The current Waste Confidence Decision was issued in December 2010 and the Decision serves as the basis for the current Waste Confidence Rule found at 10 C.F.R. § 51.23(a). The Decision and Rule were published by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the Federal Register at 75 Fed. Reg. 81,032 and 75 Fed. Reg. 81,037 on December 23, 2010. The Waste Confidence Decision consists of the following 5 safety and environmental findings about the potential impacts of storing commercial SNF after the operating license for a commercial nuclear power plant expires.
THERE IS REASONABLE ASSURANCE THAT …
… safe disposal of SNF in a mined geologic repository is technically feasible
… sufficient mined geologic repository capacity will be available for SNF disposal
… SNF will be managed in a safe manner until repository capacity is available
… SNF is safe & has no significant environmental impact for 60 years post-operation
… Safe and independent SNF storage will be available if capacity is needed
These findings apply for SNF generated in any commercial nuclear reactor. These findings also apply to any type of commercial SNF storage, i.e., on-site wet pools, on-site dry casks, or off-site dry casks.
The 60-year time frame referred to in the fourth finding is measured from the date that the nuclear power plant stops operating – which includes both the 40-year initial license and the 20-year renewed license. As a result, SNF can be stored at a nuclear power plant for a total period of time of up to 120 years, which would be decades after the nuclear power plant has been shutdown and decommissioned.
In September of 2011, the State of New York and several other petitioners filed a lawsuit challenging the 2010 Waste Confidence Rule and its related impacts. The case is currently under consideration before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.