USNRC Conducts Extensive Public Consultation Concerning Holtec’s Environmental Report on HI-STORE CISF – America’s sole Consolidated Interim Storage Facility under Regulatory Review

Sign marking the entrance to the ELEA property; the future site of the HI-STORE CISF

Holtec International has launched the licensing of an autonomous consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in southeastern New Mexico. The facility, named HI-STORE CISF, will provide a significant step on the path to resolve the nation’s long standing used nuclear fuel storage issue by providing a safe, secure, temporary, retrievable, and centralized facility for storage of used nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste. The HI-STORE CISF seeks to fulfill the goal to aggregate the used nuclear fuel canisters presently scattered across the country at dozens of independent used fuel storage installations into one suitable location, in preparation for future relocation to a final repository. The license application for the HI-STORE CISF was submitted to the USNRC on March 31, 2017 and accepted by the USNRC in February 2018 (USNRC Docket No. 72-1051). ELEA, a coalition of the cities of Hobbs and Carlsbad and the counties of Eddy and Lea, is the official host of the HI-STORE CISF.

The HI-STORE CISF utilizes Holtec’s proven HI-STORM UMAX technology (NRC Docket No. 72-1040), a subterranean dry storage system, to store loaded multi-purpose canisters (MPCs) in impact-hardened below-ground cavities. The facility is being developed by Holtec with strong support from local counties and cities in Southeastern New Mexico. We note the endorsement of the long-term residents of New Mexico who, with two national Laboratories, three Air Force Bases, one Army Base, the West Isolation Plant and URENCO on their soil, can justifiably claim their state to be the most nuclear knowledgeable and patriotic in the Union. The nuclear savvy New Mexico recognizes the unobtrusive (below-grade) HI-STORE CISF and the industrial diversification that it would bring to the region as its compelling benefits.

Initially licensed by the USNRC in 2009, the below-ground dry storage technology used in the HI-STORE CISF facility surpasses all above-ground storage systems with respect to dose blockage, safety, and security of the stored material. Even the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sierra Club have come out publicly in support of the use of below-ground storage in the HI-STORM UMAX. The HI-STORE CISF ongoing license application review is heavily focused on safety and environmental considerations, the latter of which have been the center of NRC’s recent engagements with the public.

Cutaway view of the HI-STORM UMAX showing the retrievable canister in each cavity. The individuals depicted next to some systems provide an indication of the low profile of the HI-STORE CISF allowing security personnel unobstructed views across the facility.

Starting with a well-participated webinar on April 25, the NRC held “Open House Scoping Meetings” in Roswell, Hobbs, and Carlsbad, NM where the Agency found unequivocal support from local elected officials, community leaders, members of the public, and university students. Joining the few local dissenters were activists from Texas and California whose opposition lacked clarity and specificity. Displaying utmost poise in the face of interruptions from activists, the NRC officials listened to all speakers to help define the scope of their ongoing environmental review.

Discussion of transport of the MPCs was evidently an important topic for some Indian Tribe community leaders from the northern part of the State during a final meeting in Carlsbad, NM. This topic was not discussed during the meetings because nuclear fuel transport (governed by 10 CFR Part 71) is not a part of the ongoing HI-STORE CISF application (governed by 10 CFR Part 72). We urge anyone concerned with transportation to contact Holtec’s Project Director, Capt. Ed Mayer, USNR. Capt. Mayer will provide authoritative information on Holtec’s transportation plans and the HI-STAR 190 transport cask. “A fact-based discussion concerning Holtec’s transportation technology and our Nation’s experience in incident free transportation of spent nuclear fuel affirms that the HI-STORE CIS Facility is an executable solution to solve the Nation’s issue with storage of spent nuclear fuel,” says Capt. Mayer.

Stake marking the future railroad that will be used to transport heavily shielded, robust transportation casks to the HI-STORE CISF in Southeastern New Mexico
Media Files: HH 33.06

Written by Amy Grant

Amy Grant is a graphic designer and web developer. She is the founder of the Southwark Historical Society, a volunteer based group that studies the Southwark Historical District located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.