Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste 126th Meeting, May 16, 2001
Official Transcript of Proceedings
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
Title: Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste
Docket Number: (not applicable)
Location: Rockville, Maryland
Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2001
Work Order No.: NRC-223 Pages 88-132
NEAL R. GROSS AND CO., INC.
Court Reporters and Transcribers
1323 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 234-4433. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
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ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NUCLEAR WASTE
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MAY 16, 2001
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The Committee met at the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, Two White Flint North, Room T2B3, 11545
Rockville Pike, at 10:30 a.m., B. John Garrick,
B. JOHN GARRICK Chairman
GEORGE M. HORNBERGER Vice Chairman
MILTON LEVENSON Member
RAYMOND G. WYMER Member
Briefing on Supplement to DEIS . . . . . . . . . .91
Presented by Jane Summerson
NRC Staff's role in reviewing DEIS . . . . . . . 123
Presented by Melanie Wong
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: The meeting will come
to order. We're going to get a briefing this morning
on the draft environmental impact statement. The
committee member that's going to lead the discussion
will be George Hornberger, and he will introduce our
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay. So the
ACNW has looked at the draft environmental impact
statement, the DEIS. We had some comments on the
draft EIS. I think that we're pretty familiar with
the material that's in the DEIS. And Jane is going to
give us an update, because, as we know, DOE has
recently issued a supplement to the draft EIS.
Jane, I think that we're a technical
committee, and what we're most interested in hearing
from you is how -- you know, what the substantive
changes are to the DEIS and changes, sort of, if there
are any, to the bottom line, in terms of what the
environmental impacts may have -- how they may have
changed. And with that, I'll let you begin.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Have we sufficiently
punished Tom Kress for trying to write on the screen?
MS. SUMMERSON: Well, George, my
background is technical also. I am a geologist by
training. But for the last nearly five years at Yucca
Mountain I worked in the Planning Area, and I've just
moved into this job within the last three months,
replacing Ken Skipper when he went to Denver to the
Bureau of Rec. My learning curve is vertical at this
point, so I apologize in advance. I will probably not
be able to answer detailed technical questions. I'm
not as familiar as I should be. But I have Mr. Joe
Rivers, who is the Project Manager of Jason
Technologies, who is our independent EIS contractor,
and he will deal with any technical issues. If
there's anything we can't handle, of course we'll get
the information for you. And this is on the
A little background in case there are
people here who have not been as intimately involved
with the process as many of us. You know, the draft
environmental impact statement did come out in 1999,
August. It described the preliminary design concept.
It identified other design features that were under
consideration. It evaluated the impacts of
transporting nuclear fuel, and it evaluated a no-
action alternative. The public comment period for
that was 199 days, had 21 public hearings, and we
received over 11,000 comments, which we are still in
the process of finalizing responses to.
This EIS is a little unique in terms of
EISs, because the Nuclear Waste Policy Act does put
some restrictions on it. First of all, it requires
that it accompany any basis for a site recommendation
that should be made, and therefore that constrains the
timing of this EIS. It also states that this EIS need
not consider the need for repository, the initial
availability of it, alternative sites or alternatives
to geologic disposal. Those things were covered in a
generic geologic disposal EIS in the '80s.
The supplement to the draft was released
and distributed on Friday, May 4. The EPA Notice of
Availability was Friday, May 11, and that started our
public comment period. We have planned a 45-day
public comment period; it will end June 25. The
Department believes that's an adequate time period
because the body of the supplement is only about 70
pages long, including graphics. This is a small
document, easily readable in a couple of hours for a
person with a general technical background. And it's
limited in scope.
We have three public hearings planned in
the Yucca Mountain vicinity. We're limiting it to the
Yucca Mountain vicinity, because these are all changes
to the design of the repository, so they would be
The purpose of the supplement is to update
the design information that was presented in the
draft. The draft EIS did anticipate that the design
would continue to evolve, and it has. The evolution
has focused on reducing uncertainties, increasing
operational flexibility, and improving safety and
efficiency. The supplement refers to impacts that
would be associated with the flexible repository
design that is described in the Yucca Mountain Science
and Engineering report, which was also released on May
The fundamental aspects of the repository
design have not changed. As a result of the changes,
the enhancements, to the design, some small but not
significant increases in impacts have been recognized
compared to the DEIS. And so we are releasing this
supplement to solicit public comment on these changes
in the design.
The purpose of the supplement, together
with the DEIS, the supplement presents the most
current and comprehensive statement of the design and
the analyses regarding the impacts from the design.
In the final EIS, we will integrate the draft
environmental impact statement, the supplement, and
all of the comments that we received on both the draft
and the supplement integrated in a single body in the
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Is there a
planned time frame for release of the final EIS?
MS. SUMMERSON: Well, it has to accompany
the SR, as you know. And at the moment we're looking
at in early fiscal year '02.
The Department wants to emphasize that
these design changes are not a surprise. It was
anticipated in the draft that the design would
continue to evolve, stated several times, and in fact
Appendix E focused on alternative design concepts that
were being considered by the Department at the time.
And we all recognize that the design will continue to
evolve if we move forward, if there is a site
designation and we move into licensing, there will
continue to be evolution of the design due to
interactions with the oversight agencies, the
regulatory body, and this type of thing.
Some of the design features that were
discussed in Appendix E of the draft, and that have
now been incorporated, aging and blending of waste,
the lower temperature operating conditions, potential
for longer post-emplacement ventilation period, and
the wider drift spacing and variable waste package
spacing. And all of these are to address thermal
options for thermal management of the repository.
Drip shields are for protection of the waste packages,
both from water and from rock, change in waste package
materials, and changes to ground support options and
waste package supports.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Now are you going to
comment on which of these have made the most
difference in terms of the repository performance?
Are you going to kind of rank these in terms of their
impact on performance?
MS. SUMMERSON: When you say performance,
are you --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Safety performance.
Performance in the sense of the performance
MS. SUMMERSON: So it would be post-
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes, post-closure.
MS. SUMMERSON: I had not --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Okay.
MS. SUMMERSON: -- come prepared to do
that. That is addressed in the Science and
Engineering report, and will be addressed in the
preliminary site suitability evaluation when that
comes out in the early part of the summer.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. Well, the only
thing I was thinking of, if only one or two of these
made a big difference or one made ten times the impact
of the other, if there was any way you could just give
us some perspective of their relative importance. But
if not, yes, it's in the Science and Engineering
MS. SUMMERSON: The way that --
MR. RIVERS: Jane? If I might add -- Joe
Rivers with Jason Technologies -- it's somewhat hard
to necessarily say whether one as a factor of ten more
important than the others, because the long-term
impacts within the 10,000-year regulatory period for
the draft EIS, which we'll base on the VA design, were
very small. They were close to zero. What has come
out of the TSPA for the SR design currently is that
within the 10,000 period they more closely approach
zero. You don't have failures of waste packages
within the 10,000-year period. The post-10,000-year,
million-year projections are relatively the same.
They are not significantly different. But I would say
that the design features that are changed that impact
temperature are more -- their primary reason is to
reduce uncertainties as opposed to necessarily reduce
the projected dose. However, the drip shields and the
waste package materials, I would say, probably have
the most direct impact on performance.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Okay. So I would guess
that if it had a significant impact on uncertainty,
then it probably had an impact on the magnitude and
timing of the peak dose.
MR. RIVERS: Yes, it probably did. The
TSPA is not -- I think right --
MS. SUMMERSON: Well, they haven't
finished the sensitivity study on those.
MR. RIVERS: Well, they haven't,
especially with the lower temperature operating mode,
they haven't finished all the TSPA runs. They don't
anticipate much sensitivity associated with the
thermal design. But right now, I believe, for the
higher temperature operating mode, the peak dose
occurs somewhere around 550,000 years. And that's
presented in the supplement and in the Science and
MS. SUMMERSON: The sensitivity studies
for the lower temperature will be presented in the
preliminary site suitability evaluation that will be
in early summer.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: This is one of the real
conflicts of this whole exercise is that the better
containment provide, the more you push out the peak
dose; the more you push out the peak dose, the greater
the uncertainty. And I was just curious about what
these changes meant in those kinds of terms.
MR. RIVERS: Another way to answer your
question and something that we see as reduce
uncertainty and as we try to reduce long-term dose, it
tends to increase short-term impacts. They're not in
the significant range by any stretch, but compared to
the draft, when you have longer ventilation periods or
you have wider spacing and things like that, you tend
to increase some of the short-term for the benefit of
decreasing uncertainty or decreasing dose in the long-
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. Thank you.
MS. SUMMERSON: Other things that have
changed, a solar energy facility has been added to the
design to provide some of the power needed. There's
a revised emplacement drift layout. This is to make
the ventilation more efficient. And an expanded
capacity of the waste handling building to allow
blending for the aging or blending of waste.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: If you have any excess
energy from the solar energy, send it to California.
MR. RIVERS: Jane, if I might also add,
the emplacement drift layout, that also refers to the
general layout of the facility from, say, a -- this is
not exact -- but from a Northwest layout. It was
shifted approximately 90 degrees to take advantage of
stability in some of the rock. That's what that
really refers to.
MS. SUMMERSON: But an example of one of
the things Joe was mentioning in adding a solar energy
facility, in the short-term you have increased the
transportation, the materials for that solar energy,
not nuclear materials but of the materials to build
it. And you've got worker safety involved in the
building of it, and that type of thing. So that in
that sense there is an increase in the impacts in the
short-term construction and operation that we see.
But, again, it's not significant; it's very small.
MEMBER WYMER: Is there enough solar
energy available to make any difference at all?
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Have you ever
been to Nevada on a cloudy day?
MS. SUMMERSON: We have a week or so every
MEMBER WYMER: You've got other energy
sources, certainly. I just wondered whether that
makes a one percent addition to the total energy of
the site or ten percent addition.
MR. RIVERS: Well, what it does, if I'm
recalling some numbers --
MS. SUMMERSON: Three megawatts.
MR. RIVERS: Well, it's three megawatts
electric. It's, from what I understand, going to be
one of the largest solar voltaic arrays in the world.
I believe the peak usage is somewhere around 48 to 50
megawatts during the peak time in the repository.
MEMBER WYMER: So six percent.
MR. RIVERS: Yes.
MR. CAMPBELL: Can I ask a question?
MR. RIVERS: Sure.
MR. CAMPBELL: What kind of land area
would be required to build that kind of facility, and
what are the environmental impacts of that?
MR. RIVERS: Environmental impacts of land
disturbed I think for the area of the voltaic array is
between 20 and 40 acres. When you take into account
the land disturbed associated with construction, the
roadways and access roads to the facility, right now
it has not been -- the decision for the site of it has
not been -- there are a number of sites within the
land withdrawal area that could be used. But the
total is approximately 50, 52 acres.
MR. CAMPBELL: So it's not significantly
larger than the repository processing in the area.
MR. RIVERS: Oh, no, no, no, no. It does
not dwarf the repository. Yes, that would --
MS. SUMMERSON: Fundamental aspects of the
repository design in the proposal have not changed the
DEIS. I recommend you look at your handout to see the
pictures. On the upper left there, the concept of an
underground geologic repository obviously is still
what we're working with. The transportation modes and
mechanism for identifying routes using the Department
of Transportation regulations, that hasn't changed.
The environmental area that the potential repository
would be built in has not changed. The basic concept
of the waste packages have not changed. And our no-
action alternative has not changed. All of those
remain the same as in the draft, and they are not
addressed in the supplement.
If it was not a change, we did not address
it. We felt that they were adequately addressed in
the supplement and that we received many comments on
all that -- or I mean in the draft, and we received
many comments on all aspects of that.
The other fundamental thing that has not
changed is the preferred alternative. Pending the
determination of suitability, DOE's preferred
alternative remains to proceed with the proposed
action, construct, operate, and monitor and eventually
close the repository.
And pursuant to that, we are now
soliciting comments on the supplement to the DEIS.
Public comments in the NEPA process, all comments
regardless of the source are treated equally and will
be addressed in the final EIS. Comments submitted by
June 25 will be considered. Any comments that are
submitted after that period will be dealt with to the
extent practicable. And comments can be submitted
orally or in writing form at the hearings, by mail, on
the Internet or by fax. And the various addresses and
opportunities to comment are in the supplement itself
or in the Federal Register notice. We have a 1-800
number that people can call.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Just out of
curiosity, how much of your responses now come through
the Internet or email?
MS. SUMMERSON: Our first comment was an
email on this supplement. It came last week. I don't
know what the -- we've only had about half dozen
comments so far on the supplement.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: How about on
the DEIS itself? Did you accept Internet comments on
MS. SUMMERSON: Yes, we did.
MR. RIVERS: We did have email comments.
I don't know that particular percentage. I think
approximately a third of our comments were received in
the hearing process.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay.
MR. RIVERS: I would say the bulk of them
were of mail, and then you're probably less than 20
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay. I was
MS. SUMMERSON: We do have a lot of people
who are accessing the documents on the Internet. That
seems to get a great deal of use.
And then I just wanted to finish up the
process discussion. This is a little complex, because
we have two public involvement processes going on at
the same time. The top line represents the
environmental impact statement, and you see the dates
there. The supplement was available on the 4th of
May; the comment period began on the 11th. Our public
hearings are May 31, June 5, and June 7, and our
comment period ends the 25th of June. Then we have
whatever period it is until the final EIS is required
for the site recommendation, if it is made, to
consider our comments.
At the same time, on the 4th of May, the
Department also released the Science and Engineering
report and began a public comment period associated
with it. And that is the beginning of he public
period for the site recommendation process materials.
At some point, in the summer, the
preliminary site suitability report will become
available. At that time, dates for public hearings on
the potential site recommendation will be announced.
And the end of that comment period will be announced.
Those decisions are at the discretion of the Secretary
of Energy, and he will decide the dates and the timing
of those activities. We do have some concern of
people being able to separate the two processes, so
we're trying very hard to be sure everyone knows which
process is what and what the timing is for them.
That is really presentation that we had
prepared on the process, and I know Mr. Rivers would
be more than happy to answer any other technical -- I
do apologize again.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: No, that's all
right. We understand.
I guess, just to perhaps make 100 percent
clear, I gather from comments made in earlier
questions that the differences that you started out,
I forget which slide, Jane, on the third or fourth,
you said, "Well, there were differences that were
small but significant enough to report in a
supplement." And I guess the real question is how
small is small? What are we talking about here?
MS. SUMMERSON: What I actually said was
that they are small enough to not be considered
significant. In fact, the difference in the impacts
was not enough to make us feel we needed a supplement.
We simply felt that it would further the NEPA process
and to allow public comment on the design changes,
even though once the analyses were done the impacts
were not considered to be significant.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay.
MS. SUMMERSON: There are -- I believe the
backup slides are in your package.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Yes, they are.
MR. RIVERS: Let me add just a couple
MS. SUMMERSON: Yes, Joe can address that.
MR. RIVERS: The way in which we compared
impacts was also a little bit different. For the
draft EIS, for the three thermal loads -- high,
intermediate, and low thermal loads -- which were
based on aerial mass loading within the repository, we
had a 100-year closure period, pre-closure period that
was constant, and we used that for our short-term
impacts. When the Science and Engineering report and
the Department, after some, I guess, urging from the
Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board to look at a
lower temperature a repository, cold repository, they
looked at various ways of doing that.
One is what they call the higher
temperature repository operating mode in which there
is still boiling regions in the repository, but they
are at least 50 percent of the pillar walls between
the drifts are maintained at a below boiling
temperature so that you can have water flow between
the drifts. And that's one way of reducing some of
the uncertainties. That still has a 100-year closure
Now when you get to the different options
to get what they call the lower temperature repository
operating mode, that's where they try to maintain the
temperature within the drift and the temperature at
the waste package below boiling and in fact outside of
a corrosion susceptibility window at the waste package
itself of 85 degrees C and a relative humidity of less
than 50 percent.
Now there are many ways to achieve that.
One is through waste package spacing where you spread
the waste packages out; one is through a longer
ventilation period. For in the draft EIS and for the
VA design, the ventilation was 0.1 cubic meters per
second. For the current design, it's 15 cubic meters
per second. So it is more of a heat removal than it
was not heat removal for the VA design. So the time
in which it takes to remove the heat could range
anywhere from 50 to 300 years.
There's also the option of aging the waste
above ground in what we call a staging area. We've
looked at aging up to 40,000 metric tons for up to 30
years, coincident with emplacement. So with these
various variables of these parameters, it was
impossible for us to say for the lower temperature
operating mode that 100 years is the set time for
closure. It actually ranges anywhere from 125 to 324
And so when you increase the period of
time that you are evaluating impacts and when you're
looking at total impacts as opposed to an annual
impact, the presentation is very different. The
impacts, whether they are significant as compared to
what we had in the draft, we don't feel that they are
significantly different, but they appear quite
different. So in order to let the public be aware of
what the Department is currently thinking with regard
to their design, the implementing scenarios, and how
we analyze it, we felt it would be appropriate to
issue the supplement based on the design
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: I think that we
may have some interest in talking about pre-closure,
but before I ask other people if they have questions,
sticking with post-closure, one of the things that is
apparent is that not only has the DOE design evolved,
but the DOE TSPA has evolved. And the question I have
is, is it of any concern that the analysis that
attends the supplemental draft EIS is actually
different than the analysis that attends the draft EIS
MS. SUMMERSON: Well, yes. That's part of
what Joe was referring to in that, if nothing else, it
gives us a communication problem with the public,
different ways of evaluating and looking at things.
And then there's also an understanding challenge for
the Department that we certainly have to deal with.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: In that regard, one of
the sources of uncertainty, of course, has always been
just exactly what the heat load is and how it's going
to be distributed. Was the expanded capacity of the
waste handling building to allow blending driven
principally to get a better handle on the heat load?
MR. RIVERS: Yes, sir. Early on when they
incorporated blending into the proposed action, it was
before they were evaluating the lower temperature
repository operating mode. It was what they, at that
time, called the reference design. It's what's now
referred to as the higher temperature repository
operating mode. It was such that the Department could
optimize and control the heat loads of the various
waste packages to better spread out and know where the
particular heat was going to be so that it could match
with the analysis.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. It seems to me
this is something you should have a very good handle
on. And if you have the ability to blend and
redistribute spent fuel, I would think that you'd be
in an excellent position to really essentially
eliminate the uncertainty as far as the heat load is
MR. RIVERS: I believe the uncertainty
with regard -- one of the things the Science and
Engineering report -- actually, let me take that back.
I believe it's the TSPA report that came out in
December, TSPA SR Rev 0. One of the things it does,
it identifies five parameters that are what they claim
are the most important. And most important deals with
uncertainty and sensitivity, and inventory, by no
stretch, is one of those.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes.
MR. RIVERS: So that's not one of the
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: One of the things that
-- non-technical issues that this Committee has
developed a keen interest in, inspired partly by our
visits to Las Vegas and the conduct of public
meetings, is the process by which you interact with
the public. And, of course, you have these three
public hearings planned in May and June. Are you
doing anything different from the traditional approach
to conducting such hearings in terms of how these
meetings are going to be operated?
MS. SUMMERSON: We're following the
precedent that was set with the draft and which on the
whole received a fairly good response. We have added
a poster session so that the hearing will open with a
poster session on a number of technical issues. We
will have technical people there to discuss things and
answer questions for the public. We will then have an
hour of a question -- an off-the-record question and
answer period when people can get further information
that they want. We will then take a break and then
begin the formal transcripted part of the hearing. It
has a presentation and then the hearing officer
receiving comments with a court reporter.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: And how much time have
you allowed for the on-the-record part of the hearing?
MS. SUMMERSON: The agenda says seven to
nine. It's played by ear depending on how many people
come. We are limiting people, I believe, to five --
MR. RIVERS: Initially, their initial
limit is three minutes.
MS. SUMMERSON: Three minutes?
MR. RIVERS: But they have the opportunity
to come back and continue to speak.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Do you have any sense
of what the response is going to be? Do they have to
notify you in advance?
MS. SUMMERSON: We ask them to sign up in
advance, but people can sign up at the door also.
Judging by the draft, Amargosa Valley had, I think,
about 20, 25 people.
MR. RIVERS: I don't recall what the
MS. SUMMERSON: Las Vegas had a couple
hundred; Pahrump had quite a few. We do stay until
everybody is done. And I know at the draft, the
people at Las Vegas started at 11 in the morning and
were there until one o'clock the next morning. And if
that's what it takes, you know -- the reason we put a
time limit on, though, is because a lot of people will
have made babysitting arrangements or something and
can't sit there all night. So we want everyone to
have a chance to say something, and then they can
either, if they're not done, turn in the comment in
writing or wait until we've been through the whole
roster once and then come back up and speak again,
just to try to be as fair as possible.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Did you get any
feedback from the draft hearing that would suggest
reformatting the process or changing it? You said
that it went quite successfully, but I was just
curious if you got any strong suggestions about
changes and whether or not any of those changes were
MS. SUMMERSON: I don't know directly,
because I was not involved in the EIS work at all at
the time. I would expect, given the controversy of
this issue, that we had responses that ranged the
entire gamut, from "This was wonderful" to "This was
horrible," with every possible suggestion, from "Have
more" to "Don't have any." Just because when
something is very emotional, you get a very wide
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes.
MR. RIVERS: I think one of the issues
also in Las Vegas was that the meeting room that was
MS. SUMMERSON: Yes.
MR. RIVERS: -- eventually used was too
small. The meeting room that's going to be used in
Las Vegas this year on June 5 is at the Sun Coast
Casino; it's a big ball room. They should not have
any problems with seating and availability.
I think one other thing was that there
were a lot of complaints on --
MS. SUMMERSON: Parking costs.
MR. RIVERS: Excuse me?
MS. SUMMERSON: At some of the meetings,
there were complaints about the cost of parking, and
that was another issue. The casinos you can park for
MR. RIVERS: Okay. Another issue was that
there was a lot of complaints that they weren't
advertised enough. I know that within all the
newspapers in the surrounding areas there are being
large ads put in two or three times, including the day
-- I believe the day before the hearing --
MS. SUMMERSON: The day before or the
morning of, depending on --
MR. RIVERS: I believe there's radio
announcements also at the Spanish-speaking newspapers
and radio. So they're trying to increase that as much
as they can.
MS. SUMMERSON: We did have comments that
it would have been helpful to have flyers on bulletin
boards in the communities, at community centers and
grocery stores and that kind of thing. And we're
trying, for instance, to distribute the information to
the affected unit of local government representatives
and ask them to try to distribute it. It's a little
hard for us, if you're not a member of the community,
to know where it is that people look in that community
on a bulletin board to see something. But we are
trying to be responsive to that concern and
communicate that way.
MR. JONES: Jane, there was one other
thing. I'm Jay Jones.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: You need to get
to a microphone, Jay.
MR. JONES: I'm Jay Jones. I work for the
Department of Energy. I worked on the draft. When we
had the draft hearings, we often had two separate
sessions, in the late morning/early afternoon and in
the evening, and a lot of those, with both hearings,
some of them weren't very well attended. So I think
in the interest of resources we decided to just have
one session for the hearings for the supplement. So
that will be like, I guess, an early evening session,
from six to nine for each one. So, again, I think
that's kind of a resource decision, just having a lot
of people and not having -- from the Department and
not having a lot of participants at the public
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thank you.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Milt? Ray?
MEMBER WYMER: Yes, I have one question.
On one of your view graphs, you talked about a revised
emplacement drift layout that you made a change in
order to get a better orientation of the drifts with
respect to the stability of the Mountain.
MR. RIVERS: Yes, sir.
MEMBER WYMER: Say more about that, if you
would. Does that mean that the pictures we've been
seeing all along are not -- are no longer valid. They
are things that are going to be skewed?
MR. RIVERS: Needless to say, it's still
in the horizontal plane, but they're skewed in the
MEMBER WYMER: Well, I didn't think you
did it vertically.
MR. RIVERS: And, in fact, from an EIS
standpoint, I don't have a lot of information
particularly about the reasons and the -- if you'll
look -- do you have a copy of the supplement?
MEMBER WYMER: Yes, we have one.
MR. RIVERS: If you'll look on page 2-20.
MEMBER WYMER: Of the supplement.
MR. RIVERS: I've got a copy --
MEMBER WYMER: Assume we don't have it.
MR. RIVERS: Okay. Well, what we have in
here -- because one of our, I guess, purposes and one
of our goals in the supplement was to present the
information from the draft for comparison purposes so
the public would understand what has changed. And if
you'll look at the top two and the bottom left
pictures in this figure, they represent the layouts
for the high, low, and intermediate thermal loads.
And if you'll see, in general, how everything is
angled from bottom left to top right, and if you'll
look at the S&ER flexible design, as laid out in the
bottom right, it's angled slightly more to the left as
opposed to up to the right. So that's essentially the
difference in the layout.
MEMBER WYMER: Okay. And the reasons
MR. RIVERS: From what I understand, it's
take advantage of some additional stability in the way
the rock is formed in the repository horizon. I
really don't know much more about it than that. I can
get back -- I can try to find some more information if
you'd be interested.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: That is
correct. It has to do with state of stress in the
rock and the rock mass characteristics.
MEMBER WYMER: But you don't have any --
can you give me an idea of the order of magnitude of
improvement to doing it or is just something you can
MR. RIVERS: No, sir. No, sir, I don't.
MEMBER WYMER: Okay, thanks.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Questions from
staff? Any questions? Bret?
MR. LESLIE: Bret Leslie, NRC staff. I
had one question on your backup slide, which is slide
16. I saw that you were going to have the suit
stability evaluation report. The only other thing
that I didn't see in there going into the site
recommendation documentation concept is the report
that we've heard may be coming out sometime mid-summer
that attempts to address the NWTRB concerns. How does
that play into the decisionmaking process or is that
one of the acronyms I can't decipher?
MS. SUMMERSON: That report I believe it's
acronym now is SSPA, but in all honesty, I'm having
trouble keeping up with our acronyms as the targets
are moved. If you go to backup slide 15, that report
is basically a level lower in the documentation
pyramid so that it would be on the level of the TSPA
and the system description documents and that type of
thing. And so not one of the reports that actually
makes up the package that would be considered the
President's basis -- or the Secretary's basis for
recommendation, but it would be the technical material
that is referenced by the SR reports. The purpose of
this pyramid, with its hideous colors, is --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I sort of like them.
MS. SUMMERSON: Well, I find --
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: It's clear that
a man designed that.
MS. SUMMERSON: And in fact you are right.
Dr. Brokeman and I have an ongoing war about this
pyramid. It is to emphasize the layering the we have
here in these documents, because, needless to say, the
Secretary of Energy is not going to read all of this
wealth of technical material, so at different levels.
And the ones in slide 16 are referring to the things
that are required by the act.
MS. ABRAMS: Jane, Charlotte Abrams, NRC
staff. Could you just talk a minute about the
relationship of the Science and Engineering report to
the supplemental draft?
MS. SUMMERSON: The flexible repository
design for which the supplement to the draft EIS is
analyzing impacts is detailed in the Science and
Engineering report. We have 70 references, about?
MR. RIVERS: Probably. It's almost -- its
primary role, as it relates to the supplement to the
draft, is it provides the detailed information about
the current design being considered. And from a
standpoint of timing, if you're going to issue the
Science and Engineering report, then you need to be
able to allow the public to understand the changes in
environmental impacts that result from the changes in
the design. Does that answer your question?
MS. SUMMERSON: In terms of reviewing,
however, Charlotte, the vast majority of the
references that we make to the S&ER report are in
MR. RIVERS: Well, primarily it's in
Chapter 2 of the supplement, and the ones in Chapter
2 of the supplement are the references that are
primarily send you to the basis document for
description of the design. There are a couple
references in Chapter 3 where we report the long-term
performance data, I believe it's in 3.2, and we refer
to the S&ER for the long-term performance data. As
far as results, that's the only place we refer to the
S&ER. Most of the other places we're referring to the
SR for descriptive information.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Jit? No?
Okay. Well, thank you very much, Jane. Thanks for
the update and clarification.
MS. SUMMERSON: Thank you for the
opportunity. If there are any other questions, Joe
and I are going to stick around today, and we'd be
more than happy to either answer things or take notes
and find somebody and get the information back to you.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Great. Thanks
very much. Thank you, too, Joe.
MR. RIVERS: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: We apologize. We're
having a little caucus here to figure out what's right
and what's wrong.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: We figured out
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: But I think we can go
ahead after all, I'm told, if you're able to do so
right now -- ready right now.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: The item on our
agenda that we're moving to is scheduled for one
o'clock, and we're going to hear about the staff's --
the NRC staff's plans for reviewing the DOE DEIS.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: And it's going to be
given by Melanie Wong.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Right. As soon
as the computer --
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: As soon as she gets her
Powerpoint presentation resolved.
(Whereupon, the foregoing matter went off
the record at 11:19 a.m. and went back on
the record at 1:02 p.m.)
. A-F-T-E-R-N-O-O-N S-E-S-S-I-O-N
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Our meeting will come
to order. George, let's pick up where we left off.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay. I see
they called Theron back from vacation so that we got
the computer working.
And we're going to continue our discussion
of the draft EIS on Yucca Mountain. And Melanie Wong
is going to tell us about the NRC plans to review the
MS. WONG: Hello. My name is Melanie
Wong. I'm from the Environmental and Performance
Assessment Branch. Our Branch reviews performance and
environmental review on NMSS licensing action.
My purpose today is to outline the NRC
staff's plan for reviewing the DOE Yucca Mountain
supplement to the draft environmental impact
statement. I'll take a few minutes to discuss the
background of NRC's role as a commenting agency,
discuss our review plan, our review schedule, what is
the scope of the supplement, and who the assigned
reviewers and point of contacts are.
As you are aware, under the Nuclear Waste
Policy Act, the Secretary of Energy must submit to the
President, when making a site recommendation, a number
of documents, including the comments made by the NRC
on the draft environmental impact statement. Thus,
any NRC comments on the supplement would accompany any
DOE site recommendation. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act
also provides that NRC shall adopt DOE final
environmental impact statement to the extent
In reviewing the supplement, the staff
will use the guidance prepared by the NRC for
reviewing DOE's draft environmental impact statement.
The NRC staff has previously briefed the Committee on
the guidance in June 1999. A completeness and an
evaluative review will be performed on the supplement.
The completeness component determines whether the full
range of impacts have been considered. The evaluative
components includes an evaluation supporting data,
data gathering method, and analysis method, confirming
that data and analysis support the conclusions.
As Jane has discussed before lunch, the
supplement focuses on the design enhancements, such as
the repository design, the operating modes. It does
not discuss the transportation of spent nuclear fuel
or high level waste or the no-action alternative.
Staff from the NRC and the Center for Nuclear Waste
Regulatory Analysis, with expertise in environment
review and performance assessment, hydrology, geology,
geochemistry, waste package and engineering design
have been assigned to review the document. The NRC
staff have also reviewed the draft environmental
impact statement and are from the High Level Waste
Branch and the Environmental Performance Assessment
A schedule has been developed for
reviewing the supplement within the 45-day review
period. The supplement was received on May 4. On-
site representative of office will attend the DOE
public meetings and report back to the staff. After
drafting the comments on May 28, the staff will brief
various management, getting concurrence and refining
any comments for DOE. We would appreciate it if you
could please share any comments with us by the end of
the month. These documents will be documented in a
letter signed by the NMSS Office Director before the
close of the comment period, June 25.
Please feel free to contact Mike Lee Matt
Blevins of the Environmental Performance Assessment
Branch if you have any questions. With that, I'll
conclude my presentation. Do you have any questions?
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Thank you,
Melanie. Let's see, how long have you had this
document now? All of ten days?
MS. WONG: May 4 we received it, yes.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: So all of the
questions we'll ask you will be totally unfair.
MS. WONG: Thank you for your
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: I guess -- so
you've given us an outline of, sort of, your
programmatic responsibilities and how you're going to
do this. We heard from DOE this morning that they
really didn't -- DOE did not see any really
significant changes from the draft EIS itself. In
your very first cursory overview, do you see any major
changes from the draft EIS that you think deserves
particular scrutiny on your part?
MS. WONG: They have addressed
environmental impacts in the 13 resources areas, but
we're still evaluating the extent of that review.
We're still evaluating the impacts there.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay.
MEMBER LEVENSON: I've got one that's sort
of a philosophical question. On your backup slide, on
Category 2, does the NRC have responsibility for water
use and land use?
MS. WONG: Well, we are evaluating from an
environmental point of view.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: It's part of
NEPA. So it's a NEPA --
MEMBER LEVENSON: Yes. I know it's a
requirement, but the question is does the NRC has a
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: No. NRC has --
what I understand is the NRC's role is they have an
obligation to make comments and to be, what -- to sign
on, if you will, to the final environmental impact
statement to as great an extent as possible. So given
that they have to do that, it is, I think, appropriate
for them to --
MEMBER LEVENSON: You mean much broader
than a normal charter?
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Yes.
MEMBER WYMER: It might have been more
palatable if it had said, "evaluation of water use and
evaluation of land use," since water use is somewhat
MS. ABRAMS: What we were -- Charlotte
Abrams -- what we were just trying to do there is --
this is a backup slide -- is just to point out the
comments we had on the previous draft and just to show
you the comment areas that might relate to the
information in the supplemental draft. And we just
abbreviated water use.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I heard that George
Hornberger's summary of what the NRC's role is here.
Would you give me your interpretation of -- not that
I don't have complete confidence.
MS. ABRAMS: Well, he did a good job. In
fact, he can become part of the environmental review
Well, as Melanie laid out early on, the
NRC's role in this, which is a little different than
in most NEPA situations, because we're to adopt DOE's
EIS to the extent practicable. So we wouldn't be
completing our own EIS for this action. Normally, for
any significant federal action, we would have to
complete an environmental assessment or an
environmental impact statement. And environmental
assessment if there are no significant impacts;
environmental impact statement, which goes further if
there are some significant environmental impacts
associated with the action. Does that help?
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes. Yes, that does.
MEMBER LEVENSON: John, the reason I asked
the question, and it's not just idle curiosity, if in
fact it is part of NRC's jurisdiction, then it becomes
part of the issues that this Committee needs to look
at. If it's outside that, we don't. So that's what
I was -- the reason I'm asking is to understand the
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Well, my
recollection is, again, within the EIS context. When
we commented on the draft EIS, we didn't feel
constrained at all. In fact, we commented on some
things about transportation, which normally do not
fall under our purview anyway. So we're rarely
bashful about what is or isn't proper for us to do.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Staff have any
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I think it's
appropriate for us to go beyond, but we need to go at
least as far as.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: As far as, yes.
Does staff have any -- any questions from staff?
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I have one more
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Oh, go ahead,
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: I think one more
question. I notice your draft comments come before
the public meetings. If you hear something during the
public meetings that causes you to have second
thoughts or what have you, will that impact your
MS. WONG: Yes. We would revise our
comments and reconsider the issue at hand.
MS. ABRAMS: Just because the draft
comment date is the 28th, it doesn't mean we're not
going to be revising up till June 25.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thank you.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: I think Jim
asked about our timing. My recollection is that you
wanted our comments, if we have any, by the end of
MS. WONG: Yes. That would be good, thank
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: The process kind of
stands in the way of our doing that, simply because we
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Unless you want
to stay tomorrow, John.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Yes.
MS. ABRAMS: I guess I would restate that
also. If there are any concerns that you think the
staff should look at in more depth, please alert us to
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Thank you.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Okay. I think
that does it. Thank you very much, Monica. Thank
MS. WONG: Thank you.
VICE CHAIRMAN HORNBERGER: Let's see. I
think I turn it back to John Garrick now, don't I?
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: Andy, is there anything
-- do you want to walk us through this so we can
address the question of EDO response to ACNW report,
et cetera, et cetera.
MR. CAMPBELL: Okay.
CHAIRMAN GARRICK: You can highlight it
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes. I'm just going to
cover the first two pages. The rest is the
attachments. Also, for completeness sake, I included
all the view graphs that were presented at the
briefing of Dana Powers and Ken Rogers as well as view
graphs that Ashook Adhani presented, although I didn't
sit through that part of the briefing. It was pretty
short because the rest was pretty long.
But let me walk through the first page
which has the specifics I've excerpted out of the
response, their specific response. And the dark
bullets are the response areas, and the light bullets
are kind of actions that they say they're going to do.
So the first one, of course, observation of excellent
scientific, timely, high quality work. They noted
that. They thanked us, basically. And then they said
that NMSS and RES will keep the Committee appraised of
staff efforts, which means in the future they'll be
giving us more of these types of presentations.
In the next bullet, the staff agrees with
(Whereupon, at 1:15 p.m., the Committee
Meeting was concluded.)
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, October 02, 2017