118th Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste (ACNW) Meeting, March 29, 2000
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NUCLEAR WASTE
118TH ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NUCLEAR WASTE (ACNW)
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
11545 Rockville Pike
Conference Room 2B3
White Flint Building 2
Wednesday, March 29, 2000
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 8:32
B. JOHN GARRICK, Chairman, ACNW
GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Vice Chairman, ACNW
RAYMOND G. WYMER, ACNW Member
HOWARD J. LARSON, Acting Associate Director,
RICHARD K. MAJOR, ACNW Staff
JOHN GREVES, Division of Waste Management
BILL RAMER, Division of Waste Management
LYNN DEERING, ACNW Staff
MS. HANLON . P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. GARRICK: Good morning. Our meeting will come
to order. This is the third day of the 118th meeting of the
Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste. The entire meeting
will be open to the public.
Today the committee will meet with John Greves,
director of the Division of Waste Management, to discuss
items of mutual interest, assisted I assume by Bill Ramer.
MR. RAMER: Yes, in my typical assistant role.
MR. GARRICK: And we will also continue our effort
of preparing ACNW reports. Richard Major is the designated
federal official for the initial portion of today's meeting.
This meeting is being conducted in accordance the provisions
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
We have received no written statements, or
requests to make oral statements, from members of the public
regarding today's session. Should anyone wish to do so,
please make your wishes known to one of the committee staff.
It is requested that each speaker use one of the
microphones, identify himself or herself and speak with
sufficient clarity and volume so that he or she can be
John, we're anxious to hear from you.
MR. GREVES: Good. Is this working? Hear this?
Good. Good morning. This has been a little bit of a
difficult week. I think you know that the regulatory
information conference was this week, so I had two sessions
that I was requested to make presentations at the
conference. Also our ISCORS meetings that I know you sit in
on on occasion or your staff does, that was this week and
the ACNW sessions we've had, so -- I think next year as the
reg information conference comes around, we'll probably
encourage you to try and avoid this week.
I don't know whether any of you had a chance to go
around there. This is the second year I've participated,
and it's a good conference. They had 900 people down there
at this conference. They do break-out sessions and there
were two break-out sessions, one titled Waste, one titled
Decommissioning, and I made presentations at both those
And I think we actually need to play a stronger
role, we being NMSS, in the reg information conference, so
we're going to try and work it a little harder, and I just
commend that if you don't have a meeting that week, some of
you may want to participate.
The two sessions I participated in were basically
full rooms of people, several hundred people. There's a lot
of interest, mostly a utility type stakeholder crowd, but
they're quite interested in the spent fuel issues, they're
quite interested in Yucca Mountain, they're quite interested
in the low-level waste dilemma. So again, I'm going to
enjoy looking forward to next year's meeting and so I just
thought I would mention that to you.
Frequently the committee asks NMSS, what are your
priorities, and I think we met most recently with Bill
Keene, and he played out his priorities while you all were
meeting and going over your agenda. And individually I just
want to let you know from my vantage point, my priorities,
sort of in order one, two, three and four, are, the first
one is Yucca Mountain; the second one is Yucca Mountain; the
third one is Yucca Mountain, and the fourth is the rest.
I went to this reg information conference
yesterday, and Chairman Meserve spoke as all the
commissioners did. And a significant number of the
questions he got were on Yucca Mountain. Commissioner Dikus
spoke yesterday, I was able to sit in on that session, and
in one-third of her presentation, addressed Yucca Mountain.
So it is an issue, it is the issue in terms of priority, and
I just thought I'd give you my personal feedback on that.
This effort to make decisions regarding Yucca
Mountain deserves attention, and I think this group, your
group, is one that is well-equipped to provide information
on that. So I just thought I'd give you my personal set of
MR. GARRICK: Was there any other agency
representation at the meeting?
MR. GREVES: At the reg information conference?
MR. GARRICK: Yeah.
MR. GREVES: EPA was at the meeting; DOE was at
the meeting; I was only able to be there part of the day, I
don't know what other agency level of participation on, you
know, the actual presentations were. They were clearly at
the meeting, got up and then made comments. Whether they
were part of presentations I really just wasn't able to be
there and participate.
But they clearly have a need to know what's going
on in that type of arena. It's mostly utility, NEI,
utilities, contractors that serve the -- and of course the
group that I was speaking to was decommissioning and waste
issues, so I recognized a number of the people in the
But 900 people at this meeting, and the two
sessions that I was in was pretty much packed large rooms.
It was hard to count, but my guess was each, the waste
session and the decommissioning session probably had
200-plus people in the rooms. So it's a meeting that, you
know, we need to participate in, and each of those sessions,
lots of questions about Yucca Mountain, lots of questions
about waste and decommissioning.
I had more questions than I could answer in the
venue. They had these little cards that they passed out.
They kept passing the cards up, and there just wasn't time
to address all the questions. So I just put it on your
radar screen, and maybe you can try and avoid that week for
your meetings so that some of you might be able to get down
there and participate.
MR. GARRICK: I think that's a very good
MR. HORNBERGER: Is the date for next year's
meeting set yet?
MR. GREVES: I would expect it probably is, so
we'll take a note. Pat, can you just check on that, and I
want to engage them into a little bit more planning in terms
of the content of the meeting, and if you have an interest
why don't you join me and maybe we can come up with a
session where you can be part of the process. I mean I just
offer that that's an idea you may want to --
MR. LARSON: Did you keep the questions that you
were asked? It would be interesting to --
MR. GREVES: I kept the questions. I have them.
MR. LARSON: It would be interesting for the
committee to see what they are.
MR. GREVES: Yes, okay. I kept them, because they
were useful to me. I want to know what's on people's minds,
because these are the questions we have to have the answers
to. So I can share those with your staff. They're
handwritten, and we can do that.
Okay, moving into the topics that I want to
address, and not surprising high level waste is the first
topic. There's a number of things going on, and I know
we've had some briefings this week of you and your staff,
and the first on my list is part 63 and kind of a subset of
that is defense in depth. The committee is very aware that
we owe the commission a paper in April, and I might comment,
it's been somewhat difficult to address the defense in depth
We've talked to you about it a number of times,
and the thinking of defense in depth for a reactor just
doesn't transport one to one for a waste disposal facility.
You had a good joint session with ACRS, and I think we all
learned a lot in that process. So I think we've tried to
make transparent to you what our views are on part 63,
defense in depth, and particular, I know you're writing a
letter on that, and it's probably apparent to you that there
are a number of ways to go.
Is there the best way or the right way? I'm not
sure, but obviously the paper we put together, we've made --
we've identified some options, made some recommendations and
the commission needs to hear from the committee. I'm sure
you will be providing your letter, and if yours is not
exactly the same as ours, that's fine. I think this is a
deliberative process, and the commission deserves the views
of the staff and the views of the committee, and we go from
So that's all I wanted to mention on that, unless
you want to engage a little bit on that. I know Bill and
his staff have been involved in those meetings. I'm sorry I
couldn't have sat in on more of them.
I'll just sort of keep moving. I know that staff
briefed you I believe yesterday on the Yucca Mountain review
plan. This seems to be coming together. We've briefed you,
we've met with some other stakeholders. It is sort of the
backbone of our review as that license application comes in
the door. It's a work in progress. We're further along on
the post-closure issues than we are on preclosure. We need
to catch up on that, and I expect that staff gave you a good
briefing on that yesterday. Bill was able to sit in on
that, so if you have any questions upon reflection, Bill can
I'll just keep moving. The next topic that I have
is sufficiency comments. You also were briefed on that by
staff, and this is one that the commission owes comments
next May. And we gave you a briefing yesterday, and I think
the expectation is the staff will be pulling its comments
together, and we will sit down with you like we have in the
past and share where we're going. There's a schedule set,
and I'm sure we've found a way to go over that with you, and
if there's some problems with that schedule please get back
But the point is, we are going to develop staff
sufficiency comments, get them to the commission, and the
commission is not going to have a lot of time to do a lot of
deliberation, and I would encourage you to get your comments
in. I think Bill was targeting April, end of April next
year, give the commission, you know, a number of weeks to do
the process. So if there's anything we can do to make sure
that we're working hand in glove here, and making to you
transparent what our own views are so that you can do what
you need to do, I know how difficult it is to write letters
So if there's anything we can do to facilitate you
being in a position to write your own letter on this topic,
let us know what that is. But this is a legislative
mandate. The commission has to provide these comments, and
DOE is expecting them in May, May time frame.
Did we go over the schedule with them?
MR. RAMER: We had a schedule and a briefing.
MR. LARKINS: John, has there been any feedback
from the commission on what their expectations are in this
area, or any guidance to the staff as to what they are
MR. RAMER: I would say that the briefing that we
gave to you yesterday they're aware of, and to the extent
that I guess the absence of course correction type comments
from them would lead me to say they're generally aware,
they're aware of our approach.
MR. LARKINS: But they're aware of your strategy,
MR. RAMER: Yeah, our approach.
MR. GREVES: We briefed the assistants basically
with the package before coming to you, and again, this was
the assistants, level, they seemed pleased with the package,
gave us a couple of pointers, a couple of pieces of
feedback, and it's not my place to say but I think I was
reading an expectation that they would hear from ACNW in the
end of April time frame. But you probably need to hear that
from them, not me.
There are two other items that I asked Bill to
address. One is 963, and then the closure plan. I know
we've got some meetings that we need to brief you on, on the
closure plan. Bill, would you jump in on this too?
MR. RAMER: Yeah, okay, so let me give you just
half a dozen or so points on the 963. Of course that's DOE
proposed amendments to their citing guidelines that they
would use in connection with arriving at a decision on a
recommendation for the Yucca Mountain site.
DOE is currently evaluating the public comments
that they received on their proposed amendments. That's
part 963. Their next step would be to prepare a draft final
rule, and a response to comments.
Our planning, our staff planning, is that we could
receive such a package from DOE in the -- as early as
mid-April, and if in fact that comes to pass, you know, we
would -- our plan would be to begin review of those DOE
papers, that being the draft final rule in response to
Remember, the context here is that we expect DOE
will be asking the commission to concur in the proposed
amendments to 963. But we the staff would be reviewing the
DOE package, and preparing a recommendation to the
commission on concurrence. My guess is that we would be
aiming -- we don't have a firm schedule because we're not
exactly sure when we're going to get the package, but my
guess is that we're looking at submitting our
recommendations to the commission probably in the late
spring/early summer time frame.
MR. GARRICK: Are there ongoing exchanges on this?
MR. RAMER: Not on this topic, no. I think at
this point DOE is pretty much involved in just getting on
top of the comments, and how they want to respond to the
comments, and what if any changes that they see as being
appropriate to their proposed rule.
So they're kind of doing their homework and
getting their package together.
MR. HORNBERGER: Do you see a need for ACNW to
weigh in on this?
MR. RAMER: I'd put it in the category clearly
that you want to monitor, and that at this point it may well
be that you don't need to. Hopefully we've given you a copy
of the comments on the proposed rule, or letter to DOE on
the proposed rule. We did not have a lot of comments from
the staff level. So that in any event, that might be some
barometer, some reading as to, that you might be interested
I think it's clearly something you'll need to
monitor, but at this point it's not clear to me that you
would need to weigh in on. So we'll keep you in the loop,
clearly, when we get more information and schedule, if we
get more, we'll make sure you've got that as well.
Any other questions on 963?
Okay, the KTI closure, I was realizing last night
we really have given you bits and pieces of this strategy,
this initiative, but we haven't yet briefed you. We
anticipated we would brief you in this meeting, but then our
session with DOE was postponed until next month. But let me
just run through very briefly what we're trying to do under
the heading, KTI Closure, Key Technical Issues.
As you know, we have nine key technical issues
that we have used to focus our program the last four or five
years. Our goal is to resolve all those key technical
issues before DOE would submit any license application. To
implement that strategy, to achieve that goal, we're using
techniques that are borrowed from our general regulatory
practice to basically bin issues in one of three bins,
issues that are either open or they're closed, or they're
closed subject to confirmation.
If you've read the IRSRs, they don't really follow
this strategy. We want to bring a little more focus to
those areas where we think we've reached agreement or at
least have an understanding with the DOE, such that we could
close an issue.
That means, based on the information that we've
seen, we don't have any further questions. We think the
information is sufficient at this point. An issue could be
closed subject to confirmation. That means we understand
the DOE plans to develop additional information or analyses,
and we agree with that as a strategy to -- a path forward to
close an issue, but we want to confirm that in fact what we
expect to be given is in fact what we get from DOE. So we
would close that pending confirming the data or analyses,
either before we get the LA or in the license application
And the third bin would be open issues. These are
issues where we have not converged with DOE, and those are
the ones that in prelicensing we want to work hard on to try
to achieve closure.
We'll use the Yucca Mountain review plan as the
basis to close issues. We want to be asking the question if
an issue is open, why do we need this information. We want
to use the Yucca Mountain review plan as the device to
answer that. We need it because it relates to this part of
That's a little different than the way we've been
addressing the KTIs and the IRSRs. We haven't really used
the Yucca Mountain review plan, because it hasn't been
Issue are closed at the staff level. That means
that the issue remains open from the standpoint of an issue
that could become an issue in a hearing, it could be raised
by another party. It's not a binding resolution in the
sense that it resolves it forever. A party outside of DOE
or NRC can raise the issue in the licensing process and
pursue it. Also, an issue could be reopened based on new
information. Staff could reopen it's position.
The goal of issue resolution is that any license
application will be sufficiently complete to permit
docketing, to commence our safety evaluation and to begin
the preparation of the safety evaluation report that would
support a decision on a construction authorization.
Obviously all of this is premised on the assumption that
we're going to get a license application, which at this
point we have to plan for, but we don't know because there's
not even a site recommendation that's been made.
We will be reporting on the progress on path to
resolution in our sufficiency comments. We talked about
that yesterday, how the sufficiency review and the KTI
closure strategy work together. We'll have a technical
exchange with DOE on this on April 25 and 26, and I think
Ray, you were planning on attending the one on March and
hopefully that will be convenient for you.
And we would be briefing you probably some time in
the late spring or early summer on where we stand. So
that's what I had to say on that.
MR. WYMER: I recognize that you have the KTIs and
the connection with the sufficiency review. But I guess
it's not totally clear to me as how -- do all of the KTI
open issues have to be resolved for you to agree with a
MR. RAMER: No. No, I think we don't. Ideally,
ideally yes, ideally we would work everything out as to what
we want, get a commitment from DOE to provide that, put
everything either in a closed or a closed subject to
confirmation bin; I mean that, you know, aim high, yeah, I
think that's a good objective. Realistically, the site
recommendation is due. We begin considering it in November.
The books are closed in terms of data and analysis for that
before November, and you know, we may have issues that
remain open at the site recommendation stage, but we clearly
can report on our progress to get to closure, or whether we
see a path forward to get to closure by the license
MR. GREVES: Bill, is it fair to say that we would
probably include some expectations in the sufficiency
comments; this is where they are now, and we expect that's a
stage suitable to get them to license application?
MR. RAMER: Yeah, definitely. I mean everything
is going to be out on the table. Nothing is going to be
surprising DOE. Nothing is going to be surprising anyone in
terms of what we think we need.
MR. GREVES: One aspect is the QA aspect. We've
talked to you about it periodically, and the expectation or
the point DOE and others have made to us is, they expect to
be I think at the 80 percent level at sufficiency time
frame, if my memory is correct. And that's an indication,
it's not going to all be there at the sufficiency stage.
Okay, any other questions on my first three
priorities; high level waste; if not, we can move on. I
mentioned the first three priorities, you know, in some ways
it's in jest, but it really is an indication of what's going
on even internationally. You're going overseas. I was over
to the Cordoba conference which I'll give you some feedback
on towards the end of my discussion, but most of the energy
was on deep geologic, and I'll give you a little summary of
what I was experiencing while I was over there at the end of
the discussion. And that's again another reason why it's
high priority with me personally.
Second area is decommissioning. We've been down
to brief you on a number of specific topics, and so the ones
I'm going to mention will be no surprise to you. Main
Yankee. We now have the Main Yankee application in for
review; we've done an acceptance review, and we have
accepted the document. That's the third of our license
termination plans that we now have in-house for review.
We have Trojan, that's proceeding quite nicely,
and I hope we can finish that up within the next few months.
We've gone out with a round of questions on that. We also
have Saxton in for review. But Main Yankee draws a lot of
It is the site that sort of came up with the
rubbleization concept. We've talked a lot about it, and now
we actually have an application in our lap to review. The
staff did a paper, it took us longer than I wanted to
produce this paper. And the committee has that, the
committee has provided letters, and the commission I believe
has sent you back an SRM forecasting an expectation you are
going to follow this process and keep them informed as to
what your views are.
There will be a meeting on May 15th after a
license termination plan is submitted. Our procedure calls
for a public meeting to go up and talk to the local
stakeholders about the application, who we are, what we're
doing and I would encourage the committee to either have one
of the committee members attend or at least your staff sit
in on that, because this is one of those cases that we're
going to have to cut our teeth on and see what this concept
of rubbleization is about, and give it a good, comprehensive
review. And my expectation is that the commission is going
to expect to hear from the committee as this proceeds.
I'll also point out that the meeting on the 15th
is in the evening, it's in one of the school locations. The
following evening in Boston is the first of a series of
meetings on updating the decommissioning EIS for reactor
decommissioning, so whoever you are able to send to the
meeting Monday night, May 15th, might want to also attend
the Boston meeting on the update of the EIS. There's been a
lot of interest in this particular topic. So I would just
personally encourage you to participate to the extent you
Any questions on this topic?
MR. GARRICK: Do you have any suggestions on how
the committee should become informed on this project in the
best way possible; should that informing come entirely from
the staff, should it come some from the licensee, or what is
MR. GREVES: Yeah, just off the top of my head,
one, I'm encouraging the committee to be informed by sitting
in, these are important meetings and there will be a lot of
stakeholder interest in the northeast, so you'll, to the
extent you can go to that meeting to be informed on that
Think about what do we do for important sites. We
have others come in and brief on Yucca Mountain; we have
people come in and brief on West Valley; so this is probably
a candidate. It's got a lot of visibility, and inviting
Main Yankee to come in here, obviously we will be talking to
you about it, but I think that's something to think about.
Main Yankee does a lot of outreach work, and my guess is
they would respond positively to come in and brief the
committee on what their approach is.
Obviously you can read the report, but frequently
you have stakeholders from various arenas come in and do a
briefing on this, and in fact has Main Yankee been in here
and briefed? It seems like --
MR. LARKINS: I think they came in when we had the
MR. GREVES: Okay, the discussion on
MR. GARRICK: It was pretty general, because there
wasn't a specific application.
MR. LARKINS: Right.
MR. GREVES: Right, and we were all struggling,
you know, what is this and how serious to take it.
MR. GARRICK: I think that given that there is
some, I would assume now, some real technical meat behind
this application, that it would be quite informative for the
committee to hear from the applicant. Now, is the ACRS,
have they scheduled anything in connection with this?
MR. GREVES: Not that I know of. You know, the
site is an NRR site. But the license termination plan, the
details of that really run through NMSS. So my view is the
issues basically are leaching, encapsulation, decon
criteria, they're really issues that I think the expectation
is this committee would be addressing.
MR. GARRICK: Well, since this is a precedent
setting kind of activity, and could impact future
decommissionings in a significant way, I would think that
maybe we ought to be thinking about how to get as much
insight and understanding from the point of view of the
applicant, of the licensee, as we can. So I think it might
be a good idea for us to think about scheduling something.
MR. LEVENSON: Unfortunately the dates of the
meetings you mentioned are when the committee will be in
MR. GREVES: Well, I guess the staff -- are there
any staff you're not taking with you? Maybe we can
encourage Andy Campbell to sit in on it.
MR. LARKINS: We'll make arrangements to have some
staff persons cover it.
MR. LEVENSON: The point I just wanted to make
was, the absence of committee members doesn't mean an
absence of interest.
MR. GREVES: You know, part of my job is to come
down and give you some upcoming events. I wasn't, I didn't
put the two together, because I really got your schedule for
Europe this morning, but this is a substantive event and so
it sounds like you all will be to send a staff person.
MR. LARKINS: It will be interesting to see the
staff's acceptance review, public --
MR. GREVES: Oh, that's public. There was a lot
of upfront discussion with Main Yankee. Your staff sat in
on a number of those meetings, and I think that was the
right thing to do. You know we rejected the first two
license termination plans that came in. In hindsight my
sense was we didn't have that upfront discussion, you know,
there were some false expectations. And it's a little bit
of a shake-out process, and this is the first plant coming
in with an honest to goodness rubbleization approach.
Others are talking about it. So I think it's a good idea to
explore with Main Yankee, would they be willing to come in
and give you a little presentation on what their approach
MR. GARRICK: Well, I think this is something
we're very interested in, and we should be, because I don't
think there's been an issue come along in a while, at least
on the reactor side, that has created as much discussion as
this concept has.
MR. GREVES: And my sense is the commission has
sent you an SRM, expecting you're going to follow this topic
anyhow, so it would make a lot of sense to have the licensee
come in and give you some presentation, so I'd encourage you
to explore that. Enough?
West Valley, another one of our topics that we
talk about. You're aware that we'd put out a draft policy
statement. There was a uniform request for an extension of
time. We extended that to the first of April, and so I
expect all of them to be rolling in just about on that day.
And I understand we have a briefing set up for you in the
June time frame to go over this.
I expect some significant comments, so as soon as
that comes in we'll make an effort to get the committee
copies of those comments, and I would enjoy some dialogue
with you obviously in the meeting or as we get together from
time to time, one on one, because this, as I've said in
previous meetings with you, this is kind of a landmark site
in this country. It's got one of everything. High level
waste, spent fuel in the ground, an adjacent low level waste
disposal facility. It's a challenge, so we'll be talking
about it in June, and if you see something in these comments
that you want to take up with us, I'd enjoy meeting with
you, the chairman or any of the committee to discuss as we
have in the past.
So just stay tuned on that.
Moving on to -- unless you have a comment on West
Valley; I think that's something we just need to look
We owe the commission what we call the
decommissioning rebaselining paper. We briefed the
commission last year on our SDMP program, and I think I'd
characterize it that they were a little bit disappointed
that it wasn't a larger presentation. We made no mention of
the reactor decommissioning program, so the SRM we got back
said next time you brief us on decommissioning we want to
hear about all of decommissioning, including reactor.
So Larry Kamper and the staff have put a lot of
effort into developing the rebaselining paper, and it really
paints the full picture; the SDMP sites which I think you're
quite familiar with; the reactor sites that are in
decommissioning space; and the other problem sites that we
So it tries to paint the full picture and identify
in fact what we've done with sites in the past, so
unfortunately I think the paper ends up with about 18
different attachments, but if you want to put it all
together it takes that level of a report.
And I think that the staff is trying to keep you
informed as to where this is, the papers, going through the
struggles of concurrence, obviously you'll have the whole
thing when the final concurrence is achieved. But I think
we're pointing towards a briefing in June and July, so
that's kind of a meaty topic that we should look forward to.
You mentioned that Main Yankee rubbleization was
one of the hottest things that's come along, and I agree
with you, because frankly every time I am asked to give a
presentation that's one of the things that's on everybody's
list, will you please talk about that.
Another one that's emerging is partial site
release. It's got a lot of attention. There's a lot of
interest in utilities in finding a way to address this
topic. You look at the regulations and there's not a neat
box for this issue in certain aspects, so I just have it on
my list. And we may look forward to spending some time with
you on that topic, although principally this is a nuclear
reactor regulation issue. They're the ones that developed
the paper with our input.
MR. LARKINS: Is this after the facility has been
defueled or is this during operation, like at Oyster Creek?
MR. GREVES: Oyster Creek, it's operational. It's
kind of an issue as to how do we, a utility, carve off a
piece of land, and there's a bunch of question marks about
this. I believe you probably have seen various papers on
this, and I'm not sure whether the commission is going to
give us some guidance on it. But it's a piece that probably
deserves a rule-making effort. And so we are on your
schedule to come down and brief on this -- Pat?
STAFF MEMBER: Right now it's a June/July time
frame that we were putting it on, ACRS, or it would fall
under ACNW. And that was one thing I think about a week ago
we talked about having to sit down and resolve, because
maybe both committees would be interested in it, and that's
where there's a little confusion on my part, where do we put
it and is there a way to brief both committees at once.
We'll be working in the next two weeks to figure
out the time frame, but it would probably be again June or
July on that item.
MR. GREVES: The papers have NRR origin, so
obviously it has to be coordinated with them. Many of the
questions that come up feel like decommissioning questions,
you know, what's the criteria, how do you release things; in
any event, I think it's something we need to work through
crossing the appropriate lines.
I'm going to move on to low level waste unless
there's a question that I rushed through on decommissioning.
MR. GARRICK: No.
MR. GREVES: Low level waste, one, our budget is
very low in this arena.
MR. LARKINS: Before you leave decommissioning I
do have a question.
MR. GREVES: Sure.
MR. LARKINS: There was a request from the
commission for the staff to provide a paper or to go back
and look at the, I think it was entombment as a part of the
decommissioning process. Is there something --
MR. GREVES: There will be a paper on that. That
is, research is working that issue, and we have sat down
with them and went over a strategy on how to write the paper
and where to go with it. I don't see those people in the
room, so it's coming and the committee, you know, obviously
will see that, and to the extent it make sense it's -- it is
an agenda item. But I'm just not quite sure where it fits.
Maybe you want to take a look at the paper and decide after
you see the paper.
I'm going to move on to low level waste, and this
is an arena that a decade ago I had 20-some FTE and lots of
dollars attached to when the Amendments Act was moving and
had some expectation of success. Well, we're in a different
place now, and frankly my staff resources on this front are
about three FTE and a little bit of dollars. But we have
been working on one significant project that the committee
is quite familiar with, the branch technical position on
performance assessment. And I believe we are scheduled to
come back and talk to you about that in June, so we're
looking forward to that.
One of the issues that we've struggled with is how
to characterize the criteria for a probablistic approach and
we have recommended going with what is called the peak of
the mean approach in terms of meeting criteria for
There has been debate over how to do that, and I
would just invite the committee to look at what we've done
on that point, and I'd encourage you to support the approach
that we've developed.
We think it's consistent with what is done in the
high level waste program, but I will tell you, there has
been quite a bit of discussion about this, and we'll sit
down and talk to you about it.
I don't know whether you have observed this
already. I know Howard and others sit in on a lot of our
meetings, but we owe the commission a final position, and we
want to take the time to sit down and go over it with you.
So that's sort of on the agenda for June. Do I have that
right, Pat? It's a June agenda for this -- okay, good.
In the low level waste program area, one of the
questions that I got at the reg information conference was
what does the NRC do if anything on the low level waste
policy act. The point is, you know, we're two decades into
this and we don't really have a new compact facility. Is
there a role for NRC to do something, and I know the
committee has asked me that question, and I'm still
struggling with the answer.
Waste is now disposed of at Barnwell or
Envirocare, places like that. So the system seems to be
working. But with Barnwell pointing towards the Atlantic
Compact with New Jersey and Connecticut, there's going to
come a day if all that happens where many states do not have
access to disposal capacity. And you've asked me the
question, I've asked myself the question; I just don't know
what role NRC has in entering this fray.
I mean we're a regulatory agency. The question
is, is what we're doing today safe? The answer is yes, what
we're doing today is safe. Is a prospect of many states not
having disposal capacity a big enough problem that the
agency should enter the dialogue on this, but I don't have
the answer. I just share that dilemma with you. I know
you've asked the question yourselves, but the prospect of,
if Barnwell seals off, you know, basically the rest of the
country which has access now, at some point in time in the
future, that's not quite what we had in the past.
For example, the State of Michigan went five years
without disposal capacity. Did we have any safety problems?
No. And then the doors opened up, and I imagine Michigan
was able to offload a lot of the waste that they stored for
five years. But if you have a large number of states that
do not have disposal capacity, you get into the kinds of
problems that we're experiencing with the sites you'll hear
about when Kamper briefs you on the rebaselining case.
I think the majority of the sites that are on our
SDMP sites, are sites that were storing material and somehow
it got through the floorboards. That's the problem. And of
course if you store for five years, you store for ten years,
your chances of getting something down into the ground or
into the ground water increase. And the commission has said
in the past, their preferred approach is disposal. Get on
with disposal. So I just raise the issue. I don't have a
good answer. I know the committee has asked themselves and
have asked me the question, and maybe it's something we can
talk about over time, but I just -- I'm constantly getting
this question in meetings, and my first answer is no, we're
a regulator; things are operating safely now; this is a
issue to be considered by congress. GAO did the report, but
I haven't seen any results of that process. So my
expectation is that the commission might be asking us this
question at some point in time. I don't have a clean
MR. HORNBERGER: GAO didn't have a clean answer.
MR. GARRICK: Some of the key questions at the
information meeting, we guess one of the questions is what
can we take to the local dump.
MR. GREVES: That was one of the questions. And
all these things sort of weave together. An answer to what
can you take to the local landfill would be settled if there
was a clearance rule in this country. Partially settled.
And you're very familiar with that aspect, and it's going to
take a long time before this country comes to a settlement
on that topic.
But that's the low activity material. I'm a bit
more concerned about storage of class B and C waste than I
am in terms of real health and safety issues.
MR. GARRICK: It seems pretty clear, isn't it, on
B and C what you can do given the restrictions at Hanford in
terms of the location, and the restrictions at Envirocare
which pretty much leaves Barnwell.
MR. GREVES: That's today's picture, yes. If
Barnwell were to shut the doors even if they did it
gradually, it would be a problem for a large number of
states. I will have to point out to you that there is some
activities in Utah about taking class B and C waste.
Whether that will ever happen, who knows. There is also
some discussion in New Mexico, I think it's Waste Control
Specialists that's talking about developing a facility.
So there are some things on the horizon out there,
but you look at the track record and pretty much they all by
the wayside. Look how hard California worked on their
efforts out there. I mean they got a license, but they were
never able to build that facility. So we're asking
ourselves collectively a rhetorical question, what is our
role in this process, and so far I don't have a good answer.
MR. GARRICK: Do we have good information on what
kind of savings or what kind of impacts would come about if
we did have a clearance rule?
MR. GREVES: I don't have that. Frank Cardell I
think has been down to brief you. I think there are
probably significant -- it sort of depends on the level and
what the clearance rule ultimately would look like. The
stakeholders who have this kind of material obviously have
information indicating it's quite significant, if there was
some clearance level.
You're going to bump into it internationally when
you go over to France and UK. You'll bump into a different
attitude in both those countries, by the way, but it was a
significant topic in the recent Cordoba meeting. And it's
being practiced internationally, and the question is, what
is this country going to do about it. I don't have good
information on, quote, savings associated with clearance.
MR. LEVENSON: Has there been any discussion I
guess really on an international level, I realize it isn't
NRC's role, but it seems to me one of the things we need
ideally for background is just that, for somebody to
determine what is the background now in the metals and
materials of commerce, because we always say everything is
radioactive, and it sort of is. But even if we had a
clearance rule, it would be very difficult to interpret,
because presumably it's above background.
Has there been any discussion that you're aware
of, like the IAEA or somebody to determine what is
MR. GREVES: Well, first we all know there is
background out there, in terms of -- one thing you can look
at is the academy report on NARM. They did a good job of
identifying what is occurring naturally in terms of uranium,
thorium, radium. They also did a good job of defining --
it's natural material, but it gets enhanced depending on
what -- I don't know whether you'd call that background.
The terminology gets a little fuzzy.
So that's a very good report in terms of giving
good information about what is out there in terms of
uranium, thorium and radium. So it partially answers your
I have not participated extensively, but IAEA and
the international community has worked this issue a lot, and
they may very well have the kind of information you're
asking about. In fact, I would encourage you to talk to
Frank Cardell and Bob Meck, because they are the guys that
are working this arena, and they could probably give you
much better hard information than I could. So you may want
to visit with them one on one.
Your question or your comment was sort of going in
a direction. What I see the international community doing
is coming up with concentrations. The border patrol, they
aren't going to be separating background from some number.
If it's going to work at all, it's a concentration. How
much concentration of cobalt is acceptable; I mean there's
cobalt in the steel this country produces right now. It's
there. And so the international community from my
perspective, and again Cardell and Meck are much closer to
this than I am, they're pointing towards concentration
values per nuclides, and IAEA has put together tech
documents on this that are quite available.
Anyhow, I started out talking about the dilemma on
low level waste, and --
MR. GARRICK: And you ended up talking about the
dilemma on low level waste.
So maybe I should move on.
MR. LARSON: For your information, John, you know,
Envirocare Utah did request that their license be expanded
for B and C. The state has made a preliminary finding that
they agree that it's okay. Their rules state though, that
for B and C it has to be a public hearing. Public hearings
are underway. The counties have said okay, you've got
something here anyway, so we have no objection to the
situation, so the process is underway.
One of the questions before the State of Utah is
that before B and C can be licensed in the state, they have
to review the site, go through the whole process again and
that Envirocare can no longer own the site if they're going
to store B and C, because it goes back to the thing that the
committee looked at many years ago as to whether for
perpetual care it could be in the hands of private industry.
So it either has to be state or federal
government. But that's where Utah stands. And I think I've
sent to you the preliminary decision from Bill Sinclair,
MR. GARRICK: Well, that could be a very
significant event, if they indeed get a B and C permit.
MR. GREVES: Could be, but I would be a little
skeptical until the various stages proceed. As Howard said,
Utah has some, I don't know whether they call them hearings,
but I think they're occurring within the next week or two.
So there steps where this thing could get off the track.
There's a lot that has to happen before there is any license
to do anything with B and C waste out there.
Well, I'm going to move on for fear we'll get
further into this dilemma, unless you've got some answers to
The last item that I wanted to address was some
international meetings, feedback, the most recent of which
was in Cordoba, Spain. I was able to participate and
Commissioner Dikus gave a keynote speech. I think Pat has
copies for you. I would commend that you take a look at
that. It gives a good background from the commissioner's
perspective. And also Ambassador Rich, he is the ambassador
to the mission in Vienna, gave a speech on energy policy.
It was a broad discussion. I would just commend you read
that also. I found it quite interesting.
Commissioner Dikus' focus was on the legal and
socio-political dimensions of radioactive waste management.
The whole meeting was really structured around the
convention on spent fuel management, and the management of
radioactive waste. So it covered pretty much all of the
issues in that convention.
It's been ratified by a number of countries, not
enough to make it a convention yet. And it's my
understanding that it should be forwarded to the senate. It
hasn't gone yet to my knowledge. And we're hopeful that it
would get ratified. We've talked to all the stakeholders
that we're aware of in this country, and it seems to have
general support. So it will be kind of a key mechanism for
us to keep an eye on, what's going on internationally in the
waste business. If this country ratifies the convention,
then we would be going to a meeting once every three years
to provide a report on where we are in satisfying the
principles of the convention and explaining what's going on
in this country in terms of radioactive waste disposal.
It includes both defense and civilian waste. The
Department of Energy would take the lead in developing a
report, but obviously NRC and EPA would also be
participating. So the Cordoba, Spain, was kind of a good
jumping-off meeting to lead up to the ratification of this
As far as topics discussed at Cordoba, there was a
lot of discussion of spent fuel storage, and there was, I'd
say it's fair to characterize, there was a consensus that
spent fuel storage is not a substitute for deep geologic
disposal. You can't stop there. You need to proceed with
deep geologic disposal.
My sense was that was an answer in the NES meeting
that we attended, when was that, in November last year; I
look forward to the results of that report, but I'm just
giving you a flavor of the meeting.
There also was a lot of discussion on deep
geologic; there is some progress in Finland and Sweden; and
the WIP project was pointed out as a sign of success for
deep geologic. There was a lot of reference to WIP opening
There was a number of sessions on low level waste,
intermediate level waste disposal; difficulties in siting.
There was a session that focused on retrievability. The
international community has rallied around a retrievable
concept for high level waste, spent fuel and of course we
know that this was in our regulations back in 1980. But
this seems to be a central theme in the international
community, that there is a need to provide for retrieval for
spent fuel, high level waste.
Part of this is public confidence. There were
sessions on public participation. There was also a session
on clearance, and there was a visit to the El Cabriel low
level waste disposal facility. I see on your agenda that
you're going to go to the French facility at Loeb. I'm
butchering these pronunciations I'm sure. But I've been to
both, now the El Cabriel facility and the French facility,
and they're world class facilities. They do a good job. I
think you'll enjoy seeing them.
You know, there's a question, does it take this
much energy, does it take this much cost to dispose of low
level waste; I frankly commend both of those facilities.
They have a national program, they have a facility, they
dispose of the waste. There's a lot of confidence in it. I
think some of them are sensing some complaints about how
expensive it is, but I think if you ask for example the
French when you're over there what the costs are, I think
they're significantly less than charges down at Barnwell.
Because the Barnwell charges are more than the concrete, the
steel, the operation of that facility; they include a
surcharge that pays for educational expenses.
I tried to understand from the French what the
cost was, and I think it is a lot less than $300 a cubic
foot. And my sense in trying to get that information was,
they were probably in the range of the Hanford costs,
something under $100 a cubic foot. And of course there's a
lot of conversions you have to do in terms of meters, cubic
meters and activity, but you may check that while you're
Just to finish up, I have looked at your schedule,
and I'm please to see that you're visiting UK and France.
They're both destinations that we need to understand what's
going on in terms of waste management. They're key players.
I would ask you who you are meeting with in those two
countries. If Lawrence Williams is not on your agenda for
UK, if you can get him on your agenda to at least meet with
him, he seems to be my counterpart plus he has more
responsibilities than I do. So he's got all the waste
issues in terms of regulation in UK. And I spent a
considerable amount of time with him at the Cordoba meeting,
and he's facing all the same issues that we are.
And in France, Dr. LaCoste is the key point of
contact that we have as a regulator. And in his
organization, Olivier Burgeau is the key person who reports
to him that has responsibilities for regulating the types of
activities that I'm involved with.
So I just offer, if they're on your agenda, fine.
If not you might want to see if you could spend a little bit
of time or get some discretionary time in with these
individuals. They're the regulators in those countries that
I have contact with on a fairly frequent basis, e-mail,
telephone and when I can squeeze it in, a trip. I try and
spend time with these gentlemen.
That's kind of the end of the points that I wanted
to raise. I'd be happy to address other questions, and hope
you enjoy your trip to UK and France. I'm sure you will.
MR. GARRICK: Thank you. Any questions from
committee members? We appreciate your sharing with us these
international hints, because I think a little bit to our
surprise we learned a great deal on the last such excursion
that we took, and I think we'll probably do the same here.
Thank you very much, appreciate it a great deal.
MR. GREVES: Thank you.
MR. LEVENSON: I suppose we should ask whether in
the next year or so you anticipate any reordering of your
first three priorities?
MR. GREVES: I don't expect it. The message is,
you go to -- the meetings I go to, like the reg information
conference, basically that's a utility/NRR run meeting.
Clearly one-third of the questions that come up are a site,
and it's called Yucca Mountain, that sends me a message.
And when the commissioners speak, and yeah, they talk about
renewal, they talk about the new oversight process, and then
they talk about Yucca Mountain for another ten-15 minutes,
it's sort of a, kind of read the tea leaves. What are the
MR. LARKINS: I think it's actually encouraging to
see that industry is interested once again in the waste
MR. GREVES: They have to be.
MR. WYMER: Did the issue of transportation come
up at all?
MR. GREVES: Again, you're talking about the reg
information conference, or --
MR. WYMER: Yeah.
MR. GREVES: I was only able to be down there for
my two sessions and sitting in on Dikus' presentation. She
talked about transportation some, and I just don't have
enough window on the topic. There could have been a session
on transportation. And I know there was one on public
participation, and every meeting that Bill and company go
to, transportation comes up in terms of what I'll call
public participation meetings.
So I just don't have a good read on what happened
downtown. It came up in the Cordoba meeting. It wasn't on
the agenda, but people raised the issue.
MR. GARRICK: The formal remarks that were made by
the commissioners, are they available?
MR. GREVES: Yes, they are available. Meserve's
speech was on the table down there, and there was an
announcement that Commissioner Dikus' speech would be
available shortly, so my understanding --
MR. LARKINS: Usually OPA puts those on the NRC
website. Plus the proceedings from the RAC is available
after a couple of months.
MR. GARRICK: Thank you very much.
MR. GREVES: Thank you.
MR. GARRICK: I think it might be appropriate now
for us to hear from Carol Hanlon, and get a little bit of
an update on what's happening out west.
MS. HANLON: As you all are very aware, there are
a number of interesting activities that we're engaged in
this year, and I thought it might be valuable to you just to
give you a little update. Bill Ramer had discussed the 963
rule-making. I think you're familiar with that. That
initially began in December of 1996 when we were evaluating
supplementing the existing 960 with a part 963.
At that point we did develop a proposed rule. We
had a comment, a session on that, and we conducted hearings
on that. Based on those we revised the proposed
rule-making, and we issued a supplemental notice on November
So subsequently we held a number of public
hearings in Las Vegas on two separate occasions, we had two
hearings. So those were conducted on February 2nd and 3rd
of this year, 2000.
The public comment period has been extended for a
total of 111 days. It's closed now, it was closed on March
20th. So we are currently as Bill said, in the process of
evaluating those comments, and revising the final rule,
revising the rule for the final, and we do expect to submit
that draft rule as early as April, 2000. NRC will concur
before the rule is finalized, and we expect that we might
have that rule available in a time frame of November 2000,
as early as that point. So that's the 963 status.
In addition, we're looking at the site
recommendation consideration report. That's a very high
priority, of course. Currently that's a two volume site
recommendation consideration report, and it's purpose is to
inform the public of the secretary's consideration on a
possible site recommendation, also to provide the basis for
We have two volumes currently. Volume one
addresses the requirements from section 114 of the Nuclear
Waste Policy Act. That is information on the Yucca Mountain
site characterization and design aspects.
Volume two is a preliminary suitability evaluation
against 10 CRF 963, the revised siting guidelines.
Currently the site recommendation consideration report is
scheduled for release in November of 2000. That will be
prior to public hearings and a comment period which are
required by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. And I think I
mentioned the associated comment period. We are on target
for that deliverable.
Responses to the comment which we receive on the
consideration report will be included in the site
recommendation report itself, if the secretary should decide
to recommend that site to the president.
There are a number of technical program documents
I think that you are familiar with, which do support site
recommendation and the consideration report, and later the
site recommendation. They include analysis and modeling
reports. There are currently about 126 of those, nine
process model reports and a number of site description
design documents, a total system performance assessment and
preliminary preclosure safety assessment, so those are
We have I think currently either four or five
process model reports that we have received, a number of
analysis and modeling reports, so those are proceeding.
They are available to the committee, they are available. As
soon as they are ready they're being put on the web, and
they're being provided to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
So the process model reports are directly, provide
the direct basis for the content of the site consideration
document itself -- excuse me -- site recommendation
MR. GARRICK: Is there an interim PSPA before TSPA
LA, or are they working on --
MS. HANLON: Yes, the TSPA SR is the interim
report. Between VA and LA. The draft of that will be
available in August of this year. And I think that you're
aware that DOE proposed in its November 24th letter to the
NRC to provide copies of all acceptable deliverables,
accepted deliverables, to the NRC to support the sufficiency
review, similar to the process that was used for the
viability assessment. And those documents are coming
The next major document that you're very familiar
with is the environmental impact statement. The comment
period has closed on that. The last comment, hearing
comment -- comment hearing was held in California. They are
in the process of evaluating the path forward, looking
toward a final EIS to be released in fiscal year 2001. A
final comment response document will be part of that final
EIS. The process on finalizing the EIS is unfortunately a
bit vague right now as they develop the time schedule for it
and how they'll proceed, so I'd be happy to give you more
information on that later as they develop their final
strategy. And may I answer any questions on anything for
MR. HORNBERGER: So you said, let's see if I got
this right. 126 analyses and modeling reports in hand?
MS. HANLON: In the end.
MR. HORNBERGER: In the end, so you don't have
MS. HANLON: No, that's the total amount that will
support the nine process model reports.
MR. LARSON: Do you have the list of those that
are completed, or is that on the web that we can -- if we
look on the web can we find --
MS. HANLON: I'm not sure if it's on the web or
not, but I could get you a list of the ones that are
MR. LARSON: Because the committee has indicated
an interest in having the consultants look at some of these
things as we go along.
MS. HANLON: Certainly. I'll get you a list that
are completed, and the schedule for the rest.
MS. DEERING: Carol, how many PMRs are done; do
MS. HANLON: I think there are either four or
MS. DEERING: Already done, okay, out of the nine?
MS. HANLON: We expect the rest of them to be done
about the end of April or the first part of May.
MR. HORNBERGER: You say there are about 30 of
MS. HANLON: No, nine.
MR. HORNBERGER: Nine total.
MS. HANLON: Nine process model reports and 126
MR. WYMER: Do you know what the technical basis
was for changing the design of the repository, dropping the
backfill and strip shield?
MS. HANLON: I'm probably not the best one to
speak to you about that, but you know, Paul has been in a
couple of times to discuss it, and I understand that you'd
like him to come in later this summer, if he's still on in
June, and he'll be excellent to talk to you about the basis
for the design change.
MR. LARSON: The three presentations scheduled for
June are still on?
MS. HANLON: I have two, and I wasn't sure.
MR. LARSON: We got performance confirmation, DOE
presentation on stats and plans for site recommendation,
Paul Harrington, and development of a Yucca Mountain
guideline, part 63 --
MS. HANLON: Right, and Paul was not going to talk
about status or site characterization rather, but design,
yes. We can clarify that later.
MR. LARSON: Because I had heard that there was
some possibility that some of those things might slip,
MS. HANLON: It's entirely up to you. We are
available to provide you with speakers on those topics in
June or July. In July it gets a bit more difficult because
our people are more involved in the site consideration
recommendation report, but in June they're available if that
fits your schedule. They're available later in the summer
if they're not, and some of these things can certainly be
discussed with you when you come out in September.
Would you like copies of these AMRs and PMRs as
they come out?
MS. DEERING: A hundred and twenty-six AMRs?
MS. HANLON: They're fascinating, Lynn.
MS. DEERING: Does each of you want a copy?
MR. HORNBERGER: No.
MR. GARRICK: No.
MR. HORNBERGER: I think we want a library here.
MS. DEERING: We've gotten a few of the PMRs, one
trickled in yesterday. To Rich, it was sent to Rich, and he
thought it was the first one. But I know it wasn't.
MS. HANLON: Which one was that?
MS. DEERING: It was maybe a --
MS. HANLON: The ISM, integrated site model, was
the first. That was the first one, and we recently received
either three or four more.
MS. DEERING: And I can get them from the Yucca
Mountain team meeting. They get circulated and you can sign
up, but that's a -- I mean we could also get it directly
from DOE, but --
MS. HANLON: We can get them to you directly.
MR. LARKINS: Are these available in an electronic
MS. HANLON: Yes, they are. As soon as they are
accepted they go on the e-net. The website.
MR. LARKINS: So we're not storing everything
MS. HANLON: Yes. Just don't ever unplug the
MR. GARRICK: When ATOMS is in place are they
going to stop sending us documents?
MR. LARKINS: Yes.
MR. GARRICK: When is that?
MR. LARKINS: We're going to start transitioning
supposedly the first of the month, but we have a phased
transition plan, so we're not going to cut off everything.
MR. HORNBERGER: Saturday is the date.
MR. LARKINS: April Fools day.
MS. DEERING: So you're just notified that these
reports exist; is that how it will work, rather than get it
in the mail, you'll get a notice that it's available on the
MR. HORNBERGER: And then you can print it out on
your own printer. It will cost about three times as much as
MR. LARSON: Your own toner and your own paper.
MR. GARRICK: Now we know what you're up to.
Okay, thank you very much.
MS. HANLON: You're certainly welcome.
MR. GARRICK: Okay, we've got a lot of remaining
items to get through in the next couple of hours, so we'll
not transition into an ACNW report phase, but will --
MR. LARKINS: John, I'd -- you've heard about all
of the activities going on in the area, decommissioning.
Dick put together a report on that.
MR. GARRICK: Well, I want to hear that but I was
going to have that right after the break. I don't think we
need a reporter for that, do we?
MR. LARKINS: No.
MR. GARRICK: All right, let's take a ten-minute
break and then come back in here about decommissioning from
[Whereupon, at 9:50 a.m., the meeting was
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