STATE OF NEVADA COMMENTS ON THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S DRAFT WIPP TRANSPORTATION PLAN

 

Readers' Note: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been working collaboratively with the Western Governors' Association (WGA) and other regional groups in developing policies and procedures for assuring the safe transportation of transuranic waste from DOE facilities around the country to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. As a result of this collaboration, DOE is developing a transportation plan that will govern the shipment of TRU waste nationwide. In January, 1998, DOE released a draft of the plan for public comment. In response, the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects submitted the following comments. Related information can be found in the Agency's earlier Comments on DOE's National TRU Waste Management Plan, which provides the policy framework for the Transportation Plan.

 

February 25, 1995

 

General Comment

The State of Nevada has been only peripherally involved in the development of plans, protocols, etc. for WIPP shipments. This has been due to the fact that funding for our State’s involvement in WIPP activities has been minimal. DOE and WGA have understandably placed a higher priority on funding those states that will experience early shipments of TRU waste to the WIPP facility. While we are generally supportive of the plans, procedures, and protocols contained in the WGA WIPP Transportation Safety Program Implementation Guide, Nevada reserves the right to require changes or different/additional requirements based on experience gained after Nevada agencies have been engaged in the actual planning process for Nevada-specific shipments. Nevada fully expects to be provided the same level of assistance and preparedness as that afforded the initial WIPP shipment states.

 

Specific Comments

(1) Table 1.1 (First Waste Shipment Schedule) on page 2 must be revised to reflect the fact that the shipping corridor for TRU waste shipments from NTS to WIPP cannot be "opened" in September, 1999 and shipments cannot begin in October, 1999. It is not possible for the route identified from NTS through California to be "opened" by 1999 if DOE is to meet its commitment to begin preparing the states of Nevada, California, and Arizona at least 3 years prior to shipment. These states have received no funding or assistance with regard to planning and preparedness for shipments. Nevada and the other states expect to be treated in the same manner and provided the same level of preparation as the initial WIPP shipment states. Nevada will not support and will actively oppose shipments beginning in 1999 given the current state of preparedness and lack of resources for training, emergency response, etc. Even if funds and assistance were provided immediately, Nevada will require 3 years for adequate preparations.

(2) The proposed shipping route from NTS to WIPP on page 14 reflects the use of US 95, NV 127, CA 373, I-15, and I-40 to move TRU waste from NTS to Carlsbad. As we understand it, this route has not yet been finally accepted by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The plan should contain a footnote explaining that the NTS route is a proposed route only and could be subject to change based on any subsequent objections from California. The implications here are significant, since if the proposed route cannot be used for any reason, a new route would have to be selected and agreed upon by all parties.

It should also be noted that the NTS route can only be used for non-highway route controlled quantity (non-HRCQ) shipments. The plan needs to specify that no HRCQ shipments of TRU waste will be made from NTS.

(3) The Plan should also reflect the DOE/Carlsbad (i.e. Ralph Smith) commitment, made at the meeting with California and Nevada representatives in Sacramento last year, that TRU shipments from NTS would be concentrated so as to be completed within a six month period during a specific time of the year, after which the route would be "closed". It is our understanding that California’s tentative willingness to go along with the proposed route is based, in part, on DOE’s commitment to the six month shipping schedule and time of year constraints, among other things.

The plan must be revised to reflect, at a minimum, (1) a beginning shipping date for NTS shipments that reflects the 3 year preparation time required, (2) a prohibition on HRCQ shipments from NTS, and (3) a shipping schedule for TRU waste from NTS that reflects the Sacramento meeting commitments to move waste within a six month period and only during a specified time of the year.

(4) The section on "Emergency Management" (3.1.5) on page 23 states that "... states and tribes are responsible for developing emergency response plans, organizing, training, and deploying emergency first responders, and negotiating interstate agreements ... ." The plan must also specify that it is DOE’s responsibility to provide the necessary funds and assistance to states and tribes for carrying out such activities, and that shipments cannot begin unless such funding and assistance have been made available 3 years prior to the onset of shipments.

(5) The section on "Shipping Schedule" (3.1.6) on page 23 should state that, in order for a shipping corridor to be "opened," DOE must have provided funding and assistance for training and other preparedness activities at least 3 years in advance of the first shipment and that the states and/or tribes along the corridor must have consented to the use of the shipping route.