Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists (WCS) plan to form a joint venture to license a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for used nuclear fuel at the WCS site in Andrews County, Texas. The joint venture will request that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission resume its review of the CISF licence application WCS originally submitted two years ago.
In a statement yesterday, they said the joint venture combines Orano’s expertise in used nuclear fuel packaging, storage and transportation with WCS’ experience operating a facility serving both the commercial nuclear industry and the US Department of Energy.
Sam Shakir, CEO of Orano USA, said: “The joint venture will provide safety, flexibility and value for used nuclear fuel titleholders and reduce US taxpayer liabilities for ongoing storage, while plans for a permanent federal repository continue. Currently, used nuclear fuel is stored at more than 70 active and decommissioned nuclear reactor facilities in 34 states across the country, awaiting the development of a permanent geologic repository.”
Scott State, CEO of WCS added: “This industry-driven near-term solution will use proven storage technology and procedures to expand the capabilities and operations at the WCS site to include consolidated interim storage of commercial used nuclear fuel.”
WCS says it is the only privately owned and operated facility in the USA that has been licensed to treat, store and dispose of Class A, B and C low-level radioactive waste. It operates two separately licensed disposal facilities for low-level radioactive waste in Andrews, including the Texas Compact Disposal Facility, the only commercial radioactive waste disposal facility in the USA to be licensed within the last 30 years. In April 2016, the company applied to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a licence to construct and operate a CISF at the site.
In June last year, a US court blocked EnergySolutions Inc’s $367 million acquisition of WCS, ruling in favour of an antitrust filing against the merger by the US Department of Justice. The Department had filed suit in November 2016, alleging that the proposed acquisition would combine the two most significant competitors for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste available to commercial customers. After a ten-day trial, the US District Court for the District of Delaware on 21 June ruled in favour of the lawsuit.
Orano USA – formerly Areva Nuclear Materials – is the US subsidiary of Orano, the French nuclear fuel cycle company. Headquartered in Washington, DC, Orano USA is a technology and services provider for decommissioning shutdown nuclear energy facilities, used fuel management, federal site clean-up and closure, and the sale of uranium, conversion, and enrichment services to the US commercial and federal markets. New Areva – which comprises Areva’s nuclear fuel cycle activities that remained after the spin-off and subsequent sale of its reactor business – was renamed Orano in January.