ASLB Denies Intervenors’ Requests-for-Hearing and Terminates the Legal Proceedings on the HI-STORE CIS Program

“Because no petitioner has both demonstrated standing and proffered an admissible contention, this proceeding is terminated” reads the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) Memorandum and Order issued May 7 in the licensing process for the Holtec’s HI-STORE CIS facility (NRC’s press release on this matter is attached).  With the hearings hurdle removed, Holtec’s effort to establish the HI-STORE CISF (consolidated interim storage facility) in New Mexico remains on track for licensing in 2020. The license application for the HI-STORE CISF was submitted to the USNRC on March 31, 2017 and was accepted by the Commission in February 2018 (USNRC Docket No. 72-1051).

In accordance with the NRC licensing process, an Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) was established to preside over the HI-STORE CISF licensing process. In the 137-page ASLB decision issued today, the judges denied the admissibility of all contentions filed by several opponents of the proposed facility.  Because the NRC regulations require that there be at least one admissible contention for a hearing to proceed, the Board’s rejection of all petitioners’ contentions extinguished the prospect of any hearing on the HI-STORE CIS program. The NRC Staff’s technical and environmental reviews will continue, which are proceeding smoothly. 

Jay Silberg, Esquire, noted Energy lawyer, celebrates 50 years of legal career this year.

“We thank the diligent efforts by the Holtec, and Pillsbury teams led by the veteran attorney Jay Silberg (pictured) for this splendid outcome. We also thank our ELEA partners (Eddy Lea Energy Alliance) and the local community in New Mexico for their steadfast support and confidence in our technology’s innate safety implicit in this NRC ruling,” stated Joy Russell, Holtec’s SVP, Business Development and Communications.

The licensing of HI-STORE CISF will provide the nation an interim storage solution for the long-standing used nuclear fuel storage problem. The used fuel packaged in all-welded canisters, presently stored in a variety of above-ground storage systems at different nuclear plant sites will be aggregated and stored in terror-resistant, below-ground systems known as HI-STORM UMAX which will provide ready retrievability to ship the canisters to any licensed repository at any time. The HI-STORE CIS can serve as the aging facility for the fuel (which is necessary to cool it down for interment in any repository). The HI-STORE CIS could thus serve a critical missing link in the nation’s back-end high-level-waste management program. The canisters stored in HI-STORM UMAX will be exposed to low humidity and the benign atmosphere of the dry plateau of Southeastern New Mexico meaning they will sustain virtually no reduction in their service life. “From a technical standpoint one cannot conceive of a more ideal, safe and secure interim storage of used fuel than the proposed HI-STORE CIS site,” says Holtec’s VP of Engineering and Licensing, Dr. Stefan Anton. 

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.