NCSL's High-Level Waste Working Group Meeting

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May 25-27, 2010
Chicago, Illinois

Meeting Purpose

This meeting brought together members of NCSL’s High-Level Waste Working Group (HLWWG) to share information about the interim storage, transportation, and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.  The HLWWG consists of legislators from states that either house radioactive waste or are located along potential transportation routes for high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel. The group works with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), other appropriate federal agencies, state and local jurisdictions, and interested parties to accomplish its mission. NCSL’s HLWWG met in conjunction with the National Transportation Stakeholders Forum, an effort to bring transparency, openness, and accountability to DOE's offsite transportation activities through collaboration with state and tribal governments.



  • Representative John Heaton, New Mexico


  • Senator Eli Bebout, WY
  • Representative Tom Campbell, WA
  • Senator Abbie Cornett, NE
  • Representative Harry C. Geisinger, GA
  • Representative John A. Heaton, NM
  • Assemblymember William Horne, NV
  • Delegate Sally Young Jameson, MD
  • Representative Forrest Knox, KS
  • Representative Kate Knuth, MN
  • Senator John Jay Lee, NV
  • Representative John R. McCoy, WA
  • Senator Al Melvin, AZ
  • Representative Warde Nichols, AZ
  • Senator Deborah Simpson, ME
  • Representative James Soletski, WI
NCSL Staff

  • Melissa Savage, Program Director
  • Scott Hendrick, Policy Associate

Meeting Summary

Tuesday, May 25, 2010: NCSL High-Level Waste Working Group Meeting

Update on NCSL Radioactive Waste Program

Melissa Savage, NCSL

Discussion addressed the mission and history of NCSL’s High-Level Waste Working Group and provided an overview of NCSL’s Federal Facilities Cleanup Policy and Radioactive Waste Management Policy, each of which are up for renewal in 2010.

Legislator Roundtable Discussion

Moderator: Representative John Heaton, New Mexico

Legislators discussed nuclear related news, events and legislation from their states. Updates heard from Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Update

Earl Easton, Nuclear Regulatory Commission

This session provided an update on NRC activities such as plans to harmonize regulatory requirements for the back end of the fuel cycle, the changing paradigm for Spent Fuel Storage and Transportation, and upcoming opportunities for States’ involvement.

Nuclear Waste 101

Marshall Cohen and Everett Redmond, Nuclear Energy Institute

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Redmond provided background and general information on nuclear waste, including nuclear waste storage and transportation.

WIPP Transportation Update

Bill Mackie, U.S. Department of Energy, Carlsbad Field Office

Mr. Mackie provided an update on shipments of waste to WIPP facility and WIPP’s storage capacity.

Action Items

Representative John Heaton, New Mexico and Melissa Savage, NCSL

Representative Heaton and Ms. Savage moderated a roundtable discussion on HLWWG action items to be presented at the National Transportation Stakeholders Forum.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010: Joint Meeting with the National Transportation Stakeholders Forum

Opening Plenary: Transportation Across the DOE Complex

Panelists: Frank Marcinowski, DOE-EM; Dr. David Moody, DOE Carlsbad Field Office; Jon Neuhoff, New Brunswick Laboratory, DOE Office of Science; Ahmad Al-Daouk, National Nuclear Security Administration; Jim Wade, DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, Packaging and Transportation; and Ken Niles, Oregon Department of Energy (moderating)

A panel consisting of DOE leadership and program managers addressed the status of transportation activities within their programs and the impact of funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Expectations for the National Transportation Stakeholders Forum

Panelists: Steve O’Connor, DOE/EM Office of Packaging and Transportation; John Sattler, DOE Consolidated Business Center; Tim Runyon, Illinois Emergency Management Agency; Willie Preacher, Shoshone-Bannock Tribal DOE Program; Representative John Heaton, New Mexico; and Ray English, DOE Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (moderating)

DOE and its state and tribal stakeholders explained their expectations and how they hope to benefit from the NTSF. Panelists discussed possible topics to cover at future meetings or webinars, as well as ideas for topics that might warrant the formation of ad hoc working groups to resolve.

Federal Agency Partners

Panelists: Earl Easton, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Mark Abkowitz, U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board; Mike Conroy, Radioactive Materials/Office of Hazardous Materials, PHMSA/DOT; John Woulfe, International Association of Fire Chiefs: Hazmat Fusion Center; and William Spurgeon, DOE/EM Office of Packaging and Transportation (moderating)

Representatives of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, and other federal partners provided NTSF participants with information about specific programs and initiatives that have the potential to affect state and tribal engagement in radioactive materials transportation.

Communicating with States and Tribes about Shipments

Panelists: Neil S. Weber, Department of Environmental and Cultural Preservation, Pueblo of San Ildefonso; Representative Tom Holbrook, Illinois; Lieutenant Bill Reese, Idaho State Police; Jim Wade, DOE Office of Nuclear Energy; Ella McNeil, DOE/EM Office of Packaging and Transportation; and Melanie Rasmusson, Iowa Department of Public Health (moderating)

Panelists spoke about the kind of shipment-related information tribal and state officials need, how they use that information, the challenges DOE programs might face in providing what the states and tribes request, and possible ways to overcome those challenges. The session identified specific actions the states, tribes, and DOE can take to improve the way they communicate about shipments.

Enhancements to the DOE Transportation Emergency Preparedness Program (TEPP)

Tom Clawson, Technical Resources Group, Inc.

As TEPP has matured, significant changes have been made to the program. Mr. Clawson addressed the enhancements that have been made based on user feedback, partnerships, and reviews, and discussed other changes on the horizon.

TRANSCOM: Current and Future

Steven Casey, DOE TRANSCOM Contracting Officer Representative

Mr. Casey provided an overview of the current projects and activities, highlights of recent program accomplishments, and a glimpse of the next decade of shipment tracking and monitoring.

Thursday, May 27, 2010: Tour of Argonne National Laboratory

Tour participants visited the DOE Region 5 Radiological Assistance Program facility, observed decontamination and decommissioning, and saw Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source and Blue Gene/P supercomputer.