NRC renews Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses contract

Source: Southwest Research Institute

The U.S.Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has renewed its contract with Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) for the fifth time to operate the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses (CNWRA®). The five-year contract, valued at almost $76 million, assures continuing technical assistance and research support to NRC activities related to storage, transportation, possible reprocessing and ultimate geological disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes through September 2017. The CNWRA has been located at and operated by SwRI since it was created in 1987.

Established as a federally funded research and development center, the CNWRA provides independent technical assessment to the NRC, the U.S. regulatory agency responsible for evaluating safety and environmental aspects of storage, transportation and disposal of radioactive wastes. In particular, NRC was charged by Congress to evaluate and, if appropriate, license a potential high-level radioactive waste repository.

“For the past 25 years, CNWRA has been a central part of the Commission’s efforts to evaluate engineering, environmental and scientific factors affecting management of radioactive wastes,” said Dr. Wesley C. Patrick, vice president of SwRI’s Geosciences and Engineering Division, which oversees the CNWRA.

As the CNWRA begins its 26th year of operation at SwRI, it continues to actively fulfill its charge to provide the high-quality technical assistance needed by the NRC in meeting its mission. The CNWRA has become recognized as a center of excellence in earth science and engineering. In this capacity, it provides NRC a broad range of technical assistance and research support focused on identifying and resolving nuclear-related safety issues and developing the tools needed to effectively and efficiently review license applications across the nuclear fuel cycle. Additionally, the CNWRA provides assistance in technical and licensing programs related to interim storage of radioactive wastes, uranium recovery, decommissioning of contaminated sites, new and existing fuel-cycle facilities, and nuclear power reactor projects. The CNWRA also supports NRC environmental impact assessments across the nuclear fuel cycle.

Beyond its primary mission of supporting NRC, the CNWRA also has worked on projects with foreign governments and agencies to develop regulatory procedures or evaluate storage or disposal of radioactive material. CNWRA staff members have conducted independent research and peer reviews related to radioactive waste management in Canada, France, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and other foreign governments and agencies.

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