« PrécédentContinuer »
Senator JOHNSTON. Who is that?
Mr. LAWRENCE. Until the White House clears the name, sir, I am not at liberty to say. (Laughter.]
But I certainly hope it comes soon, sir.
Mr. LAWRENCE. Yes, sir; during the past year, 70 contracts with 56 organizations have been signed to provide revenues for the disposal activities and monitored retrievable storage activities of the Department. The revenues collected as of the end of January have totaled $218.9 million. It is the objective of the Department and of the program to maintain the program within the funding which will be provided by the 1 mill per kilowatt-hour as specified in the act, but we will be reporting to the Congress in the summer with an annual report that is required to determine the adequacy of that fee.
One of the problems we have, Senator, is that with deferrals and cancellations of reactor projects, our revenue projections do change with time. Between last year and this year, the combined revenue projections through the 1987 time period have actually gone down $450 million. So this will be a continuing problem for us, but we hope to be able to manage around that.
POTENTIAL REPOSITORY SITES With regard to our repository program, we have identified potentially acceptable sites for our first repository in six States, nine total sites. We have notified 17 States we are conducting studies for a possible second repository in those States.
The siting activities at all of those mine sites are continuing. We are analyzing collected data to provide sufficient information for us to make the nomination and recommendation to the President by January 1, 1985, of three sites for detailed site characterization.
One of the activities which we have conducted over the past year, which has taken a significant amount of time and effort has been the development of generic siting guidelines for repositories. These are currently with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for concurrence; and once that occurs—and we are hopeful that will occur by the end of April, early May—then we will be able to issue draft environmental assessments leading ultimately to the nomination and recommendation of sites.
MONITORED RETRIEVABLE STORAGE Sir, I know you have a great interest and this committee has a great interest in the monitored retrievable storage program. During the past year, we have utilized the industrial experts on the concepts which we were considering for the MRS to develop detailed reports on those concepts, enabling us to make a concept selection. We also used independent reviewers comprised of industry, utility, and scientific community experts to review our decision.
A decision was reached in January of this year that we will go with the sealed storage cask concept as a preferred concept and drywell storage as an alternate concept for the MRS proposal. That proposal is on schedule, sir, and we will be submitting it to the Congress by June 1, 1985.
Senator JOHNSTON. The sealed storage cask, that is right at ground level, isn't it?
Mr. LAWRENCE. Yes, sir; it sits on the ground. As of right now, the concept we have is made of concrete, but in the selection we specified that the advances currently being made not only in the United States but around the world in metal casks, particularly metal casks suitable for transport, be looked at. Because as that technology is developed in this country and other countries, it may provide a very suitable and more economic and efficient system for monitored retrievable storage.
Senator JOHNSTON. And drywell?
Mr. LAWRENCE. That is emplacement into the surface with a tube or a casing, 14 to 16 feet long. Then the waste or the spent fuel is canistered and put down a sleeve into the surface.
Senator JOHNSTON. That is just, again, right at the surface.
The proposal we will submit to Congress in June 1985 will include detailed designs, cost estimates, construction schedules, engineering plans, and specifications, and will contain a deployment plan with a program for siting, development, construction, and operation of an MRS system, should it be required.
Finally, in the area of spent fuel storage, as you know, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act specified interim spent fuel storage was the primary responsibility of utilities. We have sought and found utilities which we would enter into cooperative demonstrations with for dry storage and rod consolidation. Those utilities are VEPCO, Carolina Power & Light, and Northeast Utilities.
In addition, we are working with the TVA and the Nuclear Fuel Services Co. to develop further technology for dry storage and rod consolidation, and with Nuclear Fuel Services on the development and demonstration of a transportable dry storage cask.
Although the act does provide for emergency Federal storage of spent fuel, based upon our discussions with the utilities, and the hopeful successful demonstration of the storage technologies, it is our belief that Federal storage of spent fuel prior to the 1998 date for Federal acceptance of waste or spent fuel, as required by the act, should not be necessary.
However, in the event it is, we have submitted to the Congress both Federal studies and deployment standards necessary for Federal interim storage, should that be required.
PROGRAM PLAN AND MILESTONES
Finally, sir, we are in the final stages of putting together the formal draft of our mission plan which will lay out our program planning and strategy for carrying out the storage and disposal requirements of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.
We issued a preliminary draft of that plan in December. We received a number of comments on the plan, a number of good comments, which we are trying to factor in. But we are maintaining as our focus in this program the statutory and contractual commitment, which the Federal Government has, to begin accepting either spent fuel or commercial waste for disposal beginning in January 1998.
It is our belief that with the revised mission plan we will be able to lay out a number of scenarios and approaches whereby the public, Congress, and the industry and utilities can have confidence we can meet that date, either by a repository system or, if a repository system cannot be deployed due to some fatal flaw in the technology which we don't anticipate, or the inability to have it licensed by the NRC for permanent disposal, then the monitored retrievable storage plan will be available to meet that date, if authorized by the Congress.
Senator JOHNSTON. Repeat that, please.
Mr. LAWRENCE. If geologic disposal would not be available by 1998, either by some discovery of a flawed geology or technology, or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could not license it for permanent disposal, then we feel it is essential that we have the monitored retrievable storage proposal and the concept and the plan for that ready to deploy and have in place if authorized by Congress no later than January 1998.
Senator JOHNSTON. You are talking about having that plan ready by 1998?
Mr. LAWRENCE. No; the actual facility and capability actually in place no later than that time, sir.
Senator JOHNSTON. How long do you consider the building time for that?
Mr. LAWRENCE. It depends upon the technology, sir. If it is the sealed storage cask, as we currently have as our preferred concept, construction would not take very long. You would have front-end facilities that would be required for the receipt and possible loading of those casks. However, if transportable storage casks are used and deployed for atreactor storage, then even those front-end facilities for an MRS would be minimal. But I don't have an exact schedule. I won't have an exact schedule, sir, until the plan is submitted in June 1985.
Senator JOHNSTON. You are really planning to use MRS as a temporary storage until a repository is opened?
Mr. LAWRENCE. It depends upon the length of time we are looking at, sir. If a repository could be available, if it were on the horizon and you knew it was going to be licensed and just a matter of getting it constructed, it would still be up to congressional approval as to when that would come into place. We do not see MRS as a replacement or alternative away-from-reactor storage. The MRS system and concepts we have
looked at would be used for up to 50 to 100 years or more of storage. But as a practical matter, the NRC would have to license it and the license is renewable on a 40-year basis. At least that is what they are telling us. But we certainly would look at MRS in the longer term and not as a temporary repository. However, in our mission plan we did not make that clear. It did imply that for a very short slippage in the repository you may want to deploy the MRS.
Based upon the comments we received, it was pointed out that that may not be the right interpretation, purpose, role, and scope of the MRS. We are looking to modify that.
TYPE OF STORAGE FACILITY
Senator JOHNSTON. I frankly don't think that this sealed storage is anything like what was intended. It certainly wasn't what I intended by an MRS. It looks like an AFR to me. It doesn't look like a facility. It looks like you take some casks and stick them in the sand out there. There is nothing in the legislative history of this act, which is replete throughout 3 or 4 years there is nothing like that kind of discussion, to just stick these things out in the desert somewhere. It is not a facility really to just stick them in the sand, is it?
Mr. LAWRENCE. Facilities would be required, and actually the Earth itself is part of the facility. It provides the bulk of the facility.
Senator JOHNSTON. You have the cask. You are talking about just sticking it in the sand.
Mr. LAWRENCE. For a cask, that would be placed on pads.
Mr. LAWRENCE. They would be placed on pads, either concrete or asphalt pads, but sitting on the surface. The drywells would be set into the surface.
Senator JOHNSTON. A pad is a facility?
Mr. LAWRENCE. No, sir; but the receiving and handling facilities are facilities.
Senator JOHNSTON. What are they, trucks and cranes?
Senator HUDDLESTON. What are we talking about in terms of size for these particular facilities?
Mr. LAWRENCE. The proposal will contain various sizes, ranging from capacities of 15,000 metric tons up to 70,000 metric tons, which is the limit for repositories as specified in the act.
Senator JOHNSTON. If all you are going to build is essentially a parking lot and some cranes to put these things in place, I don't know why it is taking such a gosh awful long time. I don't know, I think this MRS is a game with this administration to see how you can frustrate the intent of the act. I get mad every time I come to these hearings. It has been from the start a policy to frustrate the intent of the act.
Mr. LAWRENCE. Sir, I can assure you there is no intent to frustrate the intent of the act. We did look at eight concepts in reaching our decision for the MRS. They were casks, either metal or concrete casks, or casks
actually in trenches, the tunnel drywell concept, open and closed cycle vaults, and then tunnel rack vaults. All of those concepts were looked at, with reports and detailed conceptual designs prepared for evaluation.
Senator JOHNSTON. What are you going to construct here? Literally it is a parking lot, isn't it?
Mr. LAWRENCE. Yes, sir. In regards to the sealed storage casks or the drywell, although it will be a very expensive parking lot, it is a rather straightforward technology and technology that has been demonstrated at our Nevada site and at our Idaho site. So one of the selection criterion
Senator JOHNSTON. It doesn't have walls or a roof over it either, does it?
Mr. LAWRENCE. No, sir. The actual cask itself, or the earth in the case of the drywell, provides the protection for long-term monitored retrievable storage.
Senator JOHNSTON. That is the capsule itself. The facility doesn't provide for long-term protection; it is just the capsule.
Mr. LAWRENCE. That is right, sir. But both of these would meet all the NRC requirements for storage and would be licensed on a 40-year renewable basis, which meets the requirements for MRS.
Senator JOHNSTON. Well, we are talking about the facility, not the capsule. We had in mind the capsule which would be placed in a facility and the facility itself would last, not that you would just park them out on the deck somewhere.
All right. It is supposed to be also safely stored. It is safely stored if you keep everybody away from it.
Mr. LAWRENCE. No, it is safely stored. It would meet all the NRC facility licensing requirements; so it certainly is very safe and inherently safe. Both of these are inherently safe concepts.
Two of the primary criteria used in the final selection were the inherent safety of the concepts and the flexibility of the concepts, because one thing we have learned with time is we really can't accurately predict what the waste disposal system or the requirements and needs will actually be 15 years from now. Both of these systems do have the capability to adapt to changing fuel cycle demands and waste disposal demands.
Plus, also in the concepts selection, the independent reviewers and our contractor and departmental reviewers did look at the safety and licensing ability of the concepts we were considering. These concepts came out among the safest and most licensable, contrary to some of the other concepts which were under consideration and which were not determined to have the same licensability at this time.
CASK CONSTRUCTION Senator JOHNSTON. What is the cask made out of?