similar to those that were developed
for the reactors, and I suspect as we go through our process not yet
completed that those will be the same for both of the arenas that we
Turning to the second slide in your package, our top
priority is Yucca Mountain. Clearly this work has to be done with
superior quality and on time. In fact, to tell you where it stands for
me, Yucca Mountain was the first place I visited upon taking this job.
You have been briefed on a number of these activities, and I
know you have commented on them.
The Commission paper on the DEIS, which you talked about
yesterday. That activity is certainly right now the pacing item that we
have to deal with.
Part 63 and tying in with that defense in depth.
Also, the Yucca Mountain review plan.
Those are areas that I know you have provided comments on,
and we will continue to seek your counsel on those areas as we move
forward. That is a very important activity, obviously.
One that certainly got my attention when I was out there was
the pre-closure activities. At this point the degree of uncertainty
that exists there, I think that is an activity that we will be paying a
lot more attention to here as we go forward.
It's very important in terms of basically what is happening
with the sites, with the development of the storage of spent fuel on
sites, ultimately the shipment of fuel, and just how that is to be done
out there in terms of transfer overpacks, whatever it turns out to be in
their plan. That is certainly going to be a significant part of any
review. That aspect would have to be covered later in the review plan.
To understand how that is going to be done, it is going to
have to involve, at least in our organization, a significant part of
what the Spent Fuel Project Office has been doing, and also, of course,
Division of Waste Management. That is a fairly substantial review when
Of course upcoming here are the site recommendation comments
that we will have to offer to the Commission. Once there is a
secretary's recommendation to the President, when and if that occurs,
the Commission is obligated to provide comments. Your input there is
going to be extremely important.
I think you are well aware that one of the principal issues
has to do with the reverification activity that they are doing on many
of the inputs. We are certainly sensitive to how that project is going,
how many of those models and calculations are going to be reverified
prior to the time that we are expected to provide comments on any
recommendation. The pace and outcome of those activities is going to be
extremely important for us to follow, and we have got a well designed
plan to make sure that we understand how that is coming along.
Certainly we need to make sure that we brief you periodically on the
progress of that program.
Moving beyond that to the low-level waste activities, we
have got a branch technical position on performance assessment that will
be coming to you, which we eventually will owe to the Commission for
their approval. That is coming up. That is very important.
This page, and in particular the first bullet and everything
under it, from my perspective is the number one priority for our
activities and working with ACNW.
MR. LARKINS: Bill, some of these are probably going to
require a couple of meetings. When we reviewed DOE's viability
assessment we spent a lot of time interacting with the staff. It would
be good, if we get to the stage of site recommendation or before, that
we lay out some kind of plan and include it in our operating plan or
something to schedule some meetings with the ACNW, that we figure out a
mechanism to best do that most efficiently and effectively.
MR. KANE: I agree. We would appreciate it if you had
thoughts that you could pass to us. I realize it is not always clear at
this point as to how many meetings you may need, but if you had some
early thoughts, we would put that together. Certainly I agree that we
ought to put together a plan as best we can for how we are going to
interact with you and try to lay that out earlier. Certainly it's a
good opportunity at this point to get some early thoughts.
MR. HORNBERGER: I have a quick question. To my
recollection, this is the first time that I've seen pre-closure
activities elevated to this high on the priority list. To what extent
does this include transportation issues and how will you interact with
other entities involved with transportation?
MR. KANE: We have got activities coming up here on
transportation. Clearly, from my early look at this, obviously whatever
takes place at pre-closure, as you are aware, we have got a major
initiative that I believe you have been briefed on in certifying these
dual purpose cask designs that are capable of being stored at the
reactor sites, or storing fuel at reactor sites, and then ultimately
being shipped to wherever they are eventually going to go, presumably
Yucca Mountain. As they are received there, the real question of how
they are going to be received, what is going to be done with them, do
they have to be unloaded, will there be an overpack, just how that works
out tells you a whole lot about what we need to do to prepare for review
of that activity.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Our perspective here is not that it
shouldn't be there, because this committee has been identifying
pre-closure as an important issue, especially if we are genuine about
risk-informed perspective. We are pleased to see it there. I think we
have a lot of questions about the issues and what we ought to be
MR. KANE: It gets into also dry transfer. If there is a
transfer going on, is it dry transfer, wet transfer? Pretty fundamental
kinds of decisions. I have a lot of questions about it. It isn't
something that there is a lot of definition to at this point. I am
going to encourage discussion in this area so we can get that
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Just something to think about. When an
issue surfaces that is high priority and we feel that it needs somewhat
of a jump start to get the attention and the involvement and get us in a
position of making reasonable recommendations to the Commission on it,
the mechanism that we have used quite often is the mechanism of a
working group or a working session.
One of the things we might think about a little bit is
whether there shouldn't be in the year 2000 a working session on
pre-closure. We would want very much to work with you closely on that
decision, number one, and number two, on scoping the session.
The working group's activities have been very effective in
creating background material and understanding of issues and problems
and putting us in a much better position than we would otherwise be to
give good advice. Especially given that our action planning activity is
on our agenda in the next few months, we may want to come to you and
talk to you about this in more detail.
MR. KANE: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: One of the things that we are very
interested in hearing your comments on is an area that seems to be
absent of too many success stories, which is the whole low-level waste
business. We are aware of the performance assessment activity and the
branch technical position, but we would also be very interested in any
insights and visions that people have of other activities in the
low-level waste field that we should be proactive in.
I think some years ago this committee provided a letter to
the Commission on what we labeled as an adequate program in low-level
waste. Given the state agreements and what have you, it might be
interesting to revisit that a little bit and see if it needs updating or
there needs to be any follow-on. It is an area that is a bit dormant as
far as our involvement is concerned.
The question is, given that it seems to be bogged down a
little bit as far as the state actions are concerned, is there something
that should be done at the national level to provide some guidance or
inspiration or advice in that whole area?
MR. KANE: We will have to look into that. I don't have
anything at this point to offer beyond what we have here. We appreciate
your views on that and we will get back to you.
Continuing with Division of Waste Management, in the area of
site decommissioning we just had a meeting last week with the
Commission. This involves the reactor sites and also the site
decommissioning management program. We have a number of issues with
site decommissioning that start out with the Part 50 licensees, with the
reactors, and go beyond.
A couple of issues that came up involved preparing for the
spent fuel storage and shipping program. The industry had a number of
comments regarding where we were on the designs and the ability of those
designs to be able to accommodate whatever is coming out of the pools.
While we have improved designs that will accommodate what
may come out of the pools, I think there are some cost issues there
associated with how you deal with the high burnup fuel and failed fuel
that have generated yet another need for workshops with the industry.
We have something being set up later this month to work with the
industry and other stakeholders to identify what further issues are
involved with basically being able to remove all of the fuel from the
pools and put it into dry storage. We will be working that in the
The license termination rule, of course.
An issue that is a fairly new issue that you were briefed on
yesterday is rubblization. We would be very much interested in your
comments there. That is a new approach and we have to examine it
carefully to make sure that we are comfortable with it. We would
certainly appreciate your comments in that area.
The Spent Fuel Project Office we talked about a little bit
in terms of dry cask storage. Obviously the transportation component is
a major issue. As I talked to you earlier about the issues of
maintaining safety and public confidence being a major part of what we
have to pay attention to, the transportation issue, in my view, is going
to be one that is going to create a great deal of interest with the
public in any sort of large campaign. It does now in relatively small
The safety record in the transportation area thus far, I
think, has been something we can be very proud of, but we are talking
about a campaign that is obviously significantly larger. I know the
Spent Fuel Project Office will continue to come down and talk to you on
what they are doing in that area. Certainly that is an area that we
would invite comments as well from the committee.
Finally, the control of solid materials. You are probably
aware we have been holding workshops with stakeholders to try to develop
input for what to do in that area. We have held workshops thus far in
San Francisco and in Atlanta. More recently there was a workshop held
here. There is an additional workshop planned for Chicago.
I believe we plan to come back to you with the results of
those workshops, if I am not mistaken. We could invite your input on
that. We eventually have to go back to the Commission to tell them what
we plan to do in this area. Your input would be extremely valuable in
terms of that activity.
That is a quick snapshot from my perspective of the things
that in the two months have risen to the top of the list for us. I
would just say that these are very much in order of priority. The
control of solid materials you will be getting pretty soon here. The
transportation discussions would be over some period of time.
That is how I see it from a quick snapshot, a two-month view
of the program.
I would say that I certainly will appreciate any comments
that you may have on our programs. I will be realistic enough to tell
you that we are probably not always going to agree on everything, but
that sort of is the way world works.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I don't know why that is the case. We're
a pretty agreeable bunch.
MR. KANE: I can tell you that we value your input and we
will carefully consider and respond to your input. It is an important
part of the process. I hope we can continue to work together.
I guess the thing I would like to leave you with is I intend
to be constructive. I want to make things work. If you can give me
some thoughts how often I need to be back here talking to you at my
level, I would be happy to work with you to work out something that is
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: That's very good. One thing you can
never have too much of is communication. I think the more interaction
we can have with senior management of NMSS the more likely we are going
to be on target as to what we should be doing.
I didn't introduce the committee or consultants this
morning. One of our committee members is absent today, Dr. Wymer.
George Hornberger, of course, is a member, and our consultant is Milton
Levenson. And, of course, the staff.
Milt, do you have any comments about what we have heard?
MR. LEVENSON: I have got a couple of questions based on
ignorance, but maybe members of the public and the audience might have
the same questions. The last bullet on your last slide, control of
solid materials, is kind of a nondescriptive thing. What does that
MR. KANE: In terms of Part 20 there are release limits for
gaseous effluents and liquid effluents, and they are not an equivalent
limit for solid materials. This whole endeavor is to go out and seek
stakeholder comments on what needs to be done relative to this area.
MR. LEVENSON: On the decommissioning, I would have maybe
expected to see clearance of material as an issue, or is it subservient
to one of the other issues there?
MR. KANE: That is the control of solid materials issue.
MR. LEVENSON: Okay.
MR. LARKINS: There are a lot of stakeholders in the
Agreement States program.
MR. KANE: Absolutely.
MR. LARKINS: Just for the committee's information, that is
going to be a very controversial issue.
MR. KANE: It has been already.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: George.
MR. HORNBERGER: I thought it was very helpful.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes.
One of the things that we heard a great deal about last
month in Nevada in our meetings with the public was this issue of
transportation. I guess one of the things that we are very interested
in is your perspective on what the transportation issues are.
You mentioned already the matter of public confidence. That
certainly has to be addressed. But public confidence is dependent upon
a lot of issues that have to do with everything from process to specific
technical issues. I think the more feedback we can get on the specifics
of the transportation issue the better we are in a position to address
it and be constructive.
I think part of the problem here is the separation of the
radiological aspects of transportation risk from other aspects. My own
opinion about transportation is that it's out of control. It is not
very well articulated. It is confused with transportation accidents.
I'm talking about radiological risk of transportation is confused with
I think the record in the industry of transportation as it
relates to radiological materials, as you have already alluded to, is
somewhat unique. I don't think that message is understood, or at least
has been received well by the public. It is such a massive issue in
terms of the responses we have received that in order for us to be
effective, I think somehow we have got to really find some of the
underlying and overarching aspects of it that will allow us to leverage
the addressing of real public confidence.
Of course there is also the confusion in the public about
who regulates transportation, Department of Transportation, the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, DOE, the states, and what have you.
I think that somehow there needs to be the equivalent of a
white paper, if you wish, on transportation that more clearly
articulates the issue and the things that we should turn up the
microscope on than we now have. Right now it seems to be referred to as
a glob of things. There is a lot of emotion associated with it.
Probably the best example of where we violated the concept of risk
harmonization that exists.
Since this is on your priority list -- I realize it's not
top priority -- if you were to listen to the public, and given that
Yucca Mountain is top priority, you would have to conclude that
transportation is one of the top priorities in relation to Yucca
Mountain. It has a lot of momentum as an issue. I think we need to in
a very systematic and deliberate way come to grips with it in a fashion
that we can see what we should do and be able to measure the
effectiveness with which we are doing it.
So we need your help on that one.
MR. KANE: I think there are a couple of points worth
making. One of the efforts that we have got coming up soon is the Part
71 will be revised. That is one piece that you will be seeing at some
point in time.
The question of getting out just how transportation is done.
I agree with you that we probably could do more in terms of describing
the current situation, making more highly visible the safety record that
exists in that area; making clear just how much is going on in terms of
right now, in terms of shipment, and just how it is done.
As I am sure you know, route surveys are accomplished by the
agency. The shipments are carefully tracked. The shipping casks
themselves are very robust and have been designed for some pretty
impressive types of potential accidents that could occur. Having spent
at least part of my regulatory life in charge of that office, I know the
work that is done is pretty impressive.
As you point out, we need to continue to develop a better
understanding. Certainly your comments and suggestions in that area
will serve us well.
I think there is a very good story there that needs to be
told. I'm sure that we are going to be telling that story many, many
times if a large transportation campaign is to occur.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: The reason it's so important is that
transportation is a driver on the alternatives and approaches that one
can take to manage radioactive waste. It is an overarching issue. We
don't want to find ourselves in a position of putting undue constraints
on the overall safety, the overall risk of nuclear waste management out
of ignorance with respect to transportation.
This is happening in other industries as well. So there is
probably an opportunity to get some input and guidance on how
transportation issues are being addressed in other hazardous and toxic
material issues that would benefit us.
This happens to be fresh on our mind as a result of last
months meetings. I am pleased to see that you also recognize it as
something that has to be dealt with. It is not like a lot of these
other issues, though. That is why I make the comment where we don't
have much information, in transportation we have a lot of information.
We even have statistics. I think there is a lot we could do to build
public confidence if we maybe better utilized our information base.
Any other comments?
MR. LARKINS: I just wanted to express appreciation. We had
a workshop out in Nevada last month. Your staff's participation in that
was very useful, and I would like to express appreciation. Also,
hopefully we can have that continued level of cooperation on these types
MR. KANE: Thank you for that feedback.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: That is very true. You were very helpful
in what was kind of an experiment.
Andy, Lynn, Richard?
MR. LARSON: I thought one of your thrusts was that lots of
times when we discuss transportation we sort of fracture the
presentation. The Department of Energy has certain responsibilities;
the Department of Transportation has; the NRC has. It doesn't seem like
it's a coordinated presentation many times. People say, well, we have
got accident data for this, but I don't know whether it is really
presented in such a manner that it gives confidence to the public that
there really is, as John says, an overarching look at this issue.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: That is part of the point, and that is
part of the public's frustration. When they talk to a nuclear regulator
very often the conversation is truncated by the comment that, well, we
only worry about the packages, the shipping containers, and what have
you. That isn't what the public is only worried about. So there is a
problem of integration and crosscutting with respect to that story that
somehow we would like to resolve.
MR. LEVENSON: John, I just want to add one comment. It
isn't only the public that doesn't understand where the responsibilities
are. Having been involved in the last year in a number of meetings
where this kind of topic has come up, it leaves a very bad taste in the
mouths of people trying to review things.
Not that any one person should be responsible. The laws and
the government and everything prevent that. But the fact that almost
everybody from any agency ends up by saying "that's not our
responsibility," a much more acceptable answer would have been "we're
responsible for this, DOT is responsible that, DOE is responsible for
this." You generally project an image that you don't know who is
responsible for what, and I find that disturbing.
MR. KANE: If that is the impression, then I think we need
to correct that impression. It sounds to me like what I am hearing here
is what we need to do is to give you a broad overview of basically how
it works and who does what and then go from there.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. That would be helpful.
MR. KANE: I certainly know the staff can do that.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: John.
MR. LARKINS: Just to mention one other thing. At some
point the ACNW provides comments to the Commission on the agency's
research program. As a part of that they also take a look at the
technical assistance work at the center. At some future meeting it
might be something we might want to discuss.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Again, I add my thanks and gratitude to
what John Larkins has said for your coming down here. I think this is
the way we will become much more responsive to the issues that exist.
Our advice should be improved as a result of it, and we hope we will do
it many times. Thank you.
MR. KANE: Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I think what we will do now is take a
break and then the committee will resume its discussion of reports and
letters and work that we have under way. I guess for that portion of
our meeting we will not need the court reporter.
[Whereupon at 9:45 a.m., the recorded portion of the meeting
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