History, Status, and Planning for the Future of the West Valley Site
Presenters: Mr. Paul Bembia, NYSERDA’s Director of the WNYNSC, and Mr. Bryan Bower, DOE’s Director of the WVDP
“West Valley” consists of two sites: The Western New York Nuclear Service Center (WNYNSC) and the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP). The WNYNSC is a 3,338-acre site located 30 miles south of Buffalo, NY owned by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Established in 1961 as the site of a nuclear center, WNYNSC was comprised of a commercial spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility and two waste disposal facilities Nuclear Fuel Services, a private company, built and operated the fuel reprocessing plant and the burial grounds under contract with the State of New York, processing 705 tons of spent nuclear fuel at WNYNSC from 1966 to 1972 under an Atomic Energy Commission (later Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC) license. These spent nuclear fuel reprocessing operations resulted in the generation of 660,000 gallons of high-level radioactive waste, which were stored in two underground storage tanks.
In 1980, Congress passed the WVDP Act, and the creation of the West Valley Demonstration Project, directed DOE to take the lead role in solidifying the liquid high-level radioactive waste remaining in underground tanks and decontaminating and decommissioning the facilities at WNYNSC used in solidifying the waste. NYSERDA maintained responsibility for the WNYNSC property. The act guided activities at the site through the early 2000’s, and continues today.
More recently, DOE and NYSERDA were joint lead agencies for the preparation of the 2010 Environmental Impact Statement for Decommissioning and/or Long-Term Stewardship at the West Valley Demonstration Project and Western New York Nuclear Service Center (2010 FEIS). This “Phase 1 Decisionmaking” EIS involved near-term decommissioning and removal actions where there is agency consensus and undertakes characterization work and studies that could facilitate future decisionmaking for the remaining facilities or areas. Phase 1 activities have been ongoing for the last 10 years. Significant site work, as well as site data collection and modeling, have continued. Finally, a “Phase 2 decisionmaking” Supplemental EIS is presently under development, to allow for continued decommissioning, using information generated during the Phase 1 process. Demolition of facilities has been ongoing and will continue with removal of the Main Plant commencing in late-2020.
Please join the BAPG for an interactive discussion of the history, status, future, and incredible challenges faced when decommissioning a 50+ year old nuclear facility.