The Waste Confidence Decision and Rule stemmed from the 1979 court decision reported at Minnesota v. NRC, 602 F.2d 412 (D.C. Cir 1979). In that court decision, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was directed to determine whether a disposal solution for SNF would be available by the time the operating license for a commercial nuclear power plant expires. If not, NRC was required to determine whether SNF could be safely stored after a plant’s license expires.
NRC first published its Waste Confidence Decision and Rule in August 1984 in the Federal Register at 49 Fed. Reg. 34,658 (Aug. 31, 1984). NRC reviewed and re-issued its Waste Confidence Decision and Rule in September 1990, and published its findings at 55 Fed. Reg. 38,474 (Sept. 18, 1990). In December 1999, NRC again reviewed its Waste Confidence Decision and Rule, and re-affirmed both at 64 Fed. Reg. 68,005 (Dec. 6, 1999). At that time, NRC announced that it would consider re-evaluating its findings when development and regulatory activities for the Yucca Mountain geologic disposal facility were completed or if significant and pertinent unexpected events occurred that raised substantial doubt about the continued validity of the Waste Confidence Decision.
The issue of the Waste Confidence was raised again during the preliminary licensing proceedings for new nuclear reactor license applications in 2006, and in 2007 NRC again decided to re-evaluate its Waste Confidence Decision and Rule. The effort culminated in the issuance of a revised Waste Confidence Decision and Rule in the Federal Register at 75 Fed. Reg. 81,032 and 75 Fed. Reg. 81,037 on December 23, 2010.