Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. DINGELL. The Chair recognizes Mr. Corcoran.

Mr. CORCORAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to go back a second to the concern I have about the incompatibility from a technical standpoint, not necessarily from a policy standpoint, of an area like West Valley having the research and demonstration project as called for in this bill, and an awayfrom-reactor storage responsibility for the spent nuclear fuel in the event that at some point in the future such a program is authorized.

The impression I got from the comments of the New York State Energy Director Larocca, was, from a technical standpoint, from a substantive standpoint, it would be impossible to have these two projects to which I referred going on at the same time, and, as a matter of fact, I think what he suggested was that we would have to complete the R. & D. project first; we would have to solidify the high-liquid waste; we would have to remove the high-liquid waste which has now been transferred into another form, I assume a solidified form, to some other location, hopefully the permanent repository which we all want to be available soon. And that there would have to be decontamination of the materials, equipment, in connection with the research and development project, and that then and only then from a technical substantive, scientific standpoint, as well as all the other considerations of health and safety, that we could enter into an arrangement whereby anywhere in the West Valley site area we could develop, probably through the expansion of the existing storage pool, by reracking, or whatever means, the capacity of that site to serve as one of the three or four AFR sites in the country.

Now, is that a misunderstanding on my part?

Dr. BATEMAN. I would like to elaborate on this a little bit, but the short answer, in my view, is there is no technical reason why the storage pool at West Valley cannot be used as an AFR unless we are using it for storing the solidified waste. In that case, there would be a physical limitation. There wouldn't be room in the pool for any additional material of any kind. Otherwise, I don't see any technical reason.

Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Excuse me. I would must add one additional comment, and that is during the R. & D. phase, where people are working with the high-level waste-you understand this is in the same building there could be work interferences; there could be difficulties during that process, but not after the process.

Mr. CORCORAN. That is my concern.

Mr. CUNNINGHAM. No, I think the way you expressed it, it was a question of can it be used before the waste is removed from the facility, a question of can it be used now, and I think the answer to that is technically it can be used now; it can be used after the solidification project is completed; and, maybe, it could be used while the solidification process is proceeding. However, it would create a work interference, and may not be a permissible way to proceed.

Mr. CORCORAN. On that point, are you then saying that during the initial phase of this project, it would be incompatible for the West Valley site to also be an AFR facility?

Mr. CUNNINGHAM. I am saying it may be incompatible, and in any event, would be difficult, and we would prefer not to do that. Mr. CORCORAN. My second question, then, is on that aspect of the problem, assuming passage of this bill this year, and assuming relatively good circumstances, about what year would you expect the West Valley site to be in a position, in view of those developments, to assume the responsibility of being a regional AFR?

Dr. BATEMAN. Let me take that. I have worked extensively, as you know, sir, on the AFR part, as well as the West Valley part. Our consideration of West Valley for an AFR has always been in terms of an early capability to meet AFR storage needs in the commercial power reactors, and by early, we have always used the year 1983. So we are looking to capacity that could come online, assuming we had the legislative authority to acquire it, by 1983. Now, once you start pushing the acquisition of capacity beyond the 1983 to 1985 period, for example, taking 1985, then a whole set of other options really need to be considered in terms of how we acquire such storage space; among them, the creation of new awayfrom-reactor storage facilities.

Our interest in West Valley, as in Morris and Barnwell, has always been in the context of early availability of spent fuel storage capacity.

So the period post-1983 to 1985 is really not one that I think creates the kind of issue that you are concerned about. If we are talking about acquiring additional capacity beyond that period, we will be looking at new facilities as well as existing facilities, so there would be many options to examine in addition to the three that I have mentioned.

Mr. CORCORAN. But I think what you are telling me is with regard to the early period within which your agency would like to have the capacity of the three candidates, you would not want to have any of this kind of work interference, and my understanding of this legislation is that it is not something that is going to take place in the next decade; it is something that is going to take place relatively soon, and we would be, by the passing of this legislation, authorizing your agency to begin a demonstration project very soon, which would be a period of time simultaneous with the period of time; if you could get the authority on the AFR program, you would want to use this particular site as an interim away-fromreactor storage site for the spent nuclear fuel.

I don't see from what you have testified how you can do both. If there is any work interference, if there is any problem, wouldn't the passage of this bill prejudice the possibility of the West Valley site between now and 1983 becoming a regional AFR facility?

Dr. BATEMAN. Not necessarily, sir, because we are not going to have any solidified waste as a result of this project probably until the mideighties, and if we have legislative authority between now and 1983 which enables us to acquire existing storage space, that decision will have been made prior to the existence of any solidified waste or storage in the pool.

Mr. CORCORAN. So you say we can do both, because the impact of this legislation will come after AFR if your recommendations are achieved?

Dr. BATEMAN. In terms of the use of that pool.

Mr. DINGELL. The time of the gentleman has expired. The Chair recognizes counsel.

Mr. WARD. If I can follow up on that, how is what you have just said consistent with what you say on page 16 of your statement? You talk about the interim storage; the project would require the use of the NRC licensed burial ground, and other uses of these facilities would therefore be precluded for the duration of the solidification project.

Dr. BATEMAN. That line gave me a lot of trouble, too. The exchange between Mr. Corcoran and myself, I think, is a realistic assessment of the options on both the AFR side as well as on the storage of solidified waste side, how they relate through time and the possibility of one versus the other, or perhaps even both.

Mr. WARD. Is there anything else in here that you don't really mean?

Dr. BATEMAN. No, we mean that, too, but I am trying to elaborate on what that requirement means.

Mr. WARD. I would like to deal with the bill. You were supporting the bill as it was reported by the Committee on Science and Technology and as it passed the Senate. Is that correct?

Dr. BATEMAN. Yes, sir.

Mr. WARD. Now, under your environmental impact statement one of the possibilities under consideration is the immobilization of the waste and shipment offsite to be put into a final form.

Are you making a distinction between immobilization and solidification?

Dr. BATEMAN. Solidification, I think, is just a more generic term. Solidification means putting it in some solid form, either glass, or some other matrix for removal.

Mr. WARD. So you would be merely putting it into glass for removal, and at another place you would put it into its final form? Dr. BATEMAN. No. Our intent would be, although we don't have to select this at this moment, to put it into a form suitable for geologic disposal.

Mr. WARD. But the point is that section's 2 of the bill says that you shall carry out a high-level liquid nuclear waste management demonstration at West Valley, and that you shall carry it out by vitrifying the high-level liquid waste located at the center or by employing the most effective technology for solidification available. Under the terms of this bill, all solidification activities must occur at the West Valley site.

Dr. BATEMAN. That's right.

Mr. WARD. And there is nothing in the environmental impact statement that would leave open the option regarding offsite shipment to be put into a final form.

Dr. BATEMAN. The environmental impact statement evaluates all reasonable alternatives, including solidification onsite for shipment offsite.

Mr. WARD. All right. So this act is consistent with the scope of the environmental impact statement and does not preclude any options, including the immobilization of waste for shipment offsite to be put into a final form someplace else?

Dr. BATEMAN. I think that is correct, but I would just footnote that by saying that the specific form of the waste chosen is an option that has not yet been determined.

Mr. WARD. But the solidification of the waste only can occur under the terms of this bill at the site?

Dr. BATEMAN. That is my understanding of it; yes.

Mr. WARD. And you are in agreement with that?

Dr. BATEMAN. Yes.

Mr. WARD. So when you are talking about immobilizing the waste for shipping it offsite, in your environmental impact statement, you are talking about still solidifying it at the site before it is shipped to any place?

Dr. BATEMAN. That is my understanding of it; yes.

Mr. WARD. You are all in agreement on that?

Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Yes, there is no question we have no plans to ship liquid waste.

Mr. WARD. There was an amendment added at the committee and added on the Senate side that subjects any cooperative agreement to the Federal Grants and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977. Is the department currently administering any programs under this act?

Dr. BATEMAN. I don't know, but I would be happy to look into that for you for the record.

Mr. WARD. What is your interpretation of the effect of this amendment?

Dr. BATEMAN. This is Jacob Vreeland, from our Office of General Counsel.

Mr. VREELAND. Basically the amendment requires us to act under the Federal Cooperative and Grants Act. As a practical matter, because of other language in that bill which says that we shall not take title to real property, to property at the site, I don't think it has any effect on how we would operate under this particular project. The Federal Grants and Cooperative Act really is a procedural-type piece of legislation which defines the type of activity you are taking and states the form of the agreement you shall use. For a cooperative agreement the act states that it shall not be used if a major purpose of the relationship is the acquisition by the Federal Government of title to the property. It does not preclude it, but it defines it.

Mr. WARD. Or if it were a secondary purpose or incidental purpose, you could acquire title?

sir.

Mr. VREELAND. You could acquire title if it were incidental; yes,

Mr. WARD. What is your interpretation of section 2(b)(3)(D), which authorizes the Secretary to conduct other activities at the project as determined to be appropriate by the Secretary to protect public health and safety and to be in the national interest regarding the safe management of nuclear waste in the United States? What would you be authorized to do under that?

Dr. BATEMAN. We have, in previous correspondence, I think certainly with Mr. Lundine, who asked the same question, answered, and I am sorry I don't have a copy of the letter, although I would like to insert it in the record.

Mr. DINGELL. Without objection, it will be inserted in the record. [The following document was received for the record:]

[blocks in formation]

Department of Energy
Washington, D.C. 20585

June 19, 1980

Honorable Stanley X. Lundine

House of Representatives

Washington, M. 2515

Bear Fr. Luodine:

This is in response to your request for the Department's views regarding
S.2443, as amended.

Attached is a letter to Senator McClure describing the Administration's support for the West Valley legislation and our understanding of the major impacts of the KcClure amendment. In general, we do not believe that the amendment significantly changes the major objectives of the original legislation and we continue to strongly support its enactment. With regard to your question regarding Section 2.3.d. of the Senate passed bill, it is our opinion that the "other activities" referred to to that section are those directly related to carrying out the demonstration project to solidify the high level liquid wasts. Thus, the language in this section does not change the scope of DDE activities permitted at West Valley from that originally proposed.

The Department continues to support prompt action by the Congress on this legislation. Please let me know if there is anything further we can do.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Dr. BATEMAN. Our interpretation is that the other activities referred to in that section are those directly connected with the conduct of the solidification of the project, and, for example, would neither authorize nor preclude the use of the facility as an AFR. It was an issue raised directly to us on several occasions. We don't believe this legislation provides us any more authority than we now have with respect to the use of this facility, except for purposes of carrying out the specific project authorized.

Mr. DINGELL. If counsel would yield, I detect that it is not covered with sufficient specificity in the legislation, and I am curious. Ought we not define clearly not only those things which are involved here in the legislation, but also those things which are not

« PreviousContinue »