Environmental Impact Statement for the Holtec International's License Application for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility for Spent Nuclear Fuel in Lea County, New Mexico (NUREG-2237, Supplement 1)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: October 2022
Date Published: October 2022

Prepared by:
U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
Washington, DC 20555-0001

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Carlsbad Field Office
Carlsbad, New Mexico

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This report supplements NUREG-2237, “Environmental Impact Statement for the Holtec International’s License Application Request for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High Level Waste,” dated July 2022. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Carlsbad Field Office, prepared the environmental impact statement (EIS) as part of its environmental review of the Holtec International’s (Holtec) license application to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and Greater-Than-Class C waste, along with a small quantity of mixed oxide fuel. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) participated in the environmental review as a cooperating agency by providing special expertise for water resources in and around the proposed site. The NMED’s participation in the environmental review does not imply NMED concurrence in the final EIS or its conclusions. All impact determinations made in the EIS should not be attributed to the NMED, but only the NRC and BLM. The proposed CISF would be located in southeast New Mexico at a site located approximately halfway between the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs, New Mexico. The EIS includes the NRC staff’s evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed action and the No-Action alternative. The proposed action is the issuance of an NRC license authorizing the initial phase (Phase 1) of the project to store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium (MTUs) [9,568 short tons] in 500 canisters for a license period of 40 years. Holtec plans to subsequently request amendments to the license to store an additional 500 canisters for each of 19 expansion phases of the proposed CISF (a total of 20 phases), to be completed over the course of 20 years, and to expand the proposed facility to eventually store up to 10,000 canisters of SNF.

Holtec’s expansion of the proposed project (i.e., Phases 2-20) is not part of the proposed action currently pending before the agency. However, as a matter of discretion, the NRC staff considered these expansion phases in its description of the affected environment and impact determinations in the EIS, where appropriate, when the environmental impacts of the potential future expansion could be determined to conduct a bounded analysis for the proposed CISF project. For the bounding analysis, the NRC staff assumes the storage of up to 10,000 canisters of SNF. The final EIS documents the NRC’s analysis, which considered and weighed the impacts of constructing and operating the proposed Holtec CISF.

The NRC issued NUREG-2237 in draft form in March 2020 and accepted comments until September 22, 2020, for a total 180-day comment period. Appendix D to the final EIS identifies and responds to the comments received on the draft EIS. However, two comment letters that were submitted to the NRC during the comment period on the draft EIS were inadvertently not included in Appendix D to the final EIS. The comment letters were discovered after the publication of the final EIS in July 2022. This Supplement to NUREG-2237 considers and responds to these two comment letters. This Supplement documents the NRC’s evaluation of each of these comment letters that were not included in the final EIS. While the comments do not provide new and significant information regarding the project or its environmental impacts, the NRC staff is of the opinion that, in view of the circumstances described above, and in accordance with 10 CFR 51.92(c), preparation of a supplement to the final EIS will further the purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA).

On the basis of the information documented in the final EIS (NUREG-2237) and this Supplement, the NRC staff finds that the comment letters not included in the final EIS did not provide information that would change the analysis in the final EIS or the NRC staff’s recommendation to the Commission to issue a license to Holtec authorizing the initial phase of the project, subject to the determinations in the staff’s safety review of the application.

The NRC staff bases this recommendation on the following:

  • the environmental report submitted by Holtec

  • the NRC staff’s consultation with Federal, State, Tribal, and local government agencies

  • the NRC staff’s independent environmental review

  • the NRC staff’s consideration of public comments received during the scoping process

  • the NRC staff’s consideration of public comments on the draft EIS, including those responded to in this Supplement.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, October 31, 2022