In the United States (U.S.) the nuclear waste issue has plagued the nuclear industry for decades. Originally, spent fuel was to be reprocessed but with the threat of nuclear proliferation, spent fuel reprocessing has been eliminated, at least for now. In 1983, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982  was established, authorizing development of one or more spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste geological repositories and a consolidated national storage facility, called a “Monitored Retrievable Storage” facility, that could store the spent nuclear fuel until it could be placed into the geological repository. Plans were under way to build a geological repository, Yucca Mountain, but with the decision by President Obama to terminate the development of Yucca Mountain, a consolidated national storage facility that can store spent fuel for an interim period until a new repository is established has become very important. Since reactor sites have not been able to wait for the government to come up with a storage or disposal location, spent fuel remains in wet or dry storage at each nuclear plant.
The purpose of this paper is to present a concept developed to address the DOE’s goals stated above. This concept was developed over the past few months by collaboration between the DOE and industry experts that have experience in designing spent nuclear fuel facilities.
The paper examines the current spent fuel storage conditions at shutdown reactor sites, operating reactor sites, and the type of storage systems (transportable versus non-transportable, welded or bolted). The concept lays out the basis for a pilot storage facility to house spent fuel from shutdown reactor sites and then how the pilot facility can be enlarged to a larger full scale consolidated interim storage facility.