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NRC Postpones California Waste Confidence Meetings in Federal Shutdown

Oct. 4, 2013—In the wake of the federal government shutdown, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has postponed two public meetings on the long-term storage of used nuclear fuel that were scheduled for the week of Oct. 6.

The NRC had scheduled 12 public meetings on the so-called “waste confidence” rule for cities around the country throughout October and early November. The first of these were held Oct. 1 and 3 in Rockville, Md., and Denver. The postponed meetings were scheduled for San Luis Obispo and Carlsbad, both in California.

“Waste confidence” describes the generic finding that used nuclear fuel can be safely stored for decades beyond the licensed operating life of a reactor without significant environmental effects and that a repository for the final disposal of used fuel will be available when needed.

Since the partial government shutdown Oct. 1, the agency has operated on unspent funds from previous appropriations, which will run out around Oct. 9. “Should it be necessary at the time, the agency will begin scaled-down operations focusing on immediate public safety and security issues, such as nuclear power plant inspections,” a news release said.

The waste confidence meetings were among several public meetings the NRC has postponed. The agency said it will decide week by week on others.

A blog post said the agency will soon begin notifying employees of whether they will be furloughed. Most of those kept on the job will be resident inspectors at nuclear energy facilities and operations officers at headquarters. In the event of an emergency, additional employees will be called back to work, the agency said.

The agency said that while its website will continue to appear online, it is uncertain whether it will continue to be updated through the shutdown and referred those seeking more information to the NRC blog.