Joint Labor and Environment

July 5, 2022


Penzo [00:00:01] Mr. Ladyman and Mr. Grappe, if you’d like to come up and introduce yourself. 


Ladyman [00:00:20] Representative Jack Ladyman, District 59. 


Grappe [00:00:23] Michael Grappe, Department of Energy and Environment. 


Ladyman [00:00:29] Well, we– it’s been a while since we had a meeting. With the election and everything, we missed one of our meetings. So appreciate you holding this meeting so we can kind of give you an update. I’ve been away from it a while because of election, so I’m not as up to date as Mr. Grappe is on what’s been going on. But we’ve had some meetings that I’ve been brought up to speed on and I think we’re making progress talking to the right people in Washington and– primarily in Washington. So I’ll let Mr. Grappe kind of bring you up on what happened at those meetings. 


Grappe [00:01:13] Thank you, sir. Actually, he’s been a bigger participant than he’s letting on as you’ll see as we go through the schedule. So our last meeting was on January 3, with our update. Since then, on January 13, we responded to some inquiries from the Department of Energy regarding interim storage. On January 18, we did a presentation to the Arkansas Public Service Commission for the recycling program. Argonne National Labs, the Department of Energy, Dr. Bobbitt with the University of Arkansas were participants for that meeting. On January 26, a letter from Representative Jack Ladyman to the Nuclear Energy– the Office of Nuclear Energy at DOE showing a clear support of the education initiative by the University of Arkansas was sent and received. January 31, the University of Arkansas, Dr. Bobbitt sent a letter to the DOE office of Nuclear Energy inviting the DOE team to discuss a reprocessing of used fuel and the details for nuclear education program. On the 1st of February, initial contact with the Heartland Company for transportation information in regards to how to move the nuclear processed fuel from point A to point B. On the 2nd, DOE replied to the invitation by the University of Arkansas and we scheduled a Zoom meeting. On the 1st of March, Representative Jack Ladyman sent a a letter to the Argonne National Lab requesting a Zoom meeting between the Argonne Lab reprocessing team and the Entergy nuclear engineering team with Mr. John Bethel’s help from Entergy. March 4, Representative Jack Ladyman replied to the DOE’s RFI for using a consent based siting process to identify federal interim storage facilities was received by the Department of Energy. See, I told you you’ve been busy, hadn’t you? That’s right. On March 10, we completed our executive summary for distribution to offices like Boozman’s and– whats the other Senator? — Tom Cotton. Lest he not be forgotten. All right. A letter from– on March 14, a letter from Representative Jack Ladyman to Senator John Boozman was supporting the confirmation of Dr. Huff to be the director of the Office of Nuclear Energy. Now, on April 1, we had a Zoom meeting with Argonne National Lab and Entergy nuclear team. On April 5, we had discussions and replied to the federal state senator Ben Albritton concerning the Arkansas reprocessing supply based on Act 1092. We also had a representative from that same state. His staff reached out and had several questions and interest in doing something similar to what we have done here in Arkansas regarding Act 1092. In April and May, we’ve reached out to Admiral James Colwell, Department of Administration for the Office of Naval Reactors and communicated– we had a good communication with him regarding what role, if any, that Department of Defense could play in the Arkansas plan. On May 7, a letter from Arkansas to Dr. Huff congratulating the confirmation and an invitation to Arkansas to discuss the Arkansas plan for recycling. I just want to, as a side note here– we work very hard with several of the staff from the state delegation, as well as from the energy committee in Washington to get Doctor Huff confirmed and hopes that we would have a leader at the DOE that can then start issuing some of the things that need to be issued in order for us to move forward. So we had a whole group of people working on that in addition to Representative Ladyman, and we appreciate that. On May 10, we contacted– we’ve been carrying on conversations with Senator Machin’s staff, committee staff, providing them information about the Arkansas plan as well. And we’ve gotten great feedback from them. And again, that was in May. We’ve had some very good dialog with them since then. And we had a Zoom conference on June 15 with the Office of Nuclear Energy and the Arkansas team. And then June 18 and 19, Arkansas Energy Team has been in constant communication with Senator Manchin’s program in person talking about the Arkansas plan for recycling. So we’ve got a lot of interest. We got a lot of momentum, but we’ve still got a long way to go. On the weekend, I received from Entergy the comments or questions that they had from that meeting that was held on April the 1st. It’s about two pages, and we’re going through that now. And we’re reaching out to Argonne National Lab for additional information in regards to the questions and issues that Entergy has brought up. I’ll be glad to take any questions. 


Ladyman [00:07:50] Let me just add a couple of things and appreciate the detailed report. I didn’t realize we had done that much. But the key things here, I believe, number one, is Dr. Huff, who’s the undersecretary of energy for nuclear energy. And to have the undersecretary come and visit with some members of our team is really important. And when she was confirmed and I read her bio, we talked, we discussed her bio. She is very, very knowledgeable about nuclear and very excited about this idea that we’ve got. So I think that’s really important that we’ve got that open communication, not with her office, but with her. And the other– Entergy. The other thing that was important was the meeting with Entergy to see what their opinion was, where they were on this. And they’ve shown a lot more interest lately than they did in this project in the beginning. And then Senator Boozman and Senator Cotton. I talked to Representative Crawford personally about this. He wants his team to help wherever they can. That’s not– that wasn’t documented. It was just a personal discussion that I had with him. And I know Representative Westerman is very aware of this project and may have talked to some folks back in Washington about it as well, I believe. So these contacts are good. We’ve got to develop a plan, I mean, a written plan that we can actually hand to DOE when we’re requesting funds. I think that’s kind of where we’re at. So, yeah, happy to answer any questions. 


Penzo [00:09:48] Does anybody have any questions for them? Representative Rye. 


Rye [00:09:54] All those rods and repurposing nuclear fuel rods. What are– is that kind of like it’s been wore out or something after all of its use. 


Grappe [00:10:09] Actually the rods, they, they’re used anywhere from one and a half to three years and then they’re pulled out. And so in layman’s terms, there’s like 95% of the BTU value left in those rods. Okay. 


Penzo [00:10:34] Anybody else have any questions? 


Ladyman [00:10:37] Representative Rye, thanks for this question, because these these are not really waste. They’re basically off spec. They’ve given up 5% of their energy. So they still have 95% of the product, which is BTU’s in there. So they’re really off spec. They’re not really waste. 


Rye [00:10:56] Representative Ladyman, what can they be used for sir? Those rods. 


Ladyman [00:11:04] Well, that’s where Argonne Labs has, they’ve done a lot of tests to pull that remaining BTU’s in the form of fuel out and reclaim that so that it can be used in another process to produce energy. 


Penzo [00:11:30] Well, if there’s not any other questions, we don’t have any other business. So I appreciate the update, Mr. Grappe and Representative Ladyman. 


Grappe [00:11:39] Thank you, sir. 


Ladyman [00:11:40] Thank you. 


Penzo [00:11:41] This meeting’s adjourned.