121st Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste (ACNW) Meeting, September 19, 2000
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NUCLEAR WASTE
121ST ACNW MEETING
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
Tuesday, September 19, 2000
The Commission met in open session, pursuant to
notice, at 9:05 a.m., B. John Garrick, Chairman, presiding.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
DR. B. JOHN GARRICK, Chairman, ACNW
DR. RAYMOND G. WYMER, Vice Chairman, ACNW
MR. MILTON N. LEVENSON, ACNW Member
DR. GEORGE HORNBERGER, ACNW Member. STAFF AND PARTICIPANTS:
DR. JOHN T. LARKINS, Executive Director, ACRS/ACNW
MR. HOWARD LARSON, Acting Associated Director, ACRS/ACNW
MR. RICHARD K. MAJOR,, ACNW Staff
MS. LYNN DEERING, ACNW Staff
MR. AMARJIT SINGH, ACNW Staff
DR. ANDREW C. CAMPBELL, ACNW Staff
JAMES E. LYONS
NEIL COLEMAN, NMSS
WILLIAM REAMER, NMSS
DR. JOHN TRAPP, NMSS. P R O C E E D I N G S
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Good morning. The meeting will
now come to order.
This is the first day of 121st Meeting of the
Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste. My name is John
Garrick, Chairman of the ACNW. Other members of the
Committee include George Hornberger, Ray Wymer, and Milt
Today, the Committee will discuss activities
regarding planning and future agenda items, and we have, as
a matter of fact, already done that.
We will hold a special session, Key Technical
Issues. Bill Reamer of NMSS will discuss the considerations
involved with KTI closure.
We will discuss saturated and unsaturated flow
under isothermal conditions. Neil Coleman, NMSS, will
discuss the partial closer of this KTI, namely that having
to with unsaturated zone flow.
We're going to discuss igneous activity, Dr. John
Trapp, NMSS, will discuss the considerations associated with
closure of this particular KTI.
This afternoon, we're going to hear public
comments from stakeholders and members of the public, and
interested parties between 1:00 and 4:30 p.m., and we're
going to discuss potential technical committee issues for
the Calendar Year 2001.
Lynn Deering is the Designated Federal Official
for today's initial session. This meeting, as usual, is
being conducted in accordance with the provisions of the
Federal Advisory Committee Act.
We have received one request from Dr. Jacob
Powers, who has indicated a desire to make a few remarks. I
assume that's going to take place during the afternoon
session, unless I'm advised otherwise.
In connection with people who will be speaking, it
is requested that each speaker use one of the microphones,
identify himself or herself, and speak clearly and with a
volume that we can all hear.
Also, I should note that there were some
last-minute changes in our agenda, due to activities of the
Commission, and these changes were made, however, learned
that the revised Federal Register Notice on the meeting did
not get out until, as a matter of fact, today. So we
apologize for that inconvenience, especially to those of you
who were expecting to see an agenda item on the Yucca
Mountain Review Plan.
That was out of our control, and pretty much out
of the staff's control.
Before proceeding, I'd like to note a few items.
Jim Lyons, who is supposed to be sitting on my right here,
we welcome him as the Associate Director for Technical
Support, ACRS/ACNW, at this meeting.
We did discuss his activities and experience and
curriculum vitae at our July meeting, and we welcome him. I
understand he had some personal matters he had to take care
today, but he will be here for the rest of the meeting.
The Committee also welcomes Judith Goodwin to the
Technical Staff as secretary. She reported on August 28th.
Judith was with the High-Level Waste Branch, so,
fortunately, is familiar with a lot of the business that we
Janet Schleuter who is Commissioner McGaffigan's
Technical Assistant, is on a rotational assignment to
High-Level Waste for a couple of months, serving as the
Acting Branch Chief.
An item of interest is that the Utah regulators,
subject to some public comment, have approved license
amendments to the EnviroCare license to allow construction
of a new disposal cell for Class-A, low-level radioactive
TLG Services, a company leader in the
decommissioning services business, has been purchased by
Entergy Nuclear. Entergy Nuclear is a nuclear power plant
Some of us have been interested in following the
Maine Yankee activity. Maine Yankee has indicated that it
intends to remove all fuel from the spent storage pool by
April 2001, by unloading it to NAC Universal Multipurpose
Systems Spent Fuel Storage and Transportation Cask System.
I think that's all the opening remarks, unless
there are some comments from members or staff or something
that I missed.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Hoping that there have been
none, I think we will proceed with the agenda. The first
issue is going to be key technical issue closure business,
and Bill Reamer is going to cover that.
MR. REAMER: Thank you, Dr. Garrick. And we have
actually three presentations today, as you enumerated.
The three presentations today all give some kind
of introductory description of issue resolution, the
process, what the staff is trying to achieve, the issue
resolution, what does it mean; then we'll have two of the
technical presentations on saturated zone and igneous
activity to follow, where we will really show what we've
done to implement issue resolution in those two areas.
So, what I'll be talking about today are the
givens that drive -- some of the givens that drive issue
I'll be talking about the context of issue
resolution, which is prelicensing consultation. Issue
resolution, as we're talking about it today, is a
I'll define, as best I can, issue resolution, and
will be interested in any questions that you have to kind of
assure that we have shared understanding of what it is that
we mean when we say issue resolution.
I'll talk about the constraints on issue
resolution which are very important as well, and the revisit
the distinction between prelicensing and the licensing
context, and hopefully driving home some of the points that
I want to make on issue resolution.
I talked about the drivers of issue resolution,
and I just want to mention several items here:
One is the statutory requirement that the
Commission complete its license application review in three
years. That assumes, of course, that there is a license
There are many steps in this project that need to
be completed before there can be a license application.
The Department of Energy needs to complete the
scientific studies at the site, and needs to prepare a site
That site recommendation needs to be approved by
the President. It needs to be approved by the Congress.
This is not a project that is a foregone conclusion; there
are many steps that still need to be taken.
But assuming that there is a license application,
one of the requirements in the statute is that the
Commission must complete its review and issue a decision on
whether or not to authorize construction within three years.
This puts the onus on the DOE to submit to the
Commission, a high-quality license application. By a
high-quality license application, what I'm talking about is
a license application that addresses all of the issues in
That puts the onus on the Department to identify
the issues early on, and to address them. The three-year
timeframe that we work under, once the license application
is filed, really doesn't permit very much time to be
The premium is on the early identification of
issues, and it's DOE's responsibility to do that.
What do we mean when we talk about issues? We're
talking really very broadly here: Questions, comments,
concerns. They can come from the staff, they can come from
the state, they can come from the Department of Energy,
They are broadly defined; they relate to the data,
the models, the codes that the Department proposes to rely
on in its argument in favor of the project. As I said, the
Department's responsibility is to address all of these
issues in some manner.
For the NRC staff's part, we, too, are
implementing a policy of early identification of issues.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act directs the Commission to
monitor and comment on the Department of Energy's site
The staff takes that to mean that we should be
raising our questions now, not holding them. These, I would
emphasize, are questions at the staff level.
We're not speaking for the Commission, we're not
speaking for the Licensing Board, if there is a license
application. We're not speaking for other aspects of the
The other point, of course, in prelicensing
consultation is that the staff has focused its review
activities on nine key technical issues. These are issues
that we have identified as what we think are most important
We have done that identification based on our
iterative performance assessment activities, the insights
we've gained from that. And this is, in prelicensing, our
focus for issue resolution, the key technical issues.
What is issue resolution? To me, issue resolution
is an agreement by the Department of Energy that it will
address all of the questions, comments, and concerns, that
the staff raises at the staff level, before there is any
license application, and it will include that information in
the license application if there is a license application.
So that puts the onus on the Department of Energy
to provide to us, sufficient information so that the staff
can review the application and write a safety evaluation
It puts the onus on the Department to provide a
complete record that we can review and reach a decision on
at the staff level.
Now, I say that issue resolution is achieved when
there is an agreement between the staff and the NRC, but
what I mean here is that there is an understanding on the
Department of Energy's part about our comments, and there is
an agreement on their part to respond, to provide the
information that the staff says is needed, that they have
heard our comment, that they have heard our question, and
that they have agreed to accept it and identify it.
Issues are, from the staff's standpoint,
considered closed when we have no further comments or
questions at a particular point in time about how the
Department of Energy is addressing something.
How is issue resolution achieved? In a very
general process description, we're using our TPA insights to
risk-inform our approach to issue resolution. We, the
staff, are focusing on those areas that we have identified
as areas of potential concern.
We're also identifying, at the staff level, what
additional information DOE needs to provide to address those
concerns, and I think the two following presentations on
unsaturated zone and igneous activity will really give you
concrete examples of how issue resolution in certain areas
has been achieved.
We have working definitions for issue resolution.
I haven't included them on the slide, because it looks like
the words are written by a lawyer.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: You wouldn't want to do that.
MR. REAMER: In any event, I'll just give them to
you orally: Issues that fit within the closed category,
we're saying that issues can be closed if the DOE approach
and available information acceptably address the staff
questions such that no information beyond what is currently
available will likely be required for regulatory
decisionmaking at the time of initial license application.
In other words, we're saying that the data that's
been presented is sufficient for us to conduct a review.
Issues are considered closed-pending, if the NRC staff has
confidence that the DOE proposed approach, together with the
DOE agreement to provide the NRC additional information
through specific testing or analyses, acceptably addresses
the staff's questions such that no information beyond that
provided or agreed to will likely be required at the time of
initial license application.
The key difference between a closed issue and a
closed-pending issue is that closed-pending issues are
relying on an agreement by the Department of Energy to
provide certain information in the future before there is
any license application.
And the third category issues -- Yes?
DR. HORNBERGER: Just a clarification: Is it that
they agree to provide the information before or at the time
MR. REAMER: Well, at the time of, but as a
practical matter, that means it's going to have to be done
before the license application is submitted. It's
information, typically, that will require potentially
additional data-gathering or additional analysis of
information that exists, or additional justification of some
aspect of the argument.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I think also, Bill, that it's
important to comment, maybe with respect to closed issues
and the issue of uncertainty.
You're not saying that the elimination of
uncertainty is a requirement for closure, but you may be
saying that good knowledge of the uncertainties is a part of
MR. REAMER: Yes, what we're looking for is the
DOE story, and the evidence that supports that story. And
the threshold for issue resolution is not that all questions
have been resolved such that there is no uncertainty that
remains; it's understanding the way in which the DOE has
used the uncertainty in their argument.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Right.
MR. REAMER: And, finally, issues that are open,
are open if the NRC has identified questions regarding the
Department of Energy approach, and the DOE has not yet
acceptably addressed the questions or agreed to provide the
necessary additional information in the license application.
DR. LARKINS: Bill, could that potentially affect
the acceptability of a license application, if there are
several open issues?
MR. REAMER: Absolutely. A license application
with a major hole may not be docket-able. As you may be
aware, there is an initial review that the staff does to any
license application that it receives, which is to assure
that the license application is complete.
And it must meet that acceptance review in order
to be docketed and reviewed. If a license application has a
major hole, there's always the possibility, the risk, that
it's not going to be a docket-able license application.
MR. LEVENSON: Bill, also, the term, closed, here,
applies just pre-license application. Is that correct, that
these things will all get thoroughly reviewed?
MR. REAMER: Issue resolution is a pre-closure
concept; that's right. It relates to the sufficiency of
information to conduct a review. It is not a merits
determination on that issue, and that's a very important
point, and I appreciate your raising that question.
The constraints on issue resolution are also
important points, and I try to remind people of this every
time I have an opportunity.
Issue resolution, the results of pre-licensing
activities, are not binding, if there is a license
application. They're not binding on the staff, they are not
binding on any potential party.
They are not binding on the state; they're not
binding on the Commission; they're not binding on the
Licensing Board, if there is a Licensing Board hearing.
Issue resolution is a prelicensing concept that's
designed to assure that there is a complete license
application, a complete record, that will provide the basis
for the staff to do its review, and write a safety
The other point is that issues that are closed can
be reopened. And I think that Neil in his presentation,
Neil Coleman, may note in the unsaturated zone area, just
such a circumstance.
New information can always lead to the
consideration of what impact does this new information have
on that closed issue? Is it significant, such that that
issue should be reopened?
And so in conclusion, as I have said, issue
resolution relates to the left-hand side. It is a
prelicensing phase concept.
Its focus is on assuring that there is sufficient
information in any potential license application for the NRC
to conduct a review.
At the license application stage, the right-hand
concept, compliance determinations will be made by the NRC.
The DOE has the obligation, the burden of proof, really, at
all stages in this project, but particularly in the license
application stage, to demonstrate safety against the
And it will be DOE's obligation at the time of a
license application, if there is one, to demonstrate
compliance with NRC regulations.
And so the logical conclusion is, in the
prelicensing phase, there are no safety conclusions against
the Commission's regulation, and it would be inappropriate
to attribute to issue resolution, any such conclusion or
finding with respect to compliance with the Commission's
Any other questions?
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I failed to recognize my
colleague here, George Hornberger, who was going to lead our
discussion on these next few presentations. George?
DR. HORNBERGER: Any questions, John?
DR. HORNBERGER: Any questions from the members?
MR. REAMER: Any questions on just broader aspects
of issue resolution that I haven't addressed? What I've
tried to talk about specifically, or is the meaning, the
definitions, the meanings, the constraints, the boundaries,
DR. HORNBERGER: As Bill well knows, we have been
quite interested in the issue resolution process, and I
think this is a good introduction to make sure that
everybody is on the same page with regard to the issues.
I think that I, at least, am looking forward to
the two specific discussions to follow, because my point is
that I think that we're okay on the general nature of the
What we need to do is better understand how this
I think one comment, though, worth making, is that
this is an open -- it sounds like it's just between the
Department and the NRC, but it's really an open process for
public and other stakeholder participation.
MR. REAMER: Right, the technical exchanges that
are frequently the point where we discuss issue resolution
with the Department of Energy are all open meetings, and the
documents the staff issues to document its progress in issue
resolution, those are public documents as well.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: The only thing I would ask,
though, is from your perspective, you've had some experience
with this. I know we're going to get at the detailed level,
but from your perspective, has the issue resolution process
so far accomplished what staff had hoped it would
MR. REAMER: Yes, but I wouldn't want to give the
impression that we're done. I think we have a lot more to
do in the issue resolution area.
Remember that there are essentially nine key
technical issues that we are focused on. We've held
technical exchanges with the Department of Energy on three
of those. We're hopeful to be able to meet with the
Department and the other -- the remaining key technical
issues as well.
So there's a good deal of work to be done, but
what we've found is an understanding and a willingness on
the part of the Department of Energy to hear what we're
having to say, and to respond to those questions and
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thank you.
DR. HORNBERGER: Thanks very much, Bill. We're
going to -- even though the schedule says -- we're going to
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: We're going to move on.
DR. HORNBERGER: We're going to move on. And so
we're going to --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: The speakers are here.
DR. HORNBERGER: We're going to hear about the
unsaturated flow under isothermal conditions at KTI, and
Neil Coleman is with us for that.
MR. COLEMAN: Hello everyone. It's nice to be
here today to talk to you about a meeting that we had a
month ago in Berkeley, California.
I know from your staff, Lynn Deering attended that
meeting. Also, David Diodato, with the TRB attended, and we
had some very good technical discussions.
This was the first of this group of meetings on
issues resolution, and under our KTI, the unsaturated and
saturated flow under isothermal conditions, we've divided it
into two meetings, because it's really a lot of material to
The first meeting covered the unsaturated zone
issues and matrix diffusion, and also, to the extent we
needed to go over it, the climate issues as well, shallow
The saturated zone issues will be covered in a
meeting that starts October 31st, and that is a definite
date. It will be a three-day meeting in Albuquerque.
And my counterpart with the Center for Nuclear
Waste Regulatory Analyses, Jim Winterly, is here today. A
number of folks from the Center were at this meeting as
well, and a host of NRC management and staff.
Briefly, again, the basis of these meetings is to
review the basis to resolve open issues at the staff level,
and for this meeting, those involving unsaturated zone flow
at Yucca Mountain, and to look at paths forward, if you
will, for any of the remaining issues under the unsaturated
Bill went through this, so I won't go through it
again, other than to stress that new information at any time
could cause us to reopen an issue, whether it's closed or
And as you will see, new information prompted us
to reopen an issue that was resolved for several years, and
that was the shallow infiltration subissue.
Now, there are six subissues altogether under this
KTI or Key Technical Issue. And climate change, there are
two issues related to climate change:
There is one on just the general nature of what
kinds of climate change could be expected over the next
10,000 years and longer. This is a principal factor in
reviewing performance assessments.
And one reason we did look at it again is because
DOE changed their climate approach. They no longer assume,
as was done in the viability assessment, that a full pluvial
climate will occur over the next 10,000 years.
That was an extremely conservative assumption in
the VA. They now assume that a monsoonal climate, which is
somewhat wetter and warmer than today, will begin as soon as
600 years into the future, and last about 14000 years, and
that a glacial transition, which would be transitioning to a
pluvial climate, would occur in the following 8,000 years.
The mean annual precipitation during the glacial
transition is about 70 percent greater than in the present
day. DOE' assumptions about climate change are based on
generalized paleoclimate trends, and are acceptable.
The basis for this was published in a report by
Forester et al, 1999. The title of that is Climatic and
Hydrologic History of Southern Nevada During the --
So that subissue was closed, remains closed, even
though there was a revised approach.
The second subissue on hydrologic effects of
climate change, there was no real change in the DOE
approach, but because the climate change assumptions were
altered, we looked at this.
And we found that the same assumption made in VA
was made in -- continues to be made now, and that is that a
water table rise of about 120 meters would occur for the
future climate scenarios of both the monsoonal and the
glacial transition climate.
And you'll find that documented in the unsaturated
zone PMR on page 172, that that continues to be an
This is a very conservative assumption that
continues to be, because we know that the water table rise
was probably nowhere near that much, and that was one of the
discoveries of the Nye County Drilling Program under the
leadership of the late Nick Stellavato, that one of the
first bore holes they drilled, Nye County Number 1, which is
drilled at a diatomite deposit known to have been flowing in
the very latest Pleistocene, just before the Holocene, and
confirmed that the water table depth there today --
We know it was flowing somewhere around 12,000
years ago, at the surface. Today, the water table there is
about 30 meters deep.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Neil, are these assumptions
absolute or probabilistic?
MR. COLEMAN: It's not an assumption; it's a
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: So they are absolute.
DR. HORNBERGER: I don't think he means the
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: No.
DR. HORNBERGER: He means the 120-meter rise.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes, yes, rise in the water
table, for example.
MR. COLEMAN: It's not treated probabilistically.
As each of the future climate --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: So it's an on/off thing?
Either it's this or it's that?
MR. COLEMAN: At 600 years in the future, suddenly
the water table is treated as being 120 meters higher, and
it stays that way thereafter. It's a very conservative
So this subissue remains closed. It was closed
and it remains closed. This is not closed-pending, this is
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: This is called shoot yourself
in the foot, but go ahead.
MR. COLEMAN: Then present-day shallow
infiltration, which was previously closed, since the
viability assessment, DOE has revised downward, the mean and
the upper part of the range for shallow infiltration.
In TSPA-VA, a total system performance assessment
viability assessment, DOE used a value of about 8
millimeters per year for the mean annual infiltration over
the repository block.
The distribution now used in the UZPMR ranges from
about one to 12 millimeters per year, with a mean of about
five millimeters per year.
Now, the main reason for this change is further
incorporating the effects of vegetation and performance
assessment, which increases the transpiration, and also
runoff effects and how much water is assumed to run off
under different kinds of rainfall events.
However, we can perhaps buy off on the mean, the
lowered mean, but the upper end of the range, we feel should
be about 50 percent higher, should account for the many
uncertainties that exist in the system, some of which
include the true range of soil thicknesses and textures over
the Mountain, and the bedrock hydraulic properties which are
only known to some extent.
And then there are the effects of the plant
distributions, because on different slopes, with different
solar aspects, you actually get different types of local
populations of plants.
Uncertainties in the methods used to develop the
shallow infiltration model -- oh, I do have a slide on this,
too. Sorry about that.
I'm at this point down here, uncertainty in the
methods used to develop the shall infiltration model. And,
by the way, you might correct on your slides, at the end of
neutron probe, that semicolon should not be there.
But some of the main tools that DOE has used to
look at shallow infiltration include determining water
counts and profiles using neutron probes; chloride mass
balance method; and temperature profiles.
Now, the main DOE action on this is that they've
indicated they would like to respond further to the comments
we made, and by October, provide an action plan on where to
go from here.
DR. HORNBERGER: The 50-percent higher figure,
this is present day? Do you feel that perhaps it should be
as high as 18 millimeters per year?
MR. COLEMAN: Around there, yes. We couldn't come
up with an exact number, of course. It's a number that was
more comparable to what was used in VA, and that certainly
does a lot better job of accounting for the uncertainties
DR. HORNBERGER: The uncertainties, for example,
in the chloride mass balances are uncertain to the extent
that it could be 18 millimeters per year?
MR. COLEMAN: Well, some of it has to do with the
distribution of where the bore holes were placed, that it
doesn't really give you a true sampling of the site. It's
probably more that than anything else.
DR. HORNBERGER: But I guess what I'm -- you're
doing this based on a technical assessment, and you look at
it and say, well, okay, the chloride mass balances, because
of the placement of bore holes, it looks to us as if 18
millimeters per year is the -- would be reasonably
consistent with the information available?
MR. COLEMAN: Well, not just chloride mass
balance, but also from temperature profiles, yes; that there
is certainly enough variability at the site, and over the
whole range of different environments at the site, from the
crest where you have very thin soil environment, and, in
fact, bedrock exposure in places, quite a few places. And
then locations of the washes where a lot of the bore holes
are concentrated where you have much thicker alluvium, and
we suspect that infiltration is very much dominated by the
thinner soil environments and including the Western Slope.
When you're at the crest of Yucca Mountain, you're
looking down the other side, there's a lot of bedrock
exposure there, a location where you can have a lot of
fairly rapid infiltration.
You will notice that there are no bore holes in
that side of the Mountain. None of these measurements were
taken on that side, because you physically couldn't get in
there to do it.
MR. WINTERLY: Could I add to that point? Jim
Winterly, Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analysis.
If I understand Dr. Hornberger's question --
VOICE: I'm sorry, is your mike on?
MR. WINTERLY: We're discussing the technical
basis for our requesting a higher number of infiltration
somewhere around 18 millimeters per year.
The DOE has an analysis model report, AMR as we
call them, on uncertainty in infiltration that considers all
the parameter uncertainties and the uncertainties and what
the climate states are, but the analysis was only done for a
And the infiltration rates used in the PMR aren't
really based on that AMR. The results of that AMR sort of
go into a different model abstraction for PA.
But the result of that AMR shows a certain
distribution of uncertainty for what the infiltration would
be under future climate. So we sort of extrapolate from
that that if present-day climate uncertainty follows a
similar distribution, that would move the upper bound up
quite a bit from where they are currently saying it is.
MR. COLEMAN: I just wanted to mention, while
we're still on this slide, that deep percolation, which
we'll get into in a minute, that is closed-pending, that is
present-day and future deep percolation.
Ambient flow in the saturated zone un-dilution,
that is one of the topics that will be covered at the
October 31st meeting.
At this meeting in Berkeley, we dealt with matrix
diffusion, and it has two parts: Matrix diffusion in the
unsaturated zone, that is closed-pending, as we'll discuss;
Matrix diffusion in the saturated zone, which is a quite
different issue, remains open, and that will be addressed in
the November meeting, as well.
Now, the agreements that we came up with at this
meeting, just reviewing Subissues 1 and 2, these are closed,
no agreements were necessary. Subissue 3, present-day
shallow infiltration, which is now, again, an open issue.
The DOE folks are planning to respond to our
comments, provide an action plan for further work, and also,
if needed, we will have a third meeting under this key
technical issue, and that would be scheduled by March of
Now, it's also possible that if we have the
information available that DOE wants to provide to us, this
could be discussed as an item of old business, shall we say,
at the October/November meeting, if there is time.
And by the way, from our summary meeting minutes,
the proposed DOE actions on shallow infiltration -- let's
see if there is anything different here from what I
No, that's it. The bottom line, again, on shallow
infiltration is that it's open because we feel the new upper
bound is simply too low, approximately 12 millimeters per
year, does not encompass the uncertainties that we see at
DR. LARKINS: Neil?
MR. COLEMAN: Yes.
DR. LARKINS: Do you go -- I assume that you're
going to go back and re-factor these into your TPA analysis
and see what results, how these impact the results of your
MR. COLEMAN: Oh, yes. I'm glad you mentioned
that, because something that came up in our meeting -- and I
suspect that it will come up in other meetings as well --
the extremely robust waste package that DOE has proposed
makes it very difficult to see the effects of varying
assumptions in the natural system, the effects of the
different components in the saturated zone, such as effects
of valley fill, retardation in the valley fill, the role of
the Calico Hills in slowing down or absorbing radionuclides.
It has become much more difficult to see just
truly what those effects are.
Now, we talked with the DOE folks about this, and
they are thinking about ways to make this more transparent.
We really do need to see that more clearly, since in a
number of cases, a path to resolution might be a sensitivity
study, showing the true effects, NPA, of, say, assumptions
about matrix diffusion.
It was easier in VA to see what the effects were
of changing matrix diffusion on the overall system. We
noticed that even significant changes in dripping scenarios,
the numbers of waste packages that received dripping of
water, did not have nearly as large an effect as seen
You would expect that, given a very robust waste
package, but there needs to be a treatment to make it more
transparent, what these effects are. Whether it -- where an
analysis would not include all the robust components of the
waste package, just so we can clearly see how the changes in
the natural system play out.
Agreements related to deep percolation,
present-day and future deep percolation, in order to reach
closed-pending on this subissue, we know that the importance
of the ongoing and planned tests, really most of the
remaining program of data collection that DOE has going on,
is focused in some remaining work in the east-west drift, a
fair bit of work in the cross-drift or east-west drift --
what I meant was, in the ESF and in the cross-drift, and
then the other work is concentrated to the south in the
saturated zone, involved with the Nye County drilling
But it is very important for the ongoing and
planned tests to proceed and to be completed. Two of the
key examples here are the isolated part of the east-west
drift, and perhaps its --
This projector is not too good. The isolated part
of the east-west drift, you can see the beginning point
where it comes off the north ramp, and then right about
here, at Station 16+95 or 1695 meters into the tunnel, is
the -- I'm sorry, 1763. I'm reading the wrong one. -- this
is the first hydrologic bulkhead.
This then isolates the remaining part of the
tunnel from the ventilation effects, which all of the tunnel
from here back are highly ventilated for the safety of the
And this test -- an additional bulkhead had been
added back here. There are two additional bulkheads at the
end, and these are isolating the test zone from a number of
things: There's a transformer at the end, the tunnel boring
machine is still here at the end of the drift; there's a
transformer there that gives off a fair bit of heat.
And at one time, in order to read the instruments
that are in the tunnel, it was necessary to leave the lights
on. They were all connected together. That's been
corrected so it's not necessary to have the lights on.
And this additional bulkhead then helps isolate
the effects of the heat. This transformer apparently gave
off so much heat that it was detectable in the isolated part
of the tunnel.
The idea of this test is to bring this section of
the tunnel as closely back to natural conditions as
The reason for doing that is to see just what the
moisture conditions are like in the wall rock, and help
answer the key question, does dripping occur in the
underground at Yucca Mountain under natural conditions,
fully equilibrated conditions?
This is a key finding to be made. It does not
depend on model assumptions, it does not depend on trying to
understand output from a black box. It's a true test of the
performance of the Mountain.
And one of the most recent additions to this part
of the tunnel -- and it's mainly in the farther end -- is a
series of cloths which are impregnated with a pH-sensitive
reagent. They are drip cloths which are designed to detect
whether any dripping takes place today.
So that while this tunnel is isolated, they will
record, because if a drop falls on them, it produces a spot,
a chemical reaction, and is preserved on the cloth, whether
dripping is happening.
I would say the main reason that we were able to
agree with DOE that this is a closed-pending, is the
commitment to run this test, and until equilibration is
achieved. That's very important that that happen.
The other test I want to mention is here at the
point where the east-west drift crosses over the main
tunnel. Now, an alcove has been constructed off the
east-west drift called Alcove 8.
Below it, off of the ESF, is a niche called Niche
3, and what are planned are infiltration tests to percolate
water down from the overlying tunnel to the underlying
This will be done at a series of different rates,
and approximately three weeks will be used for each of the
tests. There will also be a series of tracer tests to look
at matrix diffusion phenomena in there.
One of the agreements from DOE was to provide test
plans for Alcove 8 and Niche 3, and, in fact, they had done
that a few weeks ago. We have reviewed it, and provided
those comments -- in fact, I hand-carried the letter for
that today to give to one of the DOE folks.
Another commitment is for Alcove 8 and Niche 3 to
try to get a better mass balance of the water use in the
testing, and we talk about that in the comments that we
And for all of the continuing tests in the
underground at Yucca Mountain, for DOE to carefully monitor
evaporation during these tests and to see what the effects
are. One of the things we understand is that a similar type
of infiltration test was done involving Alcove 1.
So where you first enter the Mountain at the north
portal, if you look up on top of the ridge, you'll see kind
of a disturbed area, and this is a place where water was
ponded on the surface, directly above the first alcove known
as Alcove 1, and a very considerable amount of water was
And it was noted -- the reason I bring this up --
if the bulkhead door was opened during the process of the
test, there is a dramatic decrease in the water that was
entering the tunnel.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Jim, but I think it was
about 50 percent, roughly. This is a dramatic effect,
showing how very quickly the infiltration -- or, I should
say, percolation in this case is affected by the dryout of
the tunnel ventilation.
And a couple of other agreements to enable us to
get to closed-pending, to let -- well, to get DOE to
closed-pending -- that they should include the effect of
film flow in evaluating the seepage fraction and seepage
flow in the underground, affecting waste packages, or
justify that this is not needed, that there is no need to do
In seepage studies, DOE should consider smaller
scale irregularities in simulating collapse of a drift.
Because what happens is, if a block of rock were to fall
from the overhead, you will get considerably more
irregularities, perhaps on smaller scale, which can enhance
And we have a commitment to do just that, or show
that it's not needed.
And we are looking for additional documentation on
the effectiveness of the Paint Brush Tuft non-welded unit to
dampen episodic flow.
This unit is above the repository, and a key part
of this is reconciling the differences in the Chlorine-36
studies that we all recently became aware of.
It is very important for the DOE conceptual models
of the site, and the resulting mathematical models, that
they get to the bottom of these differences in Chlorine-36.
I was at the TRB meeting where this first was
presented. And TRB, of course, is also quite concerned
The differences that were found between the
Lawrence Livermore studies and the Los Alamos work, the
longstanding Los Alamos work, are really quite large, and
this must be resolved.
And then finally, we need to see more of an
analysis of the geochemical data that are used to constrain
the flow field below the repository, involving the Calico
Hills and the potential for a fraction of flow to bypass the
vitric and zeolitic units there.
DR. HORNBERGER: Now, before we leave this issue,
I know that one of the comments that DOE had made was that
in this issue, the NRC staff says the DOE drift scale
process level seepage model has not been shown to be of
reasonably conservative upper bounding values. And it goes
on then to the status and path of the resolution and says
that therefore conservative assumptions are needed.
DOE took exception to that, noting that there
isn't anything in risk-informed regulations that would
suggest that upper bound conservative estimates are
required. Have you made any progress on resolving this
MR. COLEMAN: Well, we're not saying, to make
unreasonable -- bounding analyses, as long as they are
reasonable, are okay. That does not get away from
performance-based, risk-informed. This is a seepage issue.
This is one of the number one factors identified
by DOE and in our own performance assessments. And it
relates, in a way, the same question that you asked, that
applies to shallow infiltration.
And I don't think I mentioned under it -- and I'll
mention the same thing about seepage -- we're not
necessarily looking for, in the case of shallow
infiltration, a lot of new data collection. The easier way
is to increase the upper bound and to account for the
uncertainties in that way.
If they choose, they could collect a lot of
additional information. That's another way to go.
But I realize there is a line that --
DR. HORNBERGER: But, you see, I ask the question
I asked on the infiltration for specifically that purpose.
Now, Jim gave me an answer that would suggest that
there is a technical basis for suggesting a 50-percent
increase. And to me, that's different than saying that this
is important, we better make it reasonably conservative, and
therefore raise that upper bound. They are two different
Do you agree with that?
MR. COLEMAN: I do, but I think they're related.
DR. HORNBERGER: Okay.
MR. COLEMAN: Because percolation and infiltration
DR. HORNBERGER: No, no, the percolation and
infiltration are related. That wasn't my point. But I'm
just interested in how you resolve this, because DOE
obviously, when you say -- and these are NRC words,
evidently -- the DOE drift scale process level seepage model
has not been shown to yield reasonably conservative upper
bounding values. That sounds pretty conservative. It
sounds like that's what you want them to do, rather than
take into account, the uncertainty in a reasonable way.
MR. COLEMAN: Well, you notice that closed-pending
was achieved here.
DR. HORNBERGER: Yes.
MR. COLEMAN: The reason is -- and I stress the
importance of these tests -- where there's no professional
judgment involved if there is dripping going on in the
Mountain. And the thing we would expect, and the reason we
can get to a closed-pending and make statements like the one
you read, is if they proceed with these tests, let them run
the full course, and then calibrate their models based on
the results from east-west drift, Alcove 8, Niche-3 testing.
So the closed-pending is not based on here's what
we think the seepage rate is, but it's based on an
affirmation that DOE will make their models consistent with
the observations of these tests to be completed. Does that
DR. HORNBERGER: Yes.
MR. WINTERLY: Could I add a sentence to that,
Neil? This is Jim Winterly again.
I think DOE does raise a good point there, that
there is really no regulatory requirement that they be
conservative, and that's Revision 2 of the IRSR for this key
technical issue that is quoted there.
And in the current working draft of Revision 3
that's not out yet, the language has been changed more along
the lines of they need to adequately bound the uncertainty
MR. COLEMAN: Thank you. Subissue 5, as I
mentioned earlier, this will be -- this is open, involves
the saturated zone issues, dilution, and also matrix
diffusion in the saturated zone. That will be covered at
the meeting that starts October 31st in Albuquerque.
Matrix diffusion for the unsaturated zone was
dealt with in this meeting at Berkeley, and for those who
are not familiar with matrix diffusion, this refers to the
migration of radionuclides from flow-in portions of a
fracture into the unfractured matrix of rock.
And once it happens, then minerals like the
zeolite minerals that are present in there can absorb
radionuclides. And that's the importance of matrix
diffusion; it's the mechanism by which radionuclides might
get into the solid part of the rock.
From work that we've done over the years, it
appears that DOE should not take a great deal of credit for
matrix diffusion in the unsaturated zone. The saturated
zone is very different, and we would expect that much more
credit could be taken for that.
In fact, matrix diffusion is usually talked about
as just a fractured rock phenomenon. That's not true.
In the valley fill materials, it's probably one of
the most important things that could happen, because of
diffusion into the rock class which range from gravel size
up to boulder size that are entrained in the valley field
materials, so it's a very effective mechanism there as well.
We'll talk about that at the Sat Zone Meeting.
But to achieve closed-pending, although DOE pointed out that
they feel they don't take a huge amount of credit for matrix
diffusion in the unsaturated zone, we wanted to see an
update of this in the TSPA SR, showing just how much credit
We pointed out an example -- let me see if I can
read the page number on this -- from the viability
assessment, Volume 3, page 5-36.
There are a series of diagrams that show the
relative effects of matrix diffusion, so we want to see
documentation similar to that, and I'm sorry that I don't
have a slide of that.
Also, for DOE to provide the final testing plan
for Alcove 8, which I mentioned already that we have
reviewed and provided comments on that. And it will also
address matrix diffusion for the unsaturated zone.
And that DOE take into consideration, these
comments that we've made.
Okay, it's taking me a moment to get to future
milestones, where we go from here. We will review the DOE
action plan on shallow infiltration which I mentioned should
be available in October.
We have the upcoming meeting, October 31st to
November 2nd. We also plan to release Revision 3 of our
issue resolution status report in the coming months. We
hope to have that out by January, if not earlier.
And there will be a followup meeting on shallow
infiltration that will be held by March of 2001, if that's
So that's for the KTI, unsaturated and saturated
flow under isothermal conditions; that's where we are today.
I'm ready for any additional questions.
DR. HORNBERGER: Great, thanks very much, Neil.
Questions from the Committee? Ray?
DR. WYMER: No.
DR. HORNBERGER: Very well.
MR. LEVENSON: I have sort of a philosophical
question: As you go through this procedure, you're
collecting more and more information. In fact, you had one
closed issue which when subsequent information becomes
available, you reopened.
As more and more information is collected, do you
or do you intend to back away a little bit from the required
over-estimates, the word you call conservative, which I
don't agree with, because over-estimating quite often is not
conservative. It forces you to do something else.
But using your definition of the word, it's to
cover uncertainties. As more and more information becomes
available, do you have a mechanism for backing that down?
MR. COLEMAN: Are you referring to infiltration,
MR. LEVENSON: Just generically, as you go into
the technical issues. This applies to almost all of them.
Since you use over-estimates to cover uncertainties, as more
and more information becomes available, do you back down
your over-estimates? And if not, why not?
MR. COLEMAN: Well, for deep percolation, really
in the hydrology area, the amount of water that could
contact an engineered barrier, drip shields, waste package,
here's where DOE doesn't have to become overly conservative.
We don't have to require things that may be perceived as
The results of those two tests that I mentioned --
and we don't have the results of them yet -- that there's
very little professional judgment that has to be made in
interpreting them. They will be really some of the best
understanding that there will be until and if a construction
authorization would be made.
Certainly the best way to learn about the Mountain
is if it looks okay now, to excavate it and see what's truly
there, what we call performance confirmation.
But before that can ever happen, it has to be
shown that a good safety case has bee made on what is known
today. But these tests -- and this relates to the
present-day percolation, because DOE has very little chance
of reasonably estimating future conditions under future
climates without establishing the present-day case.
So, I think whatever they come up with in these
tests, they could use in performance assessments, because
they would have the best data they're going to have.
There would still be some bounding in the case
because there will be variability. There may be no dripping
at all in the East-West Drift, but no one has to make that
estimate. You simply wait and see.
MR. LEVENSON: I understand that for the unusual
case, in a way, where you have an experiment that can answer
But I was asking it more generically. In a lot of
the technical issues, you can't have a simple test that says
when we do this test, we can forget the modeling and the
analysis that's the fact.
There aren't very many like that, so I'm asking
the generic question about as you get more information, do
you have a mechanism to reduce your over-estimates as you
MR. COLEMAN: I think the way I'd answer that is
that the whole story has to hang together. So, it could be
that the information that's been learned about the
stratigraphy of the site, the geochemistry of the site, the
hydrology parameters, everything has to hang together or it
will hang separately.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: That sounds like the answer is
yes, that you do have a mechanism for changing assumptions.
MR. COLEMAN: Quite frankly, it's not something
we've talked a great deal about, because DOE is moving in
the right direction, we think.
Now, you did see a case where new information
reopened an issue, but this issue was resolved. It would
not have been reopened, if DOE had not cut the numbers in
half, which is really a dramatic change to make this late in
the program. That's why we really scrutinized this
DR. TRAPP: Let me try and answer that. One of
the things that -- this is John Trapp from the NRC.
One of the things that we do have is what we call
the Iterative Performance Assessment, in which each time we
do get the new information, this is factored right into the
performance assessment model to get us a better estimate of
where things stand.
So, yes is the answer to your question, that the
iterative performance assessment is basically the way we
work through it.
DR. HORNBERGER: Thank you. John?
DR. LARKINS: I don't think so. Thank you.
DR. HORNBERGER: Okay, thanks very much, Neil, and
thank you, Jim, for piping in.
We're going to move right along and move to the
KTI on igneous activity, and John Trapp is going to give us
a presentation on what's been happening in this arena.
DR. TRAPP: I have asked Dr. Hill to assist me in
doing this, actually for two reasons: It makes it a little
easier on me, and also if I don't know the answer to the
question, Rick does.
The presentation today is going to be focused on
the results of the technical exchange we held two weeks ago
on igneous activity. This is actually the second in a
two-seek series of exchanges we had with DOE.
The first was basically an observation audit which
was dealing with the total disruptive process and events
area which covered week one.
The objective of the exchange is basically to
resolve the open issues related to igneous activity, and by
resolve, I'm going to say it again, is resolve as was
explained by Bill Reamer.
We were trying to discuss a basis to resolve these
issues, determine which ones we could resolve at present,
and if we couldn't resolve them at the meeting, come up with
some mechanism by which we had a path forward to reach
Now, going into the meeting, we had the two
issues, probability and consequence, and they were in the
open state. Next slide, please.
On these next two slides, there are what I listed
as NRC technical concerns, and I'd like to discuss these
just a little bit.
First off, how did we get to these things? If you
take a look at the IRSR, and go through the IRSR and take a
look at the sensitivity analysis, we basically made a run
through this thing and said, okay, which points have to be
resolved, have to have the information to get to licensing?
We then, like I said, used the sensitivity
analysis, so we used the risk information that we could get
out this to rack these out and see, are the ones that we
have left important?
So this is basically what we call technical
concerns. These are the things that are necessary to be
addressed, to be resolved, so that we've got sufficient
information to get to a licensing application, to docketing.
Or, another way to describe this is, how much is
enough? If DOE can resolve these and the ones that are on
the next slide, we basically have enough information that we
can get to licensing.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Are these approximately
DR. TRAPP: No, these are not important ranked.
The only two that don't quite fit into this thing -- and
I'll get to them later -- are these two at the end, and
those are there to make sure that we know our mechanisms for
doing the modeling.
Go to the next slide, would you? I'd also like to
just talk a little bit about these three points:
If you take a look at the IRSR, we did have at
that time, expert elicitation, quality assurance, in there.
We knew they really didn't belong in there, per se, but we
didn't have a mechanism to hang them on at that time.
If you take a look -- well, you can't take a look
-- if you could take a look at the Yucca Mountain Review
Plan, you would see that there are specific sections dealing
with expert elicitation, the mechanism of quality assurance,
And so these parts of the issues that we had in
the IRSR will be taken out of the IRSR and moved on over to
Features, events, and processes is a means of
trying to make sure that we have all the different
mechanisms that could possibly be related to igneous
activity, all the features and events considered in the
The previous week, during the review, the quality
assurance out -- the FEPS PMR was one of the main parts of
the audit. Very simply, what we came out with at that time
was that we really didn't have any disagreements with what
was being presented, but the basis, the justification for
what was in there was, we felt, not quite up to speed.
However, we also had a chance to take a look at
some of the stuff that was going into the next revision.
And my only statement I can make right now is that if you
take a look at what appears to be going into the next
revision, a lot of this concern about justification should
be taken care of when we get to that point.
Okay, where do we sit? Like I said, probability,
that one was open, and on the ACNW meeting following the
April technical exchange, there were some questions raised
One of the agreements that came out of this
meeting is that DOE would put together their licensing case,
and they would use what they considered the best value that
they could justify.
At present, it looks like this is going to be
something like about 1.2 to 1.6 times ten to the minus
eighth. However, in addition to this value, what they're
going to put in the license application -- and it doesn't
have to be right there; it can be in a reference document,
anyplace -- is an analysis which is also done at one times
ten to the minus seventh.
I feel quite comfortable with this. Both parties
agree that these values do fall somewhere in the range. The
big difference is how we would put the adjectives on them.
DOE would say that ten to the minus eighth is
their main value, and ten to the minus seventh is something
at the extremes.
We would say that ten to the minus eighth is a low
value, and the value should lay somewhere between ten to the
minus eighth and ten to the minus seventh, so we feel that
by doing this, we've got stuff available for us and for the
Licensing Board to make a decision as to the site.
In addition, there was another agreement raised on
this. And we do necessarily expect at any time new
information does come in, that DOE would take a look at it
and factor it into their analysis.
This, however, was kind of a specific case. It's
new aeromagnetic data, which basically was funded by Nye,
Clarke, and Inyo County. I believe those are the right
three ones, and then was run and put into an open file
report by the USGS.
Because this information just became available, I
think, the week before the meeting, we wanted DOE to agree
to take a look at this, see if it made any changes in the
number of buried features that they could find, and they
have agreed to do this.
We don't know the actual survey specifications, so
we're not sure that they can actually accomplish much by
doing this. They are first going to take a look at the
survey specifications, find out if it's worthwhile, report
back to us if it is, give us the plan on how this is going
to be analyzed.
Therefore, the probability is one we call
closed-pending. We've got this stuff coming in, but we feel
DR. HORNBERGER: John, I take it that if the
aeromagnetic specs aren't up to snuff, it's not required
that DOE redo the survey?
DR. TRAPP: That's correct. We're not asking for
a redo of the survey; we're just asking for an analysis of
the data, if the data is sufficient to analyze, yes.
Just to give you the bottom line on where we're
situated, if you take consequences, the issue is described
as open, but the reason that it's open is that if you go
through the various acceptance criteria and divide them into
intrusive and extrusive and take a look at them, everything
is closed-pending, except for one point.
So, we in this meeting, I think, made tremendous
progress, and we'll talk about where we're sitting on that
Yes, that is important. This does come from
Revision 2 of the IRSR, the acceptance criteria. The
acceptance criteria in Revision 3 will actually change.
I have said that so many times, I'm not sure I
need to. And the way they will change is, they will
basically be reflective of the ISIS that you'll see in the
Yucca Mountain Review Plan, so, for instance, most of this
will end up going into volcanic disruption, and airborne
Most of the material right through here, will end
up going into mechanical disruption of the waste package, so
you'll see slightly different acceptance criteria in
Revision 3, however, the basic thought is still there. We
are not trying to ratchet anything; we're trying to make
sure that we've got things up to date as the license will be
If we take a look at Acceptance Criteria 1,
basically it states that models are consistent with the
geologic record of basaltic igneous activity in the Yucca
For records, you can track it right back to the
technical points we were talking about. This is Technical
Point Number 12.
Our concern, very simply, was that if you take a
look at the tougher volumes that are being used in the DOE
analysis, they were coming up with values which we felt were
The range was basically too large, and one of the
things we found in doing our sensitivity analysis is that
when we go to these higher ranges, we kind of get a dilution
of the material.
Therefore, we wanted DOE to document the real
range that we're using, come up with a better basis for this
range, and put it in the TSPA analysis.
Since they have agreed to do it, this is something
that we expect to see in June of 2001.
Acceptance Criteria 2: Models are verified
against analog igneous systems. This is really the model
for the airborne transport.
And the question is, can you show that ash plume,
as it's being used, can be run against some well-documented
volcano, and replicate the results?
This is one that DOE has readily agreed to. They
are using this 1995 Sierra Negro eruption, the same one that
we used to run through this. Very honestly, it's the one
that's got the best documentation that you can check the
model against and make sure that you have got an exact
Again, this is a June 2001 date that we expect to
find this information.
AC-3, models account for magma/repository
interaction. This right here, we are dealing with the
extrusive component, and one of the things in the change of
the repository layout -- what happens when you change the
repository layout and start figuring out the most likely
angle for dikes?
You start getting a spot where the dikes and the
repository layouts coincide. When they coincide, you have a
very large probability that the conduits will not be in a
circular nature, but will be elongated, and if they are
elongated, you could end up with a larger number of waste
packages being intercepted.
In reality, this will probably not be that big an
effect, because if you take a look at the range and possible
dike orientations, and the range -- not the range, but the
present layout -- the angles at which they can intercept is
relatively a small range.
However, DOE is going to take a look at this
concern, find out how it does affect their whole analysis,
and, again, this will be documented in the Revision 1 of the
TSPA of June of 2001.
AC-4, models account for interactions within magma
and engineered barriers and waste form, this takes care of
Points 2 and 3. Another concern, as they took the ash flow
cone which was developed by the Center, they modified it for
their own use, and we're not totally sure, exactly some of
the modifications they've done.
In reality the dates and the repository layouts
coincide. When they coincide you have a very large
probability that the conduits will not be in the circular
nature. It will be elongated, and if they are elongated you
could end up with a larger number of waste packages being
In reality, this will probably be that big an
effect, because if you take a look at the range and possible
dike orientations in the present layout, the angles at which
they can intercept is relatively a small range. However,
DOE is going to take a look at this concern, find out how it
does affect their whole analysis and again this will be
documented in the revision, one of the TSPA of June, 2001.
AC-4, models account for interactions between the
magma and engineered barriers and waste form. This takes
care of points 2 and 3.
One of the concerns as they took the ASHPLUME code
which was developed by the Center they modified it for their
own use and we're not totally sure exactly some of the
modifications they have done.
The question we've got is in doing so and
incorporating the waste into the ash, have they correctly
accounted for the density variations in two of the
At the meeting nobody could lay their hands on
enough documentation to determine if it had been or not,
therefore they are going to be taking a look at this to make
sure they have handled it correctly if they haven't handled
it correctly make the modifications that are necessary and
we'll have this in January of 2001.
Document the results of sensitivity studies for
particle size consistent with the above -- if you take a
look at the interactions between the magma and the waste
form itself, you really end up with extreme thermal and
physical load. The information that DOE has been using is
according to our waste package people, first off the best
basic information we've got on fragmentation of magma and
fragmentation of waste forms, but from that there are
basically three different slots you can choose.
DOE happened to take one slot and use this in the
range which is documented in the literature. However, the
question is, hey, why didn't you use the other two slots?
What's the basis?
DOE is going to take a look at these two
different, two other grain size distributions in the
sensitivity analysis, find out exactly how it does affect
the TSPAs and report back to us on that in June, 2001.
SPEAKER: Where did these come from, Joe? Brit?
MR. HILL: This is Britt Hill from the CNWRA.
There were a number of studies done even back to the '60s in
changes in waste grain size during mechanical disruption
from crush impact studies, for examples. DOE has now pulled
together a range of some of the literature for nonoxidized
spent fuel. They are coming up with an average grain size
of about 20 microns with about plus or minus one log unit
for the grain size distribution.
We have been using an order of magnitude approach
at about 10 microns. We have first to see that the waste is
being incorporated properly into the ash for the disruption
in the modeling and then see if that difference is
significant or not or other potential waste forms, other
spent fuel forms and glass, whether the grain sizes for
those would significantly affect how much was transported
DR. TRAPP: Also in going through this whole thing
one of the difference that has happened is there's been a
jockeying back and forth trying to decide if we are going to
have backfilled repository or not.
The AMRs that we have received were based on a
backfilled repository and based on the backfilled repository
DOE had calculated that if a dike is going through the
repository that you should end up with about three waste
packages on either side of it. Basically it's completely
destroyed as far as any ability to protect the thing from
Going through a nonbackfilled repository what you
have got is a much greater potential zone of effect.
Instead of the magma coming in basically being stopped by
the backfill, the magma will go in, hit the initial waste
packages, continue on down the drift. However, if you
logically look at this, as the magma is going down the drift
there should be some dissipation of energy but for some
places along this line it's not really reasonable to assume
complete disruption. There should be something else that
According to the DOE's analysis and it agrees with
what we have done, the temperature alone when you get down
to that point would be enough to cause cracking of the
endcaps but not complete disruption of the waste package, so
what we really need, and this is the one point where we have
got the open issue, is to really understand how this
mechanism is being modeled by DOE, how the energy
dissipation is being taken into effect, what the effects of
thermal flow are and then actually how they are modeling the
whole groundwater flow out of this thing to take care of it.
Next slide, please -- the groundwater flow post intrusion.
What DOE will do is basically go through analysis,
show which one of these and how these waste packages are
affected. There are a number of packages that are hit on
this thing in Zone 1 or Zone 2 total disruption or partial
disruption. We expect to get that by 2001.
They will also show what the relative contribution
to the whole TSPA is from these two different zones. This
also would be coming but that would not be until June, 2001.
To better understand how the thermal effects are
being modeled, they basically provide an evaluation of these
thermal effects in Zone 1 and Zone 2. Again this is in
As I said, this is the one point that was left
open. It was felt that we couldn't have the degree of
confidence with the amount of analysis that had to be done
to close this one at this time.
SPEAKER: But the good news is that it seems to me
that you have an agreement on what needs to be done.
DR. TRAPP: We definitely have a path forward and
very honestly if we'd had a few more waste package and waste
form people at the meeting we might have gotten farther
along with this. Because of the change from the backfilled
to nonbackfilled we really have not, neither site had enough
people in that area to cover it, so, yes, it's open, and it
will take some analysis.
Acceptance Criteria 5, parameters are constrained
by data from Yucca Mountain, et cetera, we have four areas
that really fell into this -- wind characteristics, airborne
particle concentrations, deposit remobilization, and
Up to this point neither DOE nor NRC have had wind
data that really covered the range of the plumes that we
needed to deal with.
Now basically you have up to about three and a
half, four kilometers above ground level. The levels that
you would have to be dealing with for a plume would be
somewhere between two to six, seven kilometers.
During the QA audit we did some talking to people
and I am not sure who actually found it but somebody did
find some additional data that carries the information on up
to the elevations of concern. Because of this, DOE is going
to take a look at this data, put an analysis together, be
able to give us a composite wind speed and altitude and use
this really in a stratified way because there is a
tremendous amount of difference between what you have at
ground level versus what you have at height, and then use
this in the analysis.
This will be available in June, 2001.
One of the things that we want to make sure is
when they are doing the dose conversion, et cetera, this
type of thing, that the mass loading parameters are really
correct for the type of deposit that they are dealing with
and the type of activity that the people are working with.
Taking a look at some of the information we were a
little concerned that some of the measurements may have been
static measurements instead of the dynamic measurements you
would expect with people walking out in the fields, this
type of thing.
We are concerned that some of the information may
be dealing with mass loading parameters that are from
deposits that really are not reflective of ash deposits.
DOE basically during the meeting, I had a fairly
good feeling that they probably do have the right
information. They just don't have it at the present time,
but in January, 2001 they will document exactly what mass
loading parameters, et cetera, and the basis for these
This last one on this page is a very complex one
and it really wouldn't be there if we were dealing with a
rule slightly different than it was.
In going from a rule that -- well, the previous
rule where we were primarily dealing with peak dose and the
one which is totally risk informed and this type of thing,
we had to take a look at the overall changes in the area of
the critical groups or time.
If you assume that you have got in eruption at the
Yucca Mountain area the majority of the ash, et cetera, is
going to be going into the 40 mile wash drainage basin. As
it goes in 40 mile wash drainage basis erosion is going to
start and materials is going to be moved on down the slope,
and just about Highway 95 is where you go from primarily an
erosional transport situation to an area where you are going
to primary deposition.
As such, what you have got is an area which will
have material constantly being brought in, but in addition
to the material being in, there will be some subsequent
erosion of material coming out, so you have got a tremendous
problem on mass balance of this material.
You also have a problem in trying to figure out
during the erosion what is the amount of dilution that you
have got going on. You have got to deal with the changes in
particle size in the ash and this type of thing.
This is going to be, I believe, the second hardest
of the whole bunch to resolve and I rather suspect that DOE
is going to be using kind of a bounding analysis to come
through this. That seemed to be the results of the meeting
and I just saw Eric Smithstead come in here and he's just
kind of shaking his head, so it looks like I am correct on
that, so they will probably be using the bounding analysis
to try to resolve this concern.
Originally the analysis in the VA was only talking
about doses and was only using the 1 to 10 micron range in
calculating these. However, with a lot of the isotopes that
you are dealing with, the 10 to 100 micron range can provide
a significant dose impact even though it doesn't get down to
the lungs, it will lodge in the nasal and pharynx region and
this type of thing.
DOE basically had realized this was a problem.
They proposed to treat this as an additional soil ingestion
and have it calculated that way. They are going to review
how they are considering these things and make sure that
this is the right way to handle it or if they don't do it
that way use ICRP 30 analysis methods.
Again, we will see this in January, 2001 so this
should be taken care of without any problem.
Miscellaneous -- if you go back to the VA, one of
the things that was assumed during an eruption is that there
really wouldn't be a dose because people would be running
out of there.
If you take a look at what happens in areas where
you have got these type of eruptions, people do not leave.
They stay in that area and so really it's been resolved
totally because they are no longer assuming the
self-evacuation during an eruption.
These two were kind of miscellaneous concerns.
Remember, I mentioned them before, because they don't fit
into the risk deal, but one of the things that we were
noticing is that there was quite a bit of difference between
what DOE was getting in their intrusive scenario from what
we were getting, and we are trying to understand the
I first off wanted to make sure it didn't have
anything to do with igneous activity so I don't have to
worry about it, and truthfully it doesn't. It's totally a
difference in the way the two model release and transport in
the saturated zone, or both saturated and unsaturated zone.
Integration of results from all pathways -- this
is basically making sure that with a change in the rule and
going to the expected dose that the calculational
methodology that DOE was using was correct. It appears to
be -- well, it is correct as far as Jim McCartin is
concerned and Jim is supposedly the guru on this stuff so I
am taking his word for it.
From where we sit, well, truthfully, while we have
got all these "closed pendings," there's an awful lot of
work left to be done.
The first thing we have got to do is issue
Revision 3 of the IRSR, which will have the modification
going to the Yucca Mountain Review Plan type criteria.
It's listed as 2001. Basically the Center's
component is supposed to be due in mid-November and the
exact date past then is how fast I work.
We've got a review of the TSPA-SR. We have got
the basic topics we've got and basically with some of the
things that came in from the biosphere we've got some
additional topics on surficial process that go into this
review that have to be factored in.
If you were looking at that list and listening to
me talk, I kept on saying January, 2001 and June, 2001.
There's a lot coming in those two dates. We are going to
commit ourselves to review these things, get the response
back to DOE in a quick timeframe.
In addition, however, we do have some research
going on still at the Center on magma-repository
interactions which would get into this whole waste package
type deal and the tephra deposit evolution which gets into
the remobilization, and we're talking a little more of a
look at wind speed and we will be taking a look at the new
data, looking at stratification until we exactly find out
how this all fits together.
In conclusion, I guess I would say I was extremely
satisfied with the technical exchange we had. We went
through an awful lot of material.
Like I said, Eric Smithstead just came in, Carol
Hanlon is sitting there. Those two I think really deserve a
lot of credit because they put an awful lot of time and
effort to making sure from DOE's side that it would get
DR. HORNBERGER: Thanks very much, John. Ray?
DR. WYMER: Yes, I have one general question.
DR. HORNBERGER: Want to use the microphone?
DR. WYMER: I have a general question. Presumably
whether or not the site is acceptable in the context of
volcanic activity at least is some sort of a product of
probabilities occurring and the consequences of the
occurrence. I heard the probability was 10 to the minus 7,
10 to the minus 8.
What do you look for as the product of the
probability and consequences? 25 MR per year? Is that your
DR. TRAPP: Basically, yes. The criteria would be
a probability weighted consequence, which should have to be
at the present time assume less than 25 MR per year.
DR. WYMER: Okay, I didn't see that.
DR. LEVENSON: I have one question. Back on your
fourth slide you identify the elicitation of expert opinion.
My question is, is that a relatively important
part of this issue?
DR. TRAPP: It was a relatively important part
back on the probability because that is the basis of DOE's
probability. We had some concerns with how expert
elicitation was conducted. However, if you go back to I
believe it is a 1997 letter from Mike Bell to Steve Brocum,
we had basically talked about these concerns but decided
that even though there were some concerns that we would
accept the results of expert elicitation and give it its due
consideration, so, yes it was at that time.
As far as consequences, no, there is no expert
elicitation being planned on the consequences.
DR. LEVENSON: Okay -- because the expert
elicitations are a couple of nice-sounding words but there
is a huge range of application, and the reason I think I
have to raise the question is that in another activity in
which I am involved which has nothing to do with ACNW or
Yucca Mountain expert opinion was provided and it was a
group of very highly qualified technical people.
The question was what is the likelihood that this
new facility being considered could be licensed. The only
thing wrong with the group of experts -- not a single person
had ever worked in a licensed facility, ever worked for the
NRC, had ever applied for a license, and in fact there's
some relatively new literature on how valid are things like
probability projections made by technical experts in other
If expert elicitation is a significant factor
here, I think I'd suggest it really be looked at very
DR. TRAPP: Well, like I said on probability,
DOE's an expert elicitation. Ours is not. There's a
difference in the mechanism that both of them were used,
therefore I think we have got a real good range in values.
Like I said, there's technical disagreement and
difference in adjectives but I feel quite comfortable with
DR. HORNBERGER: In fairness, I think I'll put in
that DOE expert elicitation of the probability of volcanic
activity, the experts were informed of all the data that
John mentioned, to the extent it was available at the time,
so it wasn't that they were just put in a room and asked.
Also, for the most part there is a NUREG giving
procedures for expert elicitation for NRC and that procedure
was basically followed. John?
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: John, I guess where we are now
is that preliminary analysis indicates that igneous
processes are the main contributor to the dose during the
10,000 year compliance period.
Is that kind of where we are?
DR. TRAPP: Very honestly, it was one of the
things I enjoyed because after getting hammered on this
thing for years and years and years, to have DOE actually
say the same thing, yes, that's where we came up.
Dose -- no, it would be expected dose, the risk.
It's the main contributor to risk.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Okay. I am still behind in
trying to understand this decoupling process of the
probabilities from the consequences because we know that
extrusive and intrusive igneous processes have a very big
range of values associated with them.
Can you give me a little bit of a discourse on how
the consequence thresholds are established to which a
specific probability is assigned?
DR. TRAPP: Really it is not assigned to a
specific probability. It is all stochastically sampled
throughout the end and by doing enough repetitions hopefully
you would have a stable product.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: But then you must surely get a
result that has a wide range of uncertainty associated in
terms of the consequences?
DR. TRAPP: Very definitely.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Because it seems -- go ahead.
MR. HILL: This is Britt Hill from the Center.
Compared to, say, earthquakes, where you would
assign an annual probability to a ground acceleration, with
earthquakes you would see a significant range in the event
The range of ground acceleration that you would
get greatly exceeds the range of volcanic eruption energy,
if you will, that you would get from a basaltic igneous
While it seems at times that there is a lot of
uncertainty about that event, the volumes, the mass flow,
the temperatures, all of that is very narrow compared to the
range that you get from, say, an earthquake, so we are not
assigning a probability to a different event volume or mass
flow rate, we are saying the probability is the initiating
Now that event can have a range of column heights.
It can have a range of mass flow rates and durations, but
those ranges are much smaller than the range that you get
in, say, ground acceleration from an earthquake.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Okay, in a seismic analysis you
have something called a hazard curve.
MR. HILL: Right.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: And this gives you information
on the frequency of occurrence of earthquakes of different
You are saying that you don't have a counterpart
to that necessarily for a igneous event and if you do have
it, the ranges are much, much more narrow?
MR. HILL: That's correct. There's really no
fragility curve, if you will --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Right.
MR. HILL: -- for an engineered facility when a
volcano, basaltic volcano, comes up through it. There's
just a range in how many waste packages are damaged, but it
is difficult to say that you would have, for example, a
design threshold, which is a common application --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: There are a number of waste
MR. HILL: Or a waste package threshold -- at this
time there's no information to say that you would have a
certain resiliency for a waste package in the center of a
volcanic conduit while the volcano is erupting.
It is pretty much that there is no basis to say
that, well, "x" percent won't get in that conduit, "x"
percent won't get transported to the accessible environment,
so unlike with earthquake, you can say you have got .2g
ground acceleration and that there is a lot of robustness in
the system. Here even a small igneous event, the smallest
volume basaltic eruption, say about 10 to the 6 cubic
meters, is comparable in size to the entire volume of the
proposed repository layout, about again I think it is three
or four times 10 to the 6th cubic meters.
The minimal igneous event is comparable in scale
to the entire volume of the repository and then it goes up
to maybe 10 to 8th cubic meters, so even the smallest
initiating event, to try to use the right language, the
smallest initiating igneous event is capable of the same
level of localized damage of the largest igneous event.
There is just a change, the significant figure change, if
you will, between those two.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: So the issue is more a matter
of if you get an intersection than it is a matter of the
size of the volcanic eruption?
MR. HILL: That is correct.
Just for a final clarification, some of the
highest potential concentrations of waste a 20 kilometers
can come out from a relatively small volume event that has a
high wind speed because you have a more concentrated plume
and you can carry the material down in a very focused plume
towards the critical group location as proposed, as opposed
to something that is one of the larger ones with a more
dispersed plume to it, so that is where we look at -- of
course, we are considering the uncertainty in what that
event is going to be.
We are not predicting or trying to forecast the
exact event, but we are taking a more probabilisitc approach
of given these range of conditions in the magma system, what
is the range of eruption characteristics that we could
sample for a future igneous event.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thank you.
DR. TRAPP: Just one thing to carry that a step
farther, Britt kind of hit on it, but remember we are only
dealing with a very small subset of the types of volcanoes
you could be dealing with. We are not dealing with the Mt.
St. Helens type eruption. We are not dealing with a
Maunaloa type eruption. We are dealing with a continental
DR. HORNBERGER: John, a lot of this, it strikes
me I would agree with you had I been at your meeting it
seems like it was very profitable indeed.
I would like to see Bill's writeup to find out if
DR. TRAPP: Yes, he did.
DR. HORNBERGER: Good.
DR. TRAPP: He did a good writeup.
DR. HORNBERGER: One of the things that you went
through I would be a bit concerned about right now is this
issue of remobilization and deposition, because as you
indicated, that is going to be a nightmare to sort out so
that some kind of bounding analysis is likely to be the only
way that you can get at it.
Do you have any gut level feeling that this is
going to be a feasible thing and that the bounding analysis
is not going to be so constrained as to produce something
that is ridiculous?
DR. TRAPP: I wish I could give you a much better
warm and fuzzy. Generally from what I have seen, I think
this would be a reasonable approach and I think they can get
If you start taking a look at models of erosion,
et cetera, trying to put these all together, there are some
models that you can put there. There also are some ways
that -- for instance, like I said, it's a mass balance, so
instead of -- and I am not sure that this would work, but
you could try it -- is, say, just shutting off the removal
rates and only consider the rate of material coming in.
This might be a way of getting the material.
Now as you build up the section, you are starting
to get some shielding, so someplace along there you should
end up with something that is a reasonable value.
I am actually kind of glad that DOE has got the
problem of working with it and I also feel kind of good
about this one because of the people they have got organized
I have got quite a bit of confidence -- with Peter Swift,
who is basically going to be taking the major role in this.
DR. HORNBERGER: Has NRC Staff or anyone at the
Center done any analyses?
DR. TRAPP: Not that I know of.
MR. HILL: Again this is Britt Hill from the
Center. That's one of our tasks this year is to try to take
our own scoping calculations about the extent of
remobilization, not just from waterborne remobilization in
the 40 mile wash, but also having to consider the windblown
processes out there.
When you are driving up Amargosa Valley on your
next trip, you can take a look out to Big Dune or the sand
wraps up around Busted Butte to see that the wind can
remobilize a significant amount of finer grain material and
especially when we start to consider the critical group
itself being a farming community that is erecting fences,
buildings, growing crops that are all going to be serving as
We have to consider the potential influx of
material into the critical group location from wind and
water as well as the potential outflow of material also by
wind and water, so it's really turning into a challenging
flux problem, but it is a problem that is going to have to
be addressed because the whole expected annual dose is based
on the long-term behavior of the contaminated fall deposits
through time, so we have to be addressing these problems and
bounding them in a realistic, defensible way.
SPEAKER: You're going to apply your analysis to
mill tailings, right?
DR. HORNBERGER: I have got sort of a follow-on
question. Do your models for things like the windblown and
resuspension and all of these physical things have a nice
sophisticated term for gravity, since even the highly
oxidized uranium oxide fuel has a density of 10, which is a
factor of four heavier than anything else that is going to
be in there probably.
DR. TRAPP: This is one of the things if you took
a look at the questions that's basically making sure that
ASHPLUME is correctly considering these difference in
densities in the evaluation.
DR. HORNBERGER: Other questions? Andy?
DR. CAMPBELL: Do you guys have any analog
information on -- I mean it seems to me that one of the key
uncertainties on kind of the conceptual model end of things
is how magma intrusion disrupts and then disperses waste
into the magma, which then either gets extruded at the
surface or blown into a plume.
Is there any analog information on the
interactions of magmas and dikes and lava flows with
human-made objects to give you some way of bounding this?
DR. TRAPP: There really isn't. The only one that
I can think of is the one in Iceland several years ago where
they drilled into one of these active dikes by accident and
caused a miniature volcano through the drill pipe. Aside
from that, no.
DR. CAMPBELL: But in terms of the percentages of
material that starts out as a rather large steel and nickel
alloy container with stuff inside of it, there's really
nothing analogous to how that gets disruptive, so basically
you would just assume that "x" number of waste packages
based upon dimensional arguments get totally pulverized and
carried up into the plume?
DR. TRAPP: Basically, yes, any analysis that we
have done at least when you are dealing with the conduit
itself, we end up with the thing so totally disrupted that
we really can't go any farther than that.
I am not sure that it would really gain that much
in the analysis myself, but if you have some information I
would be glad to hear it. We don't have it.
DR. LEVENSON: One place there might be some
information from is quite a few years ago I took the cable
car up to the top of Mt. Vesuvius and I was a little
concerned about how it looked, so I went up and asked them
about the maintenance and they said, well, we don't maintain
this because this gets destroyed by the volcano about every
10 years or so, and it has to be replaced, so there might be
some interactive information available.
DR. HORNBERGER: John?
DR. LARKINS: Just a quick question for
Aerosol transporting deposition is a function of
size, shape and density and what you assume for your load
distribution. How close are you between DOE analysis and
what you are assuming in your ASHPLUME models?
DR. TRAPP: Well, Britt is closer to that than I
MR. HILL: We are very close. The differences at
this time don't appear to be significant in terms of the
particle densities, the constants that we are using for eddy
diffusivity, the dispersion. We are using the same
The differences on the waste, we're evaluating
whether their mean value is significantly different from
ours, but we are in the same ballpark on just about
DR. LARKINS: Okay, chemical remobilization would
be impacted by the solubility and what you assume for your
chemical form for aerosol.
MR. HILL: We haven't made any assumptions about
chemical remobilization and surface leeching processes. We
are talking at this stage solely the physical transport of
particles by wind and water.
DR. HORNBERGER: Any other questions?
DR. HORNBERGER: Okay. Thanks very much, John.
That was an excellent presentation, lots of good technical
We are glad to see progress.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: This is an unusual event. We
are ahead of schedule, but it is fortunate because the
committee has been looking for some time to get access to
some computers and download some information that we need
for the balance of the meeting, so we are going to do that
now, and in that regard I think we will adjourn until 1:00
[Whereupon, at 11:03 a.m., the hearing was
recessed, to reconvene at 1:00 p.m., this same day.]. AFTERNOON SESSION
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Could we get people to take
their seats, please, because we are going to conduct this
next phase partly by telecon and we have some timing issues
that we want to deal with, and I will be back online in just
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Will the meeting come to order,
For the benefit of the Honorable Shelley Berkley,
we want to get started, and I am John Garrick, Chairman of
the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste, and I am supported
with the other members, George Hornberger, Ray Wymer, and
This is the part of the meeting that is the
primary reason that we have it approximately once a year in
the Las Vegas area, and that is to establish direct contact
with stakeholders and the public in connection with the
Yucca Mountain Project.
We always consider this a highlight of our
activities and I can say with great confidence that it has
had a considerable influence on our communication and our
advice to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
I think that in the last letter we wrote following
last year's meeting we stated it pretty clearly about this
sort of a session. We said, "Our objective in holding these
discussions is to enhance our own capability to communicate
technical issues and to develop ideas about how to improve
effective public participation in the NRC's regulatory
process. We also hope to strengthen our relationship with
Nevada stakeholders and clarify our role as an independent
technical oversight body to the NRC."
We have as a result of these meetings, and this is
our third one of this type, we have been specific in our
advice to the Commission about public participation. We
also have to acknowledge that the Commission has had a very
deliberate and determined effort to upgrade, if you wish,
its own activities in relationship to public involvement and
communication so we can't take all the credit but certainly
we have been a stimulant in that regard and I think we have
been pretty frank and direct in our advice on what should be
Just as a minor example of that, in our last
letter following our meeting last time, we were very candid
in making some of the observations and I will just note a
couple of them, and we indicated that some representatives
of the state and counties and members of the public
perceived the following about the NRC:
One, NRC's attempt at risk communication is
disingenuous because of a lack of opportunities to influence
NRC's options and decisions -- all of this is in a letter
that we wrote that is in the public record.
Two, the NRC relaxed regulatory requirements to
ensure that the Yucca Mountain Repository can be licensed.
This was a comment made by state representatives.
Three, the NRC and the DOE have a strong
comraderie and a common language and have a common interest
in getting the repository license -- that is, the NRC will
not challenge the DOE, et cetera, et cetera.
And there are many more, and I just cite these to
indicate the frankness and candidness with which we
attempted to communicate what we were hearing from the
public about the project.
Now as far as actions beyond these letters are
concerned, there have been numerous.
One of course is that we annual prepare an action
plan for the committee that prioritizes its activities for
the coming year, and these meetings have had a direct
influence on establishing as first-year priorities such
things as risk communication and offering advice on
improving relationships with the public, et cetera.
In addition, we have noted several specific issues
such as transportation and have established a schedule for
dealing with these subjects as seems appropriate in the
context of the proceedings of the Yucca Mountain Project,
and we will say something about that a little later.
Now what I would like to do is give our guest, and
we are delighted that she is taking the time to do this, the
Honorable Shelley Berkley from the U.S. House of
Representatives and First District of the State of Nevada an
opportunity to address us for a few moments. Representative
CONGRESSWOMAN BERKLEY: [via telephone] Yes,
doctor, thank you very much. Good afternoon. I would like
to thank the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its Advisory
Committee on Nuclear Waste for the opportunity to offer my
testimony by telephone. Needless to say, I would much
rather be with you in person, but as you know, Congress is
still in session.
It is my understanding that the committee and the
NRC Staff will be discussing how to handle an application
from the Department of Energy to build and operate a high
level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. I am also
informed that tomorrow the committee will discuss the
so-called progress at the Yucca Mountain site, focusing on a
DOE site recommendation report and performance assessment,
and with all due respect to all concerned and I mean that, I
must say that the work of the Commission and the committee
should be directly in an entirely different direction.
Instead of continuing the Yucca Mountain Project,
I urge that you begin to consider shutting it down. The
dangers of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear repository are now so
well-known and so well documented that it is sheer folly to
continue the project and dump additional billions of dollars
literally in a hole in the ground.
Long ago the Yucca Mountain Project reached the
stage that the only way it could be kept alive was to
undermine the safety provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy
Act. The calculated erosion of these provisions has kept
the project on life support for years. It is time to pull
the plug so that the nation may move on to consider safe and
effective strategies to solve the problem of nuclear waste
On three separate occasions the state of Nevada
has demonstrated using DOE's own data that the site should
be disqualified under both the EPA standard and the DOE's
own internal site screening regulations and each time the
DOE or Congress has changed the regulations to ensure that
Yucca Mountain would not be disqualified regardless of the
health and safety consequences to Nevadans.
In fact, DOE has found the geology at Yucca
Mountain so poor that over 90 percent of the waste isolation
capability of the proposed repository would have to be
provided by the metal waste container with only about 5
percent of the site's waste isolation performance depending
on the natural conditions.
When this project started the idea was to find a
place with natural geologic features to contain the
radiation. Clearly this objective has failed, and if that
were not enough an aquifer flows beneath Yucca Mountain with
water moving so rapidly that even with all of the engineered
barriers radiation would unavoidably escape from the
repository and contaminate the groundwater flow.
The discovery of water migrating through the
mountain is cause alone to abandon it. Additionally, Yucca
Mountain is located in a young geologically active area with
four volcanoes within seven miles of the site.
Yucca Mountain is surrounded by 34 -- 34 -- known
earthquake fault lines and has experienced over 620
earthquakes in the last 20 years. One of these earthquakes
measured a 5.9 on the Richter scale and caused over a
million dollars in damage to DOE's own surface support
facilities and I felt that in my bed in Las Vegas.
Recently I testified before a House subcommittee
to urge that radiation exposure standards not be relaxed to
fit the needs of the Yucca Mountain Project. It was
shocking -- shocking -- to listen to experts debate this
issue, with some of them actually advocating the abandonment
of established safety standards, not for the United States
as a whole, but only at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
In other words, my constituents would be the only
people in this country living in an area where stringent
standards of the EPA do not apply.
I firmly believe that this is driven strictly by
politics. We have reached the point where the scientific
practice itself is being compromised by political
I again request that Federal agencies change their
course. Instead of trying to change the rules to keep the
Yucca Mountain Project alive, we should begin the process of
decommissioning the Yucca Mountain Project.
Finally, when discussing a high level nuclear
waste repository we must also address the transportation
concerns that arise from the prospect of hauling 100,000
tons of lethal waste across 43 states. It is irresponsible
that we would jeopardize the lives of men, women and
children living along the routes the waste would travel on
our nation's highways without trying to find a safe
I have faith in the technological advancement of
our nation and that our nation has experienced in the past
few decades and the advancement in our future. The NRC has
stated that nuclear waste can be safely stored in its
current containers for another hundred years. I have full
confidence in our scientific community that we can develop
an alternative where we do not have to dump 100,000 tons of
toxic materials into our earth.
The bottom line is that the Yucca Mountain Project
is a failed one. We need to invest in our future and the
future of generations to come and work together to find a
responsible and safe solution. Storing 100,000 tons of
nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain is not the answer to the
problem that this country faces with nuclear waste, and I
want to thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to
share my thoughts with you.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thank you very much, and of
course your remarks will be part of the record of this
meeting, and again we appreciate your taking the time to
give us these remarks.
CONGRESSWOMAN BERKLEY: Well, I am -- although I'd
like very much to be discussing the decommissioning of Yucca
Mountain, perhaps a number of our citizens that are there
with you today will share my sentiments and express those to
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes, we are going to hear from
a number of people. We are going to hear from the State and
we are going to hear from the various counties -- Nye,
Clark, Lincoln, and Eureka, and we are going to hear from
the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, and I suspect they will
all build on your remarks very effectively.
CONGRESSWOMAN BERKLEY: Well, thank you very much
for your kind attention.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thank you.
CONGRESSWOMAN BERKLEY: Bye bye.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Bye.
One of the things that I wanted to continue with
just for a second because I think the committee has to be
sensitive to the fact that all of these kind of sessions are
only as effective as the follow-up makes them, and I am
anxious to reassure the stakeholders and the public that
there has been extensive follow-up and it has become an
integral part of the source material that we employ not only
to decide what is on our agenda, but that has had influence
considerably on how we view some of the issues.
There are a couple of issues that I just wanted to
mention. I have mentioned the one about making public
participation a priority ana making sure that we do a
professional job of representing the public views before the
body that we are offering advice to, but there's a couple of
other areas that I think worth mentioning.
One is transportation. Transportation almost
dominated the discussion of our last meeting and therefore
the committee put transportation on its list of activities
about which we would have a working group session, and that
is in our plan, but I would like to point out that even
though it is ahead of us in terms of addressing it
specifically through the ACNW that there are members of this
committee that have been actively involved in the
transportation issue, and I would like to just mention that.
In particular, I chair another committee for the
National Academy of Sciences called the Waste Isolation
Pilot Plan Committee, and interestingly enough one other
member of the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste is also a
member of that committee, namely Milton Levenson, and the
issue of transportation has been front and center in that
I am pleased to report that there have been
changes there already and a number of things taking place
that I think those of you who have not been following the
WIPP project and the details of its advisory bodies would be
pleased to hear, and I think I am going to ask Milt, since
he's been kind of the lead person on the transportation
issue for both the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste and
for the WIPP committee, I am going to ask Milt to just
quickly summarize some of the things that have taken place
in the transportation field.
DR. LEVENSON: The committee John referred to
issued an interim report and what I am really going to talk
about is the actions that DOE has underway following the
issue of our interim report.
That committee identified in the shipping area two
areas of concern. One was the communication tracking, et
cetera, system that DOE was operating known as Transcom. Do
you really know where the shipments are and what is going on
with them? The other general area had to do with the matter
of training responders, HAZMAT type people, et cetera, along
The communication tracking system was not a matter
of opinion of the committee by itself. We had surveyed and
got input from state highway patrolmen, local police and
fire departments, almost everybody that has a responsible
role in this sort of thing, and I think we were happy to
learn, just meeting last week in fact, that DOE is
completely revising the entire system and putting in place
what the committee felt was a very high quality, modern
communication and tracking system so that in real time
responsible entities that need to know, like whether a state
highway patrol, local police, et cetera, can in real time
track each and every shipment no matter where it is in the
Secondly, there's an area of really seriously
divided responsibility here in the training of responders.
That's normally a local or state's issue, but DOE will be
funding it and DOE is playing a rather significant role in
making sure that there are responders who are trained as to
what to do, so that not only were we encouraged that
something was taking place but on a personal basis made it
clear that our work on the committee had not been in vain,
and that rather major changes are being made.
Now Yucca Mountain is some years away from
shipping anything, but if and when it comes into being it
certainly will be benefitting from a well-tested and
smoothly functioning system.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thanks. Thanks, Milt. Okay.
I want to assure the representatives from the state and the
counties and the task force that they will be given whatever
time they need if they are concerned about us stealing some
of their time.
We will extend this session to whatever is
appropriate to get the messages across. All right, with
that why don't we proceed with the agenda. We will go just
in the order of the agenda: State of Nevada, Nye County,
Clark County, Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, Lincoln
County, Eureka County, and then finally we are going to hear
from the gentleman I referred to this morning, Dr. Jacob
Powers, who has asked to speak to us for a few minutes.
Mineral County representatives would also like to make
Now what I would like to do, starting with the
State of Nevada is ask the representatives to introduce
themselves, indicate their position, and give everybody the
benefit of knowing what their connection is to the state,
and we will start with Steve Frischman, I guess, who
obviously doesn't need much introduction but I would like
you to do it anyhow.
MR. FRISCHMAN: My name is Steve Frischman. I am
Technical Policy Coordinator for the Nevada Agency for
This is the text of my talk, but I'll shorten it
up a little.
I want to talk to you today about a subject that
is within your purview and it is one where I have mentioned
this topic to the Commission in a couple past statements
over the years. They didn't take it up and I think it is
probably because there wasn't sufficient evidence to
understand my description of what is going on. I think now
there is enough in print from the Department of Energy to
make is clear that the Department of Energy has a
fundamentally different view of what licensing means from
what is clear in the regulations both in Part 60 and 63 --
it is there in both.
I think this needs to be explored and the
significance of it needs to be understood because it makes a
great deal of difference in how both the regulator, the
applicant and the public and all affected parties will view
a licensing proceeding.
It may sound a little complicated, it may sound
sort of esoteric, but I think it is really at the heart of
something that is going on that has not been clearly
identified by the Commission as something that they at least
need to think about and respond to because I think there's
enough evidence now to understand what the Department really
has in mind.
As some of you probably remember, I have spoken to
the Commission in the past about an apparent disparity
between NRC's approach to what is the primary licensing
decision and DOE's apparent effort to modify this to suit
its programmatic imperatives. The critical question is when
is the disposal decision made in the NRC's repository
regulatory process, when is the decision for disposal made?
I have interpreted the disposal decision with
agreement of Staff members to be made in the licensing
process when the finding of reasonable assurance is made
that the repository will meet the safety requirements, and
that is the original decision that is made when a license
application is presented, reviewed and the license is
granted and a construction authorization takes place.
DOE seems to think that licensing is an
incremental process with a final disposal decision made at
the time that a license amendment is approved for closure of
a repository. This has some very serious consequences not
only to the licensing process but also the upcoming
sufficiency report that is statutorily required that the
Commission has to provide to the Secretary as part of a site
The key to understanding this approach as DOE
appears to be applying it is in the use of performance
confirmation, which DOE views in part as an extension of
site characterization, even though they don't call it that
in many places, so we are in a situation where we can
interpret what DOE views as a disposable decision and when
the decisions are really consequential in licensing by their
use of performance confirmation.
We glean this through the repository safety
strategy. The safety strategy, if you remember, has five
key areas identified as the elements of the Department's
safety case for a repository.
Those five elements are: performance assessment;
design margin and defense-in-depth; explicit consideration
of disruptive processes and events: insights from natural
analogs; and finally performance confirmation. Performance
confirmation is a part of the safety case.
Now in Part 63 and in Part 60 performance
confirmation is defined essentially the same. That
definition is that performance confirmation means a program
of tests, experiments, and analyses that is conducted to
evaluate the accuracy and adequacy of the information used
to determine with reasonable assurance that the performance
objective in the licensing rule will be met.
Subpart (f) adds that performance confirmation
starts during site characterization and continues until
permanent closure of a repository.
Now the repository safety strategy speaks about
performance confirmation, and I am using Revision 3.
Revision 4 is due out this month. If it has come out I
haven't seen it yet, but my guess is that performance
confirmation is going to remain essentially the same in the
Now what I am going to be going through is some
details out of DOE documents and I will be reading you some
short quotes and then we can talk about what it all means in
the end, and I will have one slide to show you out of one of
these reports that indicates at sort of a minimal level
where the thinking is.
In the safety strategy, and by the way I will give
page references just for your transcript so you can get back
to these, the Revision 3 of the safety strategy, and this is
page 2-12, says the increased understanding and confidence
derived from long-term testing, observation and analysis
will be of great benefit to decisionmakers -- for example,
to determine when to apply to the NRC for authorization to
close the repository.
It goes on to say on page 4-8 that once sufficient
design detail has been developed plans will be finalized to
monitor -- and this is a list of elements that make up
performance confirmation in their view -- (1) monitor
subsurface conditions essential to performance of these
designs; (2) measure and observe for comparison against the
design bases and assumptions; (3) monitor the condition of
the waste packages; (4) monitor the environment of the waste
packages; and (5) perform lab experiments that focus on the
internal condition of the waste packages, so here is a list
of things that they believe are a part of performance
The performance confirmation plan, and I am using
Revision 1 dated May, 2000, on page 2-10 it says that
performance confirmation testing activities also include
post site characterization base line testing through
completion of the subsurface construction in addition to
pre-emplacement, pre-waste emplacement testing necessary to
support the license application submittal, licensing
interactions, and pre-emplacement licensing conditions.
Now out of that report on page 2-16 is a timeline.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: It's just a lousy machine.
MR. FRISCHMAN: Okay.
[Discussion off the record.]
MR. FRISCHMAN: What I was referring is this part.
You can see the site recommendation --
SPEAKER: We need a microphone.
MR. FRISCHMAN: I am looking at the
pre-emplacement testing on this schedule. This is FY 2000.
This is FY 2010.
You can see site recommendation is here. Submit
license recommendation is here. Receive construction
authorization is here. Updated license application, which
is the updated or the application for an amendment to
receive and possess, and then finally receive authorization.
What I am looking at are these four elements of
the program -- driftscale testing program, seepage
monitoring and testing, unsaturated zone near-field
environment testing, wasteform and waste package testing.
If you notice, all of these are shown to be ongoing work
beyond the site recommendation, beyond the license
application, and beyond the construction authorization, so
it is clear that there is work undone that needs to be done
in order to make decisions in these four critical areas.
Now all of this stems from the Department having
decided that it had sufficient information for a license
application. A license application is supposed to include
design and it is clear from this chart and also from the
meeting last week on container lifetime and source term that
the engineered barrier system including to a great extent
the waste package design is not going to be finally tested,
meaning the information proving up that the container will
do with reasonable assurance what it is expected to do in
the license application -- that work will not be completed
at the time the site recommendation, license application, or
receipt of construction authorization.
Also, the thermal testing will not be complete at
the time of site recommendation, so therefore the thermal
design also can't be firmed up.
Incidentally, the reference to repository design
document, Rev. 3, that came out in August of this year, this
document, is consistent in pointing out the work that needs
to continue in order to make decisions about repository
design. These four areas that I pointed out on the slide
are really at the heart of the principal factors of the
repository safety strategy.
The ones closest to it, of the seven principal
factors, one is seepage into the drifts, which is as real
key to the system, as was stated earlier today; performance
of drip shields, once again key to the system; performance
of waste package barriers, key to the system; and the others
are, most of the others are in one way or another related to
some portion of this work that is not planned to be finished
at least until an application for an amendment to receive
That includes the solubility limits of dissolved
radionuclides, dilution of radionuclide concentrations,
retardation of radionuclides, and maybe or maybe not related
is retardation in the saturated zone.
So we have the safety strategy which is the core
of the Department's case that is not satisfied by data
collection complete, complete data collection at the time of
site recommendation, license application, or the expected
issuance of the construction authorization.
In discussing the sources of factors to be
included in the performance confirmation, the performance
confirmation plan, and it's on page 2-6, refers to other
items of potential postclosure safety significance, such as
residual data needs identified through process model
development. As you remember, the process models are at the
core of the total system performance assessment.
Data needs for processes important to postclosure
performance will drive performance confirmation testing
activities during preparation of the license application and
may be needed to support licensing interactions, licensing
interactions meaning discussions once the staff has the
license application under review.
Later in the discussion on data and validation
needs for analysis and process models, and this is on page
3-15, the performance plan says addressing these needs may
require additional testing efforts which would be identified
in the license application together with associated test
plans in accordance with regulatory guidance, so now we are
down with license application may contain plans for tests
that are necessary to firm up and to validate and to even
show the validity of the use of the process models.
This is from DOE's own documentation. They are
consistent throughout in different documents and what they
are essentially saying is that performance confirmation at
least in part -- there are parts of their performance
confirmation program that are very much in keeping with both
Part 60 and Part 63, but this particular element, which is a
most critical one, is outside the bounds of the performance
Performance confirmation I think is fairly easy to
understand if you look at it in terms of the Commission
makes a decision that there is reasonable assurance that the
safety factors will be met. They make that decision at the
time that they grant the license and the construction
Now performance confirmation logically follows
from that in that a reasonable assurance decision has been
made. Now over the period of time of construction and
operation of a repository it is certainly reasonable that
you would want to improve your confidence in that finding of
reasonable assurance or if you found something that was just
completely outside of it, then you have something else to do
entirely, but performance confirmation is for the use of the
Commission to try to improve its confidence in its
reasonable assurance decision that was based on information,
analyses and interpretations that the Department presented
as its demonstration of safety.
The Department in one place does state that
performance confirmation is essentially a continuation in
part of site characterization and that is in a draft EIS.
There are some serious consequences of this whole
issue and it is not one to be taken lightly, as I have said
First of all, the statutorily required report from
the Commission on sufficiency or whether the data from site
characterization seem to be sufficient for a license
application, the Commission needs to think very carefully
about whether they are going to have sufficient information
and how they are going to derive that.
In a meeting in San Antonio earlier this year, I
raised the issue of "closed pending," as you heard discussed
earlier this morning. Well, "closed pending" looks to me
like it is a convenience for the Staff and the Commission
for that sufficiency report. What it says essentially,
without using Bill's legalistic language, what it is saying
essentially is if the Department does everything it has
agreed to do and the results come out as the Department
expects that they will, then the Staff has no more
questions. I think that is what "closed pending" means,
because these agreements include provision of more
rationale, provision in some cases of more data and more
analyses, so if all of that is done as agreed and comes out
to where it does not elicit more questions, then the issue
We saw the dates on some of John's expected
receipts. Some of those are June 2000 or June 2001. The
Department expects in its current schedule to have a site
recommendation at that time. The Department expects the
Commission Staff and the Commission to have provided its
sufficiency report in May of 2001, so now we have if the
Department does everything it agreed to do and if they have
no more questions.
Where does this leave the Commission and its Staff
in terms of a sufficiency report? Are you going to rely on
the promises of the Department? I am not sure that you can
do that. I think we have some past experience that says you
ought to at least question whether you can rely on that.
Does the Commission want submit a report, a
sufficiency report, that points out places where it is not
sufficient or where the results of site characterization are
not sufficient and we have information here saying the
Department plans that some of it will not be sufficient.
We also have the fact that this report is a
statutory requirement of the Commission. Now the Commission
is in a position where it is being relied upon by the
Congress and by the President to give a straightforward,
objective statement of whether the information at the time
of site recommendation is or seems to be sufficient for
The Department itself is stating through these
documents that it very likely will not be, because if we
look at last week's meeting on waste package lifetime and
source term, there is a mountain of work other than
wordsmithing that has got to be done and it has got to be
done in a very short period of time that relies upon
availability of funding, availability of personnel to do it,
and it also relies on ultimately that the results coming out
pretty much like what the Department predicted they would.
Well, we have one example where you are going to
have a presentation next week or next month -- in your next
meeting, at least one example where the Department has not
even considered an impact to the waste package that could
shorten its lifetime to the point where the waste package is
essentially inconsequential for waste containment -- hasn't
even been considered. I think you will hear a lot more
about that next month.
So the first question is to what extent can you
rely on the Department's agreements for meeting the
statutory requirement to the Commission for sufficiency
Now it also seems that the Department has another
consequence of this. The Department has gotten into the
position where they are very comfortable now with the idea
of "closed pending." Well, it also suggests from looking at
that slide and from looking at their considerations of what
work needs to be done after certain milestone decisions, it
looks like they are looking for something called "reasonable
assurance pending" -- and that that reasonable assurance
pending is going to last until the Commission approves an
amendment for closure, because work will be continuing all
along to try to prove that what they said originally some
maybe 30 or 40 years before was in fact sufficient for a
reasonable assurance determination.
Another point of significance is that if you look
at this in a larger scale, originally under the Waste Policy
Act and under the approach of the Commission's Part 60, it
looked as if the requirement that originally I think Joe
Paladino, long time ago Chairman of the Commission, a
requirement that he placed on the Department and I think
Bill Reamer today even repeated that, and that is for the
Commission to meet its responsibilities, especially in terms
of the really short licensing review period, the application
must be, first, complete, and second, of high quality.
The Department has made clear through these
documents that it is not going to be complete, so we are
left with a situation where it never will really be complete
until the amendment for repository closure, so what this
does is it leaves a Yucca Mountain repository under this
plan as an open-ended experiment. It is an experiment where
the Department will tell you they don't know when they are
going to want to close it.
You heard at the very beginning that the
performance confirmation plan itself or the safety strategy
says that performance confirmation will help decisionmakers,
for example in the area of when to close a repository, so
they are relying on the ongoing sort of site
characterization as part of performance confirmation to
eventually decide when the experiment is complete.
Well, in reality the only outcome of this
experiment regardless of when it happens is repository
closure and that is because we can't accept or rely on the
concept that, oh, the waste is retrievable, because the
waste is only going to be retrieved out of a repository
under really extraordinary circumstances and I don't think
that anything short of waste packages breaking in a
preclosure repository that we are going to see something
considered so extraordinary that the waste will have to be
retrieved and also it's very unlikely that the money will be
available to reverse the emplacement process for the waste
or that the money will be available to do anything else.
What we have is a plan on the part of the
Department to incrementally license their active experiment,
with some confidence on their part that finally if the idea
of being in so far you can't get out is self-fulfilling.
I just point this out to you. I believe that the
evidence is here in DOE documents now to show that the
Department's thinking about licensing is fundamentally
different from the regulatory scheme for licensing and that
it has really enormous consequences due to the magnitude of
the project and the fact that once the waste is underground
it is essentially not reversible.
I guess finally what I would like to say is maybe
helping you think about some counsel to the Commission and
that is that if the Department is not ready at the time of
site recommendation to meet its obligations to provide the
Commission with information to make a sufficiency
determination as is expected and required, and if the
Department does not have sufficient information for a design
that will stand whether it gets amended later or not, a
design that will stand scrutiny at the time of initial
license application, then they are not ready to move
I think there are some serious issues here that
the Commission with your counsel needs to consider in terms
of how it first responds to its statutory duty relative to
site recommendation and further how it responds to its own
licensing philosophy, which is you must find from initial
license application reasonable assurance that the safety
standard will be met.
I am sure you will have some questions.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thanks, Steve. As usual I am
impressed with the thoroughness with which you have
dissected in this case the schedule of activities and before
I ask others for questions I will just ask for a design that
will stand -- whether it gets amended later or not, a design
that will stand scrutiny at the time of initial license
application, then they're not ready to move forward, and I
think there are some serious issues here that the
Commission, with your counsel, needs to consider in terms of
how it first responds to its statutory duty relative to site
recommendation and, further, how it responds to its own
licensing philosophy, which is you must find, from initial
license application, reasonable assurance that the safety
standard will be met. I'm sure you'll have some questions.
DR. GARRICK: Thanks, Steve. As usual, I'm
impressed with the thoroughness with which you've dissected,
in this case, the schedule of activities, and before I ask
others for questions, I'll just ask one myself.
As you probably know, one of the major concerns of
licensees down through the years in the nuclear regulatory
environment has been the investments they have had to make
prior to a decision being made about their facility.
So, there is an inherent problem here, if not with
stakeholders, certainly with shareholders, of
decision-making and the timeliness of it and the efficient
use of people's money, and I just wonder if, in your
analysis of the Yucca Mountain schedule, if you looked at
the licensing process associated with other major facilities
-- say, for example, nuclear power plants, where there is a
lot of experience, and saw the kinds of inconsistencies that
you're presenting here today as a kind of a reference for
MR. FRISCHMAN: All right. Well, first let me say
that there is a great difference between this project and
probably any other project that you would make reference to,
such as a nuclear power plant, if you're thinking in terms
of just the cost, and that's that nuclear power plants are
an object of commerce, and anyone who gets in commerce
understands that there are risks involved, financial risks,
and the financial risk for the builders of nuclear power
plants is one where, over the years, they've been looking
for more and more essentially consistency, so they can plan
on what it would cost to get to the point of a license
application, and yes, there have been difficulties in the
past some of them probably brought on by Three Mile Island
as much as anything else.
In this case, we're dealing with, first of all, a
Federal Government project.
We're dealing with a project that has gone on, in
practice, since early 1983, and actually, expenditures at
the Yucca Mountain site since 1978.
We're looking at approximately $3 billion into
Yucca Mountain site characterization right now.
We're looking at, in 1998 dollars, for the entire
project, something arguably on the order of $50 billion.
So, what we're looking at is, yes, a lot of
dollars right now, maybe what appears to be a lot more
dollars, maybe another billion, billion-and-a-half dollars
to get to where the Department could have what they and the
Commission considers to be a complete and high-quality
You're looking at 10 percent -- less than 10
percent of the total cost in 1998 dollars.
If you had to walk away from it then, you're
looking at less than a 10-percent sum cost.
Less than 10-percent sum cost, even though it
sounds like a lot of dollars in this case, is not
unreasonable, even in the commercial world. If you look at
military base closings, they don't even blink to walk away
from a 20-to-25-percent sum cost.
So, the financial argument doesn't do a lot for
me, because this is not comparable to a commercial venture,
and also, it doesn't do an awful lot for me when we're
talking about not having sufficient information in the core
area of the safety strategy.
You can do an awful lot of other things, but in
this case, the Department itself is saying the place that we
are most relying on safety, we don't have the data and we
don't plan to have it until after we at least get the first
green flag, waiting for a couple more green flags down the
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
Ray, do you have any questions?
MR. WYMER: No, I'm still digesting it all.
DR. GARRICK: Milt?
MR. LEVENSON: No.
MR. HORNBERGER: Steve, I wonder to what extent
we're talking about interpretation of words versus real
That is, I take it from your own words that you
certainly wouldn't envision a case where an applicant came
forward with a license application and, if the license
application were judged to be -- have reasonable assurance,
that no more work would be done.
MR. FRISCHMAN: No, that's not what I'm saying at
MR. HORNBERGER: So, the real question, then, is
how one interprets the reasonable assurance words at the
time of license application, and what you're claiming is
that DOE's own words would indicate that they are not going
to have the data for reasonable assurance.
MR. FRISCHMAN: Right. They are not going to have
the data for reasonable assurance, and they expect that the
data that they do collect will, according to, at least their
timeline, will add a sufficient increment to where, when
they ask for an amendment to begin emplacement, at that
point they seem to think that the Commission will have
reasonable assurance, even though they're asking the
Commission to give them reasonable assurance pending.
I hope that word sticks, because I invent words,
and usually I don't get credit for them, but I'd like it for
No, I believe that, yes, it's perfectly
reasonable, especially if you can have an operating period
of 30 years, it's perfectly reasonable that work should
continue, but at the same time, I think it is obvious that
work should not start until you have someone saying we
believe that what you have right now, if you do it as you
say, will provide the performance that it must provide, not
wait and we'll give you a little bit more later, not to
improve your confidence but just to get to where you can
make a decision.
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
MR. FRISCHMAN: Response pending.
MR. LARKINS: Steve, what's your comments on the
adequacy of the document to address these key technical
issues or key issues that are needed for decisions?
Do you think that they do all the work that's in
the document that that will provide a basis for an adequacy
or a reasonable assurance decision?
MR. FRISCHMAN: The documents don't give the
detail of the work that needs to be done.
The places where we're gleaning what really needs
to be done, which is kind of surprising at this point, but
we're gleaning it out of the meetings that are going on
right now relative to the Commission staff talking to DOE
about specific process models, and the things that are most
important are what come out of those discussions relative to
That's where we're seeing the action, because
that's where the Commission staff is slapping on, in some
cases, the closed pending by saying that, if all of this is
done and comes out the way that you anticipate and we don't
have anymore questions, then it's closed.
So, that's where it's sort of focusing down.
The Department, obviously, is not going to do
anything more than what these meetings require them to do.
Regardless of all of the paper out there, the
200-pound site characterization plan we had 12 years ago,
they're at a point right now, they have a schedule, they
have a mission, and they're not going to do anything beyond
what the Commission staff leads them to agree to in these
issue resolution discussions.
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
MR. FRISCHMAN: Thank you for the invitation to
speak again, and as you know, I always accept.
DR. GARRICK: We haven't been turned down yet.
MR. BUCCO: Good afternoon. My name's Tom Bucco.
I'm a consultant to Nye County.
Les Bradshaw is currently at the Board of County
Commissioners meeting and, unfortunately, was not able to
attend due to the time change, but I'm sure if he were here,
he would offer his greetings and thanks for the opportunity
to come and speak with the Commission.
This is very informal. I don't have any hand-out
I'd like to basically go over three items, and
then if you want to have a dialogue or ask questions, that
would be great -- three items, where one is the loss of our
leader, the second is the status of the EWDP, with the
particular emphasis today on what we'll be doing on Thursday
afternoon, and then the third item is with respect to the
AMRs that we're currently reviewing.
As you're all aware, Nick passed away in July and
we lost our leader.
We'd like to point out that we haven't lost our
focus, we haven't lost our desire, but one thing that we
have lost is our communicator.
Nick was a really good guy to get in and call
people individually and get the results out.
In his absence, we recognize communications are
not as good as they were with Nick, and Nye County is
looking at bringing people in, a couple of people to step
into that capacity.
In the meantime, we'll have to use forums like
this to continue to communication and our web-page to get
the information out to people.
With respect to Thursday's field trip, we expect
to see the Commission out there Thursday afternoon, ready to
-- we'll put on a formal presentation at that time
concerning progress to date on the phase two drilling, on
the early-warning drilling program.
Very briefly, we've got a couple exciting things,
accomplishments this year.
Number one -- and this is real tribute to Nick --
is at our site two DP, we hit the carbonate aquifer, and
that's where we'll be meeting and going over what our plans
are for that.
One of the unusual things about Nye County's EWDP
is it's flexible.
So, we're at a stage right now, we've got a
bore-hole sitting out in the ground ready to case, and the
casing operation -- we'll be reaming it out probably while
you folks are out there, and then we're going to case it
off, but we're trying to keep our options open, and we're
actively solicitating comments, suggestions, ideas about
where do we go forward.
It's a unique opportunity to put a 3,000-foot hole
in the ground, into the carbonate aquifer out there.
Now we need to decide how do we spend our
resources to get the most information out of that hole in
the ground that we can possibly get with the resources that
we have available, and we've always maintained Nye County
doesn't have all the answers, we're looking for the answers,
and the interchanges that we have with the Commission, the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff, the NWTRP, and so on,
are very instrumental in us making our plans for phase
three, and we'll be providing an overview of those, also.
Finally, with respect to something else Nye
County's got going on right now is the review of the AMRs,
and you know, from a county perspective, this is a very
The AMRs are very complicated. They're very, in
some cases, esoteric, and I've got a pile personally -- I've
gone through and reviewed two of them. I've got a pile of
paper sitting like this, and I'm just a poor desert
I don't understand some of these technical issues
and these things.
So, what we'll do is we'll make the best comments
that we possibly can and do it in the right avenue and the
right attitude, but you know, as we look at these things, we
see things that the EWDP was directly designed to address,
is data deficiencies.
So, when we see things in the AMRs about analog
models, we always wonder, why use an analog model somewhere
over on the peninsula when we go take direct measurements
within the region of influence?
Why are we using expert elicitation? Why are we
using best scientific judgement?
One thing the EWDP is showing us is the only way
to resolve some of these things is go out and collect the
With that, that's all we really wanted to convey
At the field trip on Thursday, we'll be putting on
a formal presentation with a hand-out package, but other
than that, I'd be happy to answer any questions or just sit
down and get out of the way.
DR. GARRICK: Okay.
MR. HORNBERGER: I think I'll wait until the field
MR. BUCCO: Okay.
DR. GARRICK: Other committee members?
DR. GARRICK: Appreciate you coming in and doing a
MR. BUCCO: Great. We appreciate the opportunity.
DR. GARRICK: Clark County.
MR. TIESENHAUSEN: My name is Engelbert
Tiesenhausen. I'm with Clark County.
Fortunately, I am not the only one who is going to
speak for Clark County, so I'll keep my comments very short.
Dr. de Portolo is going to get up after me and make some
Some of what I have to say kind of echoes what
Steve Frischman -- the comments that Steve Frischman made
earlier. My concerns are not of a technical nature but in
the nature of policy.
I have attended -- so far, I have attended two of
these technical exchanges, igneous activity one and the one
on container life and source term, CLST.
The robust waste package, as has been mentioned
several times today, has become the cornerstone of DOE's
repository safety strategy.
As Neil Coleman mentioned earlier today, the
robust waste package makes it very difficult to see the
effects of the natural system.
I just want to mention some of the concerns that
we have that deal not with license application but with the
sufficiency comments that the NRC will make on the SR.
According to the current schedule, they are due by
5/2001, one month before the Secretary makes a site
In the CLST technical exchange, about 40
sub-issues were agreed upon by NRC and DOE.
The timeframe for completion of these, in the
majority of the cases, greater than 50 percent, at least,
was given as prior to LA.
I can only assume that this means after site
We are concerned as to how the NRC will consider
all of these open issues based on plans that have yet to be
funded in their sufficiency comments for SR.
We urge the ACNW and the Commission to take a
critical look at the issues and to evaluate the impact on
the sufficiency comments, taking into consideration not what
has been promised but only the information that is available
at the time of the review.
We feel very strongly that the SR should be a
stand-alone document and not be judged on what might be
produced in the future.
And now, Dr. de Portolo is going to make some
comments regarding socio-economic issues which we feel very
strongly about in Clark County.
DR. GARRICK: Questions?
One thing I need some help on -- and maybe I get
this from the NRC. We keep making reference to the fact
that it's very difficult to evaluate the impact of the
natural setting because of the emphasis on the waste
Is that -- what's difficult about asking DOE to
provide the information you want?
MR. TIESENHAUSEN: Well, that's a comment from
Neil Coleman this morning.
DR. GARRICK: Well, I don't understand it. I
didn't understand it then either.
I mean they are the licensing agency. They can
ask them for whatever they want. Why do we go around
complaining about the fact that they're not getting us
information that we want? That's only because we're not
asking for the right information, isn't it?
MR. TIESENHAUSEN: I can't speak for the NRC, but
if you have a 10,000-year regulatory period and you have no
waste package failure for in excess of 10,000 years, then
how do you evaluate the natural system?
DR. GARRICK: The NRC doesn't have to accept that.
They don't have to accept anything.
MR. TIESENHAUSEN: I agree.
DR. GARRICK: So, I don't understand comments like
that, and to me, they are totally irrelevant, but let's go
MR. TIESENHAUSEN: Okay.
DR. de PORTOLO: Thanks for the nice lead-in. I
DR. de PORTOLO: My name is Russell de Portolo.
You've previously been -- members of Clark County Nuclear
Waste Division have previously addressed this group with
regard to transportation and socio-economic issues. So, I
feel a little bit off the path today, but I'd just like to
make some comments here, because I see that, in your
comments with regard to the DEIS, you did address some
What you had said was that the Department of
Energy has failed to describe preferred routes and modes and
has failed to consider different options in sufficient
detail to allow meaningful comparisons among impacts and
mitigation strategies, some of that detail involving risk of
impacts regarding traffic, land use, socio-economics, and so
You're pretty much saying the same thing we're
saying, and that is that we don't even know what the plan
is, let alone have the ability to address or even identify
particular impacts because of the lack of detail, and we
have, for some time now, been suggesting or recommending a
transportation feasibility study, just like a site
There just is no rhyme nor reason and no structure
for us to make any -- what we would think to be meaningful
comments on that.
Over the past year, we and our contractors have,
in preparation for the comments on the DEIS, have integrated
over 10 to 12 years of work regarding socio-economic impacts
in Clark County.
Much of this work was done by the State of Nevada
and contractors for Clark County in the early '90s and late
'80s, primarily in the early '90s, and some interesting
documents came up, and what we have found is there was a
rationale by our County Manager that was provided when we
first accepted Unit of Local Government status, and that had
to do with the role of local government, and we generally
understand our role to be to protect the health and welfare
of our residents and maintain and enhance the socio-economic
and natural environment, all of which leads to an improved
and sustainable quality of life.
Sometimes we have been strapped with regard to
staff, funding, programming, and so on, because of tenuous
We're okay now, but the fact is, we will have to
continue to do this no matter what happens. This is our
We further found that, in fact, we are dealing
with what we call -- what certain scientists, social
scientists, and so on, have called the precautionary
principle in local government, and that is that people in
institutions have a duty to take anticipatory action to
prevent harm; the burden of proof of harmlessness of a new
technology or project falls with the proponent, not with the
general public; third, before using a new technology, people
have an obligation to examine a full range of alternatives,
including the alternative of doing nothing.
Now, that's been -- DOE has been absolved of that
responsibility by congressional directive, but we feel very
strongly that that is a -- the alternative -- the no-action
alternative should have been more strongly considered.
And last, the decisions regarding a new technology
or project must be open, informed, and democratic and must
include affected parties, and we have had much to say about
that in our comments.
It's very easy to jump from those principles to
the role of NEPA, related laws, guidelines, and procedures.
In our view, the purpose of an EIS is to provide
enough information to allow us to identify impacts and ways
to possibly address those impacts with regard to mitigation,
monitoring, and so on.
Because of the vagueness and incompleteness of the
DOE DEIS, we feel that, despite the fact that there have
been many, many hundreds of thousands of pages and comments,
that the document is so flawed that it is necessary for us,
as an affected unit of local government, to do our own
impact report, and hopefully, that impact report -- parts of
that impact report will be submitted with the report of the
State of Nevada under section 114(a), possibly a report
under section 116(c), and hopefully, our report, or certain
aspects of our report, will be included in the Secretary's
recommendation for approval to the President, which should
take place next year.
So, we're under the gun at this point to try to
have the Secretary and others who are involved in
decision-making take a look at our issues, none of which
were either looked at or adequately looked at by the
Department of Energy.
The way that it's set up under the DOE's approach,
which is the black-and-white traditional approach, is that
issues like land use conflict, for example, effects on
tourism, the life blood of Nevada and Clark County are not
Issues like traffic congestion, traffic patterns,
costs to local government, costs to communities and other
such areas which I'll describe very briefly a little bit
later -- they're just not -- they just don't occur.
In fact, the Department of Energy appears to be in
conflict with the NRC definition of the region of influence.
In the EIS for -- in the environmental assessment for the
re-licensing of reactors, Las Vegas Valley was defined as an
area -- as a local area of influence, region of influence.
We see this in spots in the DEIS. We're not sure
what the region of influence is. It sort of seems to be a
But the fact is that when the environmental
assessment was done with regard to re-licensing, Clark
County, especially the urban area of Clark County, was
defined as a region of influence.
So, what we're going to be doing -- what we are
doing right now in Clark County is -- are a number of
activities that have to do with our impact report.
These include preparing an impact report or
section with regard to property values along routes, and
this has to do with the modeling -- this will lead to
certain modeling with regard to appraisals, assessed
valuation, and so on, so that we can also take a look at the
fiscal impact on government.
There are a number of impacts, fiscal impacts,
that have not been looked at by Department of Energy. This
is one of the more important ones.
So, we are now doing a property value study in
Clark County and in each of the local jurisdictions,
including North Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite,
Paiute, and other communities.
We are preparing a governmental fiscal impact
report for all of those jurisdictions.
We are preparing a public safety program impact
report, which will include initial cost estimates, and we
plan to integrate all of this information into an impact
report that we hope will be used and considered in the
approval process and that will be considered by the
Department of Energy, Congress, the President in making
certain program decisions.
We will continue to report our progress to you,
and we ask for your assistance in allowing Clark County's
concerns and those of other affected units of local
government to be heard and considered.
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
When do you think you will have some preliminary
DR. de PORTOLO: We'll have preliminary results
for the cities by January with regard to emergency
management or public safety programs and government fiscal
impacts, and we'll be happy to pass those on to you as soon
as we get them.
DR. GARRICK: Good. Thank you.
MR. LEVENSON: I have a minor one for
DR. de PORTOLO: Sure.
MR. LEVENSON: When you talked about reactor
re-licensing, what reactor are you referring to?
DR. de PORTOLO: There was an environmental
assessment that came out in January of this year.
Steve, can you help me with that one? That was
the -- remember, it was a re-licensing.
MR. FRISCHMAN: Part 51.
DR. de PORTOLO: Yeah, Part 51, right.
MR. FRISCHMAN: It was a generic assessment
regarding overall impacts of re-licensing within the last
DR. de PORTOLO: Yeah, I think it was in January.
MR. FRISCHMAN: And it took the Las Vegas area as
an area to analyze impacts.
DR. de PORTOLO: This is the first time we had
I could make sure you get a copy of that.
MR. LEVENSON: I'm confused. It took Las Vegas as
an area to analyze the transportation?
DR. de PORTOLO: It defined the Las Vegas Valley
as a local area surrounding the repository. It, in effect,
expanded the region of influence.
MR. LEVENSON: A re-licensing document refers to
Yucca Mountain, which hasn't even yet applied for a license?
DR. de PORTOLO: Yes, it did.
MR. FRISCHMAN: We were a little surprised, too.
DR. de PORTOLO: It assumed that, yes.
MR. FRISCHMAN: And it has to do with re-licensing
and, ultimately, the removal of the spent fuel from
MR. LEVENSON: Okay.
DR. GARRICK: So, it's kind of an industry impact
analysis, looking ahead, the nuclear industry.
DR. de PORTOLO: Yes.
DR. GARRICK: Yeah. Okay. Thank you very much.
I guess now we're to the -- we're going to take a
break here pretty soon, depending on how long Judy talks,
DR. GARRICK: We're going to now hear from the
Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force.
MS. TREICHEL: Well, I sure hope nobody's thirsty
I have to say a couple things before I say what I
intend to say.
There was a response over here about the dialogue
that just went on with some surprise shown.
DR. GARRICK: I hate to interrupt, but following
protocol, would you tell us your affiliation, name,
MS. TREICHEL: Judy Treichel, Nevada Nuclear Waste
In regard to the last exchange that just went on
at the microphone there and the surprise that was shown over
the fact that Las Vegas was shown as a place influenced by
the repository -- sometimes referred to as proposed,
sometimes not -- in that EA, we've all been pretty surprised
in the way that it's treated in the Draft Environmental
Impact Statement for the Goshute facility that was prepared
by the NRC, which blatantly says that, as soon as Yucca
Mountain opens, all the waste that would be in the Goshute
facility would just be taken right on over to Yucca
So, this isn't a one-time shot. This happens
quite a bit.
I also take issue with the word "stakeholder," and
I have for a long time. It kind of denotes that you're
cooperating or participating in the project. I'm not doing
that, and I never will be doing it.
I am a public participant, and I do work with the
process, not with the Yucca Mountain project, and there
again, I think that would make it sound like a done deal,
and I don't think it is at all, and I don't think it's going
So, there's just a lot of little wordy kind of
things that happen that sort of zing me like a little arrow,
and they may not be important to somebody else, but the fact
that we hear these things so often -- so many times people
call this -- well, it's just politics, you know, science
should really be deciding, and it appears that, when someone
comes out for the project, their decision has always been
driven by good science.
If they come out in opposition to it, they're
simply pandering or have been a victim of politics.
So, it's just the way that things are seen.
The only other thing I want to do before I finish
up here with the rest of the stuff I had was to let you all
know that, in Sunday's paper, they had a good part of a
section with a lot of pretty pictures, which you can take a
look at, since you're going out to the site, but some of the
dose receptors, the four-legged ones, are featured in here
from the organic dairy that's out there.
It's called Goodhart Milk, which is organic and
sells for about twice the price, and I talked to Ed Goodhart
one day, and he said, you know, the last thing I need -- and
he's been a vociferous opponent to this project -- is when
somebody say this is really good, this is great, we'd like
to buy more of your stuff, exactly where are you located,
and he has to tell them that I'm just right down the hill
from the Nation's high-level nuclear waste repository.
So, yes, they would be severely impacted in ways
like Russ de Portolo was talking about.
The main thing that I'm very concerned with right
now is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and their move to
using risk-informed performance-based regulation. I believe
that, if that is done, there will never be any sort of a
real level of public trust and confidence.
There has got to be, in licensing this repository
or not, a strict pass/fail list of tests, much like the
guidelines that DOE is trying to throw out, probably
stronger than those guidelines, and somewhat like subsystems
requirements that the NRC used to have, and probably
stronger, as well.
The public is not only skeptical of the kind of
statistical analysis that goes on for this sort of
regulation, but they're also convinced that there is not
enough known about a repository or how it would or would not
work at Yucca Mountain to reach any kind of a meaningful
Nevadans are convinced, and with very good reason,
that any such analysis is pure guesswork and can and will be
slanted toward the desired outcome.
Regardless of the reasons that NRC gives for
adopting this type of regulation, the people will believe
that it was done to ensure that there is a license given to
And one of the reasons I believe that this is
happening is because of the waste package. There were
questions just asked about that.
It's the only way, when a site fails the natural
system tests, like ground water travel time or like
seismicity or igneous activity or any of those, that can all
be brushed aside with this robust waste package.
Many times the NRC staff and representatives have
announced and tried to explain to public audiences that they
are not part of DOE, and the public will not believe that
you're not working in cooperation with the DOE unless, when
you request comments on a licensing rule, it's clear that
you're utilizing the recommendations that you receive from
The public are the ones with the health and safety
that are up for grabs here.
If the public saw regulations being created that
reflected their views and their expectations, you would
never need to explain what your role was in this program,
but it's going to keep coming up until that happens.
In August of this year, the NRC published a white
paper regarding risk-informed, performance-based regulation.
The justification for changing to the approach
centered around increases in understanding and knowledge of
risk and performance in regard to reactors and materials
That may be true. We may know a lot more, but
with one significant exception, and that's a high-level
nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.
There's no previous experience with nuclear
materials over the years that would be involved in this
There's never been a mountain or any piece of
geology used in this way.
There is simply no credible knowledge or
experience, and the public who your decision directly
affects -- eternally affects -- knows that.
In lay terms, anybody who believes that they know
the unknown either has a deity complex or a serious lack of
In this white paper that the Commission did, they
talk about a risk triplet.
The risk triplet is what can go wrong, how likely
is it, and what are the consequences?
The answer to all of these questions, when it
comes to Yucca Mountain, is who knows?
I've got a file that I keep that's called things
that can't happen, and any of the examples in there is
probably called a worst case scenario, and it would be, with
the kind of analysis that DOE does in order to come up with
the probabilities that they have.
These things have such a remotely small
possibility of ever happening that DOE would say they didn't
need to be considered, but they're all sitting in there in
the file, they all happened -- or most of them happened in
Las Vegas, and probably all within the last 10 years.
I agree that you shouldn't have to look at
everything. You shouldn't have to believe that you thought
of everything, because I don't think that you can. I don't
think that anybody can imagine whatever could go wrong and
the range of consequences.
But the question, how likely is it to happen, I
don't think matters.
This project, unlike a reactor, cannot be turned
If you came up with the wrong answer using the
risk triplet, you're stuck. There you have it.
Remember, this project is being imposed on people
who don't want it. They aren't going to be cooperating with
it, they aren't going to be working with it, and they are
unwilling to take those risks. They've already been the
victims of deception and terrible surprises with nuclear
In licensing, there might not be a box that you
have to check off that shows whether or not the community
wants the facility, but there should be.
I think it's very important, and it should be
The DOE has adopted a method of graphically
showing radiation doses that employ some sort of new magic
math. It lowers the dose if the probability of the
dose-spewing activity is unlikely.
That would mean that, if I decided that -- or, in
looking back, if I thought that I probably got the flu about
once every six years, then it would mean that I always sort
of had one-sixth of a case of flu every year, and it just
doesn't work that way.
I don't think that the NRC should accept that sort
of calculation from the Department.
When you talk about a repository being directly
impacted by a volcano, I think you need to know the exact
dose that would result from that.
That's the way DOE is using this risk triplet, and
it's the consideration of how likely is it, and that plays
the most important part of all, and I don't think that that
should be accepted.
Risk is sort of all the rage these days. Experts
are trying to decide what's wrong with Nevadans when it
comes to Yucca Mountain, and we're subject to risk
assessment, risk analysis, risk communication, and all kinds
of new schemes that try and straighten out our thinking and
our hysterical or sort of ignorant perceptions.
I don't think other communities are being taught
these kinds of lessons in citizenship.
A good example of the sort of research that we're
continuously hit with is where risks -- how risky it is with
various activities to die of those activities. We see risk
ladders, risk charts, risk circles, all sorts of risk
things, and then the hope is that we'll just accept those
numbers and stop objecting to the project.
But it's just a hope. If we don't, somehow the
experts go the next mile, and they believe that they're
justified in imposing these risks on us because they've
determined that they're acceptable.
Wouldn't it be interesting if your surgeon could
just decide that you'd be better off, or at least not worse
off, if he or she operated on you and you didn't need to
give any consent or anything, you just suddenly found
yourself under the knife.
My point is that risk-informed performance-based
regulation is not acceptable, and it won't work in this
In the past, we've discussed the line about DOE
not being a burden on the licensee. If you don't require
that this application pass very rigorous tests, you'll be
placing a dreadful burden on yourselves.
TSPA and/or PA are not appropriate tests.
Again, in the case of the surgeon, you want to
know that the board that gave him or her a license to
practice medicine required that person to pass all of the
tests. You would find it unacceptably risky if that doctor
was, you know, just a little weak or clumsy in a few areas
but good in others. It wouldn't be enough to know that he
or she was really well-intentioned.
You should want the DOE to have strict guidelines
that Yucca Mountain must pass, and you should have tough
pass/fail requirements so that you don't have to assume the
burden of making a judgement call about issuing a license
and then take the responsibility if there's failure.
The white paper was right about the fact that we
now have more knowledge and experience. We've learned a lot
about non-volunteer dose receptors from weapons activities
and from nuclear testing, and we're arguing about how they
or their survivors should be compensated.
The test for Yucca Mountain or any disposal
facility should be that there will be no dose receptors
ever. The only time anyone should be called a dose receptor
is after they have given their informed consent.
DR. GARRICK: Thanks, Judy.
You represent an interesting challenge. If we
could away on an island alone for about 10 years --
MS. TREICHEL: Is it time for a break?
MS. TREICHEL: Well, John, what do you want? I
think they just finished up the survivors.
No, I don't think we need to go off to a desert
island. I think you've just got to use your head.
You know, the analogy with the surgeon is a really
good one. You want to know that this guy -- let's, for the
sake of argument, say it's a man -- had to pass the most
rigorous tests, couldn't fail in any single one of them,
couldn't be, you know, just a little clumsy when it came to
the knife but great at stitches.
You just don't average this out when you do stuff
that matters to yourself.
DR. GARRICK: Yeah, I understand, and my comment
was not so much Yucca Mountain as the discipline of risk
assessment, which has served society unbelievably well in
terms of giving them added understanding and insights into
what the populations of the planet are exposed to and what
the likelihood of different outcomes are.
The evidence is overwhelming. The juggernaut is
rolling. The discipline is increasing. I just attended an
international meeting with the European Commission. It is
extending into every field of endeavor, from food to
technological systems to natural systems, and it is having
an enormous impact on our quality of life in a positive way,
and so, it is not reasonable to condemn a discipline that is
having that kind of an impact on the basis of its
application and your interpretation of that application to
But I understand where you're coming from and that
the human side of these issues clearly have to be taken into
consideration, and if the discipline can't stand up to that,
then, you know, there's -- a change has to be made, a
different algorithm has to be applied, but there is no doubt
that the concept is as basic as any law of physics that
we're subjected to, and the problem here is not the risk
assessment, it's who does it and how it's done.
There is no problem with the concept, it is a
problem of application, and I agree that some of the
applications have been badly performed and that it has been
associated with the game of statistics, which it is not.
Statistics may be 2 or 3 percent of a
comprehensive and important risk assessment, but most of it
is other things in understanding the system that you're
dealing with and being able to decompose that system into
the kind of pieces and parts that will allow you to
reassemble it into answering questions that we have to
MS. TREICHEL: I think risk assessment works
really, really well in a case --
DR. GARRICK: It works on everything.
MS. TREICHEL: No, in a case where somebody wants
to do something.
DR. GARRICK: Yes.
MS. TREICHEL: If you've got a town that really
wants an airport and they know that occasionally a plane is
going to land a little too soon, maybe a little too late,
but they really want an airport --
DR. GARRICK: Or on fire.
MS. TREICHEL: Yeah, whatever. Or you want to --
you're dying to get someplace and it's so important to you,
so you don't care if it's an Explorer with Firestones on it.
Anytime that you're making those decisions, you
have the ability to take those risks into account and then
you make your decision.
I have a couple of friends who are smoke-jumpers,
and the way people use risk now, they would condemn them to
put up with anything, because after all, look what you're
doing over here. How can you possibly not want to have, you
know, an operation done on your thyroid or whatever?
But it's misused when you don't have volunteers
and when you don't have people working with their own
cooperation and informed consent.
DR. GARRICK: Yes, and it's misused if there is
confusion about the risk assessors and the decision-making
The risk assessor doesn't make the decision, they
analyze the risk, and the risk assessment has to pass the
test of acceptability and go through a tedious process
before it can reasonably become a basis for a part of the
decision-making process, and a risk assessment is not a
It's a component of decision analysis that has
been neglected for many, many decades that we're finally
getting a better handle on.
But let me ask the committee members if they have
any questions for Judy.
We're always very pleased to hear from you --
MS. TREICHEL: Thank you.
DR. GARRICK: -- admire what you're doing and the
abilities you demonstrate at being on top of these very
important issues, and we'd like to think that we're as much
on your side as anybody's side, and we'll keep trying to be
MS. TREICHEL: All right. Well, let me know about
DR. GARRICK: All right.
DR. GARRICK: All right.
We've had a few names added to our list, and it's
obvious we're going to probably go over the time here, and
that's okay, because as I said, this is the most important
session of the trek to Nevada, but I'd like to break it up
now and take a 15-minute break, and then we'll resume with
DR. GARRICK: We're now to my favorite county in
Nevada, Lincoln County.
We've had a program shift because of some time
commitments and problems, and we're going to hear from Mr.
Corbin Harney from the Western Shoshone, and you have the
MR. HARNEY: Well, my question's going to be
simple to you people. It is really a simple for you people
I have asked the DOE people once before. Give me
the document saying that they own the land. Where is that
document today, if somebody's got it here or who's got it?
Under what law did the United States took our land? Under
We talk about law. Give me an answer on that.
What law did you guys, the United States Government, took
our land where the test site, where the Yucca Mountain is
Under the treaty of 1863, at that time, it stands
today, it's still the way it was, at no time the Federal
Government, as we operate under, as you people operate
under, have give us a written statement saying they took our
land and so forth.
Today, you guys talk about somebody else's land.
You don't have a title to that land, but I have, under the
What are you guys talking about here?
If I own the land, how did you guys get this land
from us, from the Shoshone? Shoshone own that land under
If you guys ever read that treaty, it's documented
under your Federal law.
I hope you guys would understand what I'm saying
This law that we all operate under -- we're
talking about law. Where is that law that protects our
land? Or you guys are making up your law as you're going?
And this is the reason why we're running out of things,
because the DOE have accumulated, developed something that
they don't understand, and today, throughout the world, the
DOE, as we call the nuclear energy department, terminating
the life on this earth of ours today.
We, the Shoshone people, have lived here for
thousands or maybe a million years. We took care of what we
We took care of the water. We took care of the
earth. We took care of the plant life and so forth. Under
your law, what did you guys do so far?
You have contaminated our water today, not
thinking about the future generation at all.
As we look at it, as a native people throughout
the country, it seem to me that you people, the Federal
Government today, don't recognize us as human.
Maybe we are not human according to your eyes.
Maybe we don't have a law. Maybe you're the only people
that's got law to protect yourself, not protecting us at
all. Why not?
You enjoy our land, each and every one of you.
Your forefather came here, made those treaties, peace and
We as a native people have made our agreement with
you. We enjoy you people. We've made sure that you have
enjoyed your life on this land of ours.
In turn, what are you guys doing for us as a
land-owner? Seem like you're just treating us like dirt,
like if we're nobody at all. Is that what you guys are
doing? Is this what the Federal Government is doing?
I'm going to ask you again, you people, to show me
that document where you own the land. I have asked those
questions before. I'm going to continue to ask those
questions until, somewhere, sometime, someday, you might
give me the answer, the answer, what I'm looking for from
You're talking about my land, you're talking about
law, you're talking about this and that, transportation over
our land, shortening people's life.
Now you don't have much water left.
Just think about it. Let's think about the
younger generation. We talk about future generation. Seem
to me like we're not even concerned about them. We're
concerned about today, not concerned about tomorrow. Let's
all think about this.
I want a document from the Federal Government.
You are the people talking about how you're going to license
people that's going to be bringing this nuclear waste
throughout the country, into Nevada here.
How many accidents are we going to have happen?
If any accident ever happens in the future, what do we do
Right today, the DOE is not bringing the issue
out, they're not talking to anybody it. How much accidents
so far happen already?
If it didn't happen, we would have clean water, if
they didn't happen, but somehow we're searching for clean
water. We're selling each other water today. There must be
something wrong here.
I hope you guys can understand what I'm saying to
you. I'm a native person from Nevada here. Under the
treaty your forefather have signed with us, it's still
there. I hope you people can realize that, if you think
If you think we're something else, maybe someday
you are going to terminate us. Maybe this is what you're
trying to do today. Seem to me like you're terminating
yourself at the same time.
So much sickness developed since 1953, since the
testing took place.
Now, how many more people is going to lose their
Think about it. You are the people going to have
to make that decision over the land here, not only for us,
the plant life, the animal life, the bird life. Those are
the things you will have to make a decision on.
If you don't want nothing on this planet of ours,
wipe everything out, the plant life, animal life, bird life,
and so forth. Maybe this is what we want to do. Maybe this
is what the DOE is looking at, already contaminating our
water, our air.
I hope that you, the people, would stand up to
your right, think about the future, your own children,
grandchildren, and so forth, the unborn, how they're going
We're barely surviving today. We're contaminating
all our food with radiation, all the water that we can
drink. We're eating some of that today. When are we going
to be telling each other truths?
This is what I came up to do, to say to you. I'm
going to continue to say what I've been saying for many,
many meetings that you guys are going to be here, but I
don't see my people in this room at all.
Are you guys hiding from the native people, trying
to talk about their land behind their back, behind the bush?
Is this what you guys are doing?
So, I want an answer from you people. Write me a
letter. Tell me if I'm wrong, where I might write telling
you what I think, what I know, what I see so far around the
The country around us is suffering for water, the
land, the food, and so forth. Here we are, listening to
somebody that's going to shorten our life for us, already
This is something I'd like to bring out to your
attention. I hope each and every one of you understand what
I'm saying. I want that treaty to be here.
I've been asking my government, because they hold
a trust over my land. They say they do. What are they
doing? The Federal Government, I'm talking about, your
government, what you're operating under.
Is there a law protecting the treaty round the
world, or are you guys just doing what you think you're
going to do without the law? Are you making up your own
laws as you're going?
This is the reason why the people round the world
is suffering today. We're not looking at each other. We're
not talking about nothing among each other. We're going
along where we think.
I hope to talk to you again someday, somewhere.
I'm going to continue to talk about what I said to you.
Show me the treaty. I have asked for that once before. I
asked that DOE show me the document where you own the land,
but I got the paper. I own the land, according to your
Federal Government law.
So, thanks for listening to me.
Is there any question among you people? The whole
room here should have some kind of question about what I
said, or did you guys went to sleep when I was talking, or
what happened, or ashamed to ask questions.
I was ashamed person one time, now I'm not,
because I see things are dying around me. Even the plant
life is dying around me. That's the reason why I had to
stand up in front of you to say those things.
I hope you guys think about it. Thanks for
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
DR. GARRICK: All right.
Now we can go to our next county, and I had
started to say my favorite county. That's because I spent
several years of my elementary training in two communities
in Lincoln County, one Pioche and another Mackett, and they
were very interesting times of our lives, as my father was
kind of a miner. We know that county pretty well, and it's
changed a lot.
Let's hear about it.
MR. BOFFMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members
of the committee.
My name is Mike Boffman, and I'm a consultant to
Lincoln County, to the board of Lincoln County
Commissioners, and also to the city council, and I'm here
today on behalf of the Chairman of the County Commission and
the Mayor, who serve as the Chairman and the Vice Chairman,
respectively, of the Joint City/County Impact Committee
Let me just preface my remarks by indicating and
offering some apologies.
Let me just begin by saying that I'm really sorry
that they're going to ship nuclear waste through Lincoln
County and that residents of the county are going to be
exposed to shipments for a 25-to-27-year period of time, and
coupled with the other kinds of wastes that come through
that area, it's going to increase their risks, and the DEIS
tells us that two to three dozen people will die as a result
of transportation accidents, not exposure to radiation but
just simple transportation accidents.
I'm sorry that we're going to be impacted. We've
done work in that area that demonstrates that, if we were to
have an unanticipated accident with no releases of radiation
but lots of attendant media amplification of that risk,
during the peak season of tourism -- we have five state
parks -- that we may lose a million to a million-and-a-half
dollars of revenue in a county of about $4,000 people, very
And I'm sorry that the rest of the Nation hasn't
paid attention to the service that is being asked in Nevada
to host this facility, to solve what is a very pressing
environmental problem, and that the rest of the Nation
hasn't stepped up to the plate and indicated what value they
would place on that service that Nevada is being -- not
asked but being requested -- or that's not even correct --
being forced, if you will, to take.
In Lincoln County, there's a growing sense of
resolve that this project will come to Nevada. That waste
will be shipped through the state. It's uncertain whether
it will be by rail, whether it will be truck, and the
elected officials in Lincoln County have, I think, taken a
rather pragmatic position about all this, and I will tell
you that their approach to the repository is really
They are focused on understanding and minimizing
risks, understanding and minimizing impacts, and
understanding and maximizing benefits.
In the past year, your staff, I think, did an
admiral job of trying to help you as a committee understand
risk and how to communicate risk, understand perceived risk,
and how to communicate that, perhaps, to the public, and how
to factor that into your own decisions and advice to the
And I guess the theme of what I'd like to just
touch on here briefly today has a lot to do with risk and
where I think the Commission may be going awry in its work
and, ultimately, in its efforts to protect public health and
safety, and I would remind us all today that that is what
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's mission is, is to
protect public health and safety, and everything that we do
and every outcome of the licensing process should lead to
I'd like to just talk a little bit about the
package performance study that's underway. Actually,
they've completed a draft of that. They've got it out.
They're circulating it. They're getting comments on that.
This is the NRC. It's the Sandia report.
I've attended a couple of workshops concerning
that, and what I find interesting about that is that the
NRC, certainly Sandia, and seemingly NRC is moving towards
spending unknown quantities of money to demonstrate further
the integrity of the packaging system that will be used to
ship nuclear waste, and they are doing this at the same time
they have recently released their update of the risk
associated with transporting spent fuel, and for your
reference, that's NUREG/CR-6672, and let me just read one
quote out of that study.
"The current estimates of risk are less than those
estimated in 1977. Year 2000 estimates indicate a
confidence that the anticipated increase in spent fuel
shipments from reactors to interim storage or to a geologic
repository will not entail a greater risk to the public than
that considered acceptable in 1977."
So, the NRC has concluded in their most recent
assessment of risks that the risks are now lower than what
we estimated in 1977, and in 1977, the level of risk was an
acceptable level of risk.
I ask you, then, why are we spending scarce
resources to further refine our understanding of the
integrity of the package system, which ultimately simply
reduces the uncertainty associated with our estimates of
performance, which gives us a little better estimate of risk
and presumably will lower the risk estimates further?
By the NRC's own admission, the levels of risk are
I would encourage this committee to encourage the
Commission to reconsider the direction they're going.
Let me underscore this a little bit with a
proposal within the package performance study to perhaps do
full-scale testing of casks.
The Sandia folks are seemingly leaning towards a
recommendation that we do a full-scale test of a cask to
demonstrate the cask's integrity, to help us refine our
modeling, to calibrate our models, to understand the
responsiveness of different components of the cask when
they're all assembled together and you have, you know, a
severe accident, a beyond-regulatory kind of a scenario.
And in the workshops I've been in, it's very clear
that the public, you know, whoever the public is, will not
accept the results of a single test and will not be willing
to extrapolate the results of that test of a single cask
across all other casks of a similar model, let alone all
other models of casks, and in the NRC report, they are
basically -- one of the driving reasons for doing the work
that NRC is proposing through the package performance study,
or that Sandia is recommending be done, is, and I quote, "to
increase public confidence in the safety of spent fuel
shipments." That's the reason they're doing the work.
A full-scale test of a single cask will not
increase public confidence in the safety of spent fuel
shipments, and if you want to argue with me on that point
then let's take a look at how the results of the Sandia
crash test have been used over time and how the results of
the European tests have been viewed over time.
So, I really question the merits of the direction
we're going, and again, I would encourage perhaps this group
to consider do we need to go down the path of, for example,
full-scale cask testing and other recommendations in that
report to try and better understand the performance of these
components in the package and also the risks associated with
Getting back to the purpose of the package
performance study and the proposed studies is to increase
public confidence in the safety of spent fuel shipments.
I guess an underscoring point, a kind of
rhetorical question that I'd like to pose is, is that the
role of NRC, to increase public confidence in the safety of
spent fuel shipments, or is the role of NRC to increase
public confidence in the capability of the NRC licensing
process to protect public health and safety?
There's a very clear difference, and it would
appear to me that the Commission is heading down a path to
try and become an educator of the public about the risks
associated with things nuclear, and this has a lot to do
with risk communication, when, in fact, the public may be --
if they are concerned at all -- may be most concerned about
the integrity of the licensing process itself.
And I guess I would look at that from the
perspective of, for example, the KTIs, and we have a current
licensing process going on in Utah right now for a facility,
and I can tell you that people in Nevada that watch the
resolution of these key technical issues or watch the
Private Fuel Storage licensing process that's underway --
and there is grave concern about the integrity of the NRC
For example, is the key technical issue resolution
process -- and I apologize, Bill, I wasn't hear for your
presentation, you probably just nailed this, but is the KTI
resolution process going to result in largely the -- making
non-relevant the raising of contentions by parties to the
licensing process, because in essence, all of the potential
contentions, or the ones, certainly, that NRC believes to be
important, will have been dealt with through the KTI
process, and anything else that anyone raises will be viewed
as largely non-relevant, or certainly not a contention
that's worthy of pursuing.
And ultimately, NRC staff recommend to the board
decisions about those matters, and so, from the outside
looking in, we have the KTI process, which is not a part of
the formal licensing process, per se -- we're not even in
licensing yet, but in essence, are we resolving all the
contentions that might be raised?
Well, the answer, obviously we have to say no, but
outside looking in, it sure has that appearance.
I would also -- I guess, just finally, just to
kind of close up here, because I'm taking way too long, I
guess just three recommendations, just to kind of close out.
I did talk about the importance of perhaps the
ACNW considering whether or not the Commission should,
indeed, be trying to educate the public on the safety of
things nuclear or whether the Commission should be worrying
about making sure the public has confidence in their
licensing process. I think that's very important.
Second of all, should the NRC be spending its
limited resources to further refine or to further understand
the performance and the risks associated with the packaging
system given the conclusion they've reached that
transportation risks are now safer than we ever thought they
were before, and before, we thought they were acceptable, so
they must be even more acceptable.
Finally, I would just ask that this advisory
committee begin to consider prospective conditions and how
the NRC will view prospective conditions to a license.
This is an unprecedented process or project. If
you look at the conditions on licenses for nuclear power
plants, they are certainly not very creative, they're not
very novel, and we would hope, certainly in Lincoln County,
that prospective conditions to a license would include
minimizing risks, would include minimizing impacts, and
would include maximizing benefits.
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
Questions, comments. Committee? Staff?
MR. LARKINS: One question.
DR. GARRICK: Yes.
MR. LARKINS: You mentioned the revised
transportation risk study. What's your views on the
adequacy of that and those results?
MR. BOFFMAN: My view on the results is that it's
NRC's perception of risk. It is nothing more than the NRC's
perception of risk.
It is not the real risk associated with
transporting nuclear waste in a technical sense. I'm sure
the preparers of the report think that it is, but the next
risk assessor is not going to necessarily agree.
So, clearly, it is nothing more than the NRC's
perception of risk, and I think it's important that we
recognize that and that that perception is going to be
different than other people's.
Personally, I'm comfortable with that. I'm
comfortable with the estimates they've prepared, I'm
comfortable with the analysis that's been prepared, and I
think we ought to deal more with reducing accident risk that
results in fatalities because people have run into a truck
or a truck runs into their car and things of that nature
than latent cancer fatalities associated with the exposure
from an accident.
DR. GARRICK: Would you accept the notion of the
NRC's calculated risk rather than perception, because it
seems to me, when you say perception, you're implying that
they have already made up their mind and that they're
unscientific in their application of risk tools.
MR. BOFFMAN: Well, the risk estimates are based
an awful lot on observation and historic data, and I, as an
individual, will get on an airplane because of observation
and historic data, and I'm not a scientist.
So, I consider my assessment of that risk to be as
technical, perhaps, as a technical risk assessor's work, you
know, so I'm a little bit concerned about that.
I would also suggest that I just lost my train of
thought, but beyond that -- it's too bad, too, because it
was a good point.
Anyhow, the answer is no.
DR. GARRICK: Any other questions?
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
MR. BOFFMAN: I'm sorry, Dr. Garrick. I do
MR. BOFFMAN: You know, the NRC has indicated in
their report that the levels of risk in '77 were acceptable.
By what measure? Is that simply a judgement on the part of
the NRC and its staff?
It appears to be. I don't know. Maybe it's
compared to other levels of risk, like smoking, voluntary
You know, there are a lot of voluntary risks, and
that seems to be how we determine what's acceptable, is we
take a look at what people do voluntarily, and if the
calculated risk falls within the realm of voluntary risk,
then it must be acceptable, at least to those people that,
you know, assume those voluntary risks, but I don't know
what the measure of acceptability was that was used.
DR. GARRICK: Yeah, but isn't there an important
point here that, just because we maybe don't know what the
levels of acceptability are, does that mean that we should
not try our damnedest to calculate them?
MR. BOFFMAN: Yes, because the old adage,
paralysis by analysis, will set in, and we will end up
spending dollars, perhaps, assessing risk to see if we can
get it down to 10 to the minus 9 rather than 10 to the minus
8, when we could take that money and build a Jersey barrier
on the highway and save three lives over the life of the
project. For those of you that don't know, a Jersey barrier
is what keeps people from running into each other head-on.
DR. GARRICK: I think that's perception, too, of
the highest order.
Well, it's obvious that we have a different view
of the scientific process.
The scientific process says that we should keep
looking for answers to things that we don't understand, and
the genuine risk assessor is supposed to do that, be a part
of that process, not to use it to cover up lies or to
confuse the public or what have you.
So, I think that if you're advocating that we not
try to calculate these things systematically and
deliberately, then it seems to me you're advocating the
rejection of logical processes, and I really challenge that.
Any other questions?
MR. HORNBERGER: As usual, I can't resist
responding to a soap-box speech.
I'm not sure that what I heard from the exchange
-- I didn't hear Mike say the same thing. So, perhaps I
should ask Mike to clarify, if nothing else.
What I heard Mike say was that, fine, given the
calculations that the risks are tremendously low and you
face a decision of whether to spend a lot of money doing a
full-scale cask test or putting Jersey barriers on the
highway, there might be a very logical thought process and
analysis that would lead you to do the work on the highway.
MR. BOFFMAN: Thank you.
DR. GARRICK: I agree with that.
MR. BOFFMAN: That's exactly what I meant.
DR. GARRICK: I agree with that, but the whole
concept here should be one of a decision analysis
What we want as citizens is alternatives and to be able to
choose between alternatives, but we also want, as citizens,
responsible analyses of those alternatives, and that's where
the technical community has, more often than not, failed, is
that we don't give our policy-makers and our leaders
quantitative information about the alternatives, and the
other thing is that our speaker didn't talk about
calculations. He talked about perceptions in a way that
would suggest an arbitrariness that I do not think exists,
and that was what triggered my comment.
Any other comments?
DR. GARRICK: Thank you very much.
MR. BOFFMAN: Thank you.
DR. GARRICK: Okay.
Our next speaker is from Eureka County.
MS. JOHNSON: Hi. My name is Abby Johnson. I am
the nuclear waste advisor for Eureka County, Nevada. I
appreciate the opportunity to address the group, and I'm
going to play it safe today. I'm not going to talk about
risk. It's way too risky.
MS. JOHNSON: One of my areas of interest and
something that Dr. Garrick talked about in his opening
remarks which he indicated he might want some feedback on is
That's a special interest of mine. It's something
that our county has committed to do a variety of things on,
and I'd like to tell you about a couple of those things and
then make some suggestions and observations related to this
quandary about how the NRC involves the public and what the
public's perception of the NRC is, and then, at the end, I'd
like to make a personal comment, not for Eureka County but
just as a citizen of Nevada.
Just to give you a little background, I think when
we were last in the same room, it was last October, and that
was during the DOE's environmental impact statement process.
We in Eureka County had not yet had our public hearing.
Eureka County is one of the ones that looks like
New Hampshire and Vermont, looks a little bit like this, and
it is the one that has the Union Pacific line running
through the northern part of the county, and there's a
proposal to build a rail line southwest through Crescent
Valley and into Lander County.
As part of our program, we do community meetings
where needed in the county to explain these complex issues
and answer questions.
We do a newsletter, and we do the web-site, Yucca
Mountain.org, my little advertising here, and that's a
challenge to do all that and to take this complex
information, the kind of information I hear at these
meetings, and then be able to distill it in such a way that
I can answer people's questions, and sometimes I can and
sometimes I can't, depends on what the information is.
One thing that I did this summer was I went to the
NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board application hearing
for the independent spent fuel storage facility in Salt Lake
City related to the Goshute project. I think that's enough
big words there.
It was very interesting. You have to realize that
certainly I and most of us in Nevada are unfamiliar with
your licensing process at all, since, of course, we do not
have any nuclear power plants in Nevada, and so, it's very
educational. It was extremely educational, and one thing I
learned was -- actually, I came away appreciating, no
offense, the Department of Energy, because when you go to
one of their meetings, there's always like tree-killing
paper in the back of the room and hand-outs, and you can
really follow what's going on.
Well, it's a different world at these licensing
hearings, I learned, and I took that as an early signal
that, if we are to get to the point of licensing a
repository at Yucca Mountain, I feel very strongly that the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission should look at its public
involvement process related to the licensing hearings.
I know there's an issue about whether or not to
have a formal or informal hearing, and we support a formal
hearing process, but that doesn't mean that that the public
has to be left out.
I think it's essential, especially for a public
that's used to the hand-outs in the back of the room and
kind of the view-graph kind of thing, the way DOE does
things, that they need to understand what's going on, and
it's up to the NRC to make that possible and not necessarily
to go by the way we've always done it.
I think it's really important to think of
different ways to do that.
Last night, I almost finished my comments on
behalf of the county on the Draft Environmental Impact
Statement for the private spent fuel storage facility on the
Goshute project, and in reading that document, I had a
couple of you've-got-to-be-kiddings and a couple of aha's.
And one that I hadn't realized until I really sat
down to read it is that the proposal is to store up to
40,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel at the Goshute
facility in western Utah, virtually at Nevada's doorstep,
which is, you know -- I think I did the math -- 57 percent
of the commercial spent fuel that's currently in the law
scheduled to go to Yucca Mountain, of the 70,000 metric
tons, and the other thing in that document is it's rail
There aren't any real options, they say. The
Commission says rail.
Now, here we are, Eureka County, looking at DOE's
proposal, reading that EIS, which, as Bart from Clark County
well articulated, doesn't have route or mode decisions.
Here we are in Eureka County reading NRC's EIS on this other
project, also dealing with commercial spent fuel, which says
it's going to be rail, we're not going to do any analysis in
Nevada, because we're depending on DOE's EIS to provide that
To NRC's credit, I thought they did some very
strong comments on that draft EIS, but that's the same EIS
that you had serious concerns about, including
transportation concerns, that in this document you're
And it's very hard from the standpoint of us as a
county, trying to figure out what's going on.
The other thing that was very clear to me,
knowing, as I do, and hearing Bill Reamer talk earlier about
the process with key technical issues, in the NRC's EIS on
Goshute, the Department of Energy isn't even listed as an
agency that was consulted.
Now, in the Yucca Mountain project, you know, you
guys are talking all the time.
What are we to make of that? If 40,000 metric
tons of spent nuclear fuel are actually going to be in
Nevada's doorstep in western Utah, that changes a lot of
things. That changes a lot of things for the State of
Nevada, for the affected counties, potentially for Eureka
County, and we're asked to make sense out of that.
You know, from the standpoint of the people that
I'm trying to explain this to, they're taxpayers, and
they're going, well, it's all the Federal Government, isn't
it? How come they're not talking to each other? This
agency says this and that agency says that.
So, I guess my message is your message is very
mixed, and I realize you have a number of jobs to do, and it
may some flies in the whole organizational structure of all
the different things that -- I mean I say you, I mean NRC --
that NRC has to do and all that hat-switching, but from the
perspective of the public, it's very confusing, it's not at
all clear, and I think that NRC needs to be a little --
needs to be much more aware of these kind of inconsistencies
that appear, and I don't mean that we're talking about just
I mean I believe that, fundamentally, it should be
corrected, not just make it look better.
Finally -- this is the personal comment part. I'm
the one that's going to take the bait that Shelley Berkley
put out there earlier today.
Speaking personally as Abby Johnson, someone who
has been involved in this issue since 1983, she said a lot
of things in a politician's sort of way that I think are
very true, and all of the logical disconnects between what
we were told and what's happening to us, it's all true.
Every time I come to one of these technical
meetings, not just you guys, TRB, as well, as many times as
I attend these technical meetings where the flaws of Yucca
Mountain are discussed in-depth, if you excuse the pun, I
never fail to come away with what I call information
vertigo, and that is the clash of common sense with
I mean, as just a member of the public and
possibly a member of the public from back east, if you
transplanted them here and you had them sit in this room and
they heard that you were seriously talking about the risks
from volcanoes exploding and that it's okay, I think they'd
be horrified to hear that was happening in their state, and
I'm horrified, too, and I know how the game is played, but
it's a bad site, and no one has the guts to say it's a bad
site, and Congressman Berkley got around to that.
It's the emperor's new clothes, but no one says
it, because everybody is so into the system that no one
really kind of blows the whistle on it.
So, that's my personal opinion.
Thank you for listening.
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
MS. JOHNSON: I feel a little better.
Does anybody have questions, like not on the
personal opinion, on the public involvement part.
DR. GARRICK: No, except we agree, the public
needs to be involved, and it's an issue we continue to push,
and we're learning as we go.
MS. JOHNSON: The affected units of local
government have had a very positive meeting with Chairman
Meserve, and we're hoping to have more meetings like that.
It appears to be a constructive process, and we
DR. GARRICK: Milt, do you have a question?
MR. LEVENSON: Yeah, I have one comment.
You expressed a certain amount of frustration with
the difference between different facilities and different
licenses, and it was very modest compared to the frustration
some of us on the committee have from the same cause.
Maybe one of the things you could feed back to
your congressman is that a lot of this frustration arises
from Congress, that Yucca Mountain has a law that has
different requirements than licensing an interim facility,
and there isn't anything anybody at this committee or the
NRC or anything else can do when Congress gives us
In this specific case, this is one.
MS. JOHNSON: There's one other thing I didn't
mention that I really would like to get on the record, and
that is that I have really, really tried to use NRC's
web-site, and it drives me nuts.
I can never find what I'm looking for, and I end
up taking staff time to call people who shouldn't have to
answer these little tiny questions of mine. I mean I'm
calling people who are making a lot of money an hour, and I
shouldn't be having to call them.
There should be a way so that I can be -- I can
easily find out, for example -- I can easily read the
Federal Register notice for when the comment deadline is on
the Goshute EIS and figure out if it's received by or if
I should be able to find out when meetings are.
It's a maze, it's a mess, and I can't figure out
how to use it, and I take up staff time calling when I could
get the information on the web, and I think it really,
really, really needs to be overhauled.
DR. GARRICK: We agree with that.
DR. GARRICK: All right.
We have a request for one more county
MS. SCHENKLE: Hi. I'm Judy Schenkle. I'm the
affected unit of local government representative.
Basically, I have a question that would be more or
less what our public feel, and as the DOE wants this design
to be flexible, new developments arise during various
studies on the safety of Yucca Mountain, and new questions
will arise -- for example, the degradation of the waste
At the August Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board
meeting, an uncertainty about the corrosion of alloy C-22
How can a final waste package be developed if new
How can the NRC approve a waste package design if
there is no final design?
This is only one example of new uncertainties that
question whether Yucca Mountain is suitable.
The DOE should have a final design to be reviewed
and tested before it's recommended as a site that is safe
and suitable as a repository.
Since I've been here, they have gone from a design
with no back-fill, hot to cooler design, no drip shields
until later, no final design in the waste package.
My question is, if I'm going to go out and buy a
vehicle, I want to make sure the product is there before I
can recommend that I'll buy it or not, and that's my basic
DR. GARRICK: Does anybody want to answer it or
DR. GARRICK: The committee has also been
frustrated by the lack of stability in the design of the
Thank you very much.
I think we're down to Dr. Jacob Powers. You'll
tell us a little bit about what you're up to?
DR. POWERS: My name is Dr. Jacob Powers, and very
briefly, history, I make in Israel atomic bombs and explode
them at the Nevada test site, as a background. I'm a
My concern has been risen several times on the
issue of complex mixtures. I raised it up at the
environmental meeting reply to EIS and twice with NRC, and I
have here a dilemma which I'm going to open to the
scientific community to open for debate.
The EIS, which addressed risk assessment, is an
old model and, in my professional opinion, is inaccurate.
It does not take into account the issue of heavy metals
mixture and radio-nuclide mixtures.
The issue is far more complex. There are EPA
guidelines which has been issued in 1996, 1990, 1988, NAS,
National Academy of Sciences, and in 1997, there is a
presidential commission, congressional commission which
address the issue of complex mixture, and it's a matter of
concern and important, and the EPA, in 1999, is going to
issue revised guidelines.
The question is, is this going to apply to Yucca
We cannot ignore it.
Usually, what we have, we have a hazardous waste
site first, then we have all the chemicals and so on. Here
we have a different situation.
We have a situation which we're going to have
We create one of the most hazardous waste sites on
earth, because what's happened first, you're going to have
corrosion of the canister in the plume, and it will increase
the toxicity, carcinogenicity, and nobody has modeled it
There is very little information in the literature
with regard to combination of two or more radio-nuclides
and/or heavy metals.
I can just mention two Russian works, one which
they have irradiated cesium-137 and strontium-189 and they
find increasing rate of radio-nuclides. So, this bring to
the basic question, what is the mixture of radio-nuclides,
together can have an effect.
To the issue of synergistic effect, there is a
Russian work which took irradiated cell -- I'm sorry --
first was adding to cell, cutting with chloride, and then
irradiate them, and they have found an increase in formation
of free radicals, which suggested synergistic interaction.
Second, what they have done, the first irradiated
cell, then they cut in chloride, they found out that there
is a synergistic effect.
The issue for Yucca Mountain -- there are two.
One is the ground water pollution, and I was surprised not
to see on your agenda to be addressed this issue today,
because this is catastrophic event and must be addressed.
If you're going to look at EIS at Yucca Mountain
project, I am seeing the least scenario, and in between,
there is a very big question-mark.
With regard to transportation, potentially, in the
worst scenario is terrorism, and who knows, it can happen on
the waterway, it can happen on soil or air. The end result
Before I am concluded, there is one French work
from 1999. They investigated the effect in staining of
actinide. Their conclusion was the following, that
lactinide and iridium are highly toxic. The LC-50, which 50
percent of the cell was 10 to the minus 5, 10 to the minus 6
molar, and they concluded that the study of potential
chemical and irradiation interaction should be taken into
What I'm calling, my approach, I proposed a
research to YMP to carry some initial, to address the issue,
unofficial. It is basic research. I don't think so,
because the model, the methodology already exists for about
Second, it's the regulatory agency to set the
standard. My reply to this is that EPA, NRC must interact
together to answer this issue.
How are you going to address this issue, because
all the projection of cancer or toxicity is a very big
There is one model which exists called
physiological pharmokinetic models, and this should be
incorporated into the study of Yucca Mountain.
I would call again to EPA, NRC, really to look at
very closely, because this is a really serious issue from a
scientific point of view.
I don't want you to start with the politics of
science, because the politician would love my results if I'm
What I'm calling is I'm making some recommendation
-- number one is to establish a joint between EPA, NRC,
Yucca Mountain, and the state, and maybe also academic, to
open this issue, because this is a very serious issue, and I
can provide some review of the literature.
Number three, have a symposium open to the public.
Address the issue of complex mixtures. If you're not going
to do it, then it's the politics.
What I have found is everybody say you apply this
grant, this grant here and there. If you're going to go in
licensing and you don't address this issue, this is one of
the first things which I go before the licensing board and I
will challenge, because there is enough scientific data to
support my position, and if I finish it, it may be a joke,
but you never know who will explode, and there will be a lot
So, please think in all the issues which I have
If somebody wants to get some more elaborate
information, I have a draft proposal which summarize some of
my thoughts. I'm willing to give it.
Thank you very much.
Do you have any questions?
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
Milt, do you have any questions?
MR. LEVENSON: I have one question.
On the Russian work which you referenced which
demonstrated synergistic effects, under what conditions was
it done relative to, say, the doses that we're expecting out
at the edge where people will actually interact?
DR. POWERS: I don't read Russian, so I can't give
you complete information.
MR. LEVENSON: My question is if it was done at
radiation levels that are couple of orders of magnitude and
on chemical concentrations that are orders of magnitude
higher, then the question of relevancy comes up.
DR. POWERS: Okay. The relevancy comes out if
you're taking -- I can give you only partial answers.
I have done some work in the past, and I think,
when you're talking about 10 to the minus 4, 10 to the minus
5, you can see some interaction on heavy metals. The issue
has not been addressed.
The only one which I can address is to show some
effect, linearities at about 100 millicurie. I can give you
DR. GARRICK: Ray?
MR. WYMER: No, no questions.
DR. GARRICK: George?
I guess your point is the toxicity of toxic
DR. POWERS: Correct.
DR. GARRICK: Now, are you more concerned about
the chemical side of the toxicity than the radiation side?
DR. POWERS: I have concerned both. I cannot give
you, because there is insufficient information to give you.
I can give you just hypothesis.
If you take just hypothesis -- and I can cite this
Russian work -- if you're taking cadmium, which is an
important carcinogen, and it's 10 to the minus 4, and you
interact it with irradiation, and the same mechanism is
involved, formation of free radicals, as a target organ
injury, I say this is an example, because we don't have
information to answer these questions.
There's very little information in the literature,
and I think this is one of the first times it comes into
effect from the point of view of interaction.
DR. GARRICK: Is this a problem you've thought
Any comments from the staff?
DR. GARRICK: Okay.
Well, thank you very much.
DR. POWERS: Thank you.
DR. GARRICK: Okay.
We have been asked to allow Mr. William Basconi to
make a few remarks.
We welcome you back.
MR. BASCONI: I assume the benefit of listening to
me is I'm the last one, right?
DR. GARRICK: No. You are only the last one to
asked to be listened to.
MR. BASCONI: Very good.
Well, I'm a 40-year resident of Nevada, originally
I worked 17 years at the Nevada test site as a
construction worker, radiation technician, and monitor.
I continue to be involved with the test site
through employee transition committees, historical
foundations, committee to reuse organizations, Nevada Test
Site Development Corporation, study committees, etcetera, on
preservation of the test site, bringing on new jobs,
utilizing the buildings, etcetera.
So, you've got the basic feel of why I'm standing
I am a Nevadan. I love Nevada. I'm an
outdoorsman. I spend a lot of time in the hills.
Yet, I'm an American, and I just want you folks to
know there's a good many Nevadans that look at this in a
The national issue and the respect that, yes, you
can talk spent fuel rods from 103 nuclear power houses, but
there's a good many of us know that we have nine aircraft
carriers, plus one under construction, that's nuclear, we've
got 65 submarines, plus five more under construction, that
Those are national issues.
We've got 83 reactors in universities or medical
facilities. That's a national issue.
Nevada will say they have nothing nuclear, but
they utilize nuclear products.
A lot of the electricity that comes in over the
grid is from nuclear.
Cars from Japan -- they have 59 nuclear reactors.
Germany. Even Canada has 14.
A lot of the countries in the world have nuclear
reactors. There are some 400 of them. It's nuclear.
What it means to me is the waste on the nuclear
issue would cover a football field 15 foot high after 40
You know, we move more dirt than that for any of
these hotels here in town. We move more dirt than that for
any one of these hotels here in town.
Nevada -- Nevada says it's not our problem. Well,
it might be those Nevadans that feel it's not their problem,
but they may well be the solution for problems, this
Nation's nuclear problems for many generations to come.
We hear terminologies like 10,000 years, the
canisters aren't going to maintain themselves. Well, I
think that terminology is ludicrous.
Ten thousand years? Ten thousand years, it's
going to be awful crowded here in southern Nevada, by the
time we have that ice age come down across Montreal and New
York City and New Jersey, 200-foot ice in New York City.
Where do you think them folks are going to move?
I'm not so concerned with whether there's going to
be grass growing in Amargosa Valley as I am that ice age
going to come down here and get all of us anyway, right?
What brings you back to 10,000 years -- I give our
educational system -- even here in our Nevada, I give our
educational system more credit, folks.
You're building that place with today's
technology, today's metals, today's brains. In 300 years,
that may well be a renewable energy resource.
You convince this old gray-haired man that oil --
I know you pay attention to oil -- you convince this old man
that oil and coal is going to be around in 300 years. I
doubt that very seriously.
Yucca Mountain, consolidation of spent fuel rods,
high-level waste -- there's a lot of Nevadans that think
it's doable, it's a viable solution.
There's a lot of Nevadans -- yes, they'll say,
hey, let's maximize ourselves on this, let's do what we can
to maximize the benefits to be derived from five decades of
nuclear expertise at the Nevada test site.
You know, we detonated 928 nuclear devices at the
test site. Twenty-four of them was for Great Britain. Nine
hundred and four were our own. A hundred of them were
We're educated nuclear. We got it figured out.
We've got underground right now 904 repositories
at the Nevada test site, 904.
I was a meeting a while back here, and I said NTS,
and somebody says what does NTS mean? Another person in the
audience said new to smoking.
You ask folks what their concerns are here in Las
Vegas, Nevada. You know 50 percent of the people in Clark
County have been here less than 10 years? It's 1.3 million
people. Fifty percent have been here less than 10 years.
They're worried about crime. Crime? There's a
murder every other day. There's a rape every nine hours.
There's a car stolen every 40 minutes. They're worried
about crime. They're worried about water. They're worried
about schools. They're worried about jobs.
Yucca Mountain is way out there someplace, maybe
You hear about saboteurs, going to saboteur these
hauling the high-level waste. Why would a saboteur want to
blow up a truckload of waste? Why not go right out here to
Nellis Air Force Base where we store 1,450 nuclear devices,
weapons guarded by America's finest, 18 and 20 years old,
that don't have those drip shield on those out there, by the
way? That's all public information, 1,450 nuclear devices
stored within a population of 1.3 million people.
I don't see the state getting up in arms about it.
I don't see somebody saying how did you transport them here,
how do you transport them out?
Realistically, Yucca Mountain, consolidation of
spent fuel rods, yeah, there's a good many Nevadans that say
they're all for our country, and that is our state motto.
We're all for our country. We know we utilize nuclear
Yes, the NRC, the EPA, DOE -- you're a bunch of
Feds. That's how some folks look at you. We do look to the
technical review boards. We do look at the National Academy
You guys have got your work cut out for you,
because a lot of us good old boys come out of the woodwork
and we try to read some of these reports. We can't. We can
come down here and ask you questions.
We want you to know we believe in you. We believe
in what you're doing.
We also know that the emergency response, the
health and safety of the residents of Nevada is paramount to
Now, you may not think much of the community up
the road here that's got about 8,000 people in the size of
the State of Virginia, but that nuclear waste is going to
come right through their community where 80 percent of the
You might not be concerned about the ranchers up
north that say we want transition of Federal lands. Do you
realize that Nevada -- the only state that has more Federal
lands than Nevada is Alaska? Don't say Texas. They were a
country for about six, eight years.
Eighty-six percent of Nevada is Federal land.
What's wrong with transition of Federal rights to the State
of Nevada? What's wrong with water rights? What's wrong
with a Superfund, a stewardship trust fund? Never been
offered to us.
Grants can be taken out by the state or the
counties to improve their infrastructure, their school
systems, their roads, etcetera. What's wrong with the fact
that maybe a railroad system through the center of the state
is not the best answer, because after the nuclear waste is
hauled, we can open up the centralized part of Nevada for
economic development and issues. What's wrong with that?
I know I'm carrying on, because I get started on
this, and away I go.
There's nothing wrong with that.
Emergency response initiatives, transportation
initiatives -- this is what the folks out in the woods want
to talk about. This what your rural community wants to talk
I'm not paid to stand up here. Some folks are
paid to stand up here. Hell, Nevada is so damn important
they hire unemployed Russian scientists to make a statement
so it sounds good. I can't go along with that either. I
think there's people in this country that could take care of
But I want you to know there are folks that's
leaning your way, that we want to get it done, we want to do
it right, because we will be your worst enemy if it's wrong.
So, get out back in the rural counties, educate
us, give us a little credit for being about half smart, and
let's get it done.
We got the mountain, we got the management, and we
got the men to do it right. Let's get on with the project
for the United States of America.
DR. GARRICK: Thank you.
MR. BASCONI: Comments, questions.
MR. LEVENSON: Let me just comment that I want to
thank you for your faith in the integrity of the committee,
as evidenced by the fact that you left your wallet on the
MR. BASCONI: Well, that's perception.
MR. BASCONI: That was glasses and a black book.
DR. GARRICK: I think that's the end of the list,
unless there's somebody else who would like to add to the
commentary of the afternoon, which has been very interesting
and will be valuable, as it has been in the past, valuable
source material for our deliberations and report
preparation. This is the highlight, as I said, of our trip
DR. GARRICK: All right, then.
I think what I'd like to do is call a recess, and
when we come back, we're not going to be on record. We have
completed all of our briefings and presentations. The
balance of the day is going to be in committee work having
to do with studying -- considering our priorities and
examining our action plan and the progress we've made and so
on and so forth.
So, I think we'll take a 15-minute break, so that
the recorder can do what she has to do.
[Whereupon, at 4:15 p.m., the meeting was
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, October 02, 2017