Report on Waste Burial Charges: Changes in Decommissioning Waste Disposal Costs at Low-Level Waste Burial Facilities, Final Report (NUREG-1307, Revision 18)
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Manuscript Completed: December 2020
Date Published: January 2021
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory*
P.O. Box 999
Richland, WA 99352
K. Lois, E. Tabakov, NRC Project Managers
Office of Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Pursuant to Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 50.75, “Reporting and Recordkeeping for Decommissioning Planning,” the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires nuclear power reactor licensees to adjust annually, in current year dollars, their estimate of the cost to decommission their plants. The annual updates are part of the process for providing reasonable assurance that adequate funds for decommissioning will be available when needed. This NUREG, which is periodically revised, describes the formula in 10 CFR 50.75(c) that is acceptable to the NRC for determining the minimum decommissioning fund requirements for nuclear power reactor licensees. This formula is based on the estimated cost of decommissioning a reference pressurized-water reactor (PWR) and a reference boiling-water reactor (BWR) in 1986, and is escalated to current year dollars using an adjustment factor provided in 10 CFR 50.75(c)(2). The primary purpose of this report is to provide the technical basis, including references, for the estimated cost of decommissioning the reference PWR and reference BWR, and to develop the escalation factor for the low-level radioactive waste (LLW) burial cost portion of the adjustment factor. Escalation factors for the other portions of the adjustment factor (i.e., labor and energy costs), are also provided in this report.
This 18th revision of NUREG-1307, “Changes in Decommissioning Waste Disposal Costs at Low-Level Waste Burial Facilities,” contains burial cost escalation factors updated to the year 2020 for the reference PWR and for the reference BWR. As presented in Table 2-1, “Values of Bx as a Function of LLW Burial Site and Year,” multiple burial cost escalation factors are provided that reflect various LLW burial scenarios for each reactor type. These were developed because licensees may have the option to ship waste to one or more of the four currently operating LLW disposal facilities in the United States, and the cost of disposal varies among each of the four facilities. In addition, there are various limitations on LLW disposal facility access by reactors, based upon the state in which the reactor is located. The different LLW burial scenarios are described in detail in Section 1.2, “LLW Disposal Cost Scenarios.”
The currently operating LLW disposal facilities are located in 1) Texas, 2) South Carolina, 3) Washington, and 4) Utah. The Texas, South Carolina, and Washington facilities are the host disposal sites for the Texas LLW Disposal Compact (Texas Compact), the Atlantic Interstate LLW Management Compact (Atlantic Compact), and the Northwest Compact on LLW Management (Northwest Compact), respectively (Appendix E provides additional information about LLW compacts), and are referred to in this report as compact-affiliated disposal facilities. The Washington LLW disposal facility also accepts LLW generated in the three member-states of the Rocky Mountain LLW Compact (Rocky Mountain Compact). The fourth site (Utah) is not associated with a specific LLW compact, and so is referred to in this report as a non-compact disposal facility. Nuclear power plant facilities located within the LLW compacts for the compact-affiliated disposal facilities can dispose of their LLW at the affiliated disposal facility or, in some cases, can dispose of a portion of their LLW at the non-compact disposal facility. Nuclear power plants not located within a LLW compact having a compact-affiliated disposal facility can dispose of their LLW at either the Texas or Utah disposal facilities. The Utah site accepts only Class A LLW while the Texas site will accept Class A, B, and C LLW (see Section 1.1 for definitions of these LLW classes). For plants that have no disposal site available within their designated LLW compact, this report assumes that the cost for disposal of Class A LLW is the same as that for the Utah disposal facility, and the cost for disposal of Class B and C LLW is the same as that for the Texas disposal facility, and includes accounting for out-of-compact fees.
In the 2019 decommissioning fund status reporting cycle, in which licensees provided decommissioning trust fund data to the NRC by March 31, 2019, as required by 10 CFR 50.75(f), 74 of the 98 operating reactors in the U.S. applied LLW burial cost escalation factors based on the Table 2-1 scenario in which non-compact affiliated generators used the Utah and Texas disposal sites. In this current revision to NUREG-1307, estimated 2020 disposal costs for this scenario are approximately 0.5 percent lower for the reference PWR and 4.4 percent lower for the reference BWR, compared to 2018 disposal costs. Decreases in disposal costs are due to decreases in disposal fees for the Texas disposal facility.
In the same 2019 NRC reporting cycle, four of the 98 operating plants in the U.S. applied LLW burial cost escalation factors based on the Table 2-1 scenario in which compact affiliated generators used only the Texas disposal site. In this current revision to NUREG-1307, estimated 2020 disposal costs for Texas LLW compact affiliated generators are approximately 5.5 percent lower for the reference PWR and 10.8 percent lower for the reference BWR, compared to 2018 disposal costs. Decreases in disposal costs were due to simplification of the disposal fee structure, including elimination of certain categories of charges for volume and radioactivity and certain categories of surcharges for weight, dose rate, and cask handling. In addition, the curie inventory charge decreased from year 2018.
Also in the 2019 NRC reporting cycle, 13 of the 98 operating plants in the U.S. applied LLW burial cost escalation factors based on the Table 2-1 scenario in which compact affiliated generators used only the South Carolina disposal site, or used a combination of both the South Carolina disposal site and the non-compact disposal facility. (The South Carolina disposal site accepts LLW from facilities located in South Carolina, New Jersey, and Connecticut, all members of the Atlantic Compact.) In this current revision to NUREG-1307, estimated 2020 disposal costs using only the South Carolina disposal site, are approximately 2 percent higher for the reference PWR and 1.5 percent higher for the reference BWR, compared to 2018 disposal costs. The estimated disposal costs using the combination of both the South Carolina disposal site and the non-compact disposal facility are approximately 0.6 percent higher for both the PWR and BWR, compared to 2018 disposal costs. Increases in disposal costs were due to increases in charges for weight, activity (or curie), and irradiated hardware.
Lastly, in the 2019 NRC reporting cycle, one of the 98 operating plants in the U.S. applied a LLW burial cost escalation factor based on the Table 2-1 scenario in which a compact affiliated generator used only the Washington disposal site. The estimated 2020 disposal cost using only the Washington disposal site, which accepts LLW from the 11 member-states of the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Compacts, are approximately 1.54 percent and 2.3 percent higher for the reference PWR and BWR, respectively, compared to 2018 disposal costs. Increases in disposal costs were derived mostly from increases in LLW volume and container charges.
Licensees may use the escalation factors from this NUREG in their cost analyses, or they may generate and report site-specific cost estimates that result in a total cost estimate of no less than the amount estimated by using the 10 CFR 50.75(c) formula and cost escalation factors presented in this NUREG. In the 2019 NRC reporting cycle, six of the 98 operating plants in the U.S. reported cost data using site-specific cost estimates.
Revision 18 to NUREG-1307 assumes that LLW generated from day-to-day plant operations would be disposed of using the licensee’s operating funds, and thus would not rely on decommissioning funds identified in the formula calculation. However, facilities located in states that are members of a LLW compact with no available LLW disposal site may be forced to provide interim storage for this waste (although most LLW could potentially be disposed of at the non-compact disposal facility located in Utah, or at the compact-affiliated disposal facility located in Texas). Accordingly, some of the LLW may ultimately need to be disposed of during decommissioning following interim storage. For those plants operating through extended license terms, this volume can become significant and the disposal cost would not be accounted for in a decommissioning trust fund based on the formula calculation.
The views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of the NRC. NUREG-1307, Revision 18, is not a substitute for NRC regulations. The approaches and methods described in this NUREG are provided for information only. Publication of this report does not necessarily constitute NRC approval or agreement with the information contained herein.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, March 24, 2021