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E-M:/ Consumers Energy Nuclear Waste Containers

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

Westinghouse wants to manufacture nuclear waste containers
for Consumers Energy at the Palisades Nuclear Plant site without having
a Certificate of Compliance....


Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:44:22 -0500 (EST)
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Subject: Westinghouse Electric Company Issuance of Environmental
X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas

[Federal Register: March 3, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 41)]
[Page 10332-10334]
>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



[Docket 72-1026]

Westinghouse Electric Company Issuance of Environmental 
Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Regarding the Proposed 
Exemption From Requirements of 10 CFR Part 72

    By letter dated October 5, 1998, Westinghouse Electric Company 
(Westinghouse or applicant) requested an exemption, pursuant to 10 CFR 
72.7, from the requirements of 10 CFR 72.234(c). Westinghouse, located 
in San Jose, California, is seeking Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC 
or the Commission) approval to procure materials for and fabricate 
seven W21 canisters, seven W74 canisters, and one W100 transfer cask 
prior to receipt of a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for the Wesflex 
Spent Fuel Management System (Wesflex System). The Wesflex canisters 
and the W100 transfer cask are basic components of the Wesflex System, 
a cask system designed for the dry storage and transportation of spent 
fuel. The Wesflex System is intended for use under the general license 
provisions of Subpart K of 10 CFR Part 72 by Consumers Energy at the 
Palisades Nuclear Plant, located in Covert, Michigan, and at the Big 
Rock Point Nuclear Plant, located in Charlevoix, Michigan. The 
application for the CoC was submitted by Westinghouse to the Commission 
on February 3, 1998, as supplemented.

Environmental Assessment (EA)

Identification of Proposed Action

    Westinghouse is seeking Commission approval to procure materials 
for and fabricate seven W21 canisters, seven

[[Page 10333]]

W74 canisters, and one W100 transfer cask prior to receipt of the CoC. 
The applicant is requesting an exemption from the requirements of 10 
CFR 72.234(c), which states that ``Fabrication of casks under the 
Certificate of Compliance must not start prior to receipt of the 
Certificate of Compliance for the cask model.'' The proposed action 
before the Commission is whether to grant this exemption under 10 CFR 

Need for the Proposed Action

    Westinghouse requested the exemption to 10 CFR 72.234(c) to ensure 
the availability of storage casks so that Consumers Energy can maintain 
full core offload capability at the Palisades Nuclear Plant. Palisades 
will lose full core offload capability after its planned April 2001 
refueling outage. Currently, the Ventilated Storage Cask-24 (VSC-24), 
fabricated by Sierra Nuclear Corporation, is used at Palisades for the 
dry storage of spent fuel. However, the licensee requires another cask 
option because the storage capability of the VSC-24 is limited by its 
burnup and enrichment requirements. Beyond April 2001, a significant 
portion of the remaining and future spent fuel inventory at Palisades 
will not meet the VSC-24 burnup and enrichment limits. Already, there 
are nearly 250 spent fuel assemblies at Palisades that do not qualify 
for storage in the VSC-24. Further, the licensee sees the need to 
replace the VSC-24 because it is not a transportable cask design.
    Westinghouse is also requesting the exemption to ensure the 
availability of dry storage casks at Big Rock Point to support its 
decommissioning schedule. The Big Rock Point decommissioning schedule 
requires that all fuel be loaded into dry storage casks by 2002.
    To maintain full core offload at Palisades and to meet Big Rock 
Point's decommissioning schedule, Consumers Energy anticipates that 
fuel loading of Wesflex Systems would need to begin in 2001 at both 
sites. Thus, at both Palisades and Big Rock Point, the availability of 
the Wesflex System is needed in May 2000 to support training and dry 
runs in anticipation of loading fuel in the following year. To meet 
this schedule, procurement of the W100 transfer cask materials must 
begin promptly and fabrication must begin by mid-1999. Further, 
procurement of the W21 and W74 canister materials must begin by August 
1999 and fabrication must begin by November 1999.
    The Wesflex System CoC application is under consideration by the 
Commission. It is anticipated that, if approved, the CoC would be 
issued in late 2000.
    The proposed procurement and fabrication exemption will not 
authorize use of the Wesflex System to store spent fuel. That will 
occur only when, and if, a CoC is issued. NRC approval of the 
procurement and fabrication exemption request should not be construed 
as an NRC commitment to favorably consider Westinghouse's application 
for a CoC. Westinghouse will bear the risk of all activities conducted 
under the exemption, including the risk that the 14 canisters and 1 
transfer cask that Westinghouse plans to construct may not be usable 
because they may not meet specifications or conditions placed in a CoC 
that NRC may ultimately approve.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The Environmental Assessment for the final rule, ``Storage of Spent 
Nuclear Fuel in NRC-Approved Storage Casks at Nuclear Power Reactor 
Sites'' (55 FR 29181 (1990)), considered the potential environmental 
impacts of casks which are used to store spent fuel under a CoC and 
concluded that there would be no significant environmental impacts. The 
proposed action now under consideration would not permit use of the 
Wesflex System, but only procurement and fabrication. There are no 
radiological environmental impacts from procurement or fabrication 
since the canister and transfer cask material procurement and 
fabrications do not involve radioactive materials. The major non-
radiological environmental impacts involve use of natural resources due 
to fabrication. Each W21 or W74 canister weighs approximately 22 tons 
and is made of steel. Each W100 transfer cask weighs approximately 60 
tons and is mainly made of steel. The amount of steel required for 
these canisters and transfer cask is expected to have very little 
impact on the steel industry. Fabrication would be at a metal 
fabrication facility, not at the reactor site. Fabrication of the 
canisters and transfer cask is insignificant compared to the amount of 
metal fabrication performed annually in the United States. If the 
canisters and transfer cask are not usable, they could be disposed of 
or recycled. The amount of material disposed of is insignificant 
compared to the amount of steel that is disposed of annually in the 
United States. Based upon this information, the procurement of 
materials and fabrication of the canisters and transfer cask will have 
no significant impact on the environment since no radioactive materials 
are involved, and the amount of natural resources used is minimal.

Alternative to the Proposed Action

    Since there is no significant environmental impact associated with 
the proposed action, any alternatives with equal or greater 
environmental impact are not evaluated. The alternative to the proposed 
action would be to deny approval of the exemption and, therefore, not 
allow procurement of materials and fabrication of the canisters and 
transfer cask until a CoC is issued. This alternative would have the 
same, or greater, environmental impact.
    Given that there are no significant differences in environmental 
impacts between the proposed action and the alternative considered and 
that the applicant has a legitimate need to procure materials and 
fabricate prior to certification and is willing to assume the risk that 
any material procured or any canister or transfer cask fabricated may 
not be approved or may require modification, the Commission concludes 
that the preferred alternative is to approve the procurement and 
fabrication request and grant the exemption from the prohibition on 
fabrication prior to receipt of a CoC.

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    An official from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality 
was contacted about the EA for the proposed action and had no comments.

Finding of No Significant Impact

    The environmental impacts of the proposed action have been reviewed 
in accordance with the requirements set forth in 10 CFR Part 51. Based 
upon the foregoing EA, the Commission finds that the proposed action of 
granting an exemption from 10 CFR 72.234(c) so that Westinghouse may 
procure materials for and fabricate seven W21 canisters, seven W74 
canisters, and one W100 transfer cask prior to issuance of a CoC for 
the Wesflex System will not significantly impact the quality of the 
human environment. Accordingly, the Commission has determined not to 
prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed exemption.
    The request for the exemption to 10 CFR 72.234(c) was filed by 
Westinghouse on October 5, 1998, and supplemented by Consumers Energy 
on November 18, 1998. For further details with respect to this action, 
see the application for a CoC for the Wesflex System, dated February 3, 
1998, as supplemented March 4, March 18, August 21, August 27, 
September 2, and September 3, 1998. The exemption request and CoC 
application are

[[Page 10334]]

docketed under 10 CFR Part 72, Docket 72-1026. The exemption request 
and the non-proprietary version of the CoC application are available 
for public inspection at the Commission's Public Document Room, 2120 L 
Street, NW, Washington, DC 20555.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 18th day of February, 1999.
    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
E. William Brach,
Director, Spent Fuel Project Office, Office of Nuclear Material Safety 
and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 99-5199 Filed 3-2-99; 8:45 am]

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  ajs@sagady.com
Environmental Consulting and Database Systems
PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039  
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)

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