Nuclear Legislative Working Group (NLWG) Meeting June 2019 | Carlsbad, NM


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

NLWG members on tour at WIPP facility.The NLWG held its spring meeting on June 4-5, 2019, in Carlsbad, N.M. The meeting offered a chance for legislators to connect with working group members from other states, discuss federal and state nuclear energy and waste management policy, and meet with federal officials from the U.S. Department of Energy. Members also had the opportunity to tour the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the permanent repository for the DOE’s defense-related transuranic (TRU) waste. After the tour, members participated in the following sessions:

WIPP Overview

This session offered a general overview of the history, mission and operations of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in operations, though the site was originally authorized by Congress 20 years prior. The site is limited to the disposal of transuranic (TRU) waste from the nuclear weapons complex.

  • Bobby St. John, deputy communications manager, Nuclear Waste Partnership | Presentation

WIPP Transportation and Future Plans

This session looked at WIPP’s systems and operations for shipping TRU waste from across the country to arrive safely at the facility. It explored the process and program’s history, along with receiving an update on shipping schedules for the coming year. In addition, this session explored some of the major projects currently underway at WIPP. The facility has recently undertaken several capital projects for improvements, including upgrading the ventilation system and utility shaft, while the potential expansion of the repository and its mission has also been discussed.

  • James Mason, institutional affairs manager, Carlsbad Field Office, U.S. Department of Energy | Presentation

The Role of Interim Storage for Spent Nuclear Fuel

This session looked at the larger picture for dealing with the spent nuclear fuel that’s currently stored at nuclear power plants across the country. In the absence of a clear path forward for a permanent repository, some stakeholders have started to consider whether an interim solution would be a responsible step in the near-term. Two of the interim storage facilities that have been proposed are within 60 miles of Carlsbad. The group heard from representatives of both proposed projects, along with an expert on used fuel and long-term disposition from the Nuclear Energy Institute.

  • Rod McCullum, senior director, Used Fuel and Decommissioning, Nuclear Energy Institute | Presentation 
  • Myron Kaczmarsky, senior director, Holtec Government Services | Presentation
  • Jeff Isakson¸ CEO, Interim Storage Partners | Presentation

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

NLWG members on WIPP tour.The NLWG began the day with a tour of URENCO’s Uranium Enrichment Facility. URENCO operates the only active uranium enrichment facility in the United States, producing nuclear fuel for the nation’s nuclear plants. The facility began operations in 2010 and employs more than 230 people. The tour began with a presentation about the facility and the industry, followed by a walking tour of the plant. The next tour stop was at the WCS facility (Andrews, Texas) Waste Control Specialists.

The WCS Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Services facility in Andrews sits just across state lines from URENCO’s facility in Eunice, N.M. The WCS site is a co-located treatment, storage and disposal facility that is currently licensed to deal with Class A, B and C radioactive waste, along with other hazardous materials. It is also the proposed site for the WCS interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.

The group returned to the hotel and took part in a reception hosted by the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce at the Pecos River Village Conference Center (711 Muscatel Ave., Carlsbad).

Meeting adjourned.