Virginia Power Surry Nuclear Station Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) fuel was stored in a dry inert atmosphere Castor V/21 cask at the Idaho National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory (INEEL) for 15 years at peak cladding temperatures decreasing from about 350 to 150°C. Prior to the storage, the loaded cask was subjected to extensive thermal benchmark tests. The cask was opened to examine the fuel for degradation and to determine if it was suitable for extended storage. No rod breaches had occurred and no visible degradation or crud/oxide spallation were observed. Twelve rods were removed from the center of the T11 assembly and shipped from INEEL to the Argonne-West HFEF for profilometric scans. Four of these rods were punctured to determine the fission gas release from the fuel matrix and internal pressure in the rods. Three of the four rods were cut into five segments each, then shipped to the Argonne-East AGHCF for detailed examination. The test plan calls for metallographic examination of six samples from two of the rods, microhardness and hydrogen content measurements at or near the six metallographic sample locations, tensile testing of six samples from the two rods, and thermal creep testing of eight samples from the two rods to determine the extent of residual creep life. The results from the profilometry (12 rods), gas release measurements (4 rods), metallographic examinations (2 samples from 1 rod), and microhardness and hydrogen content characterization (2 samples from 1 rod) are reported here. The tensile and creep studies are just starting and will be reported at a later date, along with the additional characterization work to be performed. Although only limited prestorage characterization is available, a number of preliminary conclusions can be drawn based on comparison with characterization of Florida Power Turkey Point rods of a similar vintage. Based on this comparison, it appears that little or no cladding thermal creep and fission gas release from the fuel pellets occurred during the thermal benchmark tests or storage. Measurements of the cladding outer-diameter, oxide thickness and wall thickness are in the expected range for cladding of the Surry exposure. The measured hydrogen content is consistent with the oxide thickness. The volume of hydrides varies azimuthally around the cladding, but there is little variation across the thickness, of the cladding. It is most significant that all of the hydrides appear to have retained the circumferential orientation typical of prestorage PWR fuel rods.

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