From 1966 to1972, under an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) license, Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) reprocessed 640 metric tons of spent fuel at its West Valley, New York, facility, the only commercial spent fuel reprocessing plant in the U.S. The facility shut down in 1972, for modifications to increase its seismic stability and to expand its capacity. In 1976, without restarting the operation, NFS withdrew from the reprocessing business and returned control of the facilities to the site owner, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The reprocessing activities resulted in about 2.3 million liters (600,000 gallons) of liquid high-level waste (HLW) stored below ground in tanks, other radioactive wastes, and residual radioactive contamination. The West Valley site was licensed by AEC, and then the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), until 1981, when the license was suspended to execute the 1980 West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) Act. The WVDP Act outlines the responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), NRC, and NYSERDA at the site, including the NRC’s responsibility to develop decommissioning criteria for the site. The Commission published the final policy statement on decommissioning criteria for the WVDP at the West Valley site after considering comments from interested stakeholders. In that regard, the Commission prescribed the License Termination Rule (LTR) criteria for the WVDP at the West Valley site, reflecting the fact that the applicable decommissioning goal for the entire NRC-licensed site is compliance with the requirements of the LTR. This paper will describe the history of the site, provide an update of the status of the decommissioning of the site and an overview of the technical and policy issues facing Federal and State regulators and other stakeholders as they strive to complete the remediation of the site.

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