Table: Waste Generated via Relicensing
Marks the Spot: Table: Waste Generated via Relicensing
The 20-year license extension at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant guarantees thousands more metric tons of lethal nuclear waste and prolonged on-site storage.
Source: EWG Action Fund analysis of the DOE Yucca EIS, Appendix A. "Currently on-site" is calculated by taking DOE's figure for actual waste on-site in 1995 and adding the amount of waste DOE reports will be generated by each reactor between 1996 and 2011. "Current license waste generated" is calculated by taking each plant's actual waste on-site in 1995 and adding the following product: the plant's yearly rate of waste generation from 1996 to 2011, as reported by DOE, multiplied by the the number of years the plant will operate past 1995 under its current license. "License extension waste generated" adds "current license waste generated" to the product of waste generated per year and the number of years for which the plant has been, or will be, relicensed.
The Browns Ferry Nuclear Reactor/Dump Site is located on 850 acres ten miles northwest of Decatur, Alabama. The site contains three reactors, two of which are currently operating (DOE U.S. Reactors 2004, DOE U.S. Reactor Finder 2004). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Browns Ferry currently has an estimated 1,454 metric tons of nuclear waste on-site and is generating nuclear waste at a rate of 68 metric tons per year (DOE Yucca EIS Table A-7).
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is currently considering Browns Ferry's request for a new license that would extend the life of all three of the plant's reactors for an extra 20 years. The reactors, which have licenses set to expire in 2013, 2014 and 2016, respectively, could obtain a license to operate until 2033, 2034 and 2036, respectively. If the license is approved, it will be issued on May 5, 2006 (NRC Relicensing 2004).
During the 20-year relicense period, the two currently-operating reactors would generate an additional 1,365 metric tons of nuclear waste combined. The third reactor may generate additional waste if it becomes operational again. Under current law, Yucca Mountain, the nation's designated nuclear waste repository, will not be able to accept any of the 1,365 metric tons (DOE Yucca EIS Table A-7, USCS 2004).
Current and future waste from Browns Ferry would likely have to be transported by truck before it could be loaded onto a rail car and hauled to Yucca Mountain. Rail is the Department of Energy's preferred means of transporting nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain (DOE Rail Decision 2004). Rail is thought to be safer because rail cars can carry heavier casks with thicker protective shielding. It is not clear whether the lighter weight, less secure, truck casks will simply be loaded onto train cars and shipped through Alabama, or whether an attempt will be made to use safer rail casks for transport to Nevada. DOE has also raised the possibility that waste might be transported from Browns Ferry by barge and then loaded onto trains (DOE Yucca EIS, J-76, J-79)
Map of the Browns Ferry Nuclear Reactor/Dump Site
Nuclear waste routes as selected by the Dept. of Energy for its analysis of the proposed nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
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U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC Relicensing 2004). Accessed online October 5, 2004 at http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications.html.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE Yucca EIS Table A-7). 2002. Final Environmental Impact Statement for a Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nevada, Appendix A, Table A-7. February 2002.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE Rail Decision). 2004. Record of Decision on Mode of Transportation and Nevada Rail Corridor for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, NV. 69 F.R. 18557 (Apr. 8, 2004).