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--> Appendix C Charge to Consultants Note: The following material was sent to the consultants who attended the second information-gathering meeting (see Appendix B). We are pleased that you have agreed to participate as a technical expert in the National Research Council (NRC) project entitled Technical Options for Disposition of Aluminum-Based Spent Nuclear Fuel, which is being undertaken by the NRC's Board on Radioactive Waste Management for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Savannah River Office. This document contains a brief set of instructions to guide your preparation for and participation at our meeting in Augusta, Georgia, on December 2-3, 1997. We will discuss these instructions in more detail at the beginning of the December meeting, but you should feel free to call Kevin Crowley (202-334-3066) if you have any immediate questions or concerns. The objective of the December meeting is to obtain the information needed to develop a National Research Council report that fully addresses the statement of task for this project (the task statement is included in this package). To accomplish this objective, we have invited about a dozen experts to the meeting to provide advice on the technical issues in the task statement. Given the time constraints for this meeting and the overall project (a final report will be issued in March 1998), we have developed the following set of questions to focus the presentations and discussions. You will be assigned a subset of these questions and will be asked to gather the necessary information at the meeting to answer them. Time will be set aside at the meeting for presentations by DOE on the technical issues and for small group discussions so that you can gather the information you need to fully address your questions. We will ask each of you to provide us with a 5-10 page write-up of your answers and other relevant comments before the end of December. We plan to include
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--> these write-ups in the appendix of the final NRC report and to credit you in that report for your participation as a technical expert. Please keep the following two thoughts in mind as you review and answer these questions. First, we ask that you focus your efforts on those aspects of DOE's program that are under review in this project. DOE's aluminum-based spent fuel program includes a variety of activities, including the ingathering of fuel from foreign research reactors, the shipping of domestic research reactor fuel to Savannah River, storage of the foreign and domestic research reactor fuel at Savannah River, preparation or processing to ready the fuel for the repository, loading the processed fuel in a ''road-ready" canister for shipment to the repository, interim storage of the processed fuel until the repository opens, shipment to the repository, and emplacement in the repository. This study will not review all of these activities. As explained in the statement of task, the objective of this project is to review only the processing or preparation options, the resulting waste form properties, the canister as it might be affected by the waste form (the canister qualification for repository conditions is outside the scope of this review), and interim storage plus any incremental effects (e.g., criticality effects) that may occur in the repository due to the addition of the waste form. Second, in addressing the questions you should clearly differentiate between fact and informed opinion and provide references to previous work wherever possible to back up your facts and opinions. We do of course want to have your informed opinions as well as the facts, but we need a clear differentiation to develop an accurate and balanced final report that will pass muster in the very rigorous NRC review process. The list of questions and expert assignments is given below. Please review these as soon as possible and let us know whether we have assigned you the right subset of questions and whether there are other questions we should add to this list. Thank you.
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--> Questions To Experts Criticality What are the significant criticality issues that must be considered during processing, interim storage of the waste form after processing, and shipment of the waste form to a repository? Has DOE adequately addressed these issues in its technology planning? Do any of the waste forms produced by the alternative processing options pose significant internal or external criticality hazards in a repository—from material degradation either in the waste container or in the near field of the repository after the container is breached—relative to commercial spent fuel or vitrified high-level waste? Note: comments on the use of poisons or isotopic dilution are appropriate as are comments on filling the void space in the canister so as to limit the volume of water that could be present in case of canister leakage. Proliferation Has DOE considered the proliferation-diversion issue in its technology selection planning? Will the waste forms resulting from any of the alternative processing options represent a more attractive target for proliferation diversion than spent commercial nuclear fuel? If so, how might such attractiveness be reduced or eliminated? Are there any significant differences among the different waste forms with respect to their potential attractiveness for proliferation diversion? Cost and Schedule Are the cost data provided by DOE reasonably complete and transparent? Are the cost and schedule estimates developed by DOE for the alternative processing options suitable as a basis for comparison and selection of one or more preferred alternatives?
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--> Are the cost and schedule estimates developed by DOE for the alternative processing options suitable for budget planning purposes? Has DOE considered the costs of program delays in its budget development or budget planning for this program? Are the cost and schedule estimates for implementing the alternative processing options consistent with DOE procedures and systems? If not, has DOE identified what changes must be made to achieve its cost and schedule targets? Are the cost and schedule milestones that are laid out in the Research Reactor Task Force Report for selecting and implementing an alternative processing option being met? Corrosion and Metallurgy Are DOE's plans for fuel handling, drying, and interim storage technically credible? Are these process steps adequate to prevent significant fuel corrosion? For each of the processing options evaluated by DOE, are the processing steps used as the basis for assessment and comparison (other than direct co-disposal) technically credible? That is, are they likely to work as described and to produce the products and results assumed? Since the amount of water in the repository is likely to be somewhat limited, would filling the canister void space with aluminum or some other sacrificial material make any difference in long-term corrosion of the waste form? Will any of the waste forms resulting from any of the alternative processing options be likely to increase internal corrosion of a standard repository container compared to spent commercial fuel or vitrified glass logs? That is, are there likely to be interactions between the waste form and the inner container in excess of what would be expected for spent commercial fuel or vitrified glass logs? What is the status of R&D activities at Savannah River on the melt and dilute and co-disposal options? Are the R&D activities appropriately focused and are they likely lead to useful outcomes?
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--> Processing and Remote Handling For each of the processing options evaluated by DOE, are the processing steps used as the basis for assessment and comparison (other than direct co-disposal) technically credible? That is, are they likely to work as described and to produce the products and results assumed? Are there other processing options that should be considered by DOE for disposition of aluminum-based spent fuel? Do the inner container designs appear adequate to contain the waste forms resulting from the various processing options? Are they overdesigned for the intended application? Are DOE's basic material handling plans, pool use, and other facility needs reasonable, and are remote handling technologies available to meet these needs? Are the technical requirements of the various alternative processing options sufficiently well defined so that reasonable judgments can be made about the likelihood of success of implementing them? Are there large differences in likelihood of success of implementing the various processing options? Regulatory Waste Acceptance Has DOE-Savannah River identified the appropriate criteria for aluminum-based spent fuel from the draft waste acceptance criteria document that has been prepared by the Yucca Mountain program? Which of the waste forms is likely to be most acceptable for disposal in a repository relative to commercial spent fuel and vitrified logs? For those waste forms that are unlikely to be acceptable, has DOE considered alternate processing options? Are the waste acceptance criteria that have been identified by DOE suitable for selecting among the alternative processing options? Is DOE-Savannah River making an adequate effort to stay current with changes in waste acceptance criteria?
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