The current uncertainty surrounding the licensing and eventual opening of a long term geologic repository for the nation’s civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high level radioactive waste (HLW) has shifted the window for the length of time spent fuel could be stored to periods of time significantly longer than the current licensing period of 40 years for dry storage. An alternative approach may be needed to the licensing of high-burnup fuel for storage and transportation based on the assumption that spent fuel cladding may not always remain intact. The approach would permit spent fuel to be retrieved on a canister basis and could lessen the need for repackaging of spent fuel. This approach is being presented as a possible engineering solution to address the uncertainties and lack of data availability for cladding properties for high burnup fuel and extended storage time frames. The proposed approach does not involve relaxing current safety standards for criticality safety, containment, or permissible external dose rates.

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