United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: Final Report, Volume 1 (NUREG-2157)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: August 2014
Date Published:
September 2014

Waste Confidence Directorate
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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This Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel (GEIS) generically determines the environmental impacts of continued storage, including those impacts identified in the remand by the Court of Appeals in the New York v. NRC decision, and provides a regulatory basis for a revision to 10 CFR 51.23 that addresses the environmental impacts of continued storage for use in future NRC environmental reviews. In this context, "the environmental impacts of continued storage" means those impacts that could occur as a result of the storage of spent nuclear fuel at at-reactor and away-from-reactor sites after a reactor's licensed life for operation and until a permanent repository becomes available. The GEIS evaluates potential environmental impacts to a broad range of resources. Cumulative impacts are also analyzed.

Because the timing of repository availability is uncertain, the GEIS analyzes potential environmental impacts over three possible timeframes: a short-term timeframe, which includes 60 years of continued storage after the end of a reactor's licensed life for operation; an additional 100-year timeframe (60 years plus 100 years) to address the potential for delay in repository availability; and a third, indefinite timeframe to address the possibility that a repository never becomes available. All potential impacts in each resource area are analyzed for each continued storage timeframe.

The GEIS contains several appendices that discuss specific topics of particular interest, including the technical feasibility of continued storage and repository availability as well as the two technical issues involved in the remand of New York v. NRC—spent fuel pool leaks and spent fuel pool fires. Finally the GEIS contains NRC's responses to public comments on the draft GEIS and proposed Rule and in doing so provides additional technical background on, and explanation of, the GEIS's analyses and conclusions.

The GEIS also discusses the NRC's Federal action—the adoption of a revised Rule, 10 CFR 51.23, to codify (i.e., adopt into regulation) the analysis in the GEIS of the environmental impacts of continued storage of spent fuel—and the options the NRC could take under the no-action alternative.

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