October 31, 2000
Mr. William Brach, Director
Spent Fuel Project Office
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Mr. Brach:
I am writing in regard to Reexamination of Spent Fuel Shipment Risk Estimates (NUREG/CR-6672), prepared by Sandia National Laboratories and released by the Spent Fuel Project Office (SFPO) in conjunction with the Commission's current Waste Package Performance Study (PPS).
Sandia prepared this report without the benefit of stakeholder participation. SFPO refused requests by Nevada and other stakeholders to review the draft version of this report. During public meetings in Bethesda, MD (November 1999), Henderson, NV (December, 1999), and Las Vegas, NV (August, 2000), and in subsequent written comments, stakeholders documented procedural and technical deficiencies in the risk reexamination report and urged SFPO to withdraw it and reissue it for public review and comment. It now appears that SFPO has decided to proceed with the Package Performance Study without revising or reissuing NUREG/CR-6672.
Our preliminary comments on NUREG/CR-6672 identified four major areas of concern regarding spent nuclear fuel transportation risks: (1) underestimation of accident probability; (2) underestimation of accident consequences; (3) lack of applicability to Yucca Mountain transportation risks and impacts; and (4) overconfidence in quantitative risk estimates.
We have continued our technical evaluation and reviewed the comments submitted by Clark County, Nevada. We fully concur with the critique prepared for Clark County by Radioactive Waste Management Associates. Our own review of NUREG/CR-6672 continues, and we plan to publish a detailed critique of NUREG/CR-6672 prior to the next NRC PPS public meeting.
In the meantime, the State of Nevada believes that the Spent Fuel Project Office's handling of this matter threatens to negate recent progress in establishing stakeholder confidence in the Commission's Waste Package Performance Study. Nevada urges the Commission to withdraw NUREG/CR-6672 and reissue it as a draft report for public review and comment for a period of at least 90 days. Until such action is completed, Nevada believes NRC staff and license applicants should be prohibited from utilizing NUREG/CR-6672 in any transportation risk analyses required under the National Environmental Policy Act or under the Commission's regulations.
Robert R. Loux
Richard Meserve, Chairman, NRC
Robert Lewis, NRC SFPO