Nuclear Legislative Working Group | Idaho Falls, Idaho


The Nuclear Legislative Working Group's spring meeting was June 15-17 in Falls, Idaho.

The meeting offered a chance 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 (DOE).  The meeting included tours of the Idaho National Laboratory's advanced test reactor, materials and fuels complex, and transuranic waste treatment facility. The working group also participated in several discussions on the transport of spent nuclear fuel, state actions to support nuclear power, and the DOE's consent-based siting initiative.

Nuclear stacks with solar panels in view.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Idaho National Laboratory Meeting and Tour

Welcome and Introductions

  • Delegate Sally Jameson, Maryland (Co-Chair)
  • Representative John Ragan, Tennessee (Co-Chair)
  • Kristy Hartman, NCSL

Impact of Nuclear Plant Closures

Nearly 100 commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S generate almost 20 percent on the nation’s electricity, but changes in energy technology, fuel prices and government regulations have begun to alter the nuclear landscape. The current dynamics have led to early shutdowns, with many nuclear plants struggling to stay profitable. This session will explore current energy policies and how they apply to nuclear generation as well as the impact that reactor closures may have on the future of nuclear power in the U.S. 

  • Matt Crozat, senior director of Business Policy, Nuclear Energy Institute | Presentation
  • Bill Murray, managing director of Public Policy, Dominion | Presentation

Update on WIPP and EM Program Snapshot

New Mexico and DOE recently finalized $74 million in settlement agreements over the series of accidents which shut down the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIP) in February 2014. DOE has announced that WIPP will reopen by the end of this year, and may begin to receive shipments of diluted plutonium from the Savannah River Site’s plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) facility by as early as 2023. This session discussed the status of ongoing work and plans for WIPP.

  • Frank Marcinowski, acting associate principal deputy assistant secretary, Office of Environmental Management, U.S. Department of Energy | No Presentation

Site Visit: Idaho National Laboratory (included a break for lunch)

The Idaho National Lab complex consists of nearly 900 square miles and houses some of the most innovative research facilities for nuclear power and radioactive waste. INL and NCSL worked to provide an informative tour which included a visit to INL’s advanced test reactor and waste treatment project.

The tour included visits to the:

  • AMWTP (Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project)
  • Advanced Test Reactor
  • Materials and Fuels Complex
  • Hot Fuel Examination Facility
  • Tribal Cultural Resource Program at INL

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Discussion on Spent Fuel Research Quantities Status at INL

Earlier this year, Idaho’s Attorney General denied a second shipment of spent fuel that was to be shipped to the Idaho National Laboratory. The Attorney General sites the violation of a 1995 agreement to process or remove certain liquid waste from the state. This session discussed the current status and issues surrounding the delivery of spent nuclear fuel to the lab.

  • Mark Peters, director, Idaho National Laboratory | No Presentation

DOE Consent-Based Siting Discussion

DOE is hosting a series of eight public meetings to kickstart discussion with communities and stakeholders on the best path forward for developing a consent-based siting process for long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste. These meetings began in late March in Chicago, and will conclude in Minneapolis in late July. Our speakers discussed this process and the potential for consent-based siting in solving the commercial waste dilemma.

  • Rick Provencher, manager, Idaho Operations Office, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy | No Presentation

NLWG Business Meeting

Site Visit: Idaho National Laboratory

We returned to INL for site visits in the morning, which began with the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, which showcases a unique collaboration between the lab and four universities. The tour also included visits to several simulators.

The tour included visits to the:

  • Center for Advanced Energy Studies
  • Computer Assisted Virtual Environment & Heavy Vehicle Simulator
  • Energy Systems Laboratory
  • Battery Test Center and Biomass Process Demonstration Unit
  • Human Systems Simulation Laboratory

Friday, June 17, 2016

Status of Advanced Reactors

A number of companies—with support from the federal government and private investment—are working to commercialize small modular reactors as well as advanced reactor designs. These include innovative fuels and alternative coolants such as molten salt, high temperature gas or liquid metal to generate electricity. This session provided an update on the current designs as well as the potential benefits of these technologies and the challenges to reach commercial deployment.

  • Phillip Finck, senior scientific advisor, Idaho National Laboratory | Presentation
  • Charles Marcinkiewicz, director of commercial processes, NuScale | Presentation
  • Doug Hunter, chief executive officer, UAMPS | Presentation

Cooperation Among Federal, State and Tribal Partners

This session examined model approaches and lessons learned for the U.S. Department of Energy, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to work together to plan shipments of radioactive waste, cleanup and other site activities at the Idaho National Laboratory.

  • Brandt Petrasek, director of tribal programs, Office of Environmental Management, U.S. Department of Energy | No Presentation
  • John Tippets, director, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality | No Presentation
  • Talia Martin, Tribal/DOE Program, Shoshone Bannock Tribes | No Presentation

Overview of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes Activities at INL

This session provided an overview of the cultural preservation efforts of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes as well as the process for the protection of cultural resources at the INL site.

  • Larae Bill, Cultural Resources Technician, Shoshone Bannock Tribes | Presentation

NLWG Final Wrap Up and Adjournment